by Cathryn Hein
Did you know that the very hormones that give you that love-drunk feeling exist in day-to-day foods? Tash Ranger, the heroine of The Country Girl, sure knows. As she should. She’s a star food blogger, and food and cooking are her life.
Vitamin C, that simple vitamin so commonly found in oranges and other citrus, is important in the production of the feel-good hormone serotonin, while chocolate contains a substance called PEA that triggers the release of endorphins and dopamine—the love drugs.
So if you’re craving that loved-up feeling, eat a choc-coated orange.
But there’s more to getting loved-up than pandering to hormones. Textures, tastes, smells, sights and sounds all matter too. And there aren’t many things more generous and from the heart than a home-cooked meal.
Here’s my (and Tash’s!) suggestions for romantic meals to show your partner how much you care, and put a bit of romance in your life.
- Churros with warm chocolate sauce. You could even have some sweet fun painting with them.
- Welsh rarebit. Oozy, boozy, cheezy goodness. A Tash favourite for the morning after.
- Tiramisu. It’s Italian, unctuous and creamy; has coffee and booze in it; is easy to make; perfect for sharing spoonfuls; and, most of all, delicious. How can you go wrong?
4/. Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. When Patrick learns Tash is cooking him this French staple, he’s wary, but he learns. Oh, yes, he learns!
- Chocolate mousse. Chocolate … ‘nuff said.
- Spaghetti. Add a bottle of chianti and some crooning background music and amore is yours. It worked for the Lady and the Tramp!
- Popcorn! Dead easy to make, and perfect for sharing while snuggling on the couch with your favourite rom-com on the telly.
- Tortelli di zucca. Roast pumpkin and amaretti–stuffed tortelli with brown butter and sage. Tash and Patrick enjoy quite a night with this one. You could too!
- Crème brûlée. The toffee top is made using a blowtorch and the centre is all creamy deliciousness. How sexy is that?
- Anything with chilli. As your body responds to the chilli heat, it releases endorphins leaving you—and your darling—on a lovely high. Just make sure you wash your hands afterwards because … ouch!
Cathryn Hein lives at the base of the Blue Mountains in Sydney’s far west with her partner of many years, Jim. When she’s not writing, she plays golf (ineptly), cooks (well), and in football season barracks (rowdily) for her beloved Sydney Swans AFL team.
A South Australian country girl by birth, Cathryn loves nothing more than a rugged rural hero who’s as good with his heart as he is with his hands, which is probably why she writes them! Her romances are warm and emotional, and feature themes that don’t flinch from the tougher side of life but are often happily tempered by the antics of naughty animals. Her aim is to make you smile, sigh, and perhaps sniffle a little, but most of all feel wonderful.
Is his promise worth more than their love?
After landing a major cookbook deal, star food blogger Tash Ranger swaps city life for the family farm. But Tash’s homecoming is bittersweet, for now she can no longer avoid seeing her best friend Maddy, who was severely injured in a riding accident and unable to communicate. No one knows that Maddy and Tash had a deep falling out and with every visit Tash must pretend to be the friend everyone believes her to be.
Patrick Lawson, Maddy’s fiancé, battles despair and hope daily as Maddy lies imprisoned in her body, gradually losing his faith in her recovery. When Tash returns to Castlereagh Road with her joy and boundless appetite for life, he realises finally what his loved ones have been trying to tell him for months – that Maddy wouldn’t want him to throw his life away. It’s time to move on. But letting go is no easy feat, especially if moving on means Tash. He’s a country boy and she is a star on the rise with ambitions that could propel her out of reach.
Can these two friends step out of the shadow of Maddy’s tragic life and accept love, or is the past forever destined to dictate their future?
Find it here