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Just finished News of the World: A Novel by Paulette Jiles. One of my book-reading friends said this is one of the best books she’s ever read in her life. That kind of praise required me to read it and I just LOVED it. It’s about an old man (a widower), who was a former military captain, during the 1800s, who goes from town to town to read out loud the current news of the world (yes, there WAS such a job.) Newspapers didn’t make it to small towns back then. By chance he’s asked to take a 10-year old girl to East Texas to reunite with relatives. The child had been captured by an Indian tribe as a baby (her parents were killed in the raid), raised by the Kiowa and as was often the case of such children, she wants nothing to do with leaving. So the “hero” in this story has his hands full. And yet, they learn to trust each other on the journey. Reaching the destination, there are lots of complications (of course!). This book is truly a wonderful read – I didn’t want it to end. The author has a gift of description and the severe dangers and difficulties of a old west horse and wagon journey. The relationship is tender. Now I’ve got to investigate the author’s other books, of which there are many.

Winter Journey by Diane Armstrong. Have you ever read about forensic dentistry? I sure had not, so I found it fascinating reading. It’s a debut novel for the author, and what a story. Halina, an Australian, with Polish roots, specializes in this obscure profession as a forensic dentist, and is asked to go to Poland, to help identify bone (and tooth) fragments, to put to rest a sad event in the story of this small town, when many, many people (Jews) were murdered. Was it the Nazis? Or was it the local townspeople who disliked the Jews. What a tangled web of intrigue, including Halina’s own mysterious past. I really enjoyed the read. The author does a great job of developing the characters (which I always like). This is no light read if you consider the subject matter, although it IS a novel (but based on fact). Nor is it a spy thriller – it’s more just an historical novel with lots of interesting people throughout. There’s a romance thrown in too, and a whole lot of angst about the discoveries found in the mass grave. But, the subject expanded my knowledge about forensics.

The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece by Jonathan Harr. I just LOVED this book. I’ve never been much of a fan of Caravaggio’s paintings, although I’ve seen plenty of them (many are extremely large) in museums around the world. His paintings were dark, often with dark subjects. But as with many of the old masters, occasionally some obscure work surfaces, perhaps credited to another artist, even, that turns out to be one done by “the” master. In this case, Caravaggio. Although this book is written as a novel (with dialogue, etc.) it’s historical through and through. It begins with two young women art scholars, in Italy, who are asked to do a research project. One thing leads to another, and to another. All true.  If you enjoy books about art – I learned some things about the paint and the canvases of the time – you’ll be intrigued as I was.

Eye On the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press, by James, McGrath Morris. Each year my AAUW book club reads something related to Black History Month. This is a biography of a woman you’ve probably never heard of, Ethel Payne, and about her life-long journey in journalism, struggling to keep her head above water financially, but staying true to her purposes of telling the truth about the black stories and black racism of the day. Sometimes biographies aren’t all that riveting, but I found this one to be so, and I savored each new chapter. We had a really good discussion of the book, and the ups and downs of Payne’s life, especially during her years as a Washington reporter. You’ll not be sorry to have spent the time reading this book. It’s well-written, as well. I was thrilled when the author, Morris, left a message here on my blog, thanking me (and my group) for reading his book.

H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald. This one has been on the best seller list. It’s a memoir about a woman who takes on a personal challenge of taming a wild hawk. Prior to reading this book, I knew next to nothing about the entire subject of hawking, or taming any of the big, wild birds. The book is equally about the writer’s inner journey. She’s a consummate writer, and every page was a joy of words, for me. My only problem is my own – I found it hard, the more time that went by, and the more time the writer spent trying to tame this bird, to scream out “let the bird go.” Perhaps it’s because I spent time in Africa in 2015, seeing animals in the wild, that I felt more for the bird than I did with the writer’s discontent with herself and the taming process. Little did I know what a hard job it is to tame a hawk. I actually didn’t finish the book. It was a book club read, and highly recommended by several of our members. And I ended up not being able to attend the meeting as I had a cold. So perhaps there is some great ending to it that would have made me feel better. I haven’t gone to the end to find out. I just had to stop reading it. But I’m not NOT recommending it. If nothing else, read it for Macdonald’s sublime proficiency with words.

Also read George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution, by Brian Kilmeade and Dan Yaeger. Here’s what it says on amazon: When George Washington beat a hasty retreat from New York City in August 1776, many thought the American Revolution might soon be over. Instead, Washington rallied—thanks in large part to a little-known, top-secret group called the Culper Spy Ring. He realized that he couldn’t defeat the British with military might, so he recruited a sophisticated and deeply secretive intelligence network to infiltrate New York. I won’t exactly call this book a riveting read, but it was interesting. Relating facts that few people knew about, this Culper Spy Ring. It’s a little chunk of American history researched in depth by the authors. An interesting read.

Also read The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel by Nina George. If you’re an avid reader, you probably have the same kind of longing as I do for a quaint, independently owned bookstore right around the corner. So few exist anymore. This novel is about a very unusual book store, and book store owner. In Paris. On a boat/barge. It’s not a typical book store, and the writer takes you on a journey of discovery about (likely) her own lifetime of book reading. You’ll learn all about a variety of existing books and why they’re a good read. But it’s all cloaked in a story about this book store and the owner. And the customers. Very fun. I’m reviewing it for one of my book clubs next month.

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 Chicken, on August 28th, 2007.


Thanks to my DH, he managed to make a nice chicken dinner the other night. Albeit, we only had one chicken thigh and some frozen asparagus each, but it worked. The freezer-burned asparagus was over the hill – but the chicken was scrumptious. We have leftovers, which is a good thing, and I would definitely make this again. The recipe came from Elise, over at Simply Recipes. I’ve made several of her recipes in the last 6 months, and have enjoyed them all. This one is a stand-out, for sure. The marinade and sauce (one in the same) is just delicious. You could eat it right out of the bowl it’s so tasty. Her recipe was adapted from an article in the New York Times, she said. The recipe is very simple – you make a cashew-based marinade in the food processor, with cilantro, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and some fresh chiles. Some of this is reserved to scoop on top at serving time, but you marinate the chicken in this stuff for at least an hour, then grill or broil or bake and serve. Even my DH, who doesn’t cook, found this fairly easy to make. That’s saying a lot from him!

This marinade kind of resembles pesto, except rather than basil and pine nuts, this is cilantro and cashews. My recipe will include a few changes: (1) next time I’ll use boneless, skinless thighs (because I don’t like to eat the fatty chicken skin and most of the thick marinade sticks to the skin); (2) we used one small jalapeno and a part of a poblano chile, and I’d definitely do that again; and maybe if baking these (3) I’ll pat a bit of Panko crumbs on top of the chicken (I like the crunch of Panko); (4) I’ll make more of the sauce since it’s just so unbelievably yummy (I’d like to try it on other things – like a grilled pork chop – or as a spread on a sandwich, maybe even as a salad dressing – we both just l-o-v-e-d the sauce; and (5) I substituted brown sugar Splenda for the brown sugar just because we try to limit sugar in our diets. Although the recipe says to marinate just an hour or two, most likely it would be fine up to 24 hours. No more, though, or the chicken will begin to “cook” with the lime juice in it.

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Spicy Garlic Cashew Chicken Recipe

Recipe: From Simply Recipes food blog and she got it from the New York Times
Servings: 6

1 cup cashews — salted
6 Tbsp cilantro — chopped with stems
1/4 cup olive oil — or grapeseed oil
4 whole garlic cloves — roughly chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar — or Splenda brown sugar
1 whole jalapeño peppers — seeded, chopped
1/2 poblano chile, seeded, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds chicken thighs — boneless, skinless

1. In a blender or food processor, blend together the cashews, cilantro, oil, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, chiles, lime juice, and 2 tablespoons of water. Blend until a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reserve a third of the marinade for serving with the chicken. Use the rest for coating the chicken.
2. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the chicken pieces. Coat the chicken pieces with the marinade. Chill for an hour or two. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
3. Preheat broiler or grill. Broil or grill chicken, turning frequently, until golden and crisp and a meat thermometer reads 175°F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (not touching a bone), or when the juices run clear (not pink) when cut into with a knife. About 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with lime wedges, reserved marinade, and cilantro.
Per Serving: 600 Calories; 47g Fat (70.0% calories from fat); 35g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 151mg Cholesterol; 487mg Sodium.

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  1. Anonymous

    said on September 17th, 2007:

    This was AWESOME. THe chicken just melts in your mouth. I served it for the first time at a small dinner party. Everyone LOVED it!! This will definately be a keeper.

    I did make some extra sauce and I am anxious to try it on some pasta, or even some pork chops.

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