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!
Today’s Mouthwatering Moment excerpt is from Bolton Carley’s non-fiction piece, ‘Sophisticated Palette…Not so Much’, from the 6S network.
When it comes to my husband’s food passion, routine and consistency generally trump variety. His brother is no different, as every day I am expected to pack the same traditional granola bars, gala apples, and sandwiches for their lunches.
In my sleep, I cake ketchup and mustard on wheat bread, slap on slices of Kraft American cheese, and ponder the meat selection like a witch that threatens, “I think it will be you, my pretty” as she throws one into the bubbling caldron. In my attempt to spice up their daily noontime meal, I rotate between turkey, barbecued chicken, roast beef, roast pork, hard salami, and their oh-so-healthy personal favorite: bologna. This week the slices-of-bologna to number-of-sammies ratio was not equivalent so I promptly warned my hubs that one would be downing Oscar Mayer b-o-l-o-g-n-a while the other was stuck with icken slicken (his term for chicken) today.
Aware that there will be a mad dash for the bologna, I can only imagine Chariots of Fire streaming in the background as they, in slow motion, race to the lunchbox tearing the sandwich out to raise it up in victory like a gold medal or a chunk of the Berlin Wall.
Favorite drink –Although I’m a regular Mountain Dew girl, you can’t beat a traditional strawberry daiquiri, but if you really want to do it up right, just line up the Cool Whip-covered Jell-O shots!
Indulgence – warm breadsticks, Reese’s peanut butter cups, my couch, my fur blanket, and an afternoon watching Dirty Dancing
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. And just so you don’t overindulge, I’ll share more next week:
The Way to a Woman’s Heart – Christina Jones:
Cooking the perfect menu for the perfect date always seems simple at the time…
Escaping from corporate city life into the heart of the Berkshire countryside, Ella Maloney had been expecting to find rural tranquillity and a chance to indulge in her favourite pastime – cooking. So when she meets a devastatingly delicious chef by the name of Ash Lawrence, Ella knows she’s died and gone to food heaven.
Things go from divine to celestial for Ella, however, when her favourite top-rated TV cookery programme – Midnight Feast – comes looking for a venue to film their latest show. But while Ella is pulling out all the culinary stops to become their most successful contestant ever, Ash is busy cooking up the ultimate recipe for winning Ella’s heart – or should that be a recipe for disaster…?
The Christmas Cookie Club – Ann Pearlman:
Every year at Christmastime, Marnie and her closest girlfriends mark their calendars for a cookie exchange. Everyone brings homemade cookies and a bottle of wine to share, but this year, it’s their stories that are especially important—the passion and hopefulness of new romance, the betrayal and disillusionment some relationships bring, the joys and fears of motherhood, the stress of financial troubles. On this evening, at least, the sisterly love they have for one another rises above it all. Celebrating courage and joy in spite of hard times and honoring the importance of woman’s friendships as well as the embracing bonds of community, the delightful novel speaks to us all.
In addition to laughter and tears, the book is sprinkled with delicious cookie recipes. The Christmas Cookie Club has been translated into German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Croatian becoming both an international and national bestseller.
Good Enought to Eat – Stacey Ballis:
She learned how to eat right….living right is the hard part. Former lawyer Melanie Hoffman lost half her body weight and opened a gourmet take-out café specializing in healthy and delicious food. But the first healthy morning muffins are still warm from the oven when her husband announces that he is leaving her…for a woman twice her size.
Reeling from her abandonment, she’s blindsided by a financial crisis. Desperate to relieve some of the money pressures, Melanie reaches out to a quirky roommate with a ton of baggage, moving her into both her home and her business. Things begin to look up when Melanie becomes involved in a budding romance with a local documentary filmmaker, but she’s not so sure she is really ready for love. In this warm and often laugh-out-loud novel, Melanie discovers that she still has a lot to learn about her friends, her relationships with men, and herself…and that her weight loss was just the beginning of an amazing journey that will transform her life from the inside out.
Chocolate Wishes – Trisha Ashley:
Life is sweet for chocolate maker Chloe Lyon! Business is booming at her artisan chocolate-makers ‘Chocolate Wishes’ in the picture-perfect Lancashire village of Sticklepond – not least because all of Chloe’s sweet treats contain an inspirational prediction for each customer. If only her own life was as easy to read in the cards, perhaps Chloe could have foreseen being jilted at the altar!
But Chloe has long put thoughts of love behind her – after all, life is busy enough, especially as she tries to sort out her friends’ tangled love lives and the village welcomes its new vicar, Raffy Sinclair. However, the village rumour mill goes into overdrive when it is revealed that Raffy is the distinctly unorthodox ex-front man of rock band ‘Mortal Ruin’ – and also happens to be Chloe’s first love, who left her broken-hearted.Whilst Chloe tries to ignore this blast from her past, will she discover that wishes can come true when you least expect it? A charming novel for chocoholics everywhere, perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews.
Stay tuned for part two of this blog post!
Have you read any of the books I’ve featured today? What do you like about books with a food-theme?
In Luna Tango, journalist Gabby McNally is trying to woo tango dancer Carlos Escudero, for a story. The problem is, the wooing tables appear to have turned.
“Stand up straight!” he said, and she realised she had, in fact, angled her body slightly forward and her nose was dangerously close to the part of his neck where the cologne was.
Pulling back, she tried to hide the shock from being wrenched out of her momentary lapse of reason.
“Sorry,” she mumbled.
His body shook with laughter. “It is okay.”
She hoped he hadn’t cottoned on to what she’d been doing, but his reaction told her he had. How embarrassing.
She looked up to find his dark eyes watching her. Her body temperature soared, quickly reaching sauna level.
“Yes?” she asked, not sure whether he was referring to the dance or the girly crush she’d developed. Man, now she was just like every other woman in Argentina.
“This emotion is the most important part of the dance. Without it, there is no point–much like everything in life that is worth the while. Ready?”
Before she had a chance to say a word, Carlos dipped her backwards and curls spilled across her face. Blowing them away with a large puff, she looked up at him, their faces inches apart. He held her there for what felt like an eternity, his strong arms wrapped firmly around her torso, their gaze not breaking, electricity zapping between them. Eventually, he guided her to the standing position and let go. Gabby smoothed down her dress, looking everywhere but directly at Carlos.
“Now, you dance with Gualberto,” he said and sat down.
~ Alli Sinclair writes romantic suspense set in South America that fuses the contemporary with historical. You can find Alli blogging about her passion for storytelling, culture, and travel at noveladventurers.blogspot.com.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world sampling food from various cultures. It’s difficult to pin my favourite food down to one, so instead I’ll let you sample my Fantasy Dinner…”
Entree: Fresh Turkish bread with a plate of olives, cheese, and dips direct from my favourite Turkish restaurant
Main: Arroz con mariscos (seafood and rice) from Mancora, on the north coast of Peru
Dessert: Dulce de leche ice cream from my friend’s ice cream shop in Mendoza, Argentina
Accompanied by: Antonio Banderas serving Argentine and Chilean wine–any kind will do!
Today’s Mouthwatering Moment excerpt is from KEEPING SECRETS by Darlene Fredette.
He wiggled the strawberry in the air. Samantha couldn’t resist. She grinned and leaned forward. Matt scooted closer and brought the berry to her lips. She stared into his eyes, opening her mouth. Matt smirked and dabbed the cream cheese on her nose.
Samantha sat back, startled. “Two can play that game.” She dipped a finger in the cream cheese and wiped it across his nose.
Matt let out a hearty laugh.
She selected another strawberry, dipped, and then held it to Matt’s lips. He leaned in, his lips parted, but she pulled the berry away. Samantha slowly licked the cream before biting off the tip of the strawberry.
Matt cleared his throat.
Samantha seductively nibbled another berry, keeping her eyes riveted on Matt, who was watching her every move.
“I so want to kiss you right now.”
The strawberry fell, forgotten from her fingers, and landed on her lap. She swallowed hard and licked her lips.
Darlene’s favourite meal: roast beef dinner with all the fixings: gravy, mash potatoes, carrots, corn, and of course finish the meal off with warm apple pie and ice cream!
Darlene’s favourite drink: Kahlua, Coconut rum, and milk. It’s like a white Russian but I substitute the rum for the vodka, it’s much smoother.
Darlene’s favourite indulgence: Strawberries. I just love them!
Thanks for sharing your excerpt, Darlene! Keeping Secrets was a great read 🙂
Remember, you can win prizes by leaving a comment below. Make sure to subscribe to the blog to be eligible 🙂
Elizabeth caught Rob staring at her again across his mother’s dinner table. He was surprisingly silent amidst the family chaos. She, meanwhile, was left to answer questions galore from Camilla, Sammie and even an occasional triplet. Dishes clattered as roasted potatoes, manicotti, grilled carrots and tossed salad with crouton cubes were passed back and forth. Hunks of bread slathered in garlic butter were distributed to the crew. Wine or soft drinks were offered. Nobody dared refuse anything.
“None of that stinking low-carb stuff for us Gabinarris,” Rob’s brother Tony whispered to her with one eyebrow cocked. They all watched as Rob and Tony’s mom, Alessandra, heaped several spoonfuls of potatoes onto little Sammie’s plate.
Alessandra stopped abruptly, ladle in the air. “What happened to my music?” She looked accusingly around the table. “Roberto, was it you?” she said.
Rob shook his head, wide-eyed but with upturned lips, and his mother’s gaze fixed on Tony.
“Oh, all right. Yes, it was me.” Tony rolled his eyes and threw his hands in the air.
His mother continued to glare at him.
“I’ll go put it back on,” Tony said.
“You do that, Antonio.” She set down her bowl and crossed her arms. “Fooling with my CD player,” she muttered until the strains of Madonna’s classic “Get Into the Groove” floated into the dining room. “Hmm. That’s better,” she said when Tony returned. And the clattering, clanking, chattiness and general chaos resumed again at the table.
Fifteen minutes later, Elizabeth had managed to mostly relax. The children’s queries kept her occupied and Tony’s wife tossed encouraging smiles her way. She released a deep, pent-up breath. She’d almost done it. She’d nearly made it through the meal without saying or doing anything too embarrassing, thank goodness. In another half hour she’d be able to go home.
She glanced around the lively table. The triplets were making a game of poking holes in their bread. Sammie was still hiccupping. Camilla and her mother were giggling about something they’d seen in a Disney video. Rob and Tony were in the midst of a rousing debate over the previous NFC and AFC champs and the players who’d make the best draft picks for the fall season. Everyone grinned, talked, munched. She took a big bite of manicotti.
“So, Elizabeth,” the family matriarch said loudly, “don’t you think my son should get married soon?”
Marilyn’s favourite meal: Homemade lasagna (my Italian mother-in-law’s recipe) with soft garlic breadsticks and a fresh garden salad
Marilyn’s favourite drink: Sparkling white grape juice (non-alcoholic) or Lemon-Drop Martini (alcoholic)
Marilyn’s favourite indulgence: Sea-Salted Milk Chocolate-Covered Caramels (SO GOOD!)
Thanks for sharing your excerpt, Marilyn!
To find out more about Marilyn and her books visit her website.
Don’t forget to comment below and be in the running for some great prizes as part of my Mouthwatering May special event!
“Don’t move,” he says, getting up from the table and crossing the kitchen. He hefts a large cast iron pot from the oven. He lifts the lid, cups his hand, and wafts the steam upward toward his face. Even from across the room, the smell makes me want to swoon. Jake has made my favorite dish—his signature take on cassoulet, made with wild boar sausage braised in Barolo, cannellini beans, fennel and sweet red peppers. I can hear the hollow snap as he breaks the delicate crust of toasted bread, garlic and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. He fills a shallow bowl and places it reverently in front of me. “It’s not exactly summer fare, but I know it’s your favorite. I missed making it for you this winter. It actually works nicely with your pizza recipe, which has always been one of my favorites. We make a pretty good team, don’t you think?” he says softly. “Go ahead, taste it.”
“Aren’t you going to join me?”
“Of course,” he says, raising his eyes to meet mine. I watch as he fills his plate, picks up a bottle of wine and two glasses, and joins me at the table. He pours us each a glass of red wine. “Well? He asks, his eyes focused, unblinking, on my face.
I spear a piece of meat, which yields easily to my fork, and raise it to my lips. I take a deep breath and close my eyes…The flavors are at once complex and earthy. I taste every ingredient: the thick, slightly gamy taste of the boar; the subtle undercurrent of the fennel, which, when braised, releases a delicate licorice perfume; the gentle creaminess of the beans; the smoky heat of the roasted peppers; the harmonious balance of the wine.
It tastes like love.
Meredith’s favorite meal/indulgence: I love mussels. Any time, any way. (I’ve even been known to eat them for breakfast!) My favorite preparations are either steamed in white wine and shallot butter, or grilled and tossed with basil breadcrumbs. Just add a warm, crusty baguette and a glass of chilled Sancerre and I am a happy, happy girl.
To WIN one of two copies of AFTERTASTE, please leave a comment below. This competition is open WORLDWIDE and will be drawn at the end of the month. Thanks for your generosity, Meredith! (All comments left by blog subscribers will also be put in the draw for a Mouthwatering May special prize).
Whether you celebrate this annual day of love or not, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some love and run a competition. My first ever blog competition! And there’ll be more to come, so if you want to hear about upcoming competitions (as well as fascinating blog posts and author interviews of course ;)), just enter your email address into the subscription form on the right >>
Most people associate Valentine’s Day with romantic love, but I thought I’d do a blog post about things I love, and I’d love you to share with me the things you love too. In fact, if you do, you’ll be entered into the draw to win a goodie bag! (*AUS only, more details on the competition at the end of this post).
So here’s a ‘List Of Things I Love’.
Maybe you love some of them too, or maybe you don’t. Don’t you just love how we are all so different!
Now these aren’t in order or anything, they are simply a few examples of things I love…
The Sound of Music (I know some parts are cheesy, but it has everything – romance, suspense, humour, drama, music!)
The Wizard of Oz (For writers, one of the best examples of Goal, Motivation, & Conflict)
Titanic (nothing like a big budget Hollywood Blockbuster!)
The Holiday (I love the story and the characters)
Harry Potter (I just love the world JK Rowling created, and all the little details)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (anyone…anyone…?)
Girls Just Want To Have Fun (for those young women who’ve never heard of this dance flick, check it out to see a young Sarah J Parker & Helen Hunt!)
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (I’m not usually one for ‘older’ books, but I couldn’t put this book down when I read it several years ago)
The Passion Test by Janet and Chris Attwood (this is non-fiction, and it has quite literally changed my life)
29 by Adena Halpern (funny, charming, well written, fast paced – everything I love in a novel)
Heaven Can Wait by Cally Taylor (one of the most unique stories I’ve read in the last few years)
(I could mention so many other books but it would be a very long blog post!)
Melbourne (the culture, the food, the shopping, and so much more compact and easier to find your way around than Sydney!)
Rainforests (I love the feeling of being completely surrounded by nature)
Department Stores (I also love the feeling of being completely surrounded by no nature whatsoever)
Bookstores (I also love being surrounded by books)
Although I’m a very healthy eater (given my health industry background), who can resist a melt-in-your-mouth piece of chocolate once in a while?!
Nectarines (yummiest fruit ever)
Chicken soup (made by yours truly 😉
(Don’t you just feel wonderful reading those words?)
TV Shows (past & present):
3rd Rock From The Sun (2nd best sitcom EVER)
Bewitched (Oh, how we’d all like to be Samantha!)
Packed To The Rafters (Best Aussie show)
24 (Great plots, twists, and edge of your seat action)
Prison Break (slightly unrealistic concept but heaps of fun, and um… nice, er… scenery 😉
Reading (double duh!)
Staring at the ocean (I swear some of my ideas get washed in with the waves, so any time spent staring is purely for productivity)
What about you, what things do you love in life?
*Here is how to enter my competition to win this Valentine’s Day Gift Bag (Australia only):
1. Firstly, make sure you’re Australian, or have an Australian postal address. If you’re not sure, ask your parents 😉 …For my international friends (who are probably slamming their fist on the table yelling ‘It’s not fair!’), don’t despair, I promise I’ll run some international competitions on the blog too!
2. Secondly, make sure you’re subscribed to this blog. If not, enter your email address in the subscription form on the top right of this page (Don’t worry, I’m not a daily blogger so you won’t get bombarded with blog updates, and I’m not one of those people who tries to sell Viagra!). Done? Okay, next step…
3. Leave a comment below and tell me at least three things you love and why (use the categories I’ve listed to inspire you).
4. The winner will be drawn randomly from valid entries around 5:00pm Sydney time on Friday 17th February 2012, and notified via email and on this blog.
5. The gift bag contains a copy of ‘The Trouble With Valentine’s Day’ by Rachel Gibson, a Lancome maharani jewels ‘Juicy Tubes’ lip gloss, a Sanctum organic cedarwood and olive leaf soap, and a Sanctum organic Body Essentials pack containing body buff exfoliator, body balm, and hand/nail repair cream. So the winner will be able to have an in-home pamper treatment, slick on some juicy lip gloss, and curl up with a fun book!
What are you waiting for? Leave a comment, it could be you!