Monday, April 27, 2015

A Stranger's Secret and Laurie Alice Eakes' Traditional Cornish Pastie Recipe!

"The storm left more than missing roof tiles and downed tree branches in its wake. A mast, splintered like a twig in the hands of a giant's child and tossed upon the beach, a handful of spars, and masses of tangled rigging bellowed a tale of desruction. That not a box, barrel, or chest floated on the returning tide amidst the skeleton of the wrecked ship testified to destruction well beyond the ravages of the sea." Opening Paragraph
Synopsis:

As a grieving young widow, Morwenna only wants a quiet life for herself and her son. Until a man washes ashore, entangling her in a web of mystery that could threaten all she holds dear.

Lady Morwenna Trelawny Penvenan indulged in her fair share of dalliances in her youth, but now that she's the widowed mother to the heir of the Penvenan title, she's desperate to polish her reputation. When she's accused of deliberately luring ships to crash on the rocks to steal the cargo, Morwenna begins an investigation to uncover the real culprits and stumbles across an unconscious man lying in the sea's foam—a man wearing a medallion with the Trelawny crest around his neck.
The medallion is a mystery to David Chastain, a boat builder from Somerset. All David knows is that his father was found dead in Cornwall with the medallion in his possession after lying and stealing his family's money. And he knows the widow who rescued him is impossibly beautiful—and likely the siren who caused the shipwreck in the first place—as well as the hand behind whoever is trying to murder David.
As Morwenna nurses David back to health and tries to learn how he landed on her beach, suspicion and pride keep their growing attraction at bay. But can they join together to save Morwenna's name and estate and David’s life? Can they acknowledge the love they are both trying to deny?

Review by Mirella Patzer

Young and widowed, Morwenna Penvenan struggles to maintain her estate for her young son. Before she married, Morwenna was a bit of a wild child. Marriage to her husband provided her with security and comfort, but after his death, Morwenna is on the verge of losing everything due to poverty and some criminality occurring on her property. Someone is sending false signals to ships which sends them crashing onto her beach. The thieves then steal the cargo. And suspicion falls on her. On one such occasion, she encounters a nearly drowned man, badly beaten, who has washed up on her shore. His name is David Chastain and he wears a medallion with her family crest. She runs to get help, and when she returns, the man is still there, but the medallion is gone. She takes him to her home and begins nursing him back to health. As he recovers, Morwenna learns he is searching for answers to his father's death. Bit by bit, their destinies become entangled, and soon they become each other's allies. As suspicion threatens Morwenna, it is David who is the only one who believes her. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Its pages are filled with secrets, mystery, betrayal, and blosomming love. Morwenna is a wonderfully strong heroine, courages in the face of adversity, honest among thieves and liars, honorable in her interactions. Written in an easy to read, and pleasing prose, it was a quick, romantic read! A beautiful love story with an unforgettable heroine. Highly recommended!   

I'd like to extend a very warm welcome for historical fiction author, Laurie Alice. She has provided us with a traditional recipe for Cornish Pasties and explains a little about her latest novel I just reviewed above. It truly is one of the best books I read this year. 


Cornish Pastie

Cornwall: The Fascination with a Recipe

Once upon a time, a librarian gave a teenaged bookworm girl a book called Jamaica Inn by Daphne DuMaurier. Dubious because of the title, the girl took the book politely, settled in a chair . . . and barely came up for air until she finished the last word. What fourteen-year-old girl could resist a story about a young woman cast upon the world, a mysterious dark stranger, and smugglers? Not this one, that’s for sure. Thus was born my lifelong fascination with Cornwall.

Cornwall, I learned over the next many years of reading novels, legends, and nonfiction set in that land, is a county at the far southwest corner of England. It’s a peninsula thrusting a finger into the Atlantic Ocean, with the English Channel to the south and the Bristol Channel to the north. Along the eastern border is the Tamar River, which runs nearly from sea, to sea, stopping short of making this land an island. I say “land” rather than county, for many years, Cornwall was separated from Britain by language, dress, and culture. The people thought of themselves as Cornish, not English. After all, this was the land that gave rise to King Arthur. Cornishmen spoke a Celtic language rather than one derived from Saxon, as did those in the counties east of the Tamar. Cornishmen even had their own foods. The Pastie

When I discovered this, I felt a personal connection with Cornwall. To me, a pastie was something I had eaten. We have pastie shops in Michigan where I grew up. Cornishmen settled in my native state, especially the northern area where the copper mines exist. A pastie is essentially a meat pie and something my family still makes. With all this interest in and connection to (however loosely) Cornwall, how could I not write books set in this intriguing county? Smugglers? Wreckers? Ancient mines and natural caves tangling and twisting beneath the rocky soil. My imagination runs wild just thinking about this wild land. Until around 1700, Cornwall possessed it’s own language. Although that language had been considered dead for several decades before the setting of my Cliffs of Cornwall books, I hunted high and low to find a Cornish-English dictionary to get a feel for the people’s background. I bought books on Cornish names and read through them hunting for ones that translated well into English and weren’t too weird in their native incarnation.

When I asked my critique partners about some potential names for my hero in A Lady’s Honor, the names were so foreign-sounding my widely read fellow authors told me those sounded like the names of aliens in a science fiction novel. So I did change the spelling of Ruan, to Rowan for the sake of the reader. By the nineteenth century, Cornwall was fairly civilized. Fairly, not completely. Britain was at war with France only a hundred miles away across the English Channel and Cornwall possessed miles of unguarded coastline with inlets for tucking boats and caves for hiding goods like silk, tea, and brandy, making smuggling a common and lucrative practice.

As for the wrecking—the practice of luring ships to their doom in order to plunder the cargo—so much a part of A Stranger’s Secret, I found conflicting resources on whether or not it took place. Some Cornishmen claim it never did. Others in original sources from the time period, declare it absolutely did. From what I have read of Cornish history, especially with the staggering poverty as mine after mine paid out and closed, I suspect wrecking was what kept many a family supplied with food and clothing in a harsh climate little good for farming.Smuggling and wrecking are lawless and dangerous activities and not in the least romantic. Struggling against these rebellions in a wild land steeped in legend and bombarded by the sea, however, calls to my romantic soul.

Pasties

Crust

2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cut shortening (I use butter)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 egg
½ c. water

Mix with fork until soft and crumbly.

Chill.

Filling

1 lb ground beef (I prefer chopped steak)
3 smallish potatoes cut into Cubes
3 carrots chopped
Whole onion chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

Divide dough and roll into 8 inch circles.

Fill with ½ cup filling and fold dough in half

Pinch edges to seal.

Place (I use a spatula to lift them) onto a Greased cookie sheet

Pierce several holes in the top with a fork. Sprinkle with salt if desired.

1 hour at 350

Remove from oven and let stand for a few minutes so they don’t’ fall apart.

Makes about 8 pasties.

Note: Pastie shops in Michigan offer a variety of fillings including vegetarian ones. 

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