Jul 26, 2017

Other people's recipes – Kandy Shepherd

Do you have his/hers/theirs recipes in your house? I love cooking, it’s a hobby as much as a household necessity. My husband is a good cook. He says that’s only because he can read a recipe but it’s more than that. When I was in my day job, often working long hours, he did more cooking than I did. Husband tends to specialise in stir-fries and omelettes. He never, ever bakes—wouldn’t dare, he says. I love baking probably best of all!

I like baking and trying new recipes! This decadent treat is German Chocolate Cake from the Joy of Baking website

My daughter, the dietitian-in-training, enjoys cooking too. Her specialities tend to be very healthy and often vegetarian. She surprises us with the deliciousness of dishes I would never have thought of cooking. Her salads are supreme. And she keeps us healthy with fresh vegetable juices.

Fresh green juice courtesy of my daughter

The thing is, none of us in the family cooks what the others cook. The dish and the glory that goes with it belongs to the person who cooks it. We enjoy it all the more because of that.  And it feels strange if we veer away from that. It’s like a form of infidelity.

Yesterday, my husband was scheduled to cook. Suddenly there was a minor emergency with his work. This meant I had to cook his planned dinner. This had never been done before. But the ingredients had been purchased. Nothing else was planned. I had to tackle his specialty of Japanese Chicken With Brown Rice—more commonly known as Dad’s Japanese chicken and a real favourite. The recipe comes from a wonderful Weight Watchers cookbook, published in Australia. I can’t find the book at the moment or I’d give you the name of it! We work from a photocopy we made to save the cookbook from kitchen spills.

It’s a flavoursome dish made with chicken, baby eggplant (aubergine), baby (Dutch) carrots and ingredients like Tamari (Japanese soy sauce) and Mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine). Was I up for it? I went into the kitchen with some trepidation.

My attempt at Dad's Japanese chicken (those are not dead bananas in there but baby eggplant/aubergine!)
Cooking hubby’s favourite recipe was like wearing someone else’s clothes that didn’t quite fit. I did my best. However I couldn’t resist tinkering. I added some sesame oil to the peanut oil. Snuck in a fat clove of garlic. He hadn’t bought gai lan (aka Chinese broccoli) to serve with it. I used ordinary broccoli I had in the fridge. Fried the eggplant first as I think eggplant tastes better that way (thus using a bit more oil than the Weight Watchers allowance.) And didn’t have any green onions to garnish it with.

My husband graciously told me my version tasted better than his. I didn’t agree. It tasted good. Very good. But it wasn’t the same as when he made it. I like it so much better when it’s Dad’s dish. (And, okay, when I don’t have to cook it!)

I’ve found the recipe online, as well as being tasty, it’s also easy! Here it is: Weight Watchers Japanese Chicken with Brown Rice.

Do you have any family favourite dishes? Maybe one that is jealously guarded? A favourite that you like to make? I’d love to see your comments!

Jul 24, 2017

Retreating by Amy Andrews

I recently was lucky enough to team up with three other authors and go on a retreat to Currumbin on Queensland's beautiful Gold Coast. The house was amazing and there's just something about water that is so creatively inspiring for me. We all made great inroads to our WIP's and that was despite the amounts of wine we drank each night 😎😈😋

The house we stayed in was like something out of Home Beautiful. Seriously, there's no way I'd have stayed sane if I'd had little kids in this house. It was elegantly appointed, the view was to die for and I did not want to leave!

But hey....why not judge for yourself?

View from the main deck area - we even saw whales in the distance!

Early morning sunshine on my bed

View from my bedroom - see I did work!

Amazing sunrises!

Look at those Home Beautiful touches!!

Did I mention there was an open fire?

And amazing gardens?

Oh and the beach....

It's official, the beach is my happy place.

What's yours?

Jul 23, 2017

Sunday Smooch with Clare Connelly

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Clare Connelly but first 

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Jan Vanengen

Can you please contact louisageorgeauthor (at) gmail (dot) com to receive your prize.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Clare's debut Harlequin Presents - Bought for the Billionaire's Revenge!

 Sold to the ruthless tycoon! 

Innocent socialite Marnie Kenington was devastated when her parents forced her to spurn Nikos Kyriazis. She's never forgotten him, nor his raw sensuality. So years later, when Nikos insists on a meeting, Marnie's heart leaps…until Nikos strikes a cold, hard deal. Her family is on the verge of bankruptcy and he will rescue them—if she becomes his wife! 

Marnie's rejection drove self-made billionaire Nikos to unimaginable success. Now, he'll take his revenge. Marnie's poise is legendary, but he knows in the bedroom he can take her apart, piece by sensual piece…

Scene set-up

Marnie and Nikos are newly wed in their marriage of convenience, something Marnie has entered only to save her father from bankruptcy. They’ve just arrived at his mansion on the outskirts of Athens and Nikos is showing Marnie around. She’s told him she’ll need an office and he’s surprised – he didn’t know she worked and begins to wonder what else he doesn’t know about his bride…After all, it’s been six years. Is she still the same woman he once thought he loved?

Smooch  -

‘Does it matter? Do you care? Or are you just surprised that I haven’t been rocking in a corner over the demise of our relationship since you left?’

Though frustrated by Marnie’s reticence to speak honestly, Nikos liked seeing the spark that brought colour to her cheeks and impishness to her eyes. It intrigued him. He far preferred it to the obedient contrition she’d modelled in the kitchen.

Instantly he thought of other ways in which he might inspire a similar reaction.

He nodded, concealing his innermost thoughts. ‘Fine, have it your way. I do not need to know about your employment if you do not wish to speak of it.’ He shrugged, as though the conversation was now boring him. ‘I’ll have a room made available. Just let my assistant know what you need in terms of infrastructure and he’ll see you’re set up.’

He? You have a male assistant?’

It was Nikos’s turn to act surprised. ‘Yes. Bart. He’s been with me five years.’

She laughed quietly and shook her head. ‘I guess that makes sense. I can imagine you’d run through female secretaries pretty damned fast, given your track record for taking any woman with a pulse to bed.’

‘Jealous, agape?’

She’d been jealous, all right. For years she’d followed his exploits in the gossip columns. Like watching a train crash, she’d been powerless not to stare at the pictures. They’d come to life in her over-fertile imagination so that she hadn’t simply looked at an attractive couple coming out of some hot spot so much as imagined them in bed, or perhaps on the dining table, or the kitchen floor, while she lay in her own bed. Alone, untouched, able only to dream of Nikos rather than feel his hands on her body...

‘Oh, yes,’ she simpered, with an attempt at false sincerity. ‘I’ve spent the last six years desperately waiting for you to reappear in my life. I’ve been missing you and dreaming about you and praying you’d turn up and blackmail me into a loveless marriage. This is pretty much the high point of my life, actually.’

‘And we haven’t even slept together yet,’ he said, in a voice that was honey and dynamite.  

Her breath caught in her throat. She spun away from him, her cheeks flushed.

‘What is it, agape? Suddenly you are shy? It is our wedding night.’

She lifted a hand to her throat and lightly rubbed her skin. ‘I... Of course not.’ She squared her shoulders. Hadn’t she been dreaming about this for as long as she’d known him?’

‘Relax.’ His hands on her shoulders were firm. He spun her in the circle of his arms so that they were facing one another, his warmth offering some comfort to her. ‘You are shaking like a leaf.’

Tell  him the truth! She fluttered her eyes closed, her lashes dark circles against her pale cheeks.

‘You are my wife.’ He pressed a finger under her chin, lifting her face to his. His eyes were troubled, tormented. ‘Are you...afraid of me?’

It was so uncharacteristic of him to show doubt that she raced to reassure him. ‘Of course I’m not.

She shook her head, inhaling a deep breath that flooded her system with his spicy scent. ‘I’m afraid of
myself, and of what I want right now.’

He nodded, silently imploring her to continue.

‘You hate my father. I think you might even hate me.’ She lifted a finger to his lips to stop him from speaking. ‘But I don’t hate you.’ Her eyes were enormous, loaded with fear and desire. ‘I don’t hate you...’

Her finger, initially placed against his mouth to silence him, dragged slowly across his lower lip. Her eyes followed its progress as if mesmerised. She knew he was going to kiss her. The intent was in every line of his body. If she’d wanted to she could have stepped away. She could have asked for more time. Instead she lifted herself up on tiptoe, crushing her mouth to his.

In that bittersweet moment all Marnie needed was to right one of the biggest wrongs of her past: she wanted Nikos and, damn it, she was finally going to have him.

To hell with the consequences. They’d be waiting for her afterwards.

Her body flashed like flame when his mouth crushed down on hers with the kind of intensity that spoke of long-held desire. She was powerless to swim against the tide of need: powerless and unwilling.

Her feminine heart was hot and wet, slick with moisture and need. Unfamiliar but instinct-driven urges were controlling her body. Her hands pushed under his shirt, seeking skin and warmth. She traced her fingertips up his hair-roughened chest, splaying her fingers wide. She felt the beating of his heart beneath her touch; it was as frantic as her own.

His body weight pushed her downwards—not to the bed but to the floor, to her knees. He knelt with her, kissing her, his tongue clashing fiercely with hers as his hands pulled through her hair then pushed at her head, holding her against his mouth. She groaned into him, marking their kiss with the desperation that was scrawling a painful tattoo across her being—inking her as his in a way that would never be erased.

He pulled at her as his body pushed at hers until she fell back onto the carpet. His weight on top of her was divine. She curved her hands to his back, digging her nails into his warm skin as she felt the power of his arousal for herself. Hard and firm through their layers of clothing, a bodily ache was spreading through her. She lifted her hips, silently begging him for more. To mark her once and for all.

‘Nikos!’ She cried his name into the room and he groaned in response. ‘Please!’

For a chance to win a signed paperback of Clare's debut, she'd like you to have some fun with the question below in the comments section!

"If you absolutely had to enter into a marriage of convenience, who would you choose to marry? (Not including real-life spouses of course!) I'll go first... it would be a tough choice for me between Tarzan and Captain Von Trapp... you?"

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and another smooch will be posted!

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver