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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 Brunch, on January 9th, 2009.


Delicious Egg Muffins, just out of the oven. The one in front is turned slightly on its side.

My DH’s guys came to our house yesterday for their weekly Bible study. Usually they eat sweets – doughnuts, coffeecakes, etc. But I decided this time that perhaps they’d all prefer more protein instead. After all the sweets and overall excess of the holidays, I’d make this one a bit different.

So, I turned to a recipe I’d been wanting to try for awhile. I’ve mentioned previously Kalyn’s Kitchen, a blog I read regularly. Kalyn is a follower of the South Beach Diet, which means eating only a few specific low-glycemic carbs and consuming plenty of lean proteins and lots of vegetables. And eggs. Kalyn fixes this type of egg dish nearly every morning – she makes them up in quantity (a week’s worth) and quickly microwaves them as she’s rushing out the door.

Even using low-fat cheese which is a bit less flavorful as full-fat cheese (mine was a mixture of cheddar, jack and Mozzarella) it was very, very tasty. The green onions add a lot. I didn’t happen to have any vegetables that I thought were just “right” for these, and I wanted to try them once without veggies before I added them the next time I make them. I liked these a lot. They’re extremely easy – mincing up the green onions was about the most tedious, if there really was any tedium to making them. I made exactly 12, and when I pulled them out of the oven they were puffed up very high (like a popover), but within seconds they began to deflate to what you see in the photo above. What’s nice about these is that you can vary every single ingredient (egg whites, or more of them than whole eggs, different kinds of cheeses, and use whatever veggies you like). Just remember that the vegetables take up a lot more volume (space) in the muffin cup, so you’ll get more than 12 if you use bulky veggies. If you don’t like preparing breakfast every day, and want something healthy and easy, this is your ticket! Thank you, Kalyn.
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Breakfast Egg Muffins a la Kalyn Denny

Recipe: From Kalyn Denny, at Kalyn’s Kitchen blog.
Servings: 12 (or just 6 if you eat two)

3 whole green onions — minced
2/3 cup cheddar cheese — (I used low fat), or Feta, or any cheese variety you prefer
1/4 teaspoon Spike seasoning or other herb blend with a bite
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cooked vegetables — (broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, celery, asparagus, artichoke hearts, jalapeno chiles) optional
15 large eggs

1. Heat oven to 375.
2. Break eggs into a large bowl, preferably with a pour spout.
3. Grease or oil-spray a muffin tin (12-spot). Into the wells of each muffin cup sprinkle some of the raw green onions. Then add cheese (not too much – the amount is just a guess) and vegetables, if using.
4. Lightly whisk the eggs with some salt and pepper. Gently and carefully pour the egg mixture into the muffin cups so they’re about 3/4 or 7/8 full. Don’t overfill them. Use a fork to gently probe (deflate any air bubbles) in each egg cup.
5. Bake for 25 minutes (approximately) until tops are golden brown. Remove and serve immediately. Depending on how much air was whipped into them, they may deflate some once they start to cool.
Per Serving: 119 Calories; 8g Fat (64.4% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 272mg Cholesterol; 127mg Sodium.

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  1. Marie

    said on January 10th, 2009:

    So much goodness here Carolyn. Everything looks so tasty. You are a wonderful cook and photographer!

    Thank you, Marie. Taking good food photos isn’t the easy task I thought it was going to be, but I’m improving. . . . Carolyn T

  2. Kalyn

    said on January 10th, 2009:

    I love the sideways tipped muffin! So glad that you liked them. Sometimes I have ones that rise more on one side than the other and I never can figure out why, but they always taste good!

    We DO like them. I’ve made them 4-5 times now and just use whatever cheese varieties I have on hand. I like Italian herbs sprinkled on top. Costco recently had Laughing Cow cheese on special (it’s low fat) and it’s great in these too. . . Carolyn T

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