Monthly Archives: May 2012
A big thank you to everyone who has participated in my special Mouthwatering May blog event!
Today is the last day, so if you want a chance to win one of the prizes below, read on…
Subscribe to the blog (on the side menu) so you can keep updated as to when new posts are published. Being a subscriber makes you eligible to be in the running for my competitions. Don’t worry, you can always unsubscribe after May if you’re just in it for some cool stuff, I won’t be offended, but of course I’m hoping you’ll enjoy the blog posts and stay on board!
For every ‘Mouthwatering May’ blog post you comment on, you’ll receive one entry into a random draw at the end of the month for one of the prizes. That’s one entry per post, not per comment, so you can’t go leaving a hundred comments on the one blog post – it won’t work! But if there are, say, 20 blog posts, and you leave a (valid) comment on each, then that’s 20 chances to win a prize. Some of the guest authors may choose to offer a prize too, but to enter you’d need to comment on their particular post.
Can you win a prize if you’re not from Australia?
Yes, as long as it’s not a prize containing food. Here’s some piccies of the goodies you could win:
There’s a beautiful Paris book-box containing Lindt Mint Intense and Raffaello choccies, plus some cute Paris sticky notes, there’s a copy of the book ‘Georgia’s Kitchen’, as well as a copy of the same book PLUS a gourmet bag of Cadbury Coco truffle chocolates! Is your mouth watering yet?
So before it’s too late, comment on any (or all) of the Mouthwatering May blog posts. Here’s the link to a listing of all of them. The listing only shows a few of the posts from May, so to see the rest, you’ll need to scroll further down the page where there’s a little button saying ‘Older Posts‘. Click on that to see the rest.
Good luck, and thanks for visiting!
“I’ll have the Pasta Telefono with extra mozzarella, along with a glass of the house white, please,” Charley smiled at the cute waiter. His nametag read Alfonso. Not tall, but handsome, with a sexy Italian accent. She thought she recognized the scent of Armani’s Gio for men as he walked by, but couldn’t be sure. All the waiters working at Carpaccio were gorgeous, appeared to have just walked off the pages of GQ, and spoke with yummy accents.
“Sauvignon Blanc or the Chardonnay?” he asked, leaning toward her. His skin was beautiful, not a wrinkle or blemish anywhere, just like most employees and patrons at Carpaccio.
“Is the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand?” she asked.
He picked up and filled her water glass. “Yes, it is Cloudy Bay.”
“That’d be lovely.”
Charley and Rori were seated in a sea of beautiful, well-chiseled, surgically-enhanced South Americans and Europeans with a few loud, English-speaking New Yorkers scattered about. The restaurant was half indoors but sitting outside was preferable if you wanted to see and be seen. Watching people was the whole point of dining at Carpaccio. While the food was consistently good, the nearby luxury stores attracted an extremely wealthy international clientele. Everyone seemed to be dressed in designer fashions fresh off the runways of Paris, Milan, and New York, and there was a bountiful display of the latest in plastic surgery.
Charley had learned early on that the Shoppes in Bal Harbour were never to be referred to as a mall. She’d been getting her hair cut when she said she was going shopping at the mall in Bal Harbour. Her stylist had ever-so discreetly said, “They’re called the Shops, unless of course, you want to be seen as a tourist.” Being mistaken for a tourist was a fate worse than being seated inside and unseen.
Cindy’s favorite meal: Stone crabs. A seasonal May 15-Oct 15 South Florida delicasy
Cindy’s favorite drink: Diet peach snapple
Cindy’s favorite treat: M&Ms, plain …. for a SUPER YUMMY, Dairy Queen chocolate ice cream cake OMG!
Thanks for sharing your excerpt, Cindy!
To find out more about Cindy, visit her website here.
And remember, all comments will go into the draw for prizes at the end of the month, just make sure you also subscribe to the blog posts
Since it’s my Mouthwatering May blog special event, I thought I’d share with you how I got into both cooking and writing, and the role that my son played in this…
Let’s start with the cooking… now, I’m no Masterchef, and nor do I want to be, but I did develop a bit of a knack for cooking when my son was little. As it turns out, he had a few food intolerances, and after doing an elimination diet with him I discovered he was sensitive to almost EVERYTHING I tested him with. Preservatives, MSG, colours..etc were the main culprits. So I began buying ‘additive free cookbooks’ and also experimenting with recipes of my own.
It was around this time I was also studying for my naturopathic qualifications, so I became more aware of food and nutrition and its impact on the body, and I was wanting to cook fresher, healthier meals. Also, I later discovered in addition to many additives he was also intolerant to dairy foods and gluten (found in bread, pasta, biscuits, and almost every single packaged food!), so once again I donned my well-used apron and experimented with even more recipes.
There were many disasters; homemade breads that crumbled to oblivion, inedible muffins that tasted like rocks, and don’t get me started on the pathetic cheese-less pizzas! But time and practise are great teachers, and soon I was whipping up meals and snacks that not only he liked, but other people too. Now, eating this way is a way of life, and I rarely follow a recipe. I’m an intuitive cook – I throw things together and make it up as I go.
Some of my favourite sweet creations (which have no sugar either! …except for the icing ;)) are: choc hazelnut and coconut muffins, gluten and dairy free banana cake, and choc macadamia cookies. And some of my favourite meal creations are: chicken soup with broccoli-stem ‘noodles’, roast balsamic chicken with mushroom, zuchinni, and carrots, lamb cutlets with sautéed bok choy, mushrooms and mustard dressing, warm chicken and red cabbage salad, grilled salmon with steamed broccolini and toasted pine nuts, butter-less butter chicken, and smoked salmon and avocado rice rolls (see pic above). Yum!!
So how did my son get me into writing? I always had a vague idea in my mind that I might write a book one day, but it was one of those things you never really think will happen. I wrote poetry as a teenager, and when I became a mother I started writing a few snippets of random scenes that would pop into my head, and even began a suspense novel, but gave up at chapter two!
Anyway, life moved on, I became busy with other things, and my son began pestering me to take him out of school and home-school him. At this time, I was running a busy and successful business, and could barely cope with helping him with his homework, let alone consider the idea of doing it ALL day EVERY day. But as my son neared high school and his high-functioning autism became more of an issue, it became apparent that the school system just wasn’t suited to his individual needs, and things became too much of a struggle (that’s another story!). So, I left my business to have a break and think things over for a while, eventually deciding on distance education instead of full-on homeschooling. Luckily, after a detailed application process, he was accepted, and although he’s not a fan of school in general, it’s been the best thing for him.
So what’s this got to do with writing? Well, after I left my business and made the commitment to do what was best for my son, the idea of writing a book resurfaced in my mind. I thought… “If I don’t do this now, I never will.” So after we’d finish school for the day I would spend time working on my first novel. And this time, I made it past chapter two (yay!), and eventually, after one year, I reached THE END. It was the best feeling EVER, and I wanted more. So I started my second novel, and nine months later typed THE END again. And now, I am nearing the end of my third novel which so far I’ve been writing for about four months (I must be getting faster!).
So there you have it, if it wasn’t for my son convincing me to home-school him, I may have continued working long hours in my business, with no time for anything else, and with my old ‘one chapter suspense novel’ being the only thing I’d ever written.
FLY AWAY PETA:
The time has come to face her worst fear and the clock is ticking…
Peta Johnson will go to extreme lengths to protect her daughter Bella. When Bella is kidnapped, the search for her takes Peta back to the small country town of Williams, a place she’d vowed never to return to. The town where her dreams were shattered and her nightmare began. Back to the place she’d been destined to meet two very powerful, yet very different men. One would break her heart, the other would destroy her soul. Both would change her life forever.
Back story: Bella is missing, and Peta and Jaime have spent an uncomfortable night together, under guard, in a hotel room as they wait for demands from the kidnapper….
In the outer room of the suite, Jaime stretched his cramped muscles. A knock at the front door made him start and almost spill his coffee.
“It’s me!” He heard Mark call out and crossed over to open it.
“Special delivery! Your shaving gear,” Mark said, patting the stubble on Jaime’s jaw, “And boy do you need it! Some clean clothes and breakfast.” Triumphantly, Mark held up first the gym bag and then the brown paper bag.
Jaime shook his head. “Why the hell are you so chirpy so early in the morning?” he asked, rubbing his head. It had developed a dull thud. Probably from too much excitement the night before. He wasn’t used to being shot at, or being confronted by a past he’d been working hard to bury. Either way he was going to bleed, he thought grimly.
Mark laughed as he popped muffins into the microwave. “Go and shower. You’ll feel better.”
Jaime picked up his kit and headed in the direction of the shower. Whistling, he soaped himself and washed his hair. He allowed the warm water to rinse his body, enjoying the invigorating spray as it battered away the numbness of sleep. Turning the water off, he reached around the curtain for a towel and realized there wasn’t one.
“Damn!” he said and then yelled, “Oi Mark, bring me a towel, mate!”
He heard the door open a few seconds later and swept the curtain aside. Peta stood there, the towel slipping from her hands as she stared at Jaime, her mouth rounded in an ‘Oh!’
Quickly she looked away. “Why are you still here?” she asked abruptly. Picking up the towel with nerveless fingers she muttered, “Mark and Jones went out to get some more milk. Here’s your towel.” She thrust the towel at him. God, she remembered that body well. From the glimpse she’d gotten, he was more muscular than before, bigger even than she remembered.
Quickly, he wrapped it round his waist. “Thanks.”
Juanita’s favourite meal: A nice, juicy Prime Rib, medium rare, topped with prawns and garlic and served with creamy mashed potato and herbs
Juanita’s favourite Drink: Nespresso Coffee – preferably served by George Clooney
Juanita’s favourite Treat: Bailey’s (hold the ice), sprinkled with chocolate mint flakes
Thanks for sharing your excerpt, Juanita!
Remember, comment below to be in the draw for prizes at the end of the month, just make sure you also subscribe to the blog posts
Nothing beats a good book, or a great meal, or an irresistable treat… so it’s even better when these are combined! Here is a selection of some novels with a food-theme. This is part two, so if you missed part one, you can see it here.
Sugar and Spice – Jules Stanbridge
A rich, indulgent treat of a novel – love, life… and chocolate cake
When Maddy loses her high-paying city job, her instant reaction is blind panic.
But after the ‘drowning her sorrows’ hangover has cleared, she realises that this is an opportunity to change her life and do what she loves best: baking cakes. And so she sets up her own cake company, embracing the highs and lows of getting a new business off the ground, while looking for love along the way.
Chocolat – Joanne Harris
In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows. Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne’s uncanny perception of its buyer’s private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them. Is she a witch? Soon the parish no longer cares, as it abandons itself to temptation, happiness, and a dramatic face-off between Easter solemnity and the pagan gaiety of a chocolate festival. Chocolat’s every page offers a description of chocolate to melt in the mouths of chocoholics, francophiles, armchair gourmets, cookbook readers, and lovers of passion everywhere. It’s a must for anyone who craves an escapist read, and is a bewitching gift for any holiday.
Chocolat was also made into a movie with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche.
The Saturday Supper Club – Amy Bratley
Wanted: four amateur cooks to compete in a supper club contest Rules: four strangers, four weeks, four houses, four dinner parties
You might win: a cash prize You might lose: your heart.
Eve had her world torn apart three years ago, when the love of her life Ethan disappeared, and she never found out why. But now, her life is rosy. With a lovely new boyfriend, Joe, and a café opening on the cards, things finally seem to be falling into place. … until she agrees to take part in a supper club competition for a local newspaper. Eve is cooking the first dinner and who should turn up on her doorstep expecting a three-course meal, but her long lost love Ethan?
Eat. Pray. Love. – Elizabeth Gilbert
This beautifully written, heartfelt memoir touched a nerve among both readers and reviewers.
Elizabeth Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali.
By turns rapturous and rueful, this wise and funny author (whom Booklist calls “Anne Lamott’s hip, yoga- practicing, footloose younger sister”) is poised to garner yet more adoring fans.
This was also made into a movie with Julia Roberts.
Have you read any of the books I’ve featured today? What do you like about books with a food-theme?
Today I thought I’d share an excerpt from my current work in progress, FAST FORWARD. Hope you enjoy!
“You’ve got to be kidding?” I stood, rooted to the ground as Ryan tried without success to usher me towards the ‘Ben’s Bungy Jumping’ sign. What did he expect me to say, “Oh yippee, just what I’ve always wanted!”?
“I’ve booked us both in for a jump, it’s gonna be awesome!”
“You can’t be serious? There’s no way I’m going to let someone tie rope to my feet and throw me off that thing!” I pinned him with a determined stare.
“Mum, remember at your birthday dinner last year you said you wanted to do something adventurous for your next birthday?” Ryan enquired. “You said you wanted to do something different, to feel alive again.”
I shook my head at him.
“Well, you did say it, and I listened, and I’ve had this planned for ages and it’s non-refundable so you can’t back out. Mum – you’ll thank me for this, it’s going to be something you’ll never forget.” He clamped his hands together as though in prayer.
“Never forget? This is THE thing I’d want to forget! I can’t do this. Besides, I’m f…f…fifty,” I stuttered, still in shock of my situation. “Surely they wouldn’t let seniors like me go bungy jumping?” I planted my hands defiantly on my hips and jutted out my jaw.
“Of course they do, it’s perfectly safe, and you’ve been given a clean bill of health by the doc, so there’s no reason you can’t do it. They can even jump people who are in wheelchairs, you know.”
Yeah. Probably adrenalin addicts who are in wheelchairs because of bungy jumping.
“What if the rope breaks? They could forget to tie it on properly, and only realise once I’ve plunged to my death!”
“They won’t forget. I know Ben, he’s a professional,” Ryan assured.
Professional what? Professional Idiot?
I looked at the huge purpose-built structure, completely out of place in the lush natural rainforest, and imagined myself launching off the edge to the water below. I shuddered as I saw all my saggy bits sagging upside down, my loose turkey-neck skin falling over my face, covering my mouth and nose and cutting off my air supply.
This could be fatal in more ways than one.
You can read more about this story here.
So, have you ever been bungy jumping? What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
And remember, every comment left on this post and all others during May will go into a prize draw at the end of the month.
My mother however was going nowhere. Worse than that she kept leering at Teddy, which simply made me uncomfortable.
I really didn’t know what was going on with Teddy and me but I surely didn’t want anything going on between Teddy and Moonbeam.
“Teddy, do you want to help me get some dinner together?”
“No Allegra, he can stay and keep me company.” She was good.
“How about we both help Ally out.” What a guy.
So we piled into my small kitchen with her standing a bit too close to Teddy for my liking.
“So what are we having?”
“Potato gnocchi with tomato sauce and a salad.”
“Cool, what can I do?’
I had already cooked the potatoes so I put Teddy to work mashing them. And I pulled down a jar of sauce I had made from organic tomatoes earlier in the summer and put it on to simmer.
Teddy looked at me quizzically “You jar your own sauce?”
“Uhmm yes”. I was always kind of embarrassed by my love of cooking. It makes me seem like a possessed potential housewife or something. I mean I know you don’t go to a club and discuss organic cooking; it doesn’t get the men flocking. Ultimately though I just like to cook and eat well.
“Well, Allegra, that being the case I may have to marry you.” He winked just so I’d know he wasn’t serious. “I’ll grow the veggies and you can make the sauce.”
I noticed Moonbeams dark eyes got a tad darker and flashed a bit wilder.
“I don’t know that there is room for a veggie patch in my flat or your designer terrace either for that matter,” I laughed.
“Well, we’ll just have to move to the country.”
“Sorry can’t leave the shop.”
“I’m heartbroken,” he feigned distress as he mashed. “I offer to give up my lucrative TV career and to grow veggies and marry you and you won’t leave the bookshop!”
Monique’s favourite meal – I really love my husband’s paella.
Monique’s favourite drink – Red wine but it’s hard to go past a nice glass of champagne.
Monique’s favourite indulgence – I am a sucker for a good cheese plate. I’m a bit like the Cher character in the movie Mermaids. I could happily live on finger food.
Thanks for sharing your excerpt, Monique!