ANNA BELFRAGE

Step inside and steal some moments in another place, another time

Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop

blom bildWelcome to the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop! And if you’re into sweet cravings I can personally guarantee that those hazelnut choc cookies Prue Batten generously shares are pure heaven (haven’t tried the others – yet). Of course, me being into a new life I don’t eat such sinful delights as cookies. At least in theory. The flesh is weak, as they say….

Before I get into the blog hop as such, I’d like to start by thanking the lovely Lauren Gilbert for inviting me to participate.

Here’s how the blog hop works: each author invites up to five other authors to answer five questions about their current summer releases or WIP and to add a tasty recipe to go with it. It gives the readers the opportunity to add these awesome treats and reads to your to do list – but beware, waistline might suffer. I have invited Ginger Myrick and Jo Ann Butler – two inspiring and talented ladies – to join in the hop. Both of these ladies will be getting their posts up by Wednesday latest – links can be found below.

With all this said, it’s time to start us off.

The-Prodigal-Son_200pxby303pxMy recent release, The Prodigal Son, is about 17th century Scotland and the religious strife that dominated the lives of the Lowland Scots for most of the century. It is also about love – but then most of my books are – about the love that makes you stand by your man/woman no matter what, of the love between parents and children, of the love some men feel for God. Call me a romantic, but I believe love to be the single most powerful force in the world. Good force, that is. There are plenty of rather powerful bad forces as well, such as greed, the hunger for power, etc. In The Prodigal Son, these forces clash – big time. My hero, Matthew Graham, is a devout Scotsman who refuses to kowtow to the Church of England, no matter the price, His wife, time traveller Alex Lind, doesn’t get this religious fervour – nor does she appreciate the way her husband’s actions put her entire family in danger. Let’s just say that while love is a powerful force, there are times when that force is under severe strain, and Matthew is obliged to make choices: his beliefs or his family, his God or his wife. Not the easiest of choices – not then, not now.

Now for the random tasty questions:

1) When writing, are you a snacker? Nope. I don’t like getting crumbs on my computer – or my notebooks. I do, however, consume huge quantities of tea, which leads to very disrupted sleeping patterns, with me having to go to the loo like once every two hours throughout the night. Should I want a snack, it would be sweet. No, no no! Should I want a snack, I’d nibble on a carrot – of course I would! (Hmm)

2) Are you an outliner, or someone who writes by the seat of their pants? I do both. I generally have a pretty good take on how the book will begin, how it will end, and have a number of crucial scenes in between mapped out before I settle down to do the actual writing. I outline in omniscient POV (point of view), but prefer to write in my character’s POV, so that always causes some issues where the seat of my pants become rather overheated.  I don’t own any jammies, as I sleep … well, work that one out yourselves. I do, however, have a pair of very well-worn and loved sweatpants that I more or less live in while writing.

3)When cooking, do you follow a recipe, or do you wing it? If I’m cooking food, I wing it. I see the recipe as an inspiration and take it from there. If I’m baking, I tend to follow the recipes, as proportions are much more important when making cookies than making a soup. Having said that, once I have the recipe down pat, I will start experimenting.

4) What is next for you after this book? Part four of The Graham Saga – A Newfound Land –  is due for release late this autumn. And then come parts five, six, seven… This keeps me rather busy, as does my ongoing WIP set in the court of Queen Christina of Sweden (yes, yet another 17th century setting. I seem to have gotten stuck there) featuring a female jewel thief (she had no choice, okay?) a bitter English royalist who has lost it all fighting for the Stuarts, and a gloriously handsome but evil as sin Swedish nobleman.

5) Last question… on a level of one being slightly naughty and ten being woo hoo steamy, how would you rate your book? Difficult question. Do my books contain sex scenes? Yes – quite a few. Matthew and Alex have that kind of relationship; it scorches and burns, it leaves their mouths dry with desire, it makes their skin tingle, their breath come in short gasps. He touches her, and  she melts. She touches him, and he swears he can feel it all the way to his soul. When they lie close together, heart to heart, their pulses blend into one rhythm, one steady beating. Him and her, her and him; he can’t live without her, she would die without him. So I guess the answer is somewhere around an eight.

IMG_0548

And now for the really tasty part:

Okay, so I agonised over this, as seriously, the food from the 17th century leaves something to be desired from an overall culinary perspective. It was mostly cabbage, more cabbage, cabbage, porridge, more porridge, cabbage – well you get the picture, right? For some moments I played with the idea of serving you what most Swedish people consider to be the essence of summer – herring and new potatoes, pictured to the left – but herring is an acquired taste, and where we (the Swedes) go “aaaah”, chances are you’d go “yuck!”. So, no 17th century cabbage, no Swedish herring.

After some consultation with my food-focused family, I’ve decided to share one of our favourite summer dishes, a South American dish called Pollo al ají con arroz (Spicy chicken with rice). A special mention must go to Viveka, my Peruvian friend who originally gave me the recipe.

For 4 people:

The chicken:
One chicken divided in 8 parts.
1 litre of chicken stock (that’s ike four US cups)
1 red onion in chunks, 1-2 carrots in chunks
2 cloves of garlic
One stand of fresh coriander
1 lime
1 Chili – I use habanero, but beware of the heat.
Oil to fry in, approx 1 dl oil for the spice mix (1 dl is approx 1/3 of a US cup)

First, I boil the chicken. Crush the garlic cloves, put them, the onion and the carrot in a deep sauce pan with some oil. Stir, add chicken stock. Sprinkle some salt over the chicken pieces before adding them. Allow to boil for about 20 minutes.
While the chicken is puttering away, chop coriander and the chilli – mix with oil, salt and the zest & juice of the lime.

Once the chicken is done, take it out, dry it off (Keep the stock!!!) and pour the spicy oil over the parts, making sure you’ve spread it over all of them. Now you have a choice: either you fry the chicken in a frying pan or you put them in the oven (I put them in the oven, 200 C) Whatever, the case, you want a crispy edge to the finished product.

The rice:
In my family, we fight over the rice, not the chicken.
4 dl of rice (1 and a half US cup)
One stand of fresh coriander
Two finely chopped shallots – or three
One chopped garlic clove
3 carrots, diced (small dices)
2-3 dl of frozen peas
The chicken stock as per above, but pour it through a sieve first. 9 dl in total (and that is..err… 3 and a half US cups)
Oil

Start by running the coriander with 1 dl of stock in the mixer.
Oil in a deep saucepan, add garlic, shallots,carrots and the rice. Low heat. Stir until rice is nicely glazed. Add the stock – including the stock you’ve mixed with the coriander – a pinch of salt and allow to boil (medium heat, 10-12 minutes) Add the peas – still frozen, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for a further 10-15 minutes.

Stir the rice so as to mix in the peas and the carrot. Serve the rice in a wide earthenware bowl with the chicken set on top. For those of you that want more spice, you can add some sambal oelek.
Preferably consumed with fresh lemonade, beer or red wine.
Oh; if you hate coriander, you can replace it with parsley. Not quite the same, but good enough!

As stated right at the top, there are a number of interesting recipes on this blog hop – and some equally good books! Take the time to enjoy.

Christy English
Diana Russo Morin
Nancy Goodman
Lauren Gilbert
Lucinda Brant
Prue Batten
Anna Belfrage
Ginger Myrick
Jo Ann Butler

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