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Archive for October, 2013

Recipe: Tasty Pumpkin and Cranberry Tagine

This recipe is the tastiest dish I’ve had in ages and is my new favorite way to cook pumpkin. Even though this is a vegetarian dish, I dare meat-eaters to say they don’t enjoy this pumpkin and cranberry tagine.

Pumpkin and Cranberry Tagine

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 red onions, thickly sliced
  • 3cm piece fresh root ginger, grated
  • 500g/1lb 2oz pumpkin or squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon,
  • 1 teaspoon each of coriander, cumin and harissa paste
  • 1 tablespoon clear honey
  • 700g/24 ounces bottle tomato passata
  • 50g/2 ounces dried cranberries
  • 400g/14 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a tagine or just use an ordinary pot.

2. Add the onions and lightly fry.

3. Add the cinnamon, coriander, cumin, harissa paste and ginger plus the pumpkin.

4. Add the honey, passata and cranberries.

5. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender.

6. Add the chickpeas about 15 minutes into the cooking.

7. If the dish is too thick add a little water.

8. Garnish with parsley or fresh coriander and serve with couscous or rice.

Shelley’s Notes:

1. Passata is like a liquid tomato puree. When I don’t have any to hand I use two cans of chopped tomatoes and this works just as well.

2. The recipe doesn’t use salt or pepper and you don’t need it. This dish is full of tasty flavor.

3. The recipe calls for dried cranberries but next time I make this I might try some frozen cranberries instead.

4. The photo doesn’t do the dish justice. I took it quite late at night and my photos weren’t as good as I’d hoped.

5. Recipe comes from Good Food magazine, January 2010.

What are your favorite dishes featuring pumpkin or cranberries?

The One Where Rosalind Snatches a Kiss

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Welcome to My Sexy Saturday, a fun blog hop. Here are the details: every Saturday, published and unpublished authors will be sharing 7 words, sentences, or paragraphs from a work-in-progress or an already published story.

My snippet this week comes from The Spurned Viscountess, a historical romance. Rosalind has an arranged marriage with Lucien, Viscount Hastings, and unfortunately Lucien isn’t interested in her. Rosalind is determined to grab security and have babies, so she isn’t going easy on poor Lucien. Something weird is happening at the castle and Rosalind is investigating. Lucien just happens to get in her way and she seizes the chance to further her cause. Just quietly, he doesn’t stand a chance!

MY SEXY SATURDAY:

Rosalind screwed up her face in a frown as she heard Hastings whistle to Oberon through the door. The black whickered softly in return. What was she going to say? What was she going to do? She imagined Hastings standing on the other side of the door. Excitement shot through her veins, despite her predicament.

The hinge creaked when the door opened. Rosalind watched with a combination of trepidation and anticipation. The gap widened to reveal Hastings’s shiny black boots, his mud-splattered stockings and breeches. Her eyes rose to his gray shirt and black jacket. Her mouth dried, her pulse pounding with expectancy, excitement. She swallowed and lifted her gaze to loose black hair and his…mouth. Finally, she met his astonished eyes.

Speak, she thought frantically. Quick before he asks what you are doing here. Distract. Attack. Something. Anything.

“You’re back,” she cried and planted a kiss on his beguiling lips.

He tensed. In shock or astonishment, Rosalind wasn’t sure but ceased to care. His lips were as soft as a baby’s skin. Her hands curled into his shoulders and she leaned into him, enjoying the play of hard muscles and the earthy masculine scent of him.

“What are you doing?” he demanded finally, pulling away enough to glare at her.

“I’m pleased to see you.” A stupid half-wit would sense his bewilderment. But along with confusion lay shocked enjoyment. And that, decided Rosalind, was a good thing.

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BLURB:

Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind’s only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn’t expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her.

Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry–not when he’s plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir.

Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close–and tempted into passionate kisses–Lucien soon finds himself in danger of falling in love with his own wife…

Purchase The Spurned Viscountess

To read more Sexy Saturday posts, check out the links at My Sexy Saturday

Alaska, A Slice of Paradise

Today I’m turning back the clock and making a return trip to Alaska. I loved Alaska. It reminded me of a frontier town – how I imagine America used to be before it became settled. The scenery is gorgeous, the towns few and far between and the locals are friendly, especially if you’re a female. Ladies, if you’re looking for a husband there are lots of single men in Alaska!

We spent about two weeks in Alaska. We traveled down to the Kenai Peninsula then up to Denali National Park and up as far as Fairbanks. We also did a cruise down the coast to take in some of the towns only accessible via water.

I have memories of HUGE mosquitoes (laughingly referred to as the state bird) and long, long days. In Fairbanks, hubby and friends played golf at midnight because it never got dark.

Along the way, we stopped at towns that were dots on the map and full of friendly locals. From memory wet T-shirt competitions were very popular in the pubs.

Here are a selection of photos:

Glacier Alaska

This is Bear Glacier. I love the blue ice. Very pretty.

Ketchikan Alaska

Ketchikan, Alaska. This town is only accessible by boat.

Anchorage Fishing

A salmon fishing contest in Anchorage.

Anchorage Salmon

A determined angler with his prize, Anchorage.

Hyder Alaska

Hyder, a small town near the border with Canada.

Hyder ghost Town

Bears, Alaska

Bears, near Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Not far from Alaskan border.

Mr Munro and I hope to make a return trip one day. It’s a beautiful spot.

Have you ever visited Alaska? Have the desire to visit?

13 Quotes About Love

Thursday Thirteen

This week I’m talking about love.

Thirteen Quotes About Love

1. Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. ~ James Baldwin.

2. Love is the delightful interval between meeting a beautiful girl and discovering that she looks like a haddock. ~ John Barrymore.

3. What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork. ~ Pearl Bailey.

4. Love will draw an elephant through a key-hole. ~ Samuel Richardson.

5. He gave me a look you could have poured on a waffle. ~ Ring Lardner.

6. Art is love. ~ William Holman Hunt.

7. What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork. ~ Pearl Bailey.

8. I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world. ~ Muhammad Ali.

9. Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come. ~ Matt Groening.

10. Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not. ~ James Joyce.

11. Mother’s love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved. ~ Erich Fromm.

12. Love is metaphysical gravity. ~ R. Buckminister Fuller.

13. Love affairs have always greatly interested me, but I do not greatly care for them in books or moving pictures. In a love affair, I wish to be the hero, with no audience present.

Source: Advanced Banter by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson

Which one is your favorite? Or do you have another quotation about love that you’d like to share?

Moon Crazy

Hubby and I have been taking a lot of photos with our new camera. Here is a selection of moon shots. It’s amazing seeing the craters so clearly.

Moon

This is the moon as we saw it from our back yard with no magnification.

Moon1

A little zoom and the shadows and craters are more obvious.

Moon2

Hubby thinks the placement of the craters is why people speak of the man in the moon.

Moon3

And here’s a close up of his face.

Moon4

This one is zoomed up even more, and you can see the craters.

Would you like to fly into space or become an astronaut? Did you want to be an astronaut while you were growing up?

Recipe: Delicious Limocello

When we visited Italy last year, we took the opportunity to taste lots of limocello. We also brought some home with us. Limocello is actually very easy to make, so if you have a surplus of lemons, give this recipe a try.

This recipe is from From Simple Pleasures by Annabel Langbein.

Limocello

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups vodka

Peel of 8 lemons

Juice of three lemons, strained

¾ cup sugar

3 whole cloves

Method:

1. Combine vodka and lemon peel, cover and leave for 48 hours in a cool, dark place. i.e. pantry.

2. Strain the liquid.

3. Boil lemon juice, sugar and cloves with one cup of water until syrupy.

4. Cool, remove cloves and mix into lemon vodka.

5. Serve chilled in short glasses or with ice and soda.

Note: My photo is of Limocello cream, so when you make the above recipe, it won’t look quite as creamy. The final product will taste delicious though! It’s perfect during summer or any time of the year.

What is your favorite summer drink?

Where Bella Teaches Shelley To Sit

Bella, our puppy is very smart, and she picks up things quickly. She was top of the class at puppy school. Recently she has been difficult when it comes time to go for a walk.

Bella

She likes to go for a different walk each time, and if I head off in the normal direction, she sits down and refuses to move. If we turn in a new direction, she’s happy and bouncy, trotting alongside like a perfectly behaved pet. If she meets “little people” during her walk and especially giggly little girls, she sits down and refuses to move until a meet and greet has been completed.

Color me frustrated.

At first it was funny, and I laughed. Then this stubborn behavior happened every day, and I lost my sense of humor.

I tried speaking in a stern voice.

I tried bribery with some dog crackers.

I tried pulling her. (Can’t do this too hard because her collar sometimes pops over her head, and the last thing I want is a loose puppy on the busy roads)

I tried shouting. (The neighbors twitched their curtains, but that was all that happened. Bella didn’t move!

Finally last week, in exasperation, I sat down in the middle of the footpath and glared over at Bella. She looked at me, and I could literally see the surprise on her furry face. She jumped up and came over for a pat. I got to my feet and our walk continued. Each time she decided to sit, I sat too.

Our outings seemed to go a bit more smoothly, and I got my way about the location of our walk.

I was telling my husband when he got home from work, and he started laughing.

“What?” I asked.

“Don’t you see what has happened?” he said. “Bella has taught you to sit!”

Anyone else have a naughty pet? Also, does anyone have suggestions for natural remedies for dog allergies? We’re not sure what is causing the allergy. There are so many variables.

13 Quotes About Ideas

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I’m about to start plotting a new book and my mind is spinning with ideas. Ideas are the inspiration for my 13 this week.

Thirteen Quotes About Ideas

1. The best ideas come to me when I polish shoes early in the morning. ~ Johannes Brahms

2. Why is it I get my best ideas in the morning while I’m shaving? ~ Albert Einstein

3. Two ideas are always needed: one to kill the other. ~ Georges Braque

4. No man can describe how an idea comes to him. ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

5. Ideas come from space. ~ Thomas Edison

6. There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them. ~ George Orwell

7. Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen of them. ~ John Steinbeck

8. I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones. ~ John Cage

9. Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats. ~ Howard Aiken

10. An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all. ~ Oscar Wilde

11. It is not once nor twice but times without number that the same ideas make their appearance in the world. ~ Aristotle

12. If the idea is not at first absurd, then there is no hope for it. ~ Albert Einstein

13. Queen Victoria was like a great paperweight that for half a century sat upon men’s minds, and when she was removed their ideas began to blow about the place quite haphazardly. ~ H.G. Wells

I get my best ideas when I’m walking our dog or while having a shower. I have particularly brilliant ideas while showering.

Where do you get your best ideas?

Source: Advanced Banter, The QI Book of Quotations by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson

The Cheeky Fantail

The fantail or piwakawaka is one of our native birds. This year we’ve seen quite a few in our garden and also while we’ve been walking Bella. They’re tiny birds with a tail that fans out—as their name suggests—and they live on a diet of insects. They like to follow people when they’re walking, which gets a bit creepy. I’d call it stalkerish, but in reality they’re snatching up the insects that are disturbed with each footstep. I guess it’s takeaway for birds.

The fantail has a very distinctive cheet-cheet and the birds never seem to keep still. They’re very difficult to photograph because they’re always in motion.

Fantail

Fantail

Fantail

These photos were taken at Christ Church in Russell.

The Maori people consider it bad luck if a fantail flies inside a building. They say the fantail is a messenger and it’s appearance means death or news of death is imminent.

I had one fly inside the house a few months ago, which didn’t make me very happy. The fantail was hanging around outside for days. I’d hear it and shut the door since the bird seemed determined to fly inside our house. I shooed it back outside (they seem fairly smart and don’t divebomb windows in panic like some birds) and waited for news. Thankfully I didn’t receive any news of death.

The fantail is a cute bird, but I do prefer to see them outdoors!

Have you had birds fly inside your house before?

The Hell-Hole of the Pacific

Today, the small township of Russell in the Bay of Islands is a sleepy place. Tourists and summer boaties visit the place, but on the day of our visit, we wandered across the street without worrying about traffic. Not so back in the early nineteenth century.

Russell Sea Front

In the 1830s it was wild and full of whalers, seamen, traders, escaped convicts and adventurers. Some sailing captains steered clear of the place because they feared their crews would desert. Russell or Kororareka, as it was also known, was the original capital of New Zealand. Missionaries, who intended to bring religion to the new lands, were horrified by the behavior of drunken men and of the loose women who cavorted with them.

Russell still has New Zealand’s oldest church—Christ Church.

Christ Church Est 1836

This church came under fire during the Battle of Kororareka in 1845. You can still see the musket holes in the walls of the church.

Christ Church Bullet Holes

Pompallier House was the headquarters of the French Catholic mission. This is a National Trust building and very interesting to visit. After the Catholic ministers moved on, the building was used as a tannery and later a private residence. The gardens are lovely.

Pompallier House

Russell also has the oldest licensed premise in New Zealand, the Duke of Marlborough. We visited the second oldest pub a few weeks ago at Riverhead.

Duke of Marlborough Pub

The Duke of Marlborough overlooks the water and is very peaceful these days. It’s hard to imagine drunken sailors, prostitutes and the revelry that so upset the missionaries, or settlers, soldiers and Maoris in the heat of battle.

If you’re ever down this way, I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful area and the surrounding areas of Paihia and Waitangi.



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