When writing, I often find myself ‘feeding’ my characters rather well. They get to experience some of my favorite foods (which I often end up with cravings for myself!) Josh and Ben are no exception, and have probably been the best fed of my characters to date. Town Man, Country Man also holds a nice little gift for readers – more about that in a moment.
The old saying, “You are what you eat,” rings true here. Ben tends to like rich, hearty foods, and Josh typically goes for healthy with bold flavor. Even doing the shopping together is revealing – Josh sees a passion come alive in Ben when they’re shopping for fresh ingredients in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, but he also witnesses how cagey Ben gets when shopping in a farmer’s market in his own rural community.
Food is an important part of Josh and Ben’s budding relationship. Their first “morning after”, for instance, they work together to make crepes with berries and they share breakfast on the balcony. When Ben invites Josh to spend a weekend with him, he and Josh make Ben’s favorite potato soup together. For these boys, cooking and enjoying meals together becomes a significant expression of love. As another character says later of his own pastry chef husband, “It does wonderful things for domestic harmony.”
And because, as I mentioned, I often find myself with a craving for the foods I write into a story, I included a surprise bonus for Town Man, Country Man readers – a selection of recipes at the end. A major shout-out to Tray Ellis for the recommendation of including those after a beta read-through. I hope the readers enjoy the recipes as much as I do!
Here’s another of my fave easy and quick recipes for a healthy, gourmet-quality meal:
Leeks, 2 large (recommend Googling “how to clean leeks” – they’re usually very sandy!)
Chicken stock, 1 cup
Dijon Mustard, 3 tbsp
Half-n-half, ¼ to ½ cup
Oil, 1 tbsp
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 2-4
Pepper and/or other preferred seasoning (basil, oregano, thyme, paprika, pinch of curry all work really well for this recipe)
All-purpose flour, approximately ¼ cup
Oil, 1 tbsp
Pan with lid
I prefer to prepare the chicken first, then set them aside (covered) and do the sauce in the same pan. The recipe for the chicken alone will work for any chicken dish, so you might even want to do up a number of chicken breasts and pack away for later the ones you don’t use for this recipe.
Mix seasoning into flour in a shallow dish or plate. Lightly dredge chicken in flour mixture (just enough to scantly dust chicken).
Heat oil in pan on medium heat. Place chicken breasts in pan and cook for no more than 1 minute.
Turn chicken over, cover pan immediately, and reduce heat to low. Set timer for 10 minutes and leave chicken to cook. No peeking!
After 10 minutes, turn off heat and reset timer for 10 minutes more. Still no peeking!
When 10 minutes of “resting” are up (that was a good time to wash and chop your leeks, by the way), check chicken for doneness. Every time I have done chicken with this method, they turn out perfectly every time – very succulent. Now you can briefly set these aside in a covered dish while you use the chicken drippings in the pan to prepare the sauce.
In the pan you cooked the chicken in, drop in a little more oil and heat. Put in your chopped leeks and give them a stir to get a coating of oil, then put the lid on the pan and cook on low for about 10 minutes to soften the leeks (recommend giving them a stir halfway through to keep them from getting too done on one side).
Add stock and stir in mustard, then increase to medium heat and let the mixture come to a fast boil.
Reduce heat again and gradually stir in half-and-half. Return chicken breasts to the pan stir sauce over them. Simmer on low for about another four minutes to allow the leeks to soften a bit more and to allow the flavors to blend.
This also works exceptionally well with a good piece of broiled salmon. Keep it simple and healthy with a side of green beans or asparagus. Both the chicken and salmon version pair very nicely with sauvignon blanc (I personally prefer New Zealand’s selection of Marlborough area sauvignons).
Town Man, Country Man BLURB
“Town man” Josh Douglass meets “country man” Ben Bauer at a mutual friend’s wedding, and passion kindles immediately. As urbanite wedding planner Josh and closeted contractor Ben spend more time together, they develop a deep, comfortable romance despite the fifty miles between their homes—and despite the drastic differences in their lifestyles. But as they grow closer, it becomes apparent that Josh and Ben have been enjoying the first flush of love without giving much thought to longer-term logistics.
A crisis leads Josh to ask himself serious questions about how his relationship with Ben can realistically work. But just as Josh is feeling ready to talk about the next step with Ben, a misunderstanding threatens to put an end to their love affair. Compromise is the key to any relationship, but it isn’t always easy to balance careers, friendships, and family expectations. Josh and Ben just need to see that bringing together the best of both their worlds is well worth the sacrifices they’ll have to make to remain in each other’s lives.
ABOUT JESSICA SKYE DAVIES