Christine’s Cassoulet

Cassoulet!

I was discussing, on Facebook this past week, the fact that I couldn’t find my favorite cassoulet recipe. My husband, bless him, dug through my many cookbooks and a three-inch, 3-ring binder of recipes, and found it for me. As several people wanted a copy of the recipe, I decided to put it here. Enjoy!

Christine’s Cassoulet – Made on November 4, 2017

This recipe is an amalgamation of what I remember from the Food & Wine version, and from a version that I found on the Internet in September 2004, on a website that no longer exists (yes, we checked). My husband found the printed version after I bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t find my original F&W recipe. However, I love this one, as it sticks close to the F&W recipe. I’ve made several changes, as noted.

Time: 30-45 minutes preparation time. At least 8 hours in a crock pot on low.

Servings: At least 8, possibly 10. It’s a terrific wintertime meal with good friends. Just pair with a crusty French bread and a good red wine, and you’ll have a meal that will make memories.

Ingredients:

½ pound small white navy beans (can substitute 2 cans white beans if you forget to buy the navy beans…which I have).

4+ cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, plus 2+ cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, cut into chunks or rounds, as you prefer

2 cups cored and chopped tomatoes, with their juices, or canned diced tomatoes

3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme

2 – 3 bay leaves

¼ pound salt pork in 1 piece

Note: If you can’t find salt pork, use ¼ pound whole slab bacon. If you can’t find that, use 5 or 6 bacon slices. 

4 sausages I’ve used sweet Italian, or chicken apple sausages – you can also use spicy Italian if that’s your style

1 pound boneless pork – shoulder, boneless rib meat, pork chops (whatever you can find)

1 turkey leg (or 2 duck legs, if you can find them, or 4 chicken legs)

½ pound any type of good beef steak (or stew meat)

Note: The second or third time I made this, I forgot what type of meat I needed to put into the cassoulet, and bought a steak. After I got home I realized it didn’t call for steak – but I used it anyway, and I find it gives the whole dish an added boost of flavor.

Chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, or water, or a mixture, as needed…probably 4 – 6 cups

Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Step One:

Chop all veggies.

Step Two:

Brown all meats (including the salt pork) in a large skillet and transfer them to the crock pot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Three:

Add crushed garlic, chopped onions, and chopped carrots into the crock pot. Add beans, tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaves.

 

Step Four:

Add stock mixture to cover by 2 inches, IF possible, as your large crock pot will be full. Cover, and cook on low for 8 hours (high for 5 hours). Don’t feel like you have to be home the entire time – go out! Have fun! Enjoy! When you get home, your kitchen will smell like heaven, I promise you!

 

 

<– I like adding 1/2 chicken bone broth, and 1/2 beef bone broth.

 

 

 

Note: Most cassoulet recipes that I’ve found have you leave all the meats whole when serving. When I first made this recipe in the late 1990s, I had two boys who were under the age of 10. Leaving anything whole, in a hot broth, was not practical. Therefore…

Step Five:

After 8 hours, when the meat is falling off the bone of the turkey leg, pull all the meats out of the crockpot and let cool enough to touch, while setting the crockpot to “Warm.” Once the meat is cool, shred the meat, extracting any fat and bones, and put all the meat back into the crockpot. Feel free to give the extra fats and skins to the dog. He’ll thank you for it.

 

Taste the broth – it should be rich and meaty, and need little extra seasoning. However, add the reserved minced garlic, and S&P to taste if needed (this one didn’t). Keep on warm until you’re ready to eat.

Note: The French typically put a breadcrumb crust on this. I never have, and I’ve never missed it. But if you wish, by all means, please do!

Note: This recipe can also be made in a Dutch oven; do everything in one pot, including sautéing the onions and carrots and garlic in the fat left behind by browning the meats. Cover with stock by 2 inches; cook on low for at least 5 hours. Check to see if the meat is falling off the bone before you take it off the heat.

Bon apetit!

)O(

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A rough few months

It’s been rough, since my Daddy died on March 14, 2017. Not quite four months have passed, but my brother and I have done what we were charged to do, as Co-Trustees of his estate. Soon it will all wrap up.

There are a lot of good things happening in my life, and I will post them here, but I felt since I hadn’t actually dealt with my father’s death here, that I’d better do so.

Chet Cunningham, June 2011. 325+ novels out and counting. He’s as real as it gets.

Boy do I miss him.

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Hot Billionaires, plus Venom & Vampires

Hello my lovelies!

I’m sharing a fabulous new book by Susie Nelson today, called Pretend to be Mine. Only .99, or FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Welcome to the world of the Ramsey Billionaire Brothers and their empire of fashion, music and financial companies that rule the New York social and business spheres.

Jordan Ramsey manages a successful fashion label that has come under public scrutiny and in an effort to distract the negative media attention around his company, his PR guru, Barrack Amara, devises a scheme involving the hottest model of the moment, Danica Cliffe.

The glamorous blondie and Jordan engage in a fake public relationship that comes under fire when they are unexpectedly disgraced by a secret recording that is leaked to the press. In an effort to save both their careers and their clandestine love, Jordan and Danica battle with the media, their managers, and family members. But can they succeed?

Special bonus included.

 

Next, I’m thrilled to announce that I’m in a Special Edition Limited box set called Venom and Vampires. It’s up for pre-order, also .99 across all platforms, and will be available on July 25th.

A collection with bite…

Prepare to sink your teeth into 23 Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy stories featuring vampires, shifters, witches, demons, chimeras, and more from today’s NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, and internationally best-selling and award-winning authors!

With over one million words of fiction and over 100 hours of prime reading material, this exciting collection will treat you to brand new worlds and inventive re-imaginings of our beloved monsters-in-the-dark. You won’t want to miss out on these stories with bite. We’re certain you’re gonna love it…to death!

PreOrder VENOM AND VAMPIRES today to lock down YOUR copy of this Special Edition Collection!

Venom and Vampires Swag Pack giveaway!
Grand prize winner will receive a Tote bag, a Make up bag, book cards, bookmarks, a sticker, a button, a keychain, a necklace and a magnet!
Mini-swag pack winners will receive book cards, bookmarks, a button, keychain, necklace and magnet!
Enter the giveaway here:   http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/01c1b5292/?

)O(

Happy June!

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May Book Fair!

So, there’s this book fair – lots of books, most of which are .99 to $2.99. Check it out!

And if you haven’t grabbed Guarded Star yet, it goes back up to full price on June 1st – so get it while you can!

More later, lovelies – I’m in the middle of a deadline. Sending love and hugs, always.

May Book Fair

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GUARDED STAR on Sale Now!

It’s true! Guarded Star, the first full-length book in the StarTide Agency series with Boroughs Publishing Group, is on sale for the ENTIRE month of May across ALL platforms!

Bestselling author Louisa Bacio said this: “Guard your heart because Christine Ashworth has done it again. Despite all their differences, Evie and Jake share combustible chemistry, and a past that won’t stay behind. You’ll enjoy the sweet music of this romance.”

BLURB:

Singer/songwriter Evie Marcherand is about to begin her first three-city tour whenGuarded Star4 someone threatens to stop her music—permanently. Private investigator Jake Wells is about to give up his vacation—and his heart—to see that doesn’t happen.

MAKE A WISH
Everyone leaves twenty-five-year-old Evie Marcherand, but with her naturally husky voice and musical talent she’s done okay, and her star is rising. Her songs and her guitar? Those she can count on. She’s just booked her first three-city tour. Too bad someone else wants to stop her music. Permanently.

Jake Wells. 39. Private investigator. Tall and lanky, with brown hair that’s going silver at his temples. What does he want? To go on vacation. But with four younger sisters, “protective” doesn’t begin to describe him, so a promise to a dead man means he’ll play bodyguard instead. Threats of violence against an up-and-coming singer/songwriter have been escalating, and there’s just no way that’s going to happen. But after he gets a taste of Evie’s music—and her lips—there’s no saying what will.

Find Guarded Star here: (sorry, I couldn’t figure out how to copy the link to iBooks! sigh.)

Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble,

Other News

There’s been a lot of personal turmoil in my  life, and I haven’t been here very much at all. I aim to change that. As well, I have a newsletter that was sent out today for the very first time.  If you read that newsletter and are here because of the super sekrit contest, then you know what to do. *vbg*

If you aren’t on my newsletter list but want to be (freebies, etc), leave a comment here with your email address and I will add you to the list.  Right now, I have no idea how many I’ll be sending out, but I swear unless I have amazing news or giveaways, it won’t be more than once a month, and probably a lot less.

Thank You!

A huge thank you to Boroughs Publishing Group who have worked with me on this promotion. Another huge thank you to Rebecca Hamilton, and to all the friends and family who have been there for me during a really rough patch. Sending love to all.

)O(

Now…go on and grab Guarded Star! You know you want to…

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Precipice

I do not think it is his time. But he hurts, and seeing your parent in pain is just as impossibly frustrating and heart-wrenching as seeing your child in pain.

I am here, bearing witness. Talking when he wants to talk, watching over him as he sleeps. Soon I will head for home…but for now, I am here.

Sharing space with him. Guarding his sleep. Watching as his hands work, searching for something that he doesn’t find before coming to a rest.

My heart aches even as I am profoundly grateful for being able to be here with him for the past three days.

Precious Time - photo by Christine Ashworth, image arrangement by Mary Bogue
Precious Time – photo by Christine Ashworth, image arrangement by Mary Bogue

I’m fully planning on him being around for at least another decade. I just need him to get with that program, too.

)O(

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Happy New Year!

It’s happened again, that arbitrary day we call “January 1” of whatever year.  I have begun the great cleaning out of my office, as well as my closets and dressers and kitchen cupboards. Found my raspberry beret, which had gone missing, as well as some colored pencils and a small bag of electronics that I travel with, so that was a good thing.

I have let blogging slide, for whatever reason; but it is past time to get back into gear. There are wines that need discussing, and books, and recipes…oh yes, recipes!

And there’s a freebie going on, in case you haven’t read anything I’ve written yet (except this here blog)…but just until January 4th, so grab it while you can!

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Three Times More Lucky, Sizzling Stories of Menage and More, from Louisa Bacio, Erzabet Bishop, Kim Carmichael, Sascha Illyvich, Solera Winters, and me. Get it here…

But for today, I just want to say Happy New Year. There’s a lot of life to live…may your 2017 hold love, and strength, growth and change for you…in the very best ways possible.

And have a sip of champagne for me, will you?

champagne

 

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My 3 Book Weekend – Reviews

I spent the past weekend resting my thumb and reading three books that I had picked up from Romance Writers of America’s National Conference.

So I had the unique privilege of visiting New York City and Santa Barbara; a magical land called Raea; and Blessings, Kansas.

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I hadn’t read any of these authors before.  I have met Joan, and she’s a publishing sister of mine, so it was with interest that I sat down to spend a bit of time reading two short novellas by Joan Bird.

Wishes and Miracles by Joan Bird

Both stories are set in a small publishing company. The editors are men; the writers, women whose work changes their lives. Sam’s Gift has the delicious Lizzie shoving her manuscript under the door of an editor. Jake is transformed by this novel and must have it, so he goes to great lengths to find Lizzie and meet up with her. But with Lizzie comes Jake’s realization; that his wife, Sam, whom he lost on 9/11 when the South Tower went down, has left him the gift of his future; and that he’d darned well better take advantage of it, instead of continuing to live like a ghost. Joan’s way with witty and intelligent dialog will have you giggling in delight.

Amy’s Wish, set in Santa Barbara, is another heart-tugging, witty and intelligent novella. Eric, the editor, is in Santa Barbara only to get Amy to sign a contract for her novel. Amy is certain he doesn’t mean it. It takes them both to bare their souls, and their secrets, before he can convince her that he means everything he says, especially when he says “I love you.”

Both stories give you that warm, happy-ever-afterglow that a good romance imparts, and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

This story had me by the first sentence.

“I craft influential cake.”

Right??? Yeah. This is a magical puzzle of three people (well, let’s go with that) that are entwined together.

Maire has no memory of her past beyond the five years she’s been in the town of Carmine. She is a baker who bakes influence into her cakes and tarts and pies. Whether it be love, or luck, or strength, or courage, she crafts her edibles with these emotions and abilities. Those who consume them receive those gifts, which is why her bakeshop is well known in her small town.

But when marauders come through Carmine, she is captured and sold…to Allemas, a strong man who then sets her to make treats for others. He whirls them from place to place, holding her captive when she is not actively baking.

When she is down in the cellar, waiting for Allemas to set her to another task, she is visited by a spirit named Fyel. The more she spends time with him, the more her memory returns…and the angrier Allemas becomes.

I have never read a novel like this before. I loved it. It was like falling into a dream, and I wished I could taste the cakes, the tarts, the petit fours. And the reveal toward the end was breathtaking. I will definitely be reading more of Charlie N. Holberg’s works.

Heart of Gold, a Blessings Novel by Beverly Jenkins

I fell in love, reading this book. I had never read any of the Blessings novels, but I didn’t feel lost at all. I loved Bernadine and her Mal, I loved the feisty 10 year old Zoey, and I absolutely adored her mama Roni Garland and her man Reggie.

Life in a small town can be very interesting, especially when you’re the one who owns it the way Bernadine Brown owns Blessings, Kansas. Add in a furious mayor’s wife in the nearby small town of Franklin, and you’ve got some mayhem tossed in.

This book immersed me in warmth and love as I read and got to know lots of people in the town, from the impossible Devon who will eventually learn not to be an ass (and Zoey will learn not to beat him up), to Bernadine and her love for most everyone.

I will, most definitely, be going back to Blessings, Kansas at the first opportunity.

Overall…

It was a wonderful way to spend a weekend, refilling my writer’s well, and getting to share these books and these writers with you is another joy.

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The Cabin in the Laguna Mountains

My parents bought a cabin in the Laguna Mountains in the winter of 1965-66. It’s in the Cleveland National Forest, and you buy the cabin – but lease the land from the government. They are considered summer homes, and won’t allow you to buy with the intent to live year-round. They won’t even let you buy one if you don’t own another home.

Yesterday, July 30 2016, my father, my oldest brother, and I took the pilgrimage back to the place we were all happiest.

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The windows are new. The roof is, too. The paint job looks fresh, and they put skytubes into the kitchen to open it up, as well as the sliding glass door on the right which is new. The place looks well-loved and taken care of.

The cement slab, though, was poured by my father and my brothers. You can still see our names in it.

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and here

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My mom’s writing.

I won’t lie…this was an emotional day. Before we saw the cabin, we went to Major’s Diner, in Pine Valley, for lunch…the best burger I’ve had in a very long time.

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I remember sitting at that counter, 45+ years ago,and feeling like a “big girl” because the counter was the perfect height for littler kids.

And Dad…well, he had a quarter of his waffle. I won’t say he’s getting too thin, but…note the cardboard between the back of his watch and his wrist. (He’s an innovator.)

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So, we got to the cabin. I have more photos on my big camera, but these were all taken with my phone and are more readily accessible, so.

My brother Greg parked the car, and I was itching to get outside. Dad wanted to, as well, so we helped him out. Walked up a short hill to within the steps to the slab (top photo). He was dizzy, out of breath, and couldn’t go further.

I left them there, Greg hanging onto Dad, because this hill right here was calling to me.

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Up there, along the ridge line, in the summer of 1993, we scattered my brother Scott’s ashes. I was, oh…maybe six months pregnant at the time.

The next time I visited the cabin, it was in the late spring of 2007, when we scattered my mother’s ashes. At the time, I thought the next time I would be there would be to scatter my father’s ashes, but luckily that was not true.

I took many, many photos. I stuck my nose in the bark of the Jeffrey Pine trees and smelled the rich vanilla scent. I laughed at the woodpeckers and the blue jays even as I brushed my tears away. And when I hiked to the top of this hill, my feet sank into gopher tunnels that I had once been able to spot and avoid. Dirt got into my shoes. The air was muggy, and sweat rolled between my shoulder blades as I stocked up on photos and memories.

The outhouse had been taken down; there were only a few bricks left in the soil to mark where it once stood.  The big oak tree that my dad had shimmied up (about 30 feet) in the summer of 1966 to tie a rope swing on was also gone; not even a stump remained. We used to swing high and try to push off the outhouse…never quite made it…

This side of the mountains, the trees were lush, and green. The rains had done good here. The oaks and pines both looked amazing. All the ground fifty feet surrounding the cabins had been cleared, as by law. The place looked beautiful.

Going back to the car, I saw Greg helping my dad inside. He laid the seat back and closed his eyes, and a part of me hurt for him…Dad had sawn logs, gone arrowhead hunting, taken us for hikes. He cleared land and created a volleyball court. He brought a litter of puppies up in one box, and a month later had to take them home in two boxes. He strode these lands in the prime of his life…everywhere I looked, I saw that young man who, when he wasn’t working with his hands, was writing novels.

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Greg Cunningham and Chet Cunningham, July 30, 2016.

I had an incredible, safe, loving childhood filled with remarkable people and this oh, so amazing place in the mountains. I am blessed.

)O(

 

 

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Three Times More Lucky Menage Box Set

It’s LIVE, it’s HERE! Check this out…

lucky Ad

My Story in this box set is called Four, Squared…

4 squared

Love, Squared by Christine Ashworth

Daniel is the only man James has ever been attracted to. After running from that attraction five years ago, James is back, only to find two women in Daniel’s bed…Daniel’s wife and her girlfriend. A night of some of the hottest sex he’s ever had has James rethinking his future…and his place in Daniel’s life.

And here’s teasers for the rest of the set!

Triad by Kim Carmichael

In a world of threesomes, Kenna Poller-Madsen and Lucas Kerr have lived together as a couple after the third of their triad died years ago. Life is good, but something is always missing. When the sexy alien Talbot Savita crash lands on their planet, they never dreamed this warrior might be the one they both need. On a tour of their planet sparks fly. However, but their love may be doomed before it begins, because their planet’s laws don’t allow interspecies to mate, and as soon as his spaceship is repaired Talbot must return home. Now they must fight for their Triad or lose him forever.

 

Worshiping the Goddess by Solera Winters

When her twenty-first century life becomes too trying, a marketing assistant transports back to an ancient Celtic tribe where the men have lost everything and worship her as a goddess. It’s the ultimate fantasy, but on discovering the fantasy is reality, will she be able to give up her modern life for the chance to be cherished by four hunky Celts?

Snow by Erzabet Bishop

Fairytales can bite… To look to the future, sometimes you have to unearth the secrets of the past. Snow longs to find a man of her own far away from life in her father’s castle. When he returns from war with a new bride, her carefully planned out life slips through her fingers. Her new stepmother harbors a dangerous secret and one malicious kiss sends Snow tumbling into a world she never knew existed. Can she learn to use her new talents wisely or lose it all? Darkness can hide the most sultry of nights. Gideon and his men guard the king, but even they can’t protect him from his murderous new bride. When the castle falls prey to the queen’s ire, they find themselves under the spell of the moon. Can they harness their new reality to protect the newest target of the queen’s wrath or will they be yet again victims of her unholy power play?

Threesome by Tuesday by Louisa Bacio

Going beyond friendship takes more than physical attraction. A power dynamic threatens to derail the newly formed threesome, and Tommy, Shannon and Zack struggle to find their position. When Zack feels like he’s being overlooked, he takes off for some solo soul searching. To survive the speed bumps, the three lovers need to face some fears and focus on the love.

Road to Seduction by Sascha Illyvich

Dubious circumstances throw three travelers together. During foul winter weather, the three turn to other options to keep warm, only to realize past relationships can pave the way for new love. Can they have a future together as a ménage?

Available on Amazon à http://amzn.to/1SMXypj — only 99 pennies!

)O(

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