MRS PRESTON’s KITCHEN and ANZAC BISCUITS

MRS PRESTON’S KITCHEN (The Thornton Mysteries)

Morning Tea

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Miss Alexandra said to me, Mrs P … Miss Alexandra calls me Mrs P. Such a lovely young woman. I’ve seen her grow from a beautiful baby … wait, I’m getting off track. Edward, that’s my husband, Mr Preston, he tells me I waffle too much. Dear Edward, he only teases me. So, Miss Alexandra said why don’t you tell everyone about what you have for morning tea … especially this time, because of Anzac Day. Mr Benedict fought in the Great War. He was only a boy. So many boys killed. I think it upsets Miss Alexandra too much to talk about it.

I had to get my head on straight though to talk to you about it, too. I had to think when it all started. 1916 – that was the first Anzac Day. One year after all those poor boys and men died on Gallipoli Peninsula on the 25th April 1915. Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Well, we had to commemorate the tragic loss of life. I remember that first Anzac Day. We held a Dawn Service here at Thornton Park, and in the afternoon, Mr Thornton opened the polo field up to the locals for a football match. Some people played tennis. Mr Preston told me later that services were held across Australia and our boys in Egypt had a sports day. To us Aussies, it’s the mateship that’s important.

Such a terrible time. The things I read in the newspaper about our poor boys. They landed at Gallipoli to knock Turkey out of the war but everything … now what’s that word …stalemated, that’s it. Eight months and over eight thousand soldiers killed.

I remember on other Anzac Days, the 25th April became the day we remember the sacrifice of all those who had died in war. Ooh I can’t think of it without crying. Miss Alexandra always gives me a kiss on the cheek when I get upset. Edward tells me to pull myself together … but it upsets him to remember, too. Those Anzac boys were courageous and have left a strong legacy.

By now, you’re probably wondering about morning tea. At Thornton Park, we have Anzac biscuits. Like the poor boys in the trenches ate. They weren’t called Anzac biscuits then. The boys called them the Soldiers Biscuits. Food took a long time to reach the boys and there wasn’t any refrigeration then. Not like I have here now. Mr Thornton bought me one of those new ice boxes. So, food had to last. Like hard tack, bully beef – tinned corned beef, rice and tea. That’s what fed the army.

I always make Anzac Biscuits. It’s so easy – rolled oats, plain flour, sugar, butter, golden syrup or treacle, coconut, bi-carbonate of soda, and boiling water. I like to make the original recipe. I’ll let you have a copy of it. I had it from a friend of a friend.

I hope you’ll enjoy a cuppa and an Anzac biscuit now with me. Mr Preston and Harry just served the family. I made some jam tarts to go with the biscuits.

I’ll see you next time. After I’ve finished my cuppa, I have to think what to prepare for lunch.

 

ANZAC BISCUITS

Ingredients

1 cup each of plain flour, rolled oats, coconut and sugar

4 ounces butter

1tablespoon treacle or golden syrup

2 tablespoons boiling water. (Add a little more if the mixture is dry)

1 teaspoon bi-carbonate soda

Method

1 Grease tray and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2 Combine the dry ingredients.

3 Melt together butter and golden syrup. Combine water and bi-carbonate-soda – add to butter mixture

4 Mix butter and dry ingredients.

5 Drop teaspoons of mixture onto tray.

Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Allow to cool on tray for a few minutes before transferring onto cooling racks.

Makes approximately 35 biscuits.

(This is from an original recipe by Mr Bob Lawson, an ANZAC present at the Gallipoli landing.)

MRS PRESTON’S KITCHEN

BREAKFAST

The Thornton Mysteries

When writing a book set in the 1920s, the first thing you realise is there is a lot of research to do. The Dragon Sleeps is a murder mystery, the first in The Thornton Mysteries.

The family home, Thornton Park, is a lavish mansion. There are servants and a definite upstairs downstairs scenario. Fashions, music and cars aside, I found the need to research food. What would the family eat in 1927? What did the servants eat?

Mrs Preston is the cook at Thornton Park. Not a chef, but she’s as meticulous and proud of her culinary achievements, as any chef in a restaurant would be. She manages the menus and the kitchen staff to perfection. She does discuss the family menus with Alexandra Thornton, who is mistress of the house.

Kedgeree - photo credit

On an average day, the family is served breakfast in the morning room. This usually entails dishes such as Kedgeree served with softly scrambled eggs. This is a British recipe, as much of Australian food was at that time. Kedgeree originated in India, during the British Colonial days. At a time before refrigeration, it allowed cooks to use leftovers from the night before to make into appetising breakfast dishes.  Essentially the ingredients are boiled rice, chopped hard-boiled egg, cold minced fish, fried in one pan and flavoured with herbs.

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Sausages are also a much-loved breakfast fare, along with English muffins and toast, served with marmalade and strawberry jam. All served with tea or coffee.

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For the servants of Thornton Park, Mrs Preston always cooks a whole grain oatmeal or porridge, whether it be summer or winter. The servants need a hearty breakfast to sustain them for the long hours ahead.

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Now, there’s morning tea to think of. What will Mrs Preston serve?

 

 

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You can purchase The Dragon Sleeps from the following:

Amazon    http://myBook.to/DragonSleeps

Book Depository

Barnes and Noble

Waterstones

Booktopia.

Wordery

Better World Books

Chapters Indigo

You can follow Ellen on the following

 

The year is almost over…

This year has been an exciting one for me with the release of The Dragon Sleeps in November. It’s the first book in The Thornton Mysteries. A cosy mystery series with a tender love story.

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Book 2 is with my publisher, with book 3 soon to follow. I’ve finished it except for a last read through.

In January, I’m starting book 4. The research is done. I’m looking forward to writing it.

Book 1 is set at Thornton Park, the family home in Victoria.

Book 2 is principally set in Daylesford, a small town in the Macedon Ranges of Victoria. Dayleford is a beautiful place, and today is known for its spas and for its natural mineral springs.

Book 3 is set at Thornton Park and the Barossa Valley in South Australia. The Barossa is prime wine country.

Book 4 will take us to Norfolk Island, a beautiful island in the South Pacific not far from Australia. I went there last year to do some research. I’m going back in 2020.

I hope you’ll come on this journey with me.

This year also saw the release of Broken, a story that is free on my website.

After the tragic death of her parents, Rachael Watson ran away, leaving her sister to manage the family lavender farm and shop. Three years later, crushed by her unrelenting grief, workplace bullying, and guilt and shame for letting her sister down, Rachael decides to return home.

There, Rachael meets Ebony, a black mare who has been mistreated and beaten. Rachael realises she is not the only one who has been broken.

The Treasure is also free on my website. It’s a novelette – short than a novella but longer than a short story. YA/NA Fantasy.

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Lastly, I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas – or Happy Holidays if you don’t celebrate Christmas – and a Happy, Healthy New Year.

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The Dragon Sleep – Book of the Day

BOOK OF THE DAY

My publisher Crimson Cloak Publishing is holding a
‘Book of the Day’ promotion.


For Friday 29th November it is my book,
The Dragon Sleeps by Ellen Read

A Dragon statue. An ancient sword. A body in the orchard.

What secret has remained hidden at Thornton Park for the last eighty years?

It’s 1927 in Victoria, Australia. A time after the Great War when women have more options opened to them.

At a weekend house party at Thornton Park, Alexandra Thornton decides to break the news to her father that she wants to be an antiques dealer, like her father, grandfather and great-grandfather before her.

Guests include Zhang Huo, the Chinese antiques dealer who, with his son, has brought a Ming dragon statue from China for Thomas Thornton, Alexandra’s father.

Benedict Archer, manager of Thornton Antiques in Melbourne, is also invited.

When Edith Blackburn, her friend since childhood, points out to Alexandra that Benedict is attracted to her, Alexandra can’t believe it.

Then a body found in the orchard, and before the weekend is over, a priceless artefact is stolen.

Alexandra is determined to discover how these things are connected to the Ming dragon and the antiques her great-grandfather brought with him from Hong Kong so many years ago.

What treasure is worth killing to possess?

The link to purchase is below:
http://myBook.to/DragonSleeps

 

The Dragon Sleeps is released and available on Amazon

I’m very happy to announce that

The Dragon Sleeps

is released and available on Amazon

http://mybook.to/DragonSleeps

Available now - Cover mockup Composite w roses

A Dragon statue. An ancient sword. A body in the orchard. 

What secret has remained hidden at Thornton Park for the last eighty years? 

It’s 1927 in Victoria, Australia. A time after the Great War when women have more options opened to them. 

At a weekend house party at Thornton Park, Alexandra Thornton decides to break the news to her father that she wants to be an antiques dealer, like her father, grandfather and great-grandfather before her.

Guests include Zhang Huo, the Chinese antiques dealer who, with his son, has brought a Ming dragon statue from China for Thomas Thornton, Alexandra’s father. 

Benedict Archer, manager of Thornton Antiques in Melbourne, is also invited.

When Edith Blackburn, her friend since childhood, points out to Alexandra that Benedict is attracted to her, Alexandra can’t believe it. 

Then a body found in the orchard, and before the weekend is over, a priceless artefact is stolen. 

Alexandra is determined to discover how these things are connected to the Ming dragon and the antiques her great-grandfather brought with him from Hong Kong so many years ago. 

What treasure is worth killing to possess?

 

You can follow me on:

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ellenread.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARCs available – THE DRAGON SLEEPS by Ellen Read

**NEW ARC AVAILABLE**

THE DRAGON SLEEPS by Ellen Read

If you’re interested in reading an ARC (Advanced Reader/Review Copy) of my story in exchange for an honest review, please contact me at ellenreadauthor@gmail.com and let me know what format you prefer: mobi, epub or pdf.

ARCs - sword-866016

A Dragon statue. An ancient sword. A body in the orchard.

What secret has remained hidden at Thornton Park for the last eighty years?

It’s 1927 in Victoria, Australia. A time after the Great War when women have more options opened to them.

At a weekend house party at Thornton Park, Alexandra Thornton decides to break the news to her father that she wants to be an antiques dealer, like her father, grandfather and great-grandfather before her.

Then a body is found in the orchard, and before the weekend is over, a priceless artefact is stolen.

Alexandra is determined to discover how these things are connected to the Ming dragon and the antiques her great-grandfather brought with him from Hong Kong so many years ago.

What treasure is worth killing to possess

 

 

The Thornton Mysteries Book 4

 

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Kingston, Norfolk Island. The houses in Quality Row and the ruins of the Penal Settlement in the distance.                                                                                                              Photo by Ellen Read

 

While my third book in the Thornton Mysteries series is resting, I’m researching my fourth book in the series.

It’s set on Norfolk Island, which is a small island off the coast of Australia.

Norfolk Island and Pitcairn Island formed at same time when the peaks of two massive volcanoes thrust up from the ocean floor 6,000 kilometres apart. Both stood virtually uninhabited for 3 million years.

Then, in the late eighteenth century, Norfolk became the site of a Penal Settlement and Pitcairn became the hiding place for Fletcher Christian’s mutineers.

The British Penal Settlement on Norfolk was the most depraved and cruel of all penal settlements, even worse than Tasmania’s. The beautiful island became known as a hell on earth.

The similarities between the islands, doesn’t stop there. In 1855, when Pitcairn could know longer support its population, Queen Victoria offered them Norfolk. On 8th July 1856, the entire population of Pitcairn sailed to Norfolk Island. 

The descendants of the Bounty’s mutineers found Norfolk a paradise, with its deep blue seas and mild climate. Even though at times, those seas became treacherous. The Sirius, the flag ship of the First Fleet, met its end on the rocks of Norfolk Island.

I visited Norfolk Island this year and saw their paradise. Visitor numbers are restricted, the top speed limit is 40 km per hour, all animals have right-of-way, and you may not get good wifi. I didn’t miss it at all during the week there.

The Thorntons in my book visit Norfolk in early 1929. They find a paradise, too, although Alexandra is sure she can hear the ghosts of the convicts in the ruins at Kingston, and murder is just around the corner.

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Norfolk Island Pines. Nepean and Phillip Island off-shore.        Photo by Ellen Read. 

 

The Thornton Mysteries – Book 3, Draft 2

I’m very pleased to have finished the Second draft of Book 3 of The Thornton Mysteries.

It’s set in the Barossa Valley, northeast of Adelaide, in South Australia, which is an area known for its superb wines. Shiraz grapes are the local speciality.

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Barossa Valley.  Photo by Ellen Read

 

The stone cottages and Lutheran churches throughout the region owe their heritage to a 19th-century wave of German settlers.

My story is also set in Handorf, a beautiful little town, closer to Adelaide. Its German history can be traced back to 1838 when George Fife Angas, a director of a South Australian company, made a trip to London to promote colonisation. During his trip he met Pastor Kavel who was helping German Lutherans, being persecuted by the King of Prussia, to immigrate to safer places.

 

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Photo by Ellen Read

Set in 1928, the Handorf in my story has become Ambleside. Because of the Great War 1914-1918 (World War I), the government changed the name of the town because it sounded too German.

An interesting point I discovered in my research is that Handorf/Ambleside residents were not interned during the war, unless they posed a threat because of strong German allegiances. Anyone who was interned, however, was deported to Germany after the end of the war.

Four days ago at 11.00am on the 11 November, was the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, the agreement that warring parties would stop fighting.

In my book, the Thornton family go to the Barossa Valley as Benedict’s parents have a vineyard and winery. Alexandra wants to discover why they rejected Benedict after he returned home from the war.

This was Benedict’s war and he suffers nightmares from the horrors of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Page – Crimson Cloak Publishing

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I am so thrilled to have my own page on my publisher’s website.

Crimson Cloak Publishing

My first two books are with my publisher.

Book 1 – The Dragon Sleeps

Book 2 – The Inca’s Curse

Book 3 – I’m working on it now.

Book 4 – To follow

The Next Steps after a Publishing Contract

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As writers, it would be wonderful to always stay in our own little bubble and write. Perhaps a cave, as long as there was enough light to see. Or a sanctuary with a view, overlooking the ocean, or a rainforest or even a beautiful garden. Reality won’t allow it though, and we have to peek out sometimes and see what is going on out there, knowing full well that it isn’t as interesting as anything going on in our heads.

For me, hand in hand with a passion to write, was the desire to be published. When I moved towns just over three years ago, I write Love The Gift, a time-slip novella, which I self published. I then started The Dragon Sleeps, book one in The Thornton Mysteries Series. I went down the road of self publishing with it as well – a way that is not easy. I’m pleased I did this, as I have met so many wonderful people along the way.

By the time I had finished writing book two, I realised I wanted try for a traditional publisher. I had come so close many years ago, in another life, when I had an agent in London. Things didn’t work out, even though I received a verbal offer to publish a book I’d written back then.

This time I had success. A publisher, US company Crimson Cloak Publishing, said they would publish book two. But where was book one? After reading it, they said they’d publish it also. In the end, my contract was for four books. I was ecstatic!

My first steps, onto a new publishing path, started straight away with a media kit and an interview to do for the publisher. Why did I write? Why did I write this book? Tell me about your characters. What motivated you? And so many more questions. It made me think hard about…everything. Difficult to do but it was great to go over everything.

So, now these have been sent to the publisher. What’s next? So much more, but for now back to writing book three in The Thornton Mystery Series.