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Monday, May 13, 2013


 photo credit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0   

Kate Wyland is a life-long horse nut who started riding at three years old. After a varied equestrian career, she now has three semi-retired horses and can’t imagine life without them. A few years ago, she exchanged her tech writing “bug” hat for a fiction writing Stetson. Suspense, romance, horses and sometimes the paranormal are the themes she likes to explore in her books. And she delights in sharing her love of animals and country living. Today she shares a recipe for paella. Learn more about Kate and her books at her website and blog.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I spent a delightful week at Eaton Ranch, a dude ranch outside Sheridan, Wyoming. The people, the scenery, the horses, the accommodations were wonderful. Neither of us wanted to leave. At the time, I was working on a romantic suspense novel set in Arizona, but when I came home I found I really wanted to stay in Wyoming longer. So I set aside that book and started a new story, set on a dude ranch.

One incident during our stay provided a spark for my tale. The ranch cook had to leave due to a family emergency and several people who didn’t normally work in the kitchen filled in. As a result, some of our meals were quite creative. But nobody cared because we were all having so much fun. I figured the need for a cook would be a good way for someone on the run to end up at a dude ranch. And thus Wyoming Escape was born.

Mikela Richards, a chef and a city girl, is hiding out on a Wyoming Dude Ranch, working as a cook. To her surprise, she finds she enjoys the experience—when she isn’t looking over her shoulder for the dirty cop who is after her. She encounters the nephew of the ranch owner, and the attraction is instant and totally wrong. The last thing she needs is to be distracted by a handsome Marine, who makes her want to hide in his arms.

Shawn Saunders recognizes the fear in Mikela’s eyes. He’s seen the same look many times during his tours in Afghanistan. He’s home to heal both physical and emotional wounds and knows he has no business getting involved with a woman with problems. But his protective instincts and his fascination with Mikela swamp his common sense, and he campaigns to penetrate her defenses.

Celia, Shawn’s mother, curious about the woman who has entranced him, invites Mikela to dinner.

Excerpt from Wyoming Escape:

“Want to supervise while I make dinner?” Celia asked. “Unless, of course, you’re tired of cooking and would rather talk about anything else.”

“Cooking is my life. I definitely want to see what you’re brewing up.”

“Paella. I decided to try something a little sophisticated. Something other than meat and potatoes.” She sent a wry glance Shawn’s way.

“Okay, okay,” he said, backing away with his palms up. “I know when I’m not wanted. I’ll be in the den watching the baseball game. Call me when, or if, you want me to join you.”

Celia led the way into a bright, west-facing kitchen. Blue and yellow plaid wallpaper peeked out from over the stove and between the white cabinets. Not modern or fancy, the room had a warm, homey feel.

“Have a seat.” Celia motioned toward the stools in front of the bar that set off the dining area. “Help yourself to some wine and olives. I'll start sautéing the veggies now. The chicken and chorizo are already browned.” She nodded at a large bowl on the counter.

Mikela watched the older woman's efficient movements with pleasure. She always enjoyed seeing a competent chef who liked what they did. When the onions were soft and starting to caramelize, Celia added tomatoes, letting them brown for a few minutes. Next came rice, which she stir-fried for a brief time to coat with oil. As she started to pour in chicken broth, Mikela spoke up.

“Did you know if you put the saffron in the liquid and let it soak for a minute or two, you'll spread the flavor and color better? Just a suggestion, in case you're interested.”

“Thank you. Great idea.” Matching actions to words, Celia crumbled a generous pinch of saffron threads into the broth. After a couple of minutes, she poured in the liquid and started the rice simmering. “Now I can sit and gab for a bit.”

(serves 2-4)

2 chicken thighs
2 chicken legs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons smoky paprika
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish chorizo sausage, thickly sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Spanish onion, chopped
Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish
1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed
1 cup short grain Spanish rice, preferably Valencia or bomba
1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
3 cups chicken broth
4 jumbo shrimp
6 littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 cup sweet peas, frozen and thawed
Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for serving

Add the crushed saffron threads to the chicken broth and set aside.

Mix together the paprika, oregano and a little salt and pepper. Rub the spice mixture all over the pieces of chicken; marinate for 30-60 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a paella pan or wide shallow skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on all sides. Add the chorizo and continue to cook until it is browned too. Remove the chicken and sausage to a platter lined with paper towels.

Return the pan to the stove and lower the heat to medium. Saute the garlic, onion, and parsley for 2-3 minutes until the onions soften and start to carmelize. Add the tomatoes and let them brown slightly. Fold in the rice, stir-frying to coat the grains. Pour in the chicken broth with saffron and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Do not cover or stir.

Add the shrimp, clams, the reserved chicken, and chorizo. Simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, about 10 minutes. Scatter the peas on top and continue to cook for 5 minutes, until the paella looks fluffy and moist. Turn heat to high for 1-2 minutes to create the socarrat, a toasted rice bottom. Cover and allow to rest, off the heat for 5 minutes, and garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.


Donnell Ann Bell said...

Paella is one of my favorites. Thanks, Kate for the recipe. Love the way your muse brought your book together.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by Donnell.

Isn't it funny how often life contributes to a story. There are a couple of other incidents in Escape that were inspired by things that happened elsewhere.

Marsha said...

Hey, Kate. Had to stop by Lois's blog when I saw you were here. Love the story of how WYOMING ESCAPE was born. Now, the paela? Seems like an awful lot of work. LOL
I tell everyone to buy your book. Good luck with sales.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marsha. The paella is a bit of work, but really worth it!
Thanks for supporting ESCAPE.

www.raynegolay.com said...

that I learned something new here. Saffron is one of my favorite spices, use it a lot in fish, some Indian dishes. To get the flavor I use quite a lot of these expensive little petals. I didn't know soaking in water enhances the taste.
Nicely written.

Cindy Sample said...

That's a great story, Kate. My daughter used to live on the Cheyenne reservation in Montana and did some of her shopping in Sheridan. I find that my own life experiences are sometimes so nutty you can't even put them in a book. Although I do try. I can't wait to read WYOMING ESCAPE.

Anonymous said...

I've only used the Saffron threads, Rayne. But I expect it works the same with the petals.
Thanks for taking a look.

Anonymous said...

How interesting to have lived on the reservation. We went by at least res on our way to the Little Big Horn.

I agree only some happenings can be used in stories.

Hope you enjoy WYOMING ESCAPE.

Cher'ley said...

Sounds like an interesting dish. I love the way the book was born too, I can't wait to read it. I go through Wyoming often. It's beautiful. Cher'ley

Anonymous said...

Hey, Cher'ley. I know you see a lot of the country. WY is pretty spectacular.
Thanks for stopping by.