Last February, I had the opportunity to present a workshop at the first annual When The Heart Dreams conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. This event was an opportunity for romance readers and authors to mix and mingle for the weekend. As an independent author, I thought participating in When The Heart Dreams would be a good way for me to be among some popular and celebrated authors, and to chat with romance readers about the kinds of stories they like to read. Up until the conference, I was pretty sure the majority of the people who’d purchased my novel A Second Helping were related to me in one form or another. This event was my chance to expand my audience.
My workshop focused on the relationship between love and food. I was the unknown author at the conference, so I didn’t expect anyone to attend my discussion. But five women actually showed up for my class. I did a few jokes, got a few laughs, and then the real fun began. I chatted about relationships, marriage and sex, and how food could enhance these particular areas of life. We were having so much fun laughing and learning that people began to stop by my room to see what all the commotion was. Not only did I nail my talk, but it ended up being standing room only.
My workshop was so popular that I was asked to come back to the 2017 When The Heart Dreams Saturday, February 11 as a featured author.
Here’s a preview of my workshop “For Love and Food”:
Since the beginning of time, man has been motivated by two things: food and love. “For Love and Food” is a fun, interactive workshop that explores the relationship between food and love, and how they are connected. Participants will learn how the hormones and chemical reactions that affect our emotional attachments to loved ones are stimulated by food, and how these reactions heighten the sensations of well-being and comfort. This class is not for the bashful!
Love and food are fundamental themes in my novel, and each meal that is prepared and/or eaten brings my couple closer to their happily ever after. At the end of the story, I included ten recipes that played a part in the progression of Damien and Michelle’s romance. The corn and andouille chowder is one of the recipes featured in A Second Helping. It’s a comforting soup with great flavor and a little heat from the andouille. When you eat it, you can’t help but feel loved.
Let me know when you make this recipe. Take a picture and hashtag it #QUEENCITYKITCHEN. I can’t wait to see what you post!
Andouille and Corn Chowder
Makes 8 servings
If you can’t find fresh bulk andouille sausage, feel free to substitute hot Italian
sausage in the soup.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound bulk andouille sausage, casing removed
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 pound red potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
4 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup white cheddar cheese
3 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Cook the sausage until lightly browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a plate.
Melt the butter in the pot. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and thyme, and cook one additional minute. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the potatoes, corn, salt and pepper. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the sausage, cream, cheese, parsley and green onions. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper, if necessary. Simmer until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.