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On my recent road trip, I visited one of my local libraries and borrowed 5 books on tape. We listened to 3 of them. I’m a big fan of Craig Johnson, the author of a series of mysteries taking place in Wyoming, and a TV series on Netflix called Longmire. This book, A Serpent’s Tooth: A Longmire Mystery was really complex. Hard to explain, but it’s about graft and greed and oil. Worth reading, for sure. Also read Stone Kiss by Faye Kellerman, another complex mystery about Lt Decker, an LA cop who journeys to NYC to help out his family when a murder occurs. Lots of violence in this one.  Not particularly a fav book, I’d venture. Then read Leaving Time: A Novel by Jodi Picoult. I’ve read most of her books – always very riveting. In this book, you’ll learn a whole lot about elephants since the protagonist in it is a young girl whose mother disappeared when she was quite young. Her parents ran an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire. In the ensuing years, Jenna has tried to find clues as to her mother’s whereabouts because she just cannot believe her mother would have up and abandoned her. There are a whole cast of characters (her mother, her father, employees at the sanctuary, a cop or two, and a psychic). All play fairly prominent roles. Fascinating book – I really liked it, almost as much for the education about the behavior of elephants as about the mystery. A great read.

Also on the trip, I read a book (on Kindle) for one of my book clubs, The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin. It’s about the relationship between Truman Capote and his “swans,” a group of aging high society ladies, and specifically Beth Paley. I don’t know whether to recommend this book or not. Truman Capote was not a nice man, although the whole novel (vs. non-fiction, which this is not) is conjured from speculation about the years Truman was kind of adopted by the group of women. He cared about all of them (most were married/divorced, wealthy women) but in the end he betrays them all by writing a novella about their secrets, their marriages, their affairs (theirs or their spouses, information they’d all shared with him, thinking he could be trusted with their innermost secrets). It was scandalous, and yes, all that part is true. I finished the book, but almost felt like I’d read a “dirty book.” There is no graphic detail in this book – it’s just what Capote did to destroy these women, supposedly his dear, darling “swans.” He was the villain in the book, and in his old age . . . well, I won’t spoil the story if you’re interested in reading it.

I’ve written up an entire blog post about this book. (It hasn’t been posted yet, but will soon.) It may be one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s a memoir by Pat Conroy (an author I’ve long admired). He died a year or so ago – sad, that. In order to get the most out of My Reading Life, I recommend you BUY THE HARDBACK. I can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s an autobiography of sorts, but not really. He never wrote one, I don’t think, and I doubt he would ever have written one as he likely didn’t believe anyone would want to read about his (sad) life. In this memoir, he chronicles the books (and the people who recommended them) that influenced his life. Starting at his mother’s knees and continuing through influential teachers and mentors and friends. One of my book clubs read it, and I devoured it, cover to cover, with little plastic flags inserted all the way through to re-read some of the prose. Pat Conroy was a fabulous writer – he studied words from a young age and used them widely and wisely throughout his writing, but better than most authors would. He adored his mother, and hated (with venom) his aviator military father who physically abused everyone in the family, including his mother. They all took it like stoic Buddhas. I’m going to have to read Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel because of reading this book. I’ve never read it. Conroy says that book’s first page is the best first page of any book he ever read in his life. Wow. And maybe my book group is going to re-read Tolstoy’s War and Peace (Vintage Classics) too because of the chapter on that book. We might have to assign that to a 2-month or longer read. If you have friends or family who are avid readers, this would make a great gift, this book, My Reading Life. If YOU are a reader, it needs to be on your bookshelf, but in hardback, so you can go back to it and re-read his stories. It’s a series of essays, each one about a sub-section of his life. A must-have and a must-read.

Also read The Towers of Tuscany by Carol Cram. It was a bargain book through amazon or bookbub (e-book). Back in the Middle Ages women were forbidden to be artists. Their only place was in the home, caring for children and sewing and cooking. But the heroine in this book was taught to paint by her widowed artist-father (in secret, of course). When her father suddenly dies, all hell breaks loose and she must fend for herself. Much of the book takes place in Siena (and also San Gimignano) as she disguises herself as a boy in order to continue her life’s passion – painting. Very interesting story and worth reading.

 

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 Soups, on September 19th, 2014.

cantaloupe_gazpacho

Well, I can’t seem to stop blogging. I made this soup the other day and I just had to share it with you. It’s awesome. Trust me.

With a withering cantaloupe on my kitchen counter, I knew I couldn’t eat it all – not even half. Since I made that so-delicious watermelon gazpacho a couple of weeks ago, I was open to using the cantaloupe in a cold soup. I searched on the ‘net and found this recipe. Gazpacho is defined as a cold soup usually made with raw vegetables, but there are variations, obviously. And we mostly know of tomato-based gazpacho. Which is a lot of work unless you use canned tomato juice (which I never really liked – too salty).

cantaloupe_gazpacho_small_glassesI altered the epicurious recipe some from the original because of the comments left by a couple of people. I added rice wine vinegar (not the seasoned type), and used a lot less salt. The recipe calls for some red onion. I had a nice big, fat bulb-ended green onion, so I used that instead. Either would be fine, I’m sure. I used about 1/2 of a fairly big hothouse cucumber (it called for a small whole one). So, use your own judgment about the quantities. I could barely taste the cucumber (nice) and was aware there was some raw onion in it, but it was quite subtle. As you make it, start with less onion, and/or cucumber – you can always add more. Taste as you go. I didn’t feel like going out in the dark to find mint in my garden, so I served it plain. Am sure the mint would have added a nice touch. The flavor is so smooth and just plain “nice.” If I had another cantaloupe right now I’d be making another batch. Do use a RIPE melon.

Just make it, okay?

printer-friendly CutePDF

Files: MasterCook 5+ and MasterCook 14 (click on link to open recipe in MC)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cantaloupe Gazpacho

Recipe By: Adapted by me based on reading comments from the recipe at epicurious
Serving Size: 4

1 medium cantaloupe — (peeled, seeded, chopped) – I used a Tuscan melon
1/2 hothouse cucumber — (peeled, chopped)
2 tablespoons red onion — chopped, or 2-3 green onions (white part)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (not seasoned)
Thinly sliced fresh mint for garnish

Notes: Will serve more than 4 if serving in 2/3 cup servings.
1. Purée cantaloupe, cucumber, onion, salt until smooth. Add a tablespoon or so of water if the melon doesn’t puree well.
2. With motor running, drizzle in olive oil; season with salt. Serve gazpacho chilled, topped with thinly sliced fresh mint.
Per Serving: 215 Calories; 18g Fat (73.2% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 248mg Sodium.

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  1. hddonna

    said on September 19th, 2014:

    I was so glad to see a new post! Haven’t tried the watermelon one yet, but this does look good–and so simple. It would be nice to have on hand as a healthy snack.

    Oh, it IS good. Try both! . . .carolynt

  2. Patricia

    said on September 20th, 2014:

    I just returned from a trip to Barcelona where we had “cold melon soup” as an appetizer. They used a melon that seems something like a honeydew but has a dark green rind. The soup was simple, refreshing, and had tiny bits of crispy Spanish jamon (ham) sprinkled on top. The sweet from the soup and savory from the jamon was very delicious. Made me want to try other cold fruit soups…and then your recipe arrives!!

    That Spanish ham is so unique. I suppose you could use tiny shreds of prosciutto, or even bacon, but no, I think the prosciutto would be the most likely one. Hope you try this recipe. It’s a real winner. . . carolyn t

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