Cooking the Books – Alissa Callen

Chef with cookbookThis week’s guest is debut author, Alissa Callen, who shares a heartwarming story about using food in a very unusual and creative way. Her recipes took me straight back to childhood and the simple pleasure to be had from cramming one’s mouth full of things almost totally comprised of sugar and butter.

Not only is Alissa a talented writer with – wait for it – two releases out simultaneously (see the bottom of the post), but she’s an especially nice person. Welcome, Alissa!

imageThanks so much Louise for having me on your scrumptious blog. What Love Sounds Like is a story filled with self-discovery, romance and sugar-loaded foods starting with the sound ‘c’. Mia Windsor, an outback speech pathologist, uses food as a fun way for orphaned four-year-old Tilly to practice her clear ‘c’ talking. Whether it be eating pop corn to discover where the back of the throat ‘c’ sound comes from or using fruit loops to make the sound correctly, food is a vital ingredient of Tilly’s speech therapy. But in What Love Sounds Like food also serves a symbolic purpose.


Photo – Gabrielle Battiestel

Corporate-cynic, Kade Reid adheres to a single edict, money is as important as breathing. To a man denied a childhood, who had share portfolios instead of toys, food is purely for sustenance and not to be savoured. When he enters the drawing room of historic Berrilea and sees his ward, Tilly, dressed in a mini chef’s hat and apron ready for her first speech therapy lesson he is far from happy. But slowly he is drawn into Mia and Tilly’s world of popcorn, ice-cream and chocolate chip cookies. When he brings home gelato from a Sydney business trip and initiates a picnic by the river, the tubs of gelato symbolize that he is embracing his feelings as well as his taste-buds.

Food is also symbolic for Mia Windsor. It is through food that she communicates the emotions that she refuses to acknowledge. To protect against abandonment she shrink-wraps herself in professionalism and stifles all yearnings for love or a family. But through cooking with Tilly and making Kade the birthday cake he’d never had, Mia reveals she is far from detached.

So, food, on all levels, is an integral component of What Love Sounds Like. Food helps Tilly master the ‘c’ sound. Food links Kade to the childhood he’d never had. And for Mia, food proves that beneath her crisp professionalism she’s as sweet as the caramel popcorn an unimpressed Kade must try.

Now for the yummy part … recipes of the sugary delights that appear in What Love Sounds Like.

Ⓒ Agg - Dreamstime Stock Photos

Ⓒ Agg – Dreamstime Stock Photos

Caramel Popcorn


Popped corn (in machine, microwave or saucepan)

75g butter

½ cup caster sugar

1 ½ cup golden syrup

2 tsp hundreds and thousands sprinkles (optional)


Grease a cooking tray and spread out cooked popcorn.

On stove heat butter, sugar and golden syrup until smooth, then boil for 5 mins without stirring.

Pour over popcorn and carefully turn popcorn to coat evenly. Sprinkle with sprinkles and allow to cool. Break into chunks.

Ⓒ ljansempoi - Dreamstime Stock Photos

Ⓒ ljansempoi – Dreamstime Stock Photos

Ice cream


200 ml condensed milk

500 ml thickened cream

1 tsp vanilla

Treats – sprinkles, lollies, crushed up chocolate biscuits etc or pieces of fruit.


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric beater until thick and stiff. Stir through any treats or fruit. Put into container, cover with cling firm and freeze until solid.


Ⓒ Cenorman - Dreamstime Stock Photos

Ⓒ Cenorman – Dreamstime Stock Photos

Lemonade Scones


4 cups self raising flour

300 ml cream

1 can (375ml) lemonade

sultanas (optional)


Gently mix all ingredients until just combined. Can roll out on floured board and cut out or just spoon onto greased cooking tray in clumps.

Cook in 225 degrees C oven (205 for fan-forced) until pale golden. Enjoy.

Thank you, Alissa. Mia sounds just gorgeous and I can’t wait to read What Love Sounds Like.

What Love Sounds Like is available from Escape Publishing

image-1Beneath Outback Skies is available from Random House as a launch title from their Random Romance list.

And Alissa Callen can be contacted via her website or face book . (


23 comments on “Cooking the Books – Alissa Callen

  1. Alissa – all I can say is YUM!!! Wish my kids were at home now so I could feed these creations to them. I’d be interested in hearing much more about your research for this book. It’s in my TBR pile; looking forward to reaching it after I finish and return my library books – soon!

    • Hi Susanne,
      Thanks for dropping in. I love the idea of these home cooked treats rather than a packet of dodgy biscuits made goodness knows where from goodness knows what. There’s real love in home cooking.

      • Wow – WordPress really doesn’t like me today – fourth attempt! I don’t know, Louise; home cooking is great but you’ve never tasted my scones. They might be made with love, but you need a whole lot of love to swallow them and smile! But I make a great oat bran loaf. And a pretty good caramel ginger slice. Light and luscious scones elude me.

  2. Hi Alissa,
    I love how you’ve incorporated food into your book. And recipes too! I’ve heard of lemonade scones but have never tried them. Maybe I need to make some to test against the Tupperware scones that I haven’t made in a long time!

    BTW lovely to see you here, Alissa. Last time I saw you was at the Escape launch in October.

    Thanks for having Alissa as your guest blogger, Louise. Love this blog of yours!!

    • Thanks, Serena! Come to my place one day and I’ll make lemonade scone 🙂 I’m thinking the bubbles make them a little lighter? Thanks for dropping in.

    • Hi Margaret,
      Yes, we never had a store-bought cake or biscuit in the house when I was a child. Strangely, they were considered luxuries back then. I think all those photos of home-made slices in beaten up old slice pans that you see in trendy food mags really tap into that nostalgia for home baking. Thanks for coming by.

  3. Hi Margaret, thanks so much for stopping by! Yes there is something special about the magic that happens in a kitchen and how the smell of certain foods trigger happy memories. But must confess would rather forget the day my mother decided to boil and pluck a chook and then served up chicken for dinner!

  4. Hi Alissa, congrats on your releases 🙂

    I just finished WLSL and really enjoyed it. I also loved how you incorporated food into your story 🙂

    Btw I make ice cream using your recipe above and have an enhancement. Add one block of melted milk chocolate and one packet of crushed Oreo biscuits. It’s delish!! I also make the lemonade scones which are fab but don’t freeze well.

    • OMG, Joanne. I can hear my doctor screaming from here with those additions to the icecream. Sounds delish but perhaps for little ones who can run it all off.

  5. Fabulous post Alissa – and such delicious recipes! I loved the sweet treats throughout What Love Sounds Like (that ice-cream scene!) and the birthday cake was so perfect at the end. I think I’ll try the lemonade scones this weekend 🙂

    • Hi Madeline. I’ve never heard of lemonade scones before but now I’m desperate to try them. And caramel popcorn (which is probably like a very old proprietary snack food called lollygobbleblissbombs which were all the rage years ago).

  6. Food and love are such natural buddies, aren’t they? The pleasure and the connotations of food tie in so well to the heart. We woo over dinners and picnics and coffee. It’s how we get together, in more ways than one! Sounds as though this story is a wonderful celebration of that. Congratulations, Alissa!

  7. Congratulations Alissa, on TWO debut releases! Your stories sound as wonderful as those lemonade scones. When I read the ingredients for caramel popcorn, I had an instant sugar rush and visions of my kids when little bouncing around the house after a sugar loaded birthday party. Good days. I’m with Lou here, too. Rather think I’ll ditch the writing for the kitchen. I hope you have a fabulous celebratory release day. All the best for mega sales.

  8. Many thanks S E! Think you just described my house this morning – kids found a stash of left over candy canes! All the very best with your own Escape release which continues to be a super-star on Amazon:)

  9. Hi Alissa and Louise,
    Oh, I so, so love the sound of this book! Food can add that extra something to a story I think. Bit like pets. It’s the warmth they create.
    Wishing you great success with What Love Sounds Like.

    • Hi SE and Cathryn. Agree with that, Cathryn. There’s something about plying people with good food that just spells comfort. SE, I’m dying to try those lemonade scones!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s