Welcome to Sunday Lunch invitation and today I am delighted to welcome four wonderful guests to join us in the sunshine on our balcony.
We have two main courses and a fabulous dessert so there is no shortage of food today. Since the sun is shining we will have Cava and some tapas in the garden before sitting down at the table where we will have a choice of a full-bodied red wine we have recently discovered or a chilled Chardonnay. So please join us and pick up a glass of wine and relax while I introduce my guests.
My guests have travelled a long way to be here today… Author D.G. Kaye (Debby) and her long-time friend Zan have arrived from Toronto, Canada. Travelling long distance is not a problem for Debby and in fact her latest book. Have Bags, Will Travel more than illustrates this. My only problem is where to put all the shopping bags that Debby has brought with her having stopped off at most of the malls between here and the airport.
Here is a wonderful review for Have Bags, Will Travel.
Have you ever read a book that could have been written about you? D.G. Kaye did just that.
Case#1 – She’s a shopaholic. Well, I love to shop, though maybe not as much as she does. Christmas shopping, back to school shopping, birthdays, anniversaries – I could shop for days on end. I love buying gifts for others, furniture for our home, the list is endless.
The author loves to buy so much more, in fact shoes are her favorite shopping item. The problem is she shops when she travels and has to have a way to get it home without customs finding out she packed more than she is allowed to bring back. As you will see, she goes to great lengths to pack creatively.
Case #2 – the suitcase. My husband thinks my suitcases are overloaded, but I never have to pay for overweight luggage or an extra suitcase. I have a few packing tricks up my sleeve to get everything to and from with some room to spare for purchases. Ms Kaye, on the other hand, has tricks galore.
Her friends personalities are much like the author’s, and their escapades will leave you chuckling. Well, not exactly. They will have you in stitches. Follow D.G. Kaye as she travels to Paris, London, Las Vegas, Greece, Venezuela, and Arizona. You will be fascinated with her description of the transition from old Vegas to the Vegas we know today.
I’m not about to go into detail about her shopping trips, the size of her suitcase, or how she manages, or not, to get through customs. You have to read the book to find out. However, I promise, you will be laughing from page one to the end. Written with such vivid detail, you will feel you are right there watching the spectacle of someone who loves to shop too much, trying to get everything home without chucking it on the way to airport. A delightful story, HAVE BAGS, WILL TRAVEL, is a short book that can be read in one sitting.
Do I recommend HAVE BAGS, WILL TRAVEL? Absolutely!
Other books by D.G. Kaye
Debby writes about her own life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues. It is easy to feel that when certain life events knock on your door that you have been singled out by some unknown force. This of course is rarely true. For example the natural phase that all women will experience in middle-age is the delights of the menopause. (To be fair, usually the loved ones in our lives also enjoy the delights!) One of the books that every woman and her nearest and dearest should read is MenoWhat? A Memoir – which records Debby’s spectacular journey through this natural process and some exceptionally useful advice and information. And as an added bonus MenoWhat? A Memoir will still be on for free Sunday and Monday www.amazon.com/dp/b00kwanpzk
All the books by D.G. Kaye have a central theme. Life and some people you meet are not always fair, kind or have your best interests at heart. But you should never let that define who you are as a person. What is certain is that you will find wisdom, humour and commonsense strategies to get the best out of life within the pages of Debby’s books.
The books are for women of all ages. Her writing is easily relatable and her insights about the complexities of being a woman are expressed in her writing.
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”
Links to buy D.G. Kaye’s books and connect.
Author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO
I will now hand over to Debby to introduce her friend and also the wonderfully aromatic pot roast that is bubbling away in its crockpot.
Autumn Comforts: Crockpot Cooking and Old Friends
In the spirit of the season, and with the chill of autumn in the air, we tend to turn to comfort foods. Today I’m bringing a crockpot filled with some root vegetables and a pot roast. And of course, a lovely bottle of wine to pair with the meal is always a treat.
Crockpot cooking is an old favorite of mine, and for many others too it seems. Not only is there the benefit of being able to use a cheaper cut of meat, which slow cooking turns into a juicy and tender meal, but it’s a convenient form of cooking for those short on time for dinner preparation. You can put everything together in the pot in the morning, and set it and forget it. The meal will be awaiting you whenever you’re ready to sit down and eat. The longer food cooks, the more tender it becomes, without fears of overcooking.
A few good tips for best cooking:
- First add about a half cup of liquid, water is fine, but won’t do much to enhance the flavors, so I always use red wine.
- Always place your meat last. Place vegetables first, then meat on top.
- Close the lid and leave it alone. Try hard not to take off the lid to check on food, as it will let out a lot of the steam.
Recipe for today’s lunch:
- Add half a cup wine
- Add a diced onion
- Add vegetables – sliced carrots, chunks of potatoes (I’ve chosen sweet potatoes), and parsnips. (If using white or red potatoes, leave skin on for added fibre and flavor.)
- Lightly salt and pepper the vegetables.
- Add the seasoned and/or marinated meat. (Size determined by size of pot and how many people eating, mine is 4 pounds.) I usually marinate the roast for at least a half an hour, first with seasoning with garlic, steak rub and smoked paprika, and then I rub (your choice) bbq sauce on it.
Within 6 to 12 hours (depending on which setting you use on low, or high heat), this succulent, fall apart, roast is done.
I decided to bring this crockpot meal because one of my best friends, Zan, bought me this old crockpot almost thirty-five years ago. Comfort and friends go hand in hand. And today I’ve brought Zan here for you to meet.
Zan and me have been best friends for just over thirty-five years. I mention Zan frequently in all of my books; particularly my latest book, Have Bags, Will Travel. We’ve traveled a lot together and Zan is responsible for helping me learn to value my own self-worth as she led me into a new world of learning about love, friendship, and adventure. She taught me how to use my voice, share my feelings, and especially, how to be comfortable using the words, “I love you.” Zan has been my route to discovering contentment and a true passion for loving life. We met not long after leaving a dysfunctional family life, and moving out on my own at eighteen. Comforts come in many forms, good friends feed the soul.
Thank you kindly for having me here today, Sally. And thanks for allowing me to bring my inspirational friend Zan. I hope you all enjoyed the meal.
As we enjoy a moderate portion of pot roast (I know what is coming next and want to leave room!) let me introduce you to my second guest Nicholas Rossis and his lovely wife Electra, who have travelled from their home in Greece.
Nicholas is an author and blogger with a wide ranging audience who appreciate his posts on writing and publishing as well as advice on marketing our books. He is the author of the epic fantasy series ‘Pearseus’ and a science fiction short story collection, the ‘Power of Six’, both of which are consistently at #1 on Amazon. He is also a prolific writer of children’s stories and ‘Runaway Smile’, his first book for younger readers and is an Award-Winning Finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards
Nicholas lives to write and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. When not composing epic fantasies or short sci-fi stories, he chats with fans and colleagues, writes blog posts, walks his dog, and enjoys the antics of two silly cats, one of whom claims his lap as home.
What readers are saying about Nick’s fantasies:
“Most avid readers still have books from their childhood which they read over and over again. ‘Runaway Smile’ has joined the list.”
“From the very first sentence I realized I was not reading a book, I was going on an adventure.”
His latest book the anthology of speculative fiction Infinite Waters has received some terrific reviews including this.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Nicholas Rossis is a master of the craft. Each of these short stories is handcrafted with the utmost attention to every facet of good story telling. But more, Nicholas finds a way to wrap the collection in a “meta” story. It was a brilliant way of grouping together a set of seemingly unrelated short stories. I read each of these over the course of a couple of days, and I found myself looking forward to coming home so I could dig into the next story.
In short fiction, you don’t have a lot of room for error. Every sentence, every word should have to fight for its existence, and Nicholas handles this expertly. Each story pulls you in to its unique little universe and takes you on a ride where the tracks are hidden, and you can’t see the corners up ahead.
If you want to experience what good short fiction is like, grab a copy of Infinite Waters.
A small selection of other books.
Buy Nicholas’s books
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Nicholas-C.-Rossis/e/B00FXXIBZA
For more on Nick or just to chat, visit him on his blog: www.nicholasrossis.me or on:
Now time for Nicholas to introduce his lovely wife Electra, who he has brought with him to lunch and to share the two courses that they have contributed. You had better loosen your belts..
Many thanks for the kind invitation! My “plus one” will be no other than my hot wife, Electra. We have brought a cheese pie and an apple pie with custard cream, both fresh from the oven. As I’ve tried them before, I can assure you that you’ll love them.
Why Electra, I hear you ask? Well, first of all, she’s a mean cook! I taught her, of course. Wait—that needs some explaining.
I had a strange upbringing, where after the age of fourteen I started spending a lot of time alone in the house. I’m not talking hours; I’m talking weeks. Yes, I’m aware that my parents would probably be arrested nowadays, but back then I thought it was great fun. The flips side is that, growing up pretty much in the middle of a forest meant having no one to deliver food. Which meant, I had to learn how to cook. It was a swim or starve kind of situation, so I… erm… grilled. Thus began my life-long love of cooking.
When we moved to Edinburgh with Electra, she was eighteen. She couldn’t boil an egg, but her mom is an excellent cook, and Electra used to spend many an hour watching her prepare the family dinners. After teaching Electra everything I knew, all those memories must have come back, for she rapidly turned into a fantastic cook. Either that, or it’s a weird DNA memory thing. Whichever it is, I’ve put on almost twenty kilos since she started cooking.
So, that’s the first reason why I’m bringing Electra along. The second reason is that she’s the wind beneath my wings. I couldn’t have done half the things that I have without her help and support.
And third, because, as our friends joke, we’ve been joined at the hip since we first met, back in 1992. I had just broken up with my girlfriend of almost three years, and was spending the weekend with a cousin of mine. A strange thing about his family; they’re big cat lovers. I mean, real fans.
The day before, one of his cats had spotted a tabby sauntering down the street, and decided to act like a typical male, by making a pass on her. Sadly, he forgot that they lived on the fifth floor (that’s male thinking at work, for you). As expected, the fall was not without consequences and he was rushed to the vet. The doctor placed him at the vet equivalent of an IC unit, and the love (and pavement) stricken cat spent the night there.
That afternoon my cousin and I went to visit the poor beast. While my cousin was chatting with the good doctor, I noticed this cute girl who had brought her Dalmatian for her shots. This was a young dog, with the nervousness typical of her breed. As such, the girl had trouble lifting her up to the exam table and holding her there.
Ever the gentleman, I rushed over and helped soothe the Dalmatian, in the process chatting up the girl. When we left, she gave me her number. I called her the very next day, and we chatted on the phone, hitting it off like a wooden, gasoline-filled house on fire.
A week later, we went on our first date, and shared our first kiss. Twenty-three years later, she has nothing better to do than tease me about my forgetfulness. Which reminds me…where did I leave my car keys… I put them down somewhere…
Here are Electra’s recipes for these two courses.
1 pack puff pastry (around 600 gr in total), it usually comes in two sheets
750 gr of different grated cheeses (your selection)
150 ml milk
Mix the grated cheeses together.
Lay one puff pastry sheet on a baking tray. Put the grated cheese mix on top and cover it with the other puff pastry sheet.
In a small bowl, mix the milk with the eggs until fluffy. Pour the mixture on top of the cheese pie, making sure that it goes everywhere.
Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes at 180 degrees C.
For the pastry:
250 gr flour
150 gr butter
75 gr icing sugar
For the filling:
400 gr ready-made custard cream
1 tea spoon of cinnamon
3 tea spoons of dark sugar
Mix all the ingredients of the pastry together until you get a nice pastry. Lay a baking tray for flans with the pastry, making sure that the pastry covers the borders.
Add the custard cream on top.
Peel the apples, cut them in slices (the thinner, the better) and cover the custard cream with the apples. The quantity of apples may vary according to the size of the flan tray and how thick you want the apple layer.
Sprinkle with the cinnamon and the dark sugar.
Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes at 180 degrees C.
My thanks to my guests who have travelled such a long way to join me for lunch and brought such delicious food. Time for us to sit in the sunshine with our coffees and brandy and talk into the late afternoon about life, writing and friendship.
Thank you for dropping in and hope to see you next Sunday when you are invited to a very select gathering to celebrate our 35th Wedding Anniversary. No need to bring anything, just yourselves.
For the other Sunday lunch posts here is the link.