Tag Archives: Fleur McDonald

FRIDAY FEAST with Fleur McDonald

20 Replies

Greetings my book and food loving lovelies, and welcome to another bright and shiny edition of Friday Feast. This week we’re playing host to one of Australia’s most popular rural authors, revealing her stunning new novel, and setting your mouth a-watering with a comforting lamb shank recipe.

But first, the horror story that continues to be Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Sliding backwards, folks. Backwards, fast and red-faced and silently screaming. I laughed at the end of my round last week but that only to stop myself from crying. I played so terribly that my nett score was worse than what my gross score should have been had I played anywhere near my handicap. In non-golfing terms, I was poo. Oh, well. Dare I say it again? The only way is up!

Author Fleur McDonaldAnd so we go upwards and onwards to this week’s Friday Feast guest, Fleur McDonald.

I’m sure Fleur needs little introduction. Since her debut novel Red Dust boomed on the Australian literary landscape her books have been best-sellers and Fleur has earned a special place in many reader’s hearts. With stories that reflect and celebrate our Australian heartland and farmers, Fleur has indeed become the “Voice of the Outback”.

Fleur’s latest novel is Emerald Springs. Check it out.


Cover of Emerald Springs by Fleur McDonaldAfter finishing university, Amelia Bennett returns to her home town. Determined to lose her old reputation for being scatty, she works hard to prove herself as the treasurer of the local rodeo committee.

Flushed with triumph on the evening of the best rodeo in the town’s history, Amelia is driving the bags of cash into town when she becomes the victim of a terrifying smash and grab. Injured and distraught after her ordeal, she’s even more devastated when she finds out that she and her boyfriend Paul are the objects of suspicion.

To prove her innocence and that of the man she loves, Amelia must convince a sceptical detective that her account of what happened does add up and that he must help her track down the real culprits . . .

With its cracker plot, feisty heroine and engaging love story, Emerald Springs will have you reading well into the night.

Doesn’t that sound a page turner? And you know being from Fleur the story will have real authenticity. Emerald Springs is published by Allen & Unwin and on sale now. But you can buy right this moment with just a few clickety-clicks from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Roberston, Dymocks, Boomerang Books, QBD the Bookshop, or your favourite independent book retailer or chainstore. Also try Amazon.au, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo and JB Hi-Fi.

All loaded up? Time to get comfortable with Fleur.

Fire Food

Cathryn, thanks so much for having me on. I often read your Friday Feast blog and mouth is usually watering by the end of it all!

I have to admit I come from a family don’t really enjoy cooking or the finer details of food, so I think it surprised everyone when I announced my love of cooking (and certainly eating!)

My mum is a standard chops and three veg type lady, where as I love to experiment and play around. I love it even more when my partner helps me in the kitchen. Garry tends to be my sous chef. We really enjoy mucking around while we’re cooking and of course we always cook dinner with a glass of wine or a beer in hand.

I’m going to share one of my hearty winter recipes that kids love, today. Esperance has been experiencing a bit of winter in the last week, so I’ve started to drag out the old favourites.

Also I’ve got to admit, this is the time of year I really love writing and brain food is needed. When writing Emerald Springs, I spent a lot of time sitting next to the wood fire, which has a grill on top of it and cooking on it. Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks was cooked more than once, on top of the fire (which I know goes against the recipe but it still works – and isn’t that the best thing about cooking? The trial and error part!).

So here you go…

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks

1 cup of plain flour

8 large French-trimmed lamb shanks

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 large onions

2 cloves of garlic

2 cups of beef stock

¾ of red wine (and I give you permission to drink the rest of the bottle!)

1/3 cup of maple syrup

2 tablespoons of corn flour

2 tablespoons of cold water.


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Coat the lamb shanks with flour and cook in bathes on the stove until browned, then pop them into a large roasting pan.
  2. Add onions and garlic to the saucepan and cook until soft, then add stock, wine and maple syrup, stirring to combine. Then pour over shanks. Before roasting for about an hour, covered.

I love serving this with mashed potato (with grated onion in it) and steamed cabbage. Now not just any steamed cabbage. If you fry up a bit of bacon and add some Worcestershire sauce, before putting the cabbage in, it changes the whole idea of steamed cabbage!


You’re a woman after my own heart, Fleur! Lamb shanks are a huge favourite in our house, especially in the winter months. They’re wonderfully comforting. I love the addition of maple syrup to yours. I can imagine that adds even more sticky lusciousness to the final dish. Will definitely have to test this out. And I particularly adore your cabbage tip. That’s a good one!

So, my cuddly little Feasties, running with Fleur’s tip, what’s yours for brightening up a plain veg?

Do you add balsamic and bacon to your Brussels sprouts (learned that one from Helene Young) or perhaps sprinkle your asparagus with butter and toasted flaked almonds? Maybe you jazz your carrots up with a drizzle of honey?

I’m a firm believer in cheese sauce on cauliflower. That is heaven. Pure, mouth-watering heaven. Sigh. Want some now.

Enough of my drooling. Let’s get sharing our vege brightening tips and make each others’ days!

If you’d like to learn more about  Fleur and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @fleurmcdonald.



Rural Romance Book Heaven Could Be Yours!

How would you like the chance to win a Valentine’s bouquet that lasts forever? Well, perhaps not forever, but a bloody long time.

Then you need the…


Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

There are 6 book bouquets – yes, SIX! – up for grabs, with each bunch containing 5 of the best from our Australian rural romance stars. We’re talking the likes of Rachael Johns, Fiona Palmer, Loretta Hill, Helene Young, Tricia Stringer, Barbara Hannay, Fleur McDonald, Fiona McArthur, Jenn J McLeod, Mandy Magro, Margareta Osborn, Bronwyn Parry, Jennifer Scoullar and many more. And all you have to do to be in the draw is sign up to the australianruralromance.com blog. Easy-peasy.

Lucky me is in two book bouquets, one featuring a signed copy of Promises, the other a copy of Heart of the Valley. Check out the amazing company I’m in…

Australian rural romance book bouquet with Promises


Australian rural romance book bouquet with Heart of the Valley

And there are another four fabulous book bouquets up for grabs. Wow!

So either click on one of the images above or hit australianruralromance.com to lodge your entry.

This is a fantastic opportunity to score books from some of Australia’s most popular writers, for yourself or to share. Don’t miss out!

Winners will be drawn on February 14th. Australian postal addresses only.


Guess who’s in the Australian Women’s Weekly…

My phone started going mad this morning with texts from friends telling me about my, and fellow authors Rachael Treasure, Nicole Alexander and Fleur McDonald’s, LUST IN THE DUST spread in the newly-minted March issue of the Australian Women’s Weekly. I knew it was coming. After all, I’d had a ball doing the photo ???????????????????????????????shoot (thanks, Katie and Alana) and the interview (thanks, Kerry), but it still came as a bit of a shock because I wasn’t expecting the magazine to hit the stands until later in the week.

As thrilling as the AWW’s release is, I have lots of chores to catch up on before this weekend’s Australian Romance Readers Convention in Brisbane, not to mention a book to write, so I decided to spend the morning working and ignoring it all. Yeah, like that was going to happen. By 11-15am, after what felt like a hundred text messages, emails and phone calls, I couldn’t stand it and had to head out to buy my own copy.

Actually, I bought two. Cos, you know, I might wear the first one out or something.

So here I am, in the Australian Women’s Weekly, looking, according to my girlfriend’s husband, a bit Mona Lisa. Hmm, not sure if that’s good or bad but I wouldn’t mind Mona’s popularity!


By the way, in case you’re wondering about all this lusty fantasy, I LOVE my darling other half, Jim.

I just tend to get a bit obsessed by my fictional heroes…

THIS WRITING LIFE: Release Day Approacheth!

13 Replies

Can you believe it? There’s only ONE sleep until my new rural romance, Heart of the Valley, releases.

I’m always amazed how quickly release date comes around. When the last edits are handed in you think it’s forever until release day, but then suddenly it’s racing toward you, bringing with it all the nerves and bubbly excitement that comes with knowing people will soon be buying, reading and commenting on your book.

I’m far more excited than nervous about Heart of the Valley because, quite frankly, I love this book. I love the characters, the emotion, the drama and the complex family relationships. I love how the animals are so integral to the story they’re almost characters in their own right. I adore the landscape of the Hunter Valley, viewed so passionately through the heroine, Brooke’s, eyes. I admire Brooke’s strength, her devotion to her friends, to her animals, to the property she loves. And I still have an embarrassingly monster-sized crush on the hero, Lachie. Sigh. I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from that man. He is one hell of a babe. Good thing he’s fictional or there might be trouble in the Hein household!

There have already been a few reviews.

The West Weekend Magazine’s Amanda Keenan had this to say:

Brooke Kingston is a pure-bred horsey girl soaring to great heights in the saddle. But a tragic twist of fate robs the agile rider of her confidence, and life as she knows it. Cue a love triangle including an old friend and a brooding man with a complicated history who will seek to salve her wounded soul and get her back in the saddle – so to speak. This sounds like the master stock for a rural romance recipe because it is. But that’s not a criticism – there’s something wonderfully absorbing about a rough and ready country yarn heavy with heartache, which weaves in complex family relationships, our gorgeous environment and a bit of raunchy rainstorm sex. Yee ha!

The Age and Sydney Morning Herald also had a large spread on rural lit, with Heart of the Valley reviewed alongside Fiona Palmer’s fabulous The Road Home, Fleur McDonald’s Purple Roads and Margareta Osborn’s Bella’s Run. In other words, pretty illustrious company!

Heart of the Valley is shown in great glory in this week’s BigW catalogue alongside Karly Lane’s Morgan’s Law, which also releases this week. Okay, so that’s not exactly a review but it still gives me a complete attack of the warm fuzzies.

Much to my surprise, I also received a gorgeous review for Promises this week which appeared in the Ipswich Advertiser.

Australian author Cathryn Hein had me from the first page and I’m sure anyone who likes romance novels without bodice ripping or cliché phrases will also love this story.

Lastly, I have a lot of blog visits coming up, some with giveaways, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for those. You can currently find me at Booktopia, answering their Nine Naughty Questions and on Mandy Magro’s Awesome Aussie Authors segment. Friday I’ll be here for Friday Feast sharing a favourite winter-perfect soup recipe I nicked from my mum and giving away a copy of Heart of the Valley to one lucky commenter.

Yup, it’s all happening!

Before I go I’d like to leave you with a few photos from our time in France. Jim and I were fortunate enough to attend two ANZAC Days on the Somme, as well as the Service of Reinterment of four Australian soldiers whose remains were found near Merris in 2003 and reburied in an incredibly moving ceremony at Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul, near the Belgian border.

Dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux is one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had and one I will never forget.

View from the tower

Australian National Memorial, Villers Bretonneux, France

An unknown soldier of the Great War

Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery

Passchendaele, Belguim.

Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world.  There are now 11,956 soldiers buried here, 8,369 are unidentified.  This photo doesn’t do any justice to the heart-breaking scale of the place.

Reinterment for the four Australian soldiers whose remains were found near Merris in 2003

Outtersteen Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul, France

Lest we forget

FRIDAY FEAST with Fleur McDonald

Oh, my lovely Feasters, what lucky people we are. Why? Because today on Friday Feast we’re off to the country, that fecund (ooh, I do so adore that word) land where so much of Australia’s fabulous produce originates. And who better to talk about country food and cooking than rural lit queen and best-selling author of Red Dust, Blue Skies and Purple Roads, Fleur McDonald.

Now, if you haven’t read any of Fleur’s books then someone ought to take you over their knee and paddle your bottom with a stale Iced VoVo because these are WONDERFUL books. Not only wonderful but important, because they’re stories about the people we so often take for granted – Australia’s farmers.

Here’s a look at Fleur’s latest release, Purple Roads, to give you a taste…




Anna and Matt Butler were childhood sweethearts with a dream of owning their own land, a dream they achieved through hard work and determination.

But as the seasons conspire against them and Matt is involved in a terrible accident, the couple face financial ruin and the loss of their farm.

As they fight for everything they hold dear, they suddenly find themselves caught up in events much bigger and more dangerous than they could ever have imagined.

Purple Roads is a story about maintaining faith in yourself, staying true to your ideals and, most of all, the belief that some things are worth fighting for.


Told you. A must-read. As is Fleur’s post!

Thanks Cathryn, for having me over today and especially to chat about one of my favourite things in the world; FOOD!

I am a foodie from way back, but I didn’t start off that way. Uh uh! My mum can’t cook anything but chops and three veg or chops and salad, so I didn’t have the best start into the world of food. However, both of my Nana’s were brilliant cooks – Nana Heaslip’s sponges, homemade bread rolls and chocolate chip biscuits were the world’s best and fed many a hungry shearer or workman. Nana Parnell’s Russian Toffee and pancakes were sublime.

Both Nana’s were also great gardeners (as all good station wives were) and in fairness to my Mum, she got the gardening gene as did my Aunty Jan, but she managed the cooking gene too. I only go the cooking one – can’t stand gardening.

My husband actually taught me to cook – oh I could do small things like chocolate cakes and pancakes, but anything else was a challenge, when I first met him. I remember cooking bacon and eggs for my brother one morning and he sent it back! ‘I like mine cooked a bit more.’ What? How rude!

So painstakingly and carefully, Anthony set about teaching me to read recipes and cook meals.

After a few dinner parties I realized how important food was in the social setting and making people feel comfortable. I announced no one was ever going to leave my house hungry, I was going to serve hearty home-cooked meals that people couldn’t get enough of. And I did. Well, still do. Lamb casseroles cooked on the grill of our tile fire, a joint in the Weber, chicken curries or crumbed lamb chops or steak. All served with homemade bread rolls… Yum! I admit I enjoy the eating side as much as I do the cooking!

I love to experiment with cooking and the place I like to visit most in my kitchen is Italian – an old friend turns forty the same year as I do (we have a little way to go yet, mind you!) but we’ve made a pact we want to go to Italy for our fortieths and eat. Not look at the scenery or anything like that, just eat! (I’m hoping I don’t come back the size of a house… That’s if I actually get to go!)

I think I have more recipe books than anyone I know! Maggie Beer is my all time favourite cook (along with my aunty and sister).

So, even though you may be met at the front garden with a pile of weeds knee high or a dead rose plant, you will be assured of a ‘good feed’ at my house. When are you coming?


Nana Heaslip’s Choc Chip Biscuits

Brilliant for hungry kids or shearers!

4 0z butter

2 oz sugar

2 tablesp Condensed Milk

6 oz SR Flour

2 oz dark chocolate (I put mine through a food processer so we get LOTS of little bits!)

Beat butter, sugar and condensed milk to cream.

Add flour and chocolate

Add a little bit of milk if you need to

Roll into balls and place on a tray

Cook in a hot oven for about 10 min until golden on top.


Thanks, Fleur. Those biccies sound wonderful. Mind you, anything with condensed milk in it is a winner in my book. AND  this recipe has the added bonus of only using 2 tablespoons of that moreishly sticky-sweet nectar, which leaves the rest of the tin for finger dipp—  er…I mean more *cough* cooking.

So, Feasters, how did you learn too cook? My grandmother taught me to bake but everything else I pretty-much learned myself. What about you? Were you one of those lucky children who, thanks to your foodie family, knew how to make a plate of pasta or cook a roast to perfection before you could walk? Perhaps you’re still learning the basics. Or maybe you’re a trained chef!

Share your experience and you could score one of Fleur’s gorgeous bookclub packs, including a shopping list notepad, bookmarks with bookclub questions, and a fridge magnet.

Closes midnight, Tuesday 17th April 2012 AEST. Australian addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Fleur and her rural literature please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Bec who has earned herself a Fleur book club pack. Thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments. It’s been fun as always.


Hanging with the stars

Yes, I’m in very special company this week. Romantic Book of the Year winner Helene Young generously invited me onto her blog, where I answer questions about Promises, writing, my first horse, and reveal a few of my favourite things. Please drop by and say hello and while you’re there check out Helene’s wonderful books, the RBY winning Wings of Fear and her new release Shattered Sky. There’s even an extract of Wings of Fear for you to enjoy.

Perfect Promise – Interview with Helene Young

And don’t forget you can still catch my post on Red Dust and Blue Skies author Fleur McDonald’s blog.

Last week was amazing. I had a ball doing radio interviews, talking about Promises and the rise in popularity of rural romance, or chook lit as the interviewers also love to call it. I’m so enamoured of that label I think I might have to include some mischevious hens in my next book for fun!



Promises’ Official Release Day Has Arrived!

And what a beeeeoooootiful spring-like day it is too. Perfect for promoting Promises.

First up, I’m a guest on fabulous Australian rural lit author Fleur McDonald’s blog, talking about Promises’ genesis and the inspiration behind some of the horses and events featured in the book. Would love you to drop by and say hi.

This afternoon, at 1-10pm, I’m being interviewed by Carol Duncan on ABC Radio Newcastle, and at 4-50pm (SA time) it’s Annette Marner’s turn to put me in the hot seat for ABC Local Radio SA and Broken Hill.

In case you missed it, Promises is also featured on page two of this week’s Big W catalogue. Wheee!

Can you spot it?