Sunday, February 10, 2019

Comfort Food in Trying Times @RhysBowen #bookgiveaway

Lucy Burdette: I'm so thrilled to have my friend Rhys Bowen as our guest here today. I loved her new book, THE VICTORY GARDEN, and she's stopped by to talk about it, share a recipe, and offer a giveaway! Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing...
Rhys BowenI seem to spend a lot of time writing about wars. My last two stand-alone novels took place in WWII and now I have moved back in time to WWI for my new book, THE VICTORY GARDEN, that comes out next Tuesday, February 12.
The story focuses on a young woman who joins the newly formed Women’s Land Army and becomes one of the many women doing jobs they did not believe they were capable of,  also forming bonds between social classes hitherto unheard of. IN 1918 England was in danger of winning the war but of the country dying of starvation. A whole generation of young men was not coming home to work in the fields. Crops were not being planted and harvested. And so a Women’s Land Army was formed. They came from all walks of life: upper class girls like my Emily Bryce, former servants, widows from the cities as well as farm girls. They lived together in close quarters, worked hard from dawn to dusk, and formed strong bonds of friendship—so essential in this time when every one of them had lost a husband, son or sweetheart
My heroine comes from a great loss to inherit a healing garden of herbs and by healing others comes to heal herself..
What a senseless war this was! Commanded by cavalry generals who sent men ‘over the top’ to face tanks and Twentieth Century weapons of destruction. Five thousand men killed to gain a yard, only to lose it back the next day. Never has there been wholesale slaughter like this. And the men who came home were broken in body and mind. So this started me thinking: who does the men’s jobs when they don’t come home. In a village who becomes the blacksmith? The pub owner? The carter? And of course women had to take over. For them it was incredibly empowering. In the land army they were given a uniform of bloomers and a jacket. They could discard those cumbersome skirts. They threw away their corsets (as happens in one of my favorite scenes in my books). They cut their hair. They worked hard but they gained new-found confidence in their abilities.
Choosing a recipe from a time when England was starving was not going to be easy. Rationing meant that meat, butter and cheese were all luxuries to be used sparingly if and when they were available. Many of the recipes from both World Wars involved a lot of root vegetables with a potato crust. Hardly inspiring. So I’m giving you a standard British comfort food that I’m sure they would have made any time they got their hands on some meat, especially to use up the last bits of a roast. It’s called Shepherd’s Pie when it’s made with lamb, and Cottage Pie when it’s made with beef.
Delia Smith's Cottage pie
Shepherd's pie/ Cottage pie.

boil several large potatoes
saute 2 onions in a pan
add 1 pound of good ground beef or lamb (can also be made with left over roast beef or lamb ground)
pour off fat
add one Tsp curry powder
stir in well, cooking for a few more minutes
make a mixture of about 1 pint of stock, beef better than bouillon, large dollop of tomato ketchup, warm together then pour over meat.
Transfer meat to pie dish
mash potatoes with butter and or milk. Season well
Spread over meat.
Bake at 425 until crust starts to look crisp and to turn brown.

Serve with veg (peas are good) You can also add cooked peas to the meat mixture!

This is still one of my favorite foods. I hope you enjoy it. And I hope you enjoy THE VICTORY GARDEN.



Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing of THE VICTORY GARDEN!


  1. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I'm an Anglophile so I'm always looking for stories set in England. I've read many of Rhys Bowen's books & really enjoyed them. looking forward to reading The Victory Garden.

  2. The recipe sounds delicious. The book sounds so interesting I’d love to own it and want to read it. Thank you for the chance.

  3. I love shepherd's pie. I consider it comfort food, too. I love the cover of this book and know I would love to read it. bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

  4. I love Rhys Bowen's series. Shepherds Pie would be a great winter meal.

  5. Thank you! The book looks very interesting. This is not my mother's Shepard Pie, must try!

  6. I think that Victory Gardens and the Women's Land Army were amazing! I watched a series on the Land Army. They went through some tough times, but were so hard working and very brave!
    I love Shepherd's and Cottage pies! Thank you for sharing your recipe. Also, thank you for giving away a copy of your book.

  7. Thanks for sharing your recipe and for the chance to win a copy of your new book. cking78503(at)aol(dot)com

  8. Love yourbooks, Rhys. And this recipe looks delivious and oh so comforting! My grandfather was born in London and loved this dish! Of course, my Irish grandmother was very good at making it. Can’t wsit to read your newest!

  9. Thanks for the recipe and giveaway. Janngrogan@yahoo.vom

  10. I like the idea of adding curry. I’ve never done that. suefoster109 at gmail dot com.

  11. Thank you for the recipe. I will probably make it with beef as we do not like lamb. This book sounds fascinating. We do not think of how hard women worked during war times, doing the work that men normally did. dbahn(at)iw(dot)net

  12. I love your books & will,look forward to your new book. Thanks for sharing an awesome recipe. ��������

  13. I enjoy your books! We have tried several different Shepard's or Cottage Pie recipes and have loved them all. I can't wait to try yours.

  14. This sounds like a good comfort food. Thanks for sharing. The book sounds excellent can't wait go read it.
    Lhxp73(at) Yahoo(dot)com

  15. Your novels are captivating and memorable. Congratulations on The Victory Garden which is a real treasure. The recipe is special. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  16. I love Shepherd’s Pie! Sounds like a great read as well. JL_Minter (at) Hotmail (dot) com

  17. I have been wanting to read more historical fiction about World War I, and really want to read The Victory Garden. Thanks so much for your post, recipe and giveaway!

  18. Am fascinated by your book topic. It must have been such a fraught situation and yet it is so inspiring to read of people changing to suit necessity and finding their strength in doing so.
    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

  19. The Victory Garden is a fascinating historical which I will be enjoying. What unforgettable novels you create. Thanks for this recipe. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  20. Sounds interesting. Would love to read.