Kimberly Kincaid is a former RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives by the mantra that food is love. She writes sweet, sexy contemporary romance. Her Pine Mountain series will be available starting in October 2013. Learn more about Kimberly and her books at her website. -- AP
In my personal life and in my writing, I live by the mantra the food is love. So it’s no great surprise that many of my character have professions in the culinary field, and that they all end up touched by food in some way. But you don’t have to be a chef or a foodie to play along.
In my digital novella, Love On The Line, my hero Noah is a rough, gruff cop, a pure takeout food junkie…until he is injured on the job and must rely on a personal chef to keep him from starving. In the story, they make chicken and dumplings together, and it’s a perfect learn-your-way recipe. It’s a warm, satisfying meal, and there’s room for both creativity and a little error (it doesn’t have to be pretty to taste good!) But the beauty of it is, as Noah and chef Violet cook, they’re not just creating a way to feed their bodies, but coming up with a way to nourish themselves (and eventually, each other.) And what starts out in the kitchen ends up in the heart.
Food is love, indeed!
Violet Morgan’s Chicken and Dumpling Stew
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ teaspoon thyme
A pinch to ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, to taste
1 8-ounce package sliced baby Portabella mushrooms, wiped clean
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 32-ounce container chicken stock
1 pound chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite-sized chunks
2-3 cups mixed vegetables, such as sliced carrots, small broccoli and/or cauliflower florets, and of course, for Noah, peas. Frozen works just fine, but fresh is okay too
1 cup all-purpose baking mix (for biscuits and pancakes and the like)
1/3 cup milk
½ Tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, until it ripples. Add onion, ½ teaspoon thyme, and nutmeg, cooking until soft and stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic. Cook 4-5 minutes more, until soft and fragrant. Sprinkle flour over mixture and incorporate well. Slowly add broth. Bring to a low boil, stirring often.
Add chicken and vegetables. As stew comes back to a boil, combine baking mix, milk, parsley and 1 teaspoon thyme in a bowl. Drop in level tablespoonfuls into the simmering stew and reduce heat to low. Cover the Dutch oven and cook fifteen minutes longer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with nice crusty bread for dipping and a green salad (just don’t tell Noah there are greens!)
Love on the Line
Violet Morgan puts the personal in personal chef, catering to clients who want the full cooking experience rather than a culinary drop-and-dash. But when her brother’s police detective partner is injured in the line of duty and needs help during recovery, she makes an exception. Violet lost her father to the job seven years ago, and worries for her brother’s safety every day. The last thing she wants is to get up-close with her brother’s career-cop partner…again.
For Noah Blackwell, being a detective isn’t just a lifestyle, it’s a legacy. So when he’s forced to take mandatory leave and deal with the trauma amnesia keeping him from identifying his shooter, it’s a literal case of adding insult to injury— and now he’s got to deal with an unwanted culinary caregiver on top of it. Never mind that he and Violet shared a steamy, secret kiss last New Year’s Eve. She rejects everything related to the job, and Noah’s not about to be distracted from recovering his memory and getting back to what he does best. No matter how pretty Violet is.
Despite their differences, Violet and Noah share a surprising bond in the kitchen that grows into something neither of them expect. But as Noah heals and their feelings for each other extend from the kitchen to the bedroom, Violet knows she must make an impossible choice. She may wear her heart on her sleeve when it comes to food, but can she risk it all to put love on the line?