Couscous! Mediterranean Style

Couscous, where have you been all my life?

I remember my sister making a Mediterranean couscous years ago (It was amazing!) And I’ve bought store couscous salad, which isn’t bad. But OMG, homemade is waaaay better!

It’s not only delicious and versatile, but, it’s so simple;

Cut up a whole lot of salad stuff and place in a bowl; I went for a Mediterranean style, but you can add anything – even veggies, like peas, corn, broccoli etc

In a bowl I added cherry tomatoes, chopped spinach, mushrooms, red capsicum, cucumber, mustard seeds, garlic and olives – with a good drizzle of a homemade vinaigrette.

You can also roast some sweet potato and carrot to add in when cooled – the ideas are endless!

For every 1 cup of couscous (uncooked), add 2/3 cup of boiled water – straight from the kettle. I did 2 cups and it’s made a salad big enough for sharing at a BBQ – if you want to share. I also sprinkled in a teaspoon of vegetable stock (1 cube)

As soon as the hot water hits the couscous, it starts to absorb, keep fluffing with a fork then once water is absorbed just cover the bowl and leave on the bench to cool.

Now you have a bowl of yummy salad and a bowl of cooled couscous – add it all together and it’s done.

We’ll be having our couscous with the scotch fillet steaks, now marinating in the fridge.

Cheers!

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Western Australian Rock Lobster

What does a writer do when not writing? Cook, of course!

Well, this is how I love to show my family I love them. And on a hot summer night, champagne cocktails are a great starter.

And in Western Australia, we have beautiful beaches, gorgeous weather and scrumptious produce.

I had a go at cooking up two Western Australian rock lobsters (AKA crayfish) and they were delicious.

Here’s some quick and easy steps, if you’d like to give it a go;

When you buy them, or are gifted them from someone who likes fishing, they’ll usually be already boiled and be a glorious orange colour.

First, once thawed, you’ll need to get yourself a large, sharp knife. Cut longways down the centre; make the first slice from the grove which looks like the head, toward the eyes. Then slice from the same same point directly down the tail.

See the long stringy thing on the tail? That’s the intestine, so you’ll need to gently pull that up and out – it should come away easy.

Then using a smaller, sharp knife, gently remove that brown/green gunk – you can rinse this part under some cold tap water, but try not to wet the meat too much or it takes a lot of the flavour!

To add over my Lobster, for a quick bake in the oven, I made up a spicy garlic butter. But you can do any creation.

I spooned some on each Lobster half and drizzled with olive oil – you can drizzle with melted butter – and a squeeze of lemon.

These beauties went into the oven for 10 minutes (make sure it’s pre-heated!) at 180 degrees.

To accompany our WA Rock Lobster, I whipped up a quick broccoli and spinach linguine – some green to go with that vibrant orange.

I was very happy with result!

Magic and Adventure Portals

Sometimes an adventure starts with a wardrobe, a board game, or a magical castle – Wolfbaene starts with two boys and two dragons 🐉

William Knight doesn’t belong in Trinity Boys College. He is bullied constantly and is always wondering why he doesn’t fit in. When he is suddenly whisked away from the human world to the medieval village of Chermside by a talking dragon, he is given a deadly task only a true knight can achieve. The task? Rescue the queen from a dungeon, win his knighthood, kill the king who murdered his father and return the town to its former glory before the dark magic of the king ruins the beautiful town forever. To make matters worse, he is expected to undertake this deadly quest with a conceited boy named Thomas Knight; his brother. Could things get any worse?

Amazon link;

Wolfbaene – The Next Quest will be out this year and the magic continues.

Follow me on Twitter @wolfbaene

My Year in Review – 2017

As Christmas is almost upon us and the year slips away, we all begin to reflect on our battles and achievements, our losses and our gains, and of course what’s over the horizon.

2017, for me, has been a year of struggle and management – but mostly enlightenment.

Grief played a huge part this year, with the loss of my relationship with my mum, the loss of our handsome cat, the passing of my dad and the passing of two uncles. But, in the shadows of grief, I found family I thought I’d never see again, strength I thought I didn’t have and enlightenment about my childhood, my family and my Self.

I learned a great deal this year. I discovered strong bonds of friendship will last through anything. I learned about mental health, homelessness, self-love and using my voice.

And as I reflect on some wonderful, and not so wonderfull moments in my year, I thank every single person who made the journey with me.

Our eldest daughter went to America with her boyfriend and whilst we watched her adventure from home, we were so very proud of them both for this wonderful achievement. It was a huge few weeks for them and was definitely the trip of a lifetime!

Our gentle giant Monte – RIP

Losing my dad, but finding my family.

Celebrating old and new friendships in our island paradise, Bali.

We welcomed two beautiful little treasures into our lives – our granddaughter Ariana and our poodle Moët.

We stepped up our fitness and community involvement – and boy, was it fun!

My beautiful sister got hitched to the man of her dreams!

I celebrated being an author of three books with a fundraiser during Mental Health week and raised funds and awareness for BeyondBlue, Pink Ribbon and Perth Children’s Hospital. (And I faced my fear of public speaking and won!) – I found my voice and realised I have so many gorgeous people around me.

Our youngest rugrat got her ‘P’ plate license and I suddenly realised I’m getting old!

And so the Christmas antics begin…

Easy Beef Curry & Sweet Potato Dahl

I love to cook on a Sunday afternoon, when the chores are done and I’ve spent time writing. Being married to a Burmese guy, I’ve learned to cook simple, healthy curries the whole family can enjoy (yes, even those fussy eaters and the “I don’t eat hot” kind of people).

For over 20 years I’ve been perfecting my curries, with minor adjustments to how and how often I create a curry.

The most important thing about cooking a good curry is not what goes in, but the length of time it cooks for – three hours on a Sunday afternoon is perfect!

Also, you need to cook with ingredients that are easy to find or already in your pantry. Every Burmese curry I’ve ever cooked has five main ingredients ( always in my kitchen).

1. Onion

2. Coriander

3. Ginger

4. Garlic

And lots of love ❤️

Here’s my most cooked curry; Beef and Chick Pea.

1 onion (chopped)

5 or 6 curry leaf (don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on these)

3-4 coriander bunches (wash, cut off roots and chop stalks – keep the leaves for later)

1 teaspoon chilli powder or 2 chopped fresh/dried chillies (optional)

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

2 teaspoons chopped ginger

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1kg beef (diced) – buy the cheapest cut, like casserole or chuck

2 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce or soy sauce (fish sauce has a smell that isn’t for everyone)

1/2 tin of diced tomatoes

1 heaped tablespoon of a good curry paste. I make my own, which can be stored in the fridge for days, but a jar from your local Asian grocery would work too

Method<<<<<<<<<<<<<
on, garlic, ginger, coriander, curry leaf, paprika, turmeric, cumin seeds and chilli in a teaspoon of coconut oil.

<<<<<<<<<<<<
ow the ingredients to mingle, turn down the heat to medium, add half a tin of diced tomatoes – let the juice reduce and add a teaspoon salt. You don't want the ingredients spitting at you , but it needs to fry for a minute.

<<<<<<<<<<<
the beef, stir and coat the cubes with the gorgeous paste.

<

At this stage, add the fish sauce and stir. The chick peas are next, drained before going in.

<<<<<<<<<<<
n the heat up a little, add your curry paste and mix the ingredients well. You should be wrapped up in the aromas of Asia right now!

<

There should be plenty of juices for this curry to simmer in for the next two to three hours, but if you like you can add 1 cup of water ( I’ve used coconut water before and it’s a lovely add to the Asian aroma).

Turn the heat right down to a gentle simmer and relax.

Or make a sweet potato Dahl to go with your delicious curry?

You’ll need;

1 teaspoon oil

1 small onion (diced)

1 clove garlic (crushed)

1 stem coriander ( keep leaves for later)

1 small sweet potato

2-3 curry leaves

1 teaspoon crushed ginger

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

Add these into a medium saucepan and fry gently.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
n the ingredients are soft and blended, add about 170 grams of red lentils ( about half of a 375 gram bag).

<

Add water to cover about an inch over the top. You can always add water as the lentils soak it up, but it’s harder to dry it down. (Vegetable stock works well too)

<

Add the sweet potato, carefully – turmeric stains!

<

Bring to the boil – don’t look away, it might bubble over! Then, turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

<

Taste for salt and add small handful of coriander leaves to garnish.

<

Have I made you hungry?

Infinite Completion – a little heated snippet

A whirlwind romance neither one was prepared for 📚

As the music changes to a slower beat, the guy moves closer to me. Before I can even move back from him, Phil has moved in between us and I feel Valentine’s hand in mine. I’m pulled away from the group so fast that my head spins, and it takes a moment to focus.

Valentine’s face is ashen. I haven’t seen this look before. ‘Come on, we’re leaving,’ he shouts over the music, pulling me behind him without looking back at me.

‘What? Why?’ I shout at him. He doesn’t answer me.

‘Sam, I’ll call you tomorrow and you can bring me to get the bike?’

‘Yeah, man –for sure! Be good, sis,’ he shouts out over the music with a grin.

I can feel my temper rising. The cold early-morning air makes my head spin, as we step out onto the street.

Valentine leads me to a taxi, opens the door and guides me in. ‘Watch your head,’ he says as he slides in next to me and leans over to put on my seat belt.

‘I can manage my own seatbelt,’ I say, starting to feel really annoyed. He’s dragged me from my friends –and my brother –for what?

‘I want to make sure it’s on properly,’ he says flatly. He’s really annoyed too, but why? He doesn’t sound like Valentine.

‘Where are you going?’ says the taxi driver, looking at Valentine through his rear vision mirror.

‘22 Copper Ave, Lathlain,’ he answers, not taking his eyes from me, doing up my seat belt.

‘What’s wrong with you?’ I say, trying my best to sound compliant. I really don’t like to see him upset. And I hate conflict.

‘That guy was hitting on you,’ he says calmly, as the taxi pulls out onto the road.

The driver flicks on the heater and turns the radio up a little –probably so he doesn’t appear to be listening to our argument.

‘So we leave, because a drunk guy was dancing nearby?’ I keep my own voice low. It’s an honest question.

‘He was dancing very close to you and his eyes were all over you,’ Valentine explains, as though he is explaining why we use an umbrella when it rains.

‘Phil came close to me so the guy would back off. I didn’t need you to pull me away like I’d done something wrong.’

‘You did nothing wrong, Abbie,’ he says.

Now I know I’m in trouble –Abbie –what happened to Princess? He takes a long breath and takes hold of my hand. ‘I’m sorry –I just don’t like it,’ he adds, as though this clarifies everything. ‘It was all under control.’

‘No it wasn’t –what if he’d hurt you?’ ‘He wasn’t even very close –and Phil was there!’ ‘Where I come from, we settle things differently,’ he snaps.

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’

He sighs and speaks lower. ‘In my neighbourhood, if a man mistreated a girl, he’d be dealt with before the police even had a chance to arrest him. I’ve been boxing since I was ten and I’ve been fighting for survival since I could walk. I’m sorry, but instinct sometimes gets the better of me and I try to avoid situations where I may be forced to kill a man—’

‘You’d kill a man, because he dances near me?’ ‘I’d kill a bull for you,’ he says flatly.

I can’t believe he’s being so serious. ‘He was just dancing near me! You can’t go around beating people up for dancing too close to your girlfriend!’ I’m so angry that my voice is getting louder.

‘I’m sorry, Princess,’ he whispers and squeezes my hand. ‘I will not share you, even with another man’s eyes or thoughts.’

Whoa! Now here’s a revelation. Does he want to hide me in a tower somewhere? This doesn’t sound like my Valentine at all. ‘You can’t wrap me up in cotton wool,’ I shout at him, a little too loudly. He flicks his eyes to the front of the car briefly to see if the taxi driver heard but then looks back down at my fingers entwined through his. ‘And I left my rose behind,’ I add, realising I left my rose on the bar with my drink.

‘I can get you another rose—’

‘I don’t want another damn rose, I want you to not behave like a teenager,’ I snap.

‘I want to be the beginning and end of your world –with no exceptions. And I don’t want other men looking at you—’

‘I can’t stop people from looking at me… even though they aren’t anyway –you’re not flattering me with this behaviour,’ I say.

There’s silence for a few minutes; except for the song playing on the radio. Radiohead’s Creep. I love this song. Valentine is my creep, and I love him.

‘I know I can’t stop them from looking –I was being silly. I just don’t know how I’m going to cope with you being so damn beautiful and me feeling this way. This is all very new to me –forgive me, Princess?’ he smiles.

I manage to smile at him, but I’m still mad.

‘Good, now let’s go home and make up,’ he grins at me wolfishly. How can I stay mad?

❤ Infinite Completion ~ Amazon link:

http://ow.ly/1FQM309BW3W

My Top 5 Reads for 2017


I’ve read around 25 books this year, but these are my favourite (mostly because they’re some of my favourite authors). 

Anyone who knows me would tell you I have a small obsession with dragons, and whilst none of these feature dragons, they do transport the reader into adventure and beautiful places; and I do love to travel.

Without further ado, here are my picks for 2017.

1. Origin – Dan Brown 


 

Dan Brown is one of my favourite authors, so it’s only fitting his latest release would top my reading list for 2017. Dan Brown brings us Robert Langdon again in this science fiction mystery thriller and I couldn’t put it down.

When Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the Guggenheim, Museum Bilbao, to attend the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever”, his life is spun out of control in a desperate bid to save his life and the lives of others. With his life under threat, Langdon is forced to flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret, along with the museum’s director, Ambra Vidal.

The heart racing quest with Robert Langdon (I always picture Tom Hanks) through Barcelona was nothing short of fantastic and if you feel like a holiday to Greece, I’d definitely read this one!

Here’s the Kindle link;

 

2. The Break – Marian Keyes


This is the latest release for one of my favourite authors and I wasn’t disappointed. Marian Keyes is a wise, witty, Irish writer who seems to be able to mingle humour and heartbreak like they belong together in a delicious chocolate cake. Really! Take my word, she does it so effortlessly.

In The Break, Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her. He says he still loves her, but he needs a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. I couldn’t believe what I was reading! It caught my attention so dramatically; I couldn’t put this book down. Hugh wanted six months to lose himself in South East Asia (which did sound great), and there was nothing Amy could say or do about it.

Gosh, now that’s some mid-life crisis! 

Hugh’s mid-life crisis is enough to send Amy and her extended family of gossips and eccentric friends into damage control – bringing tears of laughter and heartbreak (so have plenty of tissues!).

Here’s the Kindle link;

 

3. The Stationmaster’s Cottage – Phillipa Nefri Clarke


I love a good romance novel; one with mystery, beautiful settings and hunky love interests – oh and a dog is always a winner! When this book was released, I couldn’t wait to buy my Kindle copy, settling on the couch with a wine and some tissues.

The book opens with Christie Ryan’s carefully constructed life being turned upside-down with the inheritance of an abandoned cottage in an Australian seaside village. A damaged painting, a hunky guy (with dog) and the discovery of old love letters draws her into the heart wrenching world of Thomas and Martha and their fifty year old mystery. Christie is a gorgeous character who I immediately connected with and found myself cheering her on as she unravelled the mystery she’d been plunged into.

If you love a good romance; one with mystery, beautiful settings and a hunky love interest (with a dog), then get your copy here;

 

4. The Art of Keeping Secrets – Rachael Johns


I recently attended a Rachael Johns book tour for The Greatest Gift at the gorgeous Katherine Susannah Prichard library in Perth, Western Australia. I won’t lie, I was a tad excited to be meeting Rachael, after speaking with her over social media and us becoming Facebook friends. So, as I had my books signed and I settled down in my chair to listen to her speak about her latest release – with the burnt orange sun setting behind the surrounding gumtrees (we have the best sunsets!) – I was already planning how and when I’d read my first Rachael Johns book, The Art of Keeping Secrets.  

I was holding a signed copy of The Greatest Gift and The Art of Keeping Secrets, feeling like I’d won the lotto. The blurb on The Art of Keeping Secrets had really caught my eye!

 They started out as the “misfit moms”–the trio of less-than-conventional parents at their sons’ tiny private school. They’ve shared everything. Or so they thought. Now, on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New York City, they’ll sightsee, they’ll shop, they’ll catch a few Broadway shows. They’ll tell all…

After seventeen years as a single parent, Neve will reveal a past sin that could destroy her relationship with her son. Emma will uncover the roots of her exhaustion and divulge the inappropriate feelings she has for her boss. And Flick–who knows a little about crafting a flawless exterior–will share the shocking truth that lies beneath the veneer of her perfect marriage…
So, of course when I arrived home, after saying hello to the hubby and the poodle, Moet, I poured myself a glass of wine and settled onto the couch with The Art of Keeping Secrets – I’m so glad it was a Friday! 

Here’s the Kindle link;


5. Stars of Fortune (Book I of the Guardian Trilogy) – Nora Roberts


I’ve read almost all of Nora’s books – yes, I’m slightly addicted. And when my daughters bought this gorgeous book for me at Christmas, it wasn’t long before I’d sunk my teeth in (well not literally, but, you get the gist?).
This story has everything (except dragons). In true Nora style, it has steamy romance, mystery and adventure, but it also has a fantasy element and supernatural theme. 

I was immediately drawn to the main character, Sasha Riggs, a reclusive artist, haunted by vivid dreams that she turns into extraordinary paintings. As she becomes more and more desperate to understand her visions, she finds herself drawn to the Greek island of Corfu, and I was there with her. Isn’t is fantastic when you can read a book and travel to beautiful places?  

Sasha arrives in Corfu (and this is on my “to visit” list) and encounters Bran Killian, an Irish magician with a warm charisma and secrets dancing in his eyes. She’s never met Bran before, but she knows him only too well – because this is the man from her dreams. Bran is the man she seems fated to be with… if she can find the courage to accept who she really is.
Together they meet up with others who have come to Corfu to find answers and a dangerous, yet, wonderful adventure begins.

Here’s the Kindle link;