"A TASTE FOR ROMANCE" October 2011
by Virginia Campbell
This is a very special post, celebrating one year of blogging here at "Past the Print" as a guest of a truly lovely and talented lady, Renee Vincent. I would like to thank all of you who have visited and commented--you are the best! I have enjoyed "meeting" you and reading your thoughts and insights. This is such a rewarding experience! Most of all, I want to express my deep gratitude and admiration for Renee, who makes all of this possible with her generosity and shared love of history and romance. I have always lived in historical romance. I just “reside” in the modern world. From as far back as I can remember, I was always drawn to times of old, ladies and gentlemen from another era, and clothing and customs from days gone by. I love history, and that is one of the reasons that I have been a lifelong reader of historical romance. I know that some readers state that they want a romance, not a history lesson, but I think the two go hand-in-hand. The setting of the book, the era, culture, social mores, religious beliefs, fashion, art and literature of the times all affect the way the characters would develop as people. Therefore, they are very important elements of the story line details. I appreciate the amount of research and love of subject an author invests into a well-written historical romance.
Today, I am focusing on Renee's remarkable book series, "The Emerald Isle Trilogy". The powerful and moving love story of Daegan Raeliksen and his Lady Mara will resonate long after the last page is read. This is historical romantic fiction at its best, written by an author inspired by the legends and lure of ancient Ireland and Norway. Renee Vincent has brought to life a turbulent time in history when cultures collided and to the victor went the spoils! Only a love story as intense as "Raeliksen" could match the true passions and intrigue of tumultuous Ireland of Olde! Daegan is a charismatic Northmen, a world-traveling tradesman, and a leader of his people. One look at a beautiful maiden who visits his favorite secluded woodland spot takes his breath and steals his heart. He soon learns that she is Mara, daughter of an Irish king, a woman who should be forbidden to a Northman. Daegan is not a man to be denied, and fate and undeniable love soon set in place an adventurous course of events. When two hearts truly love, no risk is too great to keep that love safe. The timeless melding of two souls in spiritual and sensual union is both poignant and passionate. Not to be missed!
Breandan Mac Liam is a man who knows his heart belongs to only one woman, the beautiful Irish princess, Mara. For years he has loved her, dreamed of her, and held her close in his thoughts. However, Mara was the wife of a charming Northman chieftain, Daegan Raeliksen, and she was to remain unattainable to Breandan. When their paths unexpectedly cross years later, much has changed, and Breandan is once again a captive of his love for Mara. Sent to retrieve Mara by her dying father, Breandan must put his own desires aside to protect the woman he loves and return her to her home to grant the last wish of the king. In, "Mac Liam", the second book in "The Emerald Isle Trilogy", Renee Vincent once again takes us back to a time of great adventure and grand passions. Skillfully blending historical fact with exciting action and battle scenes and soul-scorching romance, she places the reader in Ireland of Olde. Her brave and brawny Northmen, the explorers and conquerors, are intriguing and vividly drawn. The conflicts and merging of these two cultures would change the face of the world forever, with far-reaching consequences. An endlessly fascinating era in time for lovers of history and great romantic characters. The third book in the trilogy, "The Fall of Rain", will be released in December, 2011. This is a series to savor, one that will stay in your heart and mind and lead to your own dreams of irresistible Irishmen and magnetic Northmen! A highly recommended read.
What is your favorite era in history? Is there a period in time which you would like to visit? Would you forsake your modern day life for a chance to live in a past world full of intrigue and adventure? My bookshelves are full of a wide variety of books, and a great many of them are from the historical fiction genre. If I took a look at your bookshelves, what would I find?
One of the things that I love most about the Fall of the year is the return of savory, spicy-sweet foods and cooking aromas. Heartier, heavier fare that warms the body and the soul. The soup is bubbling on the hearth, the bread is baking in the oven, and I am settled down with a great read. Heaven! I hope that you all will enjoy these Autumn recipes.
Creamy Pumpkin Soup
3 slices of bacon; 1 large onion, chopped; 2 cups chicken stock; 16 ounces of canned pumpkin, or 2 cups cooked pumpkin, mashed; 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper; 1 tablespoon sugar; salt & black pepper to taste; 1 pint heavy cream; sour cream, reserved cooked bacon pieces, dried chives. Dice the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces and sauté until crispy in a Dutch Oven. Remove bacon pieces and reserve. Add chopped onion to the same pan, and sauté the onion in the bacon grease for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden and soft. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, then remove from heat and whisk in the pumpkin, cayenne pepper, sugar, and salt & pepper. Using a hand blender, blend until smooth. Stir in cream. Heat soup gently on low, stirring, until the soup is heated through. Serve soup garnished with a dollop of sour cream, croutons, crumbled bacon, and sprinkle of dried chives.
Pork Roast with Maple-Mustard Glaze
1 pork loin roast, bone-in, about 5 pounds; 2 large cloves garlic, halved; Salt and pepper to taste; 2 slices bacon, optional; 1/4 cup maple syrup; 1/4 cup brown sugar; 1 tablespoon cornstarch; 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard or gourmet mustard. Heat oven to 325°. Rub the roast all over with the garlic halves; save garlic. Place the roast, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper and add garlic pieces to pan. If there is very little fat on top of the roast, lay 2 slices of bacon across the top (optional). Roast the pork, uncovered, for about 2 hours. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Brush the glaze over the roast and continue baking for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the roast registers about 155° on a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meatiest part of the roast (not touching bone or fat). Let the roast rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serves 6.
Roasted Harvest Vegetables
1 small butternut squash, cubed
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
1 red onion, quartered
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C). In a large bowl, combine the squash, red bell peppers, sweet potato, and Yukon Gold potatoes. Separate the red onion quarters into pieces, and add them to the mixture. In a small bowl, stir together thyme, rosemary, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss with vegetables until they are coated. Spread evenly on a large roasting pan. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring every 10 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.
Apple & Cheddar Bake
8 cups unpeeled chopped apples (a mix of tart & sweet, green, yellow & red is wonderful)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
Preheat over to 350F degrees (177C). Grease a 13×9 inch baking dish. Place apples in the baking dish. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, flour, nutmeg and cheese. Blend in melted butter. Sprinkle mixture evenly over apples. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Bourbon Fudge Brownies
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350F. Bring bourbon to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat. Add chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add vanilla and eggs; beat well. Add flour mixture and bourbon mixture to sugar mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Spread batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. Serves 20.
German Meatballs and Sauerkraut
1 lb. hamburger
1/2 lb. ground pork
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1 T. fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
2-3 T. oil for frying
1 27-oz. can sauerkraut, undrained (or use homemade)
In a mixing bowl, combine the meats, bread crumbs, onion, parsley, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, egg, and milk and mix well. Shape into 2-inch balls. Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the meatballs. Remove and drain the fat from the skillet. Spoon the sauerkraut into the skillet and top with the meatballs. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until meat is completely cooked. Add water if necessary during cooking so the dish doesn’t become too dry.
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups sliced plums (about 12 medium)
1 1/2 cups baking mix
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat; stir in plums. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish. Combine baking mix and 2 tablespoons sugar; stir in milk and butter. Spoon over plum mixture. Bake at 400F for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. Makes 6 servings.
Causes Virginia Campbell Supports
I live in a very small town with few job opportunities. I would love to be employed in a position which allowed me to promote literacy and put books in the...