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Guest blogger: Leonie Kelsall

18 July 2021

Cooking by the books

Although I write—under a couple of names—across genres from feminist noir to alien romcom, my rural romance titles for Allen & Unwin tend to have two things in common: romance and food! While I can’t really get away with a whole lot of personal research on the romance side, I like to stick to the adage ‘write what you know’, so I give every dish mentioned several test runs in my kitchen.

Unfortunately, this love of ‘research’ saw me put on 10 kg during the editing phase of The Farm at Peppertree Crossing, thanks to that story’s heavy focus on sourdough breadmaking and CWA lamington baking contests.

I’ve raised sourdough for years—here’s my ancient, very unattractive, gloopy starter.

It’s hard to believe something this unappetising transforms into luscious loaves, cobbs and scrolls!

Like Roni in The Farm at Peppertree Crossing, I don’t always get it right (but I do keep chickens to dispose of the evidence!) so I was thrilled that I nailed the lamingtons.

As soon as I get a moment, I’ll add a page to my website, featuring the recipes I’ve tweaked and used in my books.

Gabrielle, the main character in my new release The Wattle Seed Inn, is more focused on renovating her 1800s inn than baking, but her French heritage sees her rustle up some staple peasant fare for stonemason Hayden when he helps out at the property. Coq-au-vin and rich boeuf bourguignon were welcome switch-ups to winter stews and shanks around here.

Fortunately, my 2022 book, The Dandelion Cottage (working title) features a naturopath, so a diet heavy on chia tart and water kefir chased off that pesky 10 kg … but now I’m in dire trouble. My current story, The Riverboat in the Willows, features happy endings for some of the characters in the previous books, celebrated with excessive amounts of CWA-style baking—and introduces a suave Italian chef. So, with cream horns, apple pies, jelly cakes, gnocchi, meringues, tiramisu, cannoli and sausage rolls to trial, I’ve decided it will be best to time my ‘research’ to when I have visitors—maybe drop by sometime, and save me from myself!

You can find Leonie here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

The Wattle Seed Inn

PR executive Gabrielle Moreau knows she has an easy life, but when her business partner claims she lacks career passion she takes ownership of a dilapidated pub in a tiny riverside settlement to prove she can be a success without falling back on her privilege.

Eighteen months ago, Settlers Bridge stonemason Hayden Paech had it all: a job he loved, good mates and a close family. All he needed was the right woman to come along and he was ready to settle down. But one poor choice stole that chance and he’ll never risk caring for anyone again.

Living at Wurruldi Hotel for … goodness, so many years, Ilse has seen more changes of ownership than she can recall. Clinging to her failing memories, she’s tired of trying to protect the property her grandparents built. With the arrival of the elegant Gabrielle Moreau, however, it seems that finally an owner may recognise the importance of recapturing the grace and dignity of Ilse’s past.

For Ilse to find peace, Hayden forgiveness and Gabrielle her true passion, three aching hearts must reveal their secrets.

Ready to start reading now? Check out an excerpt from The Wattle Seed Inn here. Available at all your favourite book retailers in print, digital and audio



One Comment
  1. 19 July 2021 8:37 am

    I have loved both of these books and not only the characters in them but the food is awesome I would love to drop around for a cuppa one day if only 🙂

    Congrats on the new release and of course I do look forward to many more stories 🙂

    Have Fun


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