10 oz diced venison
8 shallots, sliced
8 oz chestnut mushrooms, sliced
½ pint vegetable stock
1 glass red wine
1 tsp olive oil
½ oz butter
Salt and pepper
1. Sauté the shallots and mushrooms in the olive oil until golden. Remove to a casserole dish.
2. Brown the venison in the same pan for a couple of minutes. Add the wine and vegetable stock, and bring to a simmer.
3. Add the venison and stock to the casserole dish and cook in the oven at 300 F/150 C/Gas mark 2 for 1 hour 15 minutes.
4. Peel and cube the parsnips and carrots. Steam for 7-10 minutes until tender.
5. Cream the parsnips and carrots with a hand-blender, along with the butter. Add seasoning and nutmeg to taste.
Serve the venison, mushrooms and shallots with the mash and a little of the stock poured over.
7. Enjoy with a glass of wine and, if possible, in the company of a gorgeous Australian sportsman.
Burning Ashes by H. Lewis-Foster
Intelligent and confident, Australian cricketer Nat Seddon is one of the world's best bowlers. He's openly gay, but keeps his private life to himself, with everything under control. But on the last day of his team’s Ashes tour of England, he meets Scott Alverley, England’s promising new batsman. Nat tries not to be attracted to Scott, but he can’t help finding the privileged young man handsome and endearing. Nat is tempted by a little end of tour fun, but finds himself playing agony uncle to a virgin. Instead of going home to bask on a beach, he spends a wet week in the north of England with Scott. Try as he might to resist, he can’t help falling hopelessly in love.
The hectic sporting calendar is a persistent obstacle to their growing romance; Nat and Scott are rarely even on the same continent. They make the most of the time when they can be together, but the months apart take a toll on Scott, professionally and personally. The possible solutions are nearly unthinkable, but if they are willing to make sacrifices that will change their lives forever, they might hold on to the love they found in the Ashes.
As soon as the door was safely closed, Nat spluttered into laughter.
“That was Mrs. B? Is there a Mr. B?”
“Of course. He runs the tattoo parlor in town.” Scott nodded toward the old-fashioned fridge. “Come on. Let’s see what rations she’s left us.”
Scott opened the door to reveal shelves filled with meat and fish, fruit and veg, tubs of cream, and bottles of wine. Nat peered inside and pulled out an unpromising beige blob.
“What’s in haggis, exactly?”
Scott took the meaty delicacy from Nat and returned it to the fridge. “You really don’t want to know. But it tastes good.”
Nat wasn’t convinced and turned his attention to a large foil container. He grinned at Scott as he read from the label. “Sticky toffee pudding. That sounds very bad.”
Scott grinned back in reply. “It’s positively wicked.”
Nat’s body tingled hopefully as he saw the mischievous glint in Scott’s eyes. But before Nat could act on his impulses, Scott shut the fridge door and led him on a whirlwind tour of the house. They scampered from room to room like a pair of naughty school kids. From well-loved teddy bears on antique brass beds to mismatched, overflowing bookshelves, Nat found the house totally charming and like nothing he’d seen before.
Lounging by the Aga later that evening, Scott turned a wine-warmed smile on Nat, who was washing up in the Belfast sink. “Are you sure you don’t want a hand?”
“You cooked dinner, so I get the arduous task of washing the dishes.” Nat rinsed a wine glass under the tap. “That venison was delicious, by the way. Where did you learn to cook like that?”
Scott gazed hazily across at Nat. “Well, you know, when our personal chef was allowed a day off, I simply had to fend for myself.”
Nat gave Scott a disbelieving look, as he placed the gleaming glass on the drainer.
Scott laughed. “Don’t worry, we didn’t have a chef, but I did have a terrific food-tec teacher.” Scott smiled to himself as he remembered Mrs. Wade, one of his favorite teachers at school. With her close-cropped hair and sparkling green eyes, he’d honestly tried to have a crush on her. He’d include her in his fantasies, but at the crucial moment she’d disappear, to be replaced by Mr. Dawson, the burly young sports master with his shock of red hair. Scott was wondering what had become of his old tutors, when Nat noisily yanked the plug from the sink.
As Nat looked across at him, Scott suddenly felt uneasy. They’d had a lovely evening and Nat had seemed to appreciate his cooking, as well as his father’s collection of wine. But it was getting on for midnight and they couldn’t put off the awkward moment much longer. Scott got up from his chair and summoned as much composure as he could.
“I suppose it must be time for bed.”
H. Lewis-Foster has worked with books, in one form or another, since leaving university. As a keen reader of gay fiction, she decided to try writing herself, and is now the proud author of several short stories and a debut novel.
H. has lived in various parts of the UK and has recently moved to the north of England, where she’s enjoying city life, especially the theatres and cinemas. She tries not to watch too much television, but is a big fan of Downton Abbey, and while she’s writing, she loves listening to Test Match Special (where they spend far more time talking about cakes than cricket!)
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