On reflection 2021 has been a time of family, of joy, of creating (art), of love, of new beginnings ( new grandchild arriving April 2022) of rescue dog love (Maggie) of art and more art ( did I mention art?) of reading… so many good books and so many new friends…
Happy New Year and thanks for following this journey with me.
200g cubed pancetta (you can use either smoked or unsmoked)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 egg yolks
Freshly ground black pepper
50g parmesan, finely grated, to serve
Bring a large saucepan of generously salted water to the boil over a medium to high heat. Place the trimmed broccoli crown in the pan and cook for 3 minutes, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Leave to steam dry for a minute.
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions in the same pan you cooked the broccoli in, to save time and washing up.
While the pasta’s cooking, put the broccoli in a food processor and blitz on pulse mode until finely chopped (or chop by hand).
Place a large frying pan over a medium to high heat and cook the pancetta for a few minutes until golden and its fat has been released. Lower the heat a little, add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking water, and add the pasta to the frying pan. Continue heating and stirring for a minute to allowing the pasta to soak up the flavour of the pancetta and garlic.
Remove the pan from the heat and add some of the reserved pasta water (about three-quarters of a cup) and the egg yolks, and stir to create a creamy sauce. Don’t be tempted to put it back on the heat or you will end up with scrambled eggs – the residual heat will gently cook the egg, creating a lovely glossy sauce. Add a little extra pasta water if it seems too dry.
Stir in the blitzed broccoli and season with plenty of black pepper (you shouldn’t need to add any salt as the pancetta and parmesan are both salty). Sprinkle over the grated parmesan and serve.
INDIAN SPICED CHICKPEA BURGERS WITH CAULIFLOWER RAITA + MANGO CHUTNEY
SERVES 4 – PREP 20MINS – COOK 10MINS
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tsp shop-bought curry paste (korma works well)
grated zest of 1 lemon
10g coriander, stems finely
chopped and leaves roughly chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
FOR THE CAULIFLOWER RAITA
150g natural yoghurt
juice of ½ lemon
10g mint leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper
4 burger buns, toasted
4 tbsp mango chutney
4 lettuce leaves
4 tbsp shop-bought crispy fried onions
To make the burger mixture, place the chickpeas, curry paste, lemon zest and fresh coriander in a food processor and blitz until the mixture comes together. If you don’t have a food processor you can mash the mixture with a fork instead.
Mix the red onion and breadcrumbs into the chickpeas and shape into 4 patties.
To make the raita, shave the raw cauliflower with a mandoline or sharp knife into thin slices and place in a bowl. Mix together the yoghurt in a bowl with the lemon juice and mint, season to taste with salt and pepper and fold into the cauliflower.
Heat the coconut oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add the burgers and cook for 3–4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown on both sides.
Assemble the burgers by spreading the base of the toasted buns with mango chutney, then topping with the lettuce followed by the chickpea patties. Pile the cauliflower raita on top of each burger and sprinkle with the crispy fried onions. Place the bun lids on top and squash down a little with the palm of your hand to serve.
Description: A returned criminal, a cult-like family and cybercrime all clash against the backdrop of the Flinders Ranges in this thrilling new rural suspense novel from the best-selling Voice of the Outback.
Emma Cameron, a recently divorced farmer and a local in Barker, runs Deception Creek, the farm that three generations of her family have owned before her. Every day Emma pushes herself hard on the land, hoping to make ten-year-old memories of a terrible car accident disappear. And now there are more recent nightmares of an ex-husband who refuses to understand how much the farm means to Emma.
When criminal Joel Hammond is released from jail and heads home to Barker, Detective Dave Burrows and his officer Senior Sergeant Jack Higgins are on high alert. Joel has a long and sorry history with many of the townsfolk and they are not keen to see him home to stay.
Not all of the Barker locals want to see Joel run out of town though. Some even harbour doubts about Joel’s conviction. The town finds itself split down the middle, families pitted against each other with devastating outcomes.
Brenda’sView: When Joel Hammond returned to Barker, to his hometown and the home his parents had left him when they died, he’d known it wouldn’t be easy. But he hadn’t expected the anger and hate directed at him by a prominent family in town. Joel had been convicted of fraud at his job in Adelaide and went to jail for five years, before adding another four years for assault while inside. He was a changed man, but he just wanted the past behind him.
Emma Cameron owned and ran Deception Creek, the property which had been in her family for generations, and she loved her work. She had farm hand Matt working for her and he’d been reliable and a great support with all his farming knowledge over the six years he’d been working on Deception Creek. Emma had been first on scene to a fatal accident nine years prior and still had nightmares from the memories; now with her recent divorce, she wanted to bury herself in her work on the farm and try to forget her worries.
Detective Dave Burrows and Senior Sergeant Jack Higgins both felt there was something dangerous hovering over their town. With Joel back, unhappy residents, strangers in town, Jack and Dave were both on high alert. What would be the outcome of the uneasy atmosphere in Barker? Would Dave and Jack be able to keep the peace?
Deception Creek is another outstanding, tense suspense novel from Aussie author Fleur McDonald which I absolutely loved. The author is up there on my favourites list – I always look forward to her next book! Well crafted characters, and of course my favourites – Dave Burrows and Jack Higgins – lead the way in this phenomenal read which I highly recommend.
With thanks to Allen & Unwin AU for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
Set in a beach-shack town an hour from Melbourne, The Way It Is Now tells the story of a burnt-out cop named Charlie Deravin.
Charlie is living in his family’s holiday house, on forced leave since he made a mess of things at work.
Things have never been easy for Charlie. Twenty years earlier his mother went missing in the area, believed murdered. His father has always been the main suspect, though her body was never found.
Until now: the foundations are being dug for a new house on a vacant block. The skeletal remains of a child and an adult are found—and Charlie’s past comes crashing in on him.
The Way It Is Now is the enthralling new novel by Garry Disher, one of Australia’s most loved and celebrated crime writers.
Twenty years prior, Charlie Deravin’s mother, Rose, went missing. She and his father were in the middle of a divorce and Charlie and his brother Liam had just evicted a tenant from their mother’s home. But when Rose disappeared, the police blamed Rhys, Charlie’s father. Rhys was an ex-cop and Charlie was a cop on suspension – Charlie had moved back to the little seaside town and was living in the shack his parents had called home before it all went pear-shaped. Charlie had spent a lot of the last twenty years interviewing people and trying to find his mother, ruining his own marriage in the process…
When the news hit the town of the skeletal remains of a child being found on a vacant block, and then underneath the child, the remains of an adult, Charlie was sure it would be his mother. He was positive he knew the identity of the child as well. The police homicide department was soon on the scene, opening the case once again and interviewing all those who were interviewed twenty years prior. Rhys and his second wife, Fay, were overseas cruising and wouldn’t be home any time soon. But still Rhys was a suspect. What would be the outcome for Charlie and his family as this cold case once again came to life?
The Way it is Now is a standalone novel by Australia’s master crime writer Garry Disher, and it was outstanding. A relaxed but twisty, tension filled story of a family and their ongoing grief, the divisions throughout the family and the grievances which were the result of what happened, made for an excellent crime novel which I highly recommend.
With thanks to Text Publishing for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve been a fan of Liz Byrski’s work for many years and her 11th fiction book At The End Of The Day doesn’t disappoint. Her ability to create believable and relatable characters shines through once again.
The main characters are of an age rarely highlighted in fiction, if seen at all this older age group is generally in a minor role, offering sage advice or in place as a warning about the ravages of time. Liz Byrski puts them centre stage with their imperfections, realistic concerns and ever present worry of irrelevance.
This character driven, insightful story deals with the nuances of ageing, the gradual physical changes and the mental challenges of self-worth, loneliness and decision-making that accompanies the years.
The wonderful main characters are balanced by a supporting cast of different ages dealing with realistic challenges of their own that are topical and thought provoking.
I found this book thoroughly enjoyable and relatable, and I felt connected in a way that rarely happens through fiction. These people could have been my neighbours.
Tippy, Uncle Pike and Devon are back for another camp cozy crime mystery from the award-winning author of The Nancys.
It’s been four months since Tippy, Uncle Pike and Devon were together for Christmas. Now back for the first anniversary of Tippy’s father’s death, the Nancys are reformed when Riverstone is rocked by an early morning explosion that kills three people and destroys the town hall.
A new case is born and the Nancys re-form. Is the accused bomber really guilty? Is there a second bomber? And if so, does that mean a threat to destroy Riverstone Bridge is real? And is asparagus a colour? Once again, it is up to the Nancys to go against the flow and ignore police advice to get to the truth.
It’s great to be back in Nancy business again, but this time it’s all different. Uncle Pike and Devon can’t agree on anything and Tippy is learning hard truths about the world and the people she loves the most. Can the Nancys stay together to do their best work and save the town? Or will the killer strike again? When everyone is right, does that make you wrong? And can Tippy ever trust anyone again
** Thanks to the lovely people at Allen & Unwin Australia I have a copy of the new release “Nancy Business” to give away to one lucky Australian resident. Its easy. In the comments simply tell me where this series is set. Giveaway closes 25th June and the winner will be randomly selected from all entrants. Good luck.**
Tippy Chan is eleven and lives in a small town in a very quiet part of the world – the place her Uncle Pike escaped from the first chance he got as a teenager. Now Pike is back with his new boyfriend Devon to look after Tippy while her mums on a cruise.
Tippy is in love with her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books, especially the early ones where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted. She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery. When her teacher’s body is found beside Riverstone’s only traffic light, Tippy’s moment has arrived. She and her minders form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club.
But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs into something far more dangerous. A wrongful arrest, a close call with the murderer, and an intervention from Tippy’s mum all conspire against The Nancys. But regardless of their own safety, and despite the constant distraction of questionable fashion choices in the town that style forgot, The Nancys know only they can stop the killer from striking again.
The Nancys is gripping and glorious, a heart-warming novel for anyone who’s ever felt they were on the outside looking in. At its heart it is about the family we make and how we must summon the courage to face the truth, no matter what the cost may be.
This book is …a little bit of everything. It is a murder/mystery. It is a story about family, love, life. It is humorous and yet the last three quarters of the book are exciting and page turning. It really is a bit of everything woven delicately or riotously (depending on where you are at with the read) into a story about loss and grief. Loss and grief and the importance of family would be my biggest take away form this read.
The main characters are colourfully drawn, I especially liked the voice of the child narrator Tippy Chan. What more can I say? It is well written, engaging and I can’t wait for the second book, Nancy Business to reach my doorstep.