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Carolyn

Sara

Sara and me

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Just finished reading The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship by Joanna Burger. Such an interesting book – nonfiction. The author is an ornithologist by profession (and a PhD) and this memoir of sorts is about her Red-Lored Amazon parrot she and her husband own. But no, it’s the parrot who owns her/them. Tiko tolerates Joanna’s husband Mike. Joanna and Tiko bonded. But it took years. This parrot breed mates for life, and Joanna is definitely Tiko’s mate. They acquired Tiko when he was already 30 years old (they live up to age 80 or so), hence it took a long time for Tiko to decide that Joanna could be trusted. This book is just so charming, and interesting. The author weaves into the story lots of facts about parrots in general, this type of parrot, as well as a variety of other birds she has studied. She’s an author of many other books about birds (scholarly works). She’s a professor and world-renowned researcher at Rutgers. I’m not a birder, but I do love books about the relationships between birds and people. If you know someone who loves birds, they’d definitely enjoy this book.

Also finished reading My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. A book club friend recommended this book, I immediately bought it on my Kindle. I could NOT put the book down. I devoured it. Any other “work” I should have been doing was swept aside as I read and read of Resolute’s adventures. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

Finished The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel by Kim Richardson.  It’s a novel about the first mobile library in Kentucky (this is the 1930s) and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and ? just as importantly ? a compassionate human connection. The heroine in this book is called a blue-skin, a genetic mutation that causes the skin to be dark indigo blue. In rural Kentucky, most of the blue-skins were shamed and caused fright in people who saw them. The author decided to share this rare condition in the book and it wove its tentacles into many of the relationships the hard-working librarian made.  Partly the book is about library books, booklets, recipes, but mostly as it says above, it’s about the connections the librarian made with remote people who went weeks or more without seeing another human being. Very unusual book about the hardships endured in that time, but the hardship and bravery of the librarians who went out day in and day out, often for 2-3 days at a time to deliver books.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This book was offered as a bargain book from Bookbub, and something about the description resonated with me – maybe because of my Old Testament readings regarding the lives of shepherds back in ancient days. I utterly loved this book. It might not suit everyone – it’s a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being about attending further education and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. He bickers with his father, eventually moves out. One night in a pub with his blokes (friends) he enters some kind of a contest in the pub and realizes he has a lot more knowledge than he thought he did. In time he applies to get what I’d call here in the U.S. a G.E.D (high school diploma), which he does, and then he applies to Oxford, on a whim. And gets in. He graduates. He applies his knowledge to his rural life. He marries, has children, but still, his day to day life is all about his Herdwick sheep although he does have a day job too working for UNESCO. You’ll learn more about sheep than you might have wanted to know. I absolutely loved, LOVED this book. If you are interested, James Rebanks has a Twitter feed, called @herdyshepherd1, and you can sign up to get updates from him about his farm and his sheep. I don’t do Twitter or I would.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. I could hardly put it down. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote. You yearn to hug her, comfort her. Yet she finds eventually happiness and peace. A beautiful book worth reading. Was a book club read.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation. So it is with surprise that she finds in this cold and bitter country the capacity for new love and perhaps even a new home. I just loved this book – could hardly put it down; yet it’s not a mystery. You’ll come away with a desire to find that house by the fjord. I want to go there and have some coffee with the Anna, who was a Brit, yet fell head over heels in love with Norway.

Running Blind (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher mystery. From amazon: Across the country, women are being murdered, victims of a disciplined and clever killer who leaves no trace evidence, no fatal wounds, no signs of struggle, and no clues to an apparent motive. They are, truly, perfect crimes. Until Jack Reacher gets in the middle of it. A page turner, as are all of the Jack Reacher stories.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. If you like Hyde’s novels, for the month of September many of her books are available on Kindle at a very reduced price ($1.99 and $.99 each). Go grab them while they’re available. I just purchased 6 of her books. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. A sweet book, true story, of the author and her friend, during one summer in the midst of their college years, going by train to NYC and ultimately getting a job of Tiffany’s. This took place in the 40s, and at the time no women were ever seen on the showroom floors, but these two pretty young women were the harbinger of equality, though none of that comes into play here. They were “runners,” who whisked orders and money to and fro from the salesMEN to the office. They stood in silence near the elevators on the ground floor and waited for a sale to take place. They lived in cramped quarters. They enjoyed everything NYC had to offer them at the time, and they were wowed by an occasional celebrity sighting. Cute read.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. No one can seem to solve them, and those who try also get caught in the crossfire. Finally a man is brought in from back East. That’s where the inception of the FBI comes into play, though there was no FBI then. This is a very interesting read, probably sufficient info to do a book club read. A book everyone should read if you know little (or a lot) about the abominable treatment given to the Native Americans over the last several hundred years. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? When I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did. It tells the tale of a 70ish man, a widower, who has been diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. He’s a retired physician, knows the scenario of death by cancer, and doesn’t want to do it. He decides he’s going to take a bird hunting trip, east of the mountains in Washington State (Guterson writes a lot about his part of the world), with his two dogs, and he’ll commit suicide. He sets up an elaborate ruse with his children and grandchildren, and heads out. All of this, so far, takes place in the first 10 pages of the book. First he has an accident in his car, and that sets off a cavalcade of incidents. You’ll learn a whole lot about flora and fauna (one of Guterson’s writing attributes). You’ll learn a lot about apple and pear orchards, which abound in eastern Washington (I’ve been there, it’s beautiful, pastoral and full of fruit). Flashbacks of his life story are interspersed throughout, his growing up on an apple farm, meeting his wife, his service in WWII, their reuniting after the war and the life they had. You’ll learn some about his cancer pain, the grief of his wife’s death 5 years prior, and about his resolve to end it all. Please don’t NOT read this because  you’ll think it’s depressing. It is and it isn’t. It’s so much more for the better. And I just read, this book is being made into a movie.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? I marvel sometimes about how authors ever come up with the ideas they do, to create the premise for a novel. And this one is right up there at the top of the list. Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who has a big lack of self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. He discovers she’s blind and needs some help, which he gives her. Then he discovers that there is a lot more to know and understand about this elderly little lady down the hall and he begins a journey to try to find someone for her, the Luis Velez of the title. If you want to use coming-of-age to describe this, that’s partly true. He learns all about himself, the abilities he didn’t know he had, the kindness that lives within him that he never realized was there, and the friends he makes along the way who make some life-changing differences in his young life. He discovers he has some gifts that he can give to others, something most teenagers don’t understand. I can’t recommend this book highly enough – it’s a bit of a tear-jerker, but for every good reason and moral character trait described in the book. It’s there.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.  From Amazon’s description: August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. Every year he’s spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip’s ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go. What none of them could have known was how transformative both the trip—and the bonds that develop between them—would prove, driving each to create a new destiny together. Have a tissue handy at the end. It’s such a charming, sweet story. You’ll fall in love with the young boys, and fall in love with them again 10 years later.

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by JoJo Moyes.

Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3)by Francine Rivers.

Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America

Answer As a Man

Celeste Ng Little Fires Everywhere.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright.

C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel).

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. A

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes. W

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Fish, Grilling, on July 10th, 2013.

halibut_basalmico

Three separate things to make for this meal – marinate the fish (easy) – chop up the tomato salsa stuff (also easy) – and whisk the balsamic vinaigrette (nothing to it, really). It’s worthy of a company meal. Plus, except for cooking the fish, everything can be done ahead.

First thing, I grabbed the package of fish out of the freezer. It was vacuum sealed, so I put it in a large bowl, filled it with cold tap water and weighted it down for a couple of hours. That method doesn’t work quite as well with big roasts and things, but it sure is a simple defrosting method for anything flat. I’ve learned now that it’s very safe leaving that kind of defrosting package, in the bowl, in the kitchen sink, weighted, for several hours. Not all day – that wouldn’t work, I’m afraid – if you’re at work all day.

Defrosting Tip:

Did you know that the easiest way to defrost things is to plunge the vacuum sealed item in a bowl of cold water for a few hours? Be sure to weight it down so it stays under water.

Then I made the vinaigrette. I have a bunch of different balsamic vinegars – the one I used this time was tangerine, but you can also use just plain, ordinary types too. Even the cheap grocery store stuff will work on this recipe because the astringency of the balsamic is muted significantly by all the other stuff going on on top of this fish! Then I made the salsa – now, this isn’t an ordinary Mexican style salsa at all – it’s an Italian style. Except for the fresh chiles, it could be a Latin type. This one uses cayenne – I used the Mercken spice I have in my pantry – it’s a Chilean chile powder mixture that’s a regular condiment on the tables of most people in that country. But just use cayenne, since most people won’t have the Mercken. The salsa has parsley instead of cilantro and fresh oregano instead of any other seasoning. Taste it as you make it – to make sure it has balance (of sweet, sour, salt, etc.).

Meanwhile, the fish is marinated, sort of, in a little bit of olive oil, fresh chopped thyme, salt and pepper. You could do that several hours ahead, cover and keep in the refrigerator. I just let it sit for 30 minutes or so, out on my kitchen counter. I cut the fish into serving portions just to make it easier to cook it in a frying pan.

The original recipe for this came from an Italian cook and chef, Nadia Frigeri. Many years ago I took several cooking classes from her – and learned how to make her polenta, and a variety of other Italian dishes. And this was one of them, and I forget about making it!

The recipe indicates to grill the fish – which you can – but it was blisteringly hot the night I made this, and I didn’t want to make my hubby stand outside at all. I’d cranked our A/C down to 73° so I could stand to cook in the kitchen at all. First I browned the fish on both sides in olive oil, then added some water and a lid and let it steam/simmer for a few minutes. Nothing fancy about that. Just don’t over cook it!

To serve, you drizzle a bit of the vinaigrette on the plate or platter, place the hot-from-the-grill fish, then spoon the salsa on top, drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and top with toasted pine nuts.

What’s GOOD: the lovely, white flaky fish is foremost, of course. I loved the salsa and the balsamic sauce – it was just a wonderful combination. And the little bit of crunch from the pine nuts too. There’s enough of the salsa for each bite to contain some.
What’s NOT: there is nothing not to like about this. As I mentioned, it would make a great company meal. Easy too.

printer-friendly PDF – created using Cute PDF Writer, not Adobe
MasterCook 5+ import file – right click to save file (remember where), run MC, File|Import

* Exported from MasterCook *

Halibut Balsamico

Recipe By:Nadia Frigeri, www.nadiafrigeri.com, from a cooking class
Serving Size: 6

2 pounds halibut — thick cut, in 1 piece
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — minced salt and pepper
VINAIGRETTE:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons pine nuts — toasted
SALSA:
3 medium yellow tomatoes — seeded and chopped (or red, or combo)
1/3 cup green onion — chopped
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano — minced (or 1 tsp dried)
1 pinch cayenne
3 medium garlic cloves — peeled and crushed
salt — to taste

Note: If the fish is more than an inch thick, you can bake it in a 400° oven for about 16-20 minutes until cooked through.
1. Arrange halibut filets in a large glass dish; season with salt, pepper and thyme, then add olive oil. Turn fish over in this marinade. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, if possible.
2. Combine tomatoes, green onions, parsley, oregano, cayenne, salt and garlic in a bowl. Toss well, cover and chill until ready to serve, or allow to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
3. Combine in a small bowl or jar the salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar. Whisk or shake mixture and add the oil as you whisk. Add pine nuts.
4. Grill fish on outdoor grill on both sides until almost cooked through. (Alternately, brown the fish on each side briefly in individual pieces in a little olive oil, add a T. or two of water and steam for just a few minutes too cook through. Do not over cook.) Remove fish from the grill. To plate the meal, pour a small amount of vinaigrette on the plate, and place a single fish serving on top. Add a scoop of the salsa, then sprinkle with more toasted pine nuts and drizzle more vinaigrette on top.
Per Serving: 364 Calories; 23g Fat (57.6% calories from fat); 33g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 48mg Cholesterol; 108mg Sodium.

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  1. Kalyn

    said on July 15th, 2013:

    I’m drooling at the sound of this recipe!

    It’s a good one, Kalyn! . . .carolyn t

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