Sharing Butterscotch self-saucing pudding

When I posted a photo on Facebook after I made this wonderful Butterscotch Self-saucing Pudding, people asked me for the recipe.

It’s from the Winter issue of Coles Magazine, a free magazine from the major Australian supermarket chain Coles. My “day job” is editor of the magazine, and I get the privilege of tasting the wonderful recipes as they are developed and tested. This pudding is so delicious, I’ve made it twice. Once with walnuts, as in the recipe, and once with pecans instead. Just writing about it is making me want to make it a third time!

Australian readers can pick up a copy of the Coles Magazine in store right now. Or the recipe is on the Coles website.

BUTTERSCOTCH SELF-SAUCING PUDDING

COOK TIME 35-40 minutes

SERVES 6-8

1 and 1/3 cups Self-raising Flour

1/3 cup Brown Sugar

100 g Butter, melted and cooled

1 Egg

1/2 cup Milk

1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste

1/3 cup Walnuts, chopped

Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream, to serve

Sauce Mixture:

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

1/4 cup Golden Syrup

40 g Butter, chopped

1 and 1/2 cups Boiling Water

 

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan and grease a 6-cup capacity ovenproof dish. Sift flour and sugar into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.

2. Whisk together butter, egg, milk and vanilla with a fork and pour into the dry ingredients. With a wooden spoon, fold together until evenly combined, then fold through the walnuts. Spoon into prepared dish and smooth the surface.

3. For the Sauce Mixture, combine brown sugar, golden syrup, butter and boiling water in a jug. Slowly and carefully pour over the back of a spoon evenly onto the batter. Bake for 35-40 mins, until the pudding has risen, browned and is firm to touch in the centre (it will move a little due to the sauce underneath). Serve immediately with cream or ice cream.


NOTE: Australian standard measuring cups are used in this recipe. An Australian standard measuring cup is 250ml, an American one is 240ml so there isn’t much difference in a recipe like this.

100 grams is approximately 4 oz

40 grams is approximately 1 and 1/2 oz

If golden syrup (a thick sugar syrup) isn’t available, I think  maple syrup or corn syrup could work as a substitute,  though I haven’t tried it myself.

160 degrees C oven heat  is approximately  325 degrees F

180 degrees C oven heat is approximately 350 degrees F

For an excellent resource in converting baking measures and ingredients from other countries, visit Joy of Baking  


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Writing (and shopping) retreat

My friend, author Cathleen Ross, and I had the farmhouse to ourselves for the weekend—peace and quiet to write, write, write. We wrote, we read, and we… I was going to confess we ate the chocolate Easter eggs we bought for our families but maybe I might deny that.

To take a break, we went shopping at some of the not-too-far-away shops and a market that has several floors of antiques, bric-a-bric and gadgets. We had a fire at the farmhouse last year and nearly everything was destroyed by flame or smoke.  What an excuse to scoop up a few replacement bargains!

First up was this gorgeous jug. Who could leave it sitting there with its $5-reduced-from-$20 label? It would have been downright mean to reject it.

And then there was this pre-loved silver-plated spaghetti server. At $7, I felt it would add a touch of luxury to the simple pasta meals we share around the farmhouse table. (Must beg Cathleen to make me some of the awesome spaghetti sauce she learned to make from her Italian father-in-law. It’s truly deserving of a silver server!)

I don’t know what these beautiful candle sticks are made from, some kind of enamel possibly, but I fell in love with them and was happy to pay $16 for the pair. Practical as well as pretty—we often lose power when storms rage through our valley and it’s reassuring to have candles to hand when it suddenly goes dark.

Sweeping the floor is never much fun, but I rather think I’ll enjoy it more with this cheerful $6 dustpan and broom. Those extended handles should make the chore not so backbreaking.

And then there was this print on canvas, my most expensive buy of the day for $18. I love botanical prints and while this certainly isn’t the real deal, that didn’t stop me from taking it home!

We spent a while hunting through shelves and shelves of secondhand paperbacks and Cathleen found a wonderful selection of favorite out-of-print romances.

Then we went home and wrote again. And I came up with some creative explanations for my husband for just why we needed a silver spaghetti server!

In praise of plums

Our plums on the tree

One of the very special things about an old house is the garden that comes with it.  Our farmhouse is graced with wonderful fruit trees—some of them more than fifty years old, our neighbors tell us. The star is a gnarled old plum tree that each year bears an abundance of superb plums—more than enough for us and for the flocks of birds that also appreciate its fruit. The windfalls are enjoyed by our chickens, horses and little bulls.

Never happier than when picking his birthday plums

A cool, gray wet summer this year meant we didn’t get much bounty from the other fruit trees or the vegetable garden. But the plum tree more than made up for that by giving us hundreds of perfect fruits. My husband has a particular love for the plum tree, it bears fruit around about his birthday in January and he sees the crop as a gift just for him. He’s very possessive of them!

Happy harvest!

Over the last few years, I’ve learned how to save the plums as jams and preserved in jars (though nothing like the perfect preserves I admire made by the experts). I freeze them too, but our electricity supply can be erratic when storms rage through our valley so I don’t like to risk too many in the freezer!

Stewed with vanilla and cinnamon

The family favorite is plums stewed with sugar, a vanilla pod and a cinnamon quill. “Make enough for the whole year, please,” demands my daughter who likes to eat them with muesli and yogurt for breakfast.

Stacked ready to freeze

I did my best to fill her order, with hubby helping to wash and stone and cut (and snack!).  But in spite of our best efforts, work and writing and everything else got in the way and I didn’t quite manage a year’s supply this time. Preserving fruit is hot, hard, time-consuming work! However there is a still a satisfying number of containers stored away in pantry and freezer. And, yes, I confess, I’m guilty of holding open the cupboard doors and gloating over them!

Plum upside down cake - yum!

We have no idea what variety our plums are—we just enjoy them and hope we’ll be enjoying them for years to come…

Go gadgets!

Some people go crazy for shoes. I’m a sucker for kitchen gadgets. Each year, I treat myself to a new one—something quite different to the ones I already have. I allow myself plenty of time to traipse around a kitchenware store, browsing and marveling at all the gadgets I never knew I needed until I chanced upon them.

It juliennes vegetables

My latest acquisition is this gadget for julienning vegetables. Just slide down the carrot and you have fine, even slices.

Aren't those carrots beautiful?

Here is my julienner in action. I’m entranced with it! My husband not so much. He thought it was a vegetable peeler and scraped his fingers trying to peel potatoes with it. Maybe I should have told him about it. Maybe I didn’t want to hear him asking me did I really need it!

This year I did something I usually never do—made a repeat purchase. This nifty quiche tin was last year’s impulse purchase and I used it so often I began to fear what I would do without it.

The perforated base is the secret

The holes in the base make for wonderfully well-cooked pastry in savory or sweet tarts. When I saw one sitting on a 30 percent off table, I pounced on it. Now that I have two residing in my kitchen, I rest easier.

My favorite cheese and caramelized onion tart with thyme from the garden

Okay, so I might have left this particular cheese and caramelized onion tart in the oven a tad too long and the pastry shrank—but my lunch guests (some writer friends) did not complain. We enjoyed talking about our latest works-in-progress—and of course I showed off my tin with the holes in the base and graciously accepted all compliments.

I bought these Mickey Mouse baking measures at Disney World in Orlando some years back at the Romance Writers of America annual convention—the one that got relocated to Florida when Nashville was flooded.

Childish? Heck no!

 

They’re almost too cute to use! But use them I do, as they are American-sized measures, very useful for when I want to cook from American recipes. (The Australian standard measures are slightly different.)

The apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree, as look what my darling teenage daughter brought home for me last week. For no reason. She just saw them and knew I’d love them. Of course I love them even more because of her thoughtfulness!

A gift from my sweetheart of a daughter

My love for kitchen gadgets is a fickle one. Sometimes the love affair is over all too soon. The favored ones live in the top drawer. Below is a drawer full of discarded toys that didn’t fulfill their potential in one disappointing way or another. Sorry, gadgets, but it’s not you, it’s me!

Oh, and by the way, I go crazy for shoes too…

My hot, hunky new hero!

 

My new contemporary romance e-book Something About Joe is now live on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other e-retailers for the special price of $0.99.

Something About Joe is a reissue of my first published novel (then called Mitchell’s Nanny, published by a small independent publisher.

Even years after the novel was published, readers let me know how much they loved that story of a stressed out single mom who falls in love with her toddler’s new nanny—a hot hunk on a Harley who roars into her heart. When a copy went for a surprising sum at a charity auction at a romance reader’s convention, I began to wonder if Joe and Allison’s story might reach a wider, new audience.

First thing I did when I decided to indie publish it as an e-book, was to change the title from Mitchell’s Nanny (an author often doesn’t have a choice of their book title) to Something About Joe. The second was to commission a lovely cover from the mega-talented designer Kim Killion at at Hot Damn Designs. The third was to update some of the details in the book to make it sit happily in 2012.

Something About Joe is already getting some wonderful feedback from readers—and five-star reviews!

Reviewer and blogger Katrina Whittaker says: “I’d give Something About Joe more than 5 stars if I could. It’s a delightful and heartfelt romance between two unlikely people who complement each other to perfection.”

“Joe is every woman’s fantasy man!” says another reader.

My hero Joe Martin is hot, smart, great with kids and an amazing lover. No wonder heroine Allison Bradley has such trouble fighting her attraction to him. These two really have quite a lot to work through before they get their guaranteed romance novel “happy ever after” ending!

Here’s where to find Something About Joe. If you read it and enjoy it, please let me know!

AMAZON

http://www.amazon.com/Something-About-Joe-ebook/dp/B0076WJSSK

BARNES & NOBLE

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/something-about-joe-kandy-shepherd/1109155752

SMASHWORDS

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/130749

Not a creature was stirring….

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the farmyard, not a creature was stirring, not even a… dog, cat, horse, chicken or cow.


Recently, people have asked me why I talk about my cats and dog but not about my other pets. These are all my animals and I’m sure if they could talk they would join me in wishing all the visitors to my blog the very best for the festive season.

Miss Molly

Yes, there’s a dog under all that unclipped fur!

Cindy-Lou

Cindy is the farm cat who appeared on our veranda one dark and stormy night seven years ago and is still with us, happily helping to keep down the mouse population.

Albert, my Burmilla prince

My ancient Albert just celebrated his 20 and a half birthday (half birthdays really count at his age!), that’s well over an hundred in cat years. He was born in London, England and given a right royal name after Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort.

Banjo (front) and Star

Banjo, the pony in front, is my daughter’s beloved Australian stock horse who has won her quite a collection of trophies. Behind him is Star, our rescue horse who only likes to be petted or ridden by women.

Toby and Spud

Toby is gentle and amiable, and helped me get over my fear of horses. Handsome Spud is a gentle giant who just didn’t have the nature to be a race horse.

Thimble and Squirt

Squirt and Thimble, miniature Dexters, are meant to be on our little farm to help keep weeds down, but when they demand equal hay rights to horses, who can resist them?

Tabitha

My daughter called her tortoiseshell Tabitha after a kitty character in a book. Yes, I know she’s a tortoiseshell and not a tabby cat, but who argues that with a seven-year-old?

The hens have names in alphabetical order

Our Isa Browns have the only 5-star hen house in the valley—built by a previous owner to make sure foxes would never get our girls. Thank you, chickens, for the wonderful eggs for my holiday baking.

Galah and parrot visitors

King parrot on the verandah

These beautiful parrots aren’t pets but beautiful wild Australian birds who grace us with their presence. (They also love eating our fruit on our fruit trees which can be annoying–but there is enough for us all.)

Kangaroo visitors

Our little farm adjoins a lot of bushland and we often see kangaroos and wallabies bounding across our property. At moments like this, they seem as curious about us as we are about them.

Christmas, New Year and Hanukkah fall in the summer vacation “Down Under” and I’m hoping to kick back, rest, relax, read and write! Hope you have fun, wherever you are!


The Castaway Bride

I love the cover!

Deep breath. Toe in the water. Dive in!

I’ve joined the indie e-book publisher community. THE CASTAWAY BRIDE went live on Amazon and Smashwords on the weekend, and will soon be up at Barnes & Noble and other e-book retailers.

It’s kinda scary to put a story out there by yourself, when you’ve only worked with a publisher before. But I have faith in my story; got it professionally edited; a beautiful cover designed by the amazing Hot Damn Designs; learned how to format; and uploaded.

I was inspired by all the buzz surrounding indie publishing at the Romance Writers of America national convention in New York City. And, as I have worked as a magazine editor for most of my working life, I wasn’t daunted by the process.

Within hours of the book being on Amazon, I got my first review—five-star and very positive: “A fun story with spicy scenes make this a great beach read.”

What more could I ask? Thank you, lovely reviewer!

One of the first question people ask me is: “Is there a dog in THE CASTAWAY BRIDE?” (My books LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, published by Berkley Sensation, have lots of dogs in them.)

Yes and no. Burnt out and betrayed by people he trusted, my hero Matt Slade is taking time out on his yacht. He’d love to have his beloved black Labrador Jake sailing with him, but Jake gets seasick and so can’t be on board. Matt has to Skype his dog to keep in touch. So Jake is part of the story but never actually appears on the pages.

Needless to say my heroine Cristy Walters finds this endearing in such a hot, handsome hunk. I couldn’t love a man who didn’t love animals, and I don’t expect my heroines to either!

But the focus of THE CASTAWAY BRIDE is purely on two people, both emotionally wounded in their own way, finding passion and true love on a beautiful tropical island. With white sands and turquoise waters; waterfalls and palm trees. Sigh! No wonder I liked writing this romance so much—it’s a happy, sensual fantasy. A love story. I so enjoyed giving Matt and Cristy their happy-ever-after!

 THE CASTAWAY BRIDE

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005J01FKU

 

 

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/83486