Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Crafty Fun - Astraea Press Pinterest Promo

For about two years now, I've lived gluten free. I know, I know. It's a fad. But really, it's a fad that works for me. It's helped my health in so many ways and following the paleo diet has helped me lose some inches and feel good about myself. I wouldn't say I'm as slim as I'd like to be, but that's how most women feel, isn't it?

Another very random thing but they're all connected: I LOVE PINTEREST. I have lots of recipes books and two huge recipe files but there's nothing I like more than posting a recipe I use on Pinterest. It saves paper and the environment and I can access the recipe at any time from my phone.

The section of my Pinterest account that has the most pins is my paleo / gluten-free recipes. Now, there's a recipe I've been making for years. I make it at least twice a month. It's delicious, easy to prepare and is gluten-free. It's not totally paleo as it has a bit of sugar and is loaded with good old dairy. This recipe is adapted from an OLD recipe book of mine that I've had since married.

Now, I'm not that into baking. I like good food and I'm a fussy eater - I like the ingredients to be pure and free of horrible things like corn syrup, MSG and gluten, etc. So, I generally do a lot of my own cooking. But I don't really enjoy it unless I can listen to the radio while I do it or my daughter helps. (Now, she's one who loves baking so much that she wants to open her own bakery one day.)

Anyhoo, the heroine in my novel, Three Tiers for Win, just loves baking. She's like my daughter - she loves making cakes. At the start of the story, she wants to move from baking for children's birthday parties to baking wedding cakes. To throw herself into the deep end, she takes up the mayor's daughter's offer to bake her wedding cake. When it sinks in what mammoth task she has taken on, she's not too happy when her brother's team-mates invade her house. Except for one of them ...

Here's an excerpt from Three Tiers for Win. Note the title of this book has great significance - three tiers in a cake and the hero's name is Win. Anyway, I shall leave you alone to read the excerpt and look down at the bottom of this post for the recipe of delish sago pudding. Here's the pin of a pic of my recipe: Sago Pudding

Mick’s sister had forbidden anyone to come into the kitchen. Since when did he keep to the rules? While the guys were joking loudly about some prank caller on the radio that morning, he stood up quietly and crept along the wall to the back door. He would walk around the house and find another way into that kitchen to find out what that smell was and beg just one piece of whatever it was. Maybe there was something meatier in the kitchen too. The kitchen had a back stable door and the top part was open. He peeped his head in and saw Mick’s sister bent over something in the centre table, very still as though she was doing something intricate or difficult. Not wanting to disturb her, he opened the door quietly and tiptoed to the fridge.

A bloodcurdling yell made his whole body leap up and his heart gallop more than it did in a race.

“You scared me,” she said.

He turned to face her, expecting a barrage of angry words. Instead she stared at him, her round face flushed a deep red, and her black hair tied up in a messy ponytail with curls escaping from all directions. She looked as though she was close to tears.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I was hoping to creep in without you noticing.”

He must have been at least two feet taller than her, and he felt like a clumsy giant under her scrutiny. How did Mick land up with such a short sister?

“That’s great. I asked Mick to keep you guys out the kitchen.”

“Mick should have thought harder about what he bought for supper. I swam fifty or so lengths today and need some decent food.” He turned to face the fridge, feeling like needles were being poked in his back, but the hunger was stronger. Opening the fridge, he looked in some glass casserole dishes and found some leftover lasagne.

“Please may I have this?”

“All of it?” she asked, her voice high-pitched.

All he could offer her was a cheesy grin. Maybe that would pacify her.

“I was planning on having that for supper tonight, but…”

She waved her hands. “You take it — I probably won’t have time to eat, seeing I’m going to have to start all over again.” Slumping down on the bar stool tucked against the kitchen table that extended from the counter in a ‘T’ shape, she dropped her pointy chin on surprisingly long fingers.

“Start what all over again?” Win asked, coming towards her, taking in the scent of cake batter mixed with a soft, florally perfume that must come from the woman before him.

“I’m baking a wedding cake. It’s turned out too dry. Taste it and tell me what you think.”

Win didn’t waste time in taking the plate from her and biting into the spongy, sweet substance. It melted in his mouth, and he closed his eyes for a moment, savouring the flavoursome fullness.

“I think it’s perfect.”

“You do? But now I’ve cut into it!” Her face was so forlorn, and close up, he could see it was sprinkled generously with soft freckles against creamy skin.

“See it as training.”

“Thanks.” She turned away and began to mix things together again.

As he placed the glass dish in the microwave to warm up the lasagne, she dished up the cake onto a large silver platter. “Take this to the guys for me. They can finish it off. I have no use for it.”

Win considered taking the plate somewhere isolated and polishing it all off alone, but then he remembered how the extra carbohydrates and refined sugar would slow him down the next week. He was hungry, but he wasn’t clueless.

“Thanks, hey. What’s your name?”

She lifted her head tentatively, her cheeks turned pink, and she barely spoke above a whisper. “It’s Elaine.”

“I’ll be back for the lasagne. Is that all right?”

“As long as you’re the only one,” she said and then dropped the spoon she was holding with a clunk as though she was embarrassed by her statement — as if it implied something more.

He quickly took the tray out the room in case he made the girl mess up her recipe and to stop his insides from curling any longer.

Maybe it was just hunger. Mick’s sister was as demure as they came, but she sure knew how to make good food and he liked that in a woman, very much.

You can buy Three Tiers for Win here: Amazon

Baked Sago Pudding:

1 litre milk (which is about 34 fluid ounces or one quart)
1 cup sago
1 ml salt
60 g sugar
65 g butter
4 eggs
half a vanilla pod or 5 ml vanilla extract
ground cinnamon
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots - it tastes perfectly good without

1. Soak the sago in two cups water for about 30 minutes to soften.
2. Bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla pod seeds and the empty pod. Once boiled, stir in the sago and salt and cook over very low heat until the sago is transparent. Remove the vanilla pod.
3. Stir in the sugar and butter until melted and remove from the stove.
4. Beat the eggs and stir into the sago mixture with the dried apricots (if you want them.)
5. Pour into a large, greased oven-proof  dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
6. Place the dish in a pan of hot water and bake at 160 degrees Celcius (or 325 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 45 minutes to an hour.
7. Leave to cool and set for 5 minutes.
8. Serve with honey or apricot jam. Actually it goes well with melted chocolate or ice-cream too.

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