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Just finished a quirky book, Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel by Rachel Khong. She’s a new writer (newly published, I guess I should say) and this story is about Ruth, a 30+ something, trying to readjust to life without her fiance, who’s dumped her. She goes back home to help with the care of her father, who has Alzheimer’s. Written in a diary style, it jumps all over about her life, her mother, the funny, poignant things her father says on good days, and the nutty stuff he does on not-so-good days, her ex-, and her very quirky friends, too. Then a woman flits through who had had an affair with her father –  you get to observe all the angst from the mom about that. Mostly it’s about her father, as he’s relatively “together” early in the book, but then he disintegrates. Reading that part isn’t fun, although the author is able to lean some humor into it. I’m not sure I recommend the book exactly – I read it through – and felt sad. It doesn’t tie up loose ends – if you want that kind of book – you may not want to read this one.

Also finished Julian Fellowes’s Belgravia. You know Julian Fellowes, the producer and writer of Downton Abbey? He lends his mind to a story about a family or two from the similar time period as Downton, who live in London. There’s some amount of intrigue, romance, observations from within the halls of wealthy Londoners and moderately well off tradesmen and their families. There’s affairs, shady business dealings, an illegitimate child, the comings and goings of the “downstairs” staff too, etc. The characters were well done – I had no trouble keeping all of the people identified. The story is somewhat predictable, but it was interesting clear up to the end.

The Letter by Kathyrn Hughes. It’s a very intricate tale. At first it’s about Tina, a battered wife [at which point I paused and wondered if I wanted to read any further, but I’m glad I did]. She tries to get the courage to leave her husband. Then enters the letter she finds in a suit pocket in the thrift shop where she volunteers. It’s old – sealed and stamped, but never mailed. Then you learn about Crissie, decades earlier, a young pregnant girl who is sent off to Ireland to a distant relative by her father, then to a rigid (meaning horrible) convent [the book takes place mostly in Manchester, England and in rural Ireland]. The letter is addressed to her. Jump forward decades and William, the adopted child Crissie gave up, tries to find his birth mother. William meets Tina in Ireland [a serendipitous moment] as she’s trying to find the woman to whom the letter is addressed. This book is the #2 best seller on Amazon at the moment. It’s a riveting tale and I really enjoyed it.

The Muralist: A Novel by Shapiro. It tells the story of a young woman, an artist, who was part of the U.S.’s WPA mural project from the 1930s-40s (she is fiction, the WPA is not). As with so many artists, even today, they live in abject poverty through much of their lives. This woman, though, had family in France, desperately trying to escape before Hitler’s henchmen rousted them into concentration camps. The story, a bit of a mystery but not of the mystery-genre, is about Alizée Benoit, this young painter, who slightly captivates Eleanor Roosevelt’s help. It also skips into current time when the painter’s great-niece uncovers paintings she believes were painted by her aunt. The painter had disappeared into thin air in 1940, and her relative tries desperately to find out what happened to her. It’s a really good story including such Abstract Expressionist painters as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner well-woven into the narrative. It keeps you guessing right up to the end. A good read. The author also wrote The Art Forger: A Novel a few years ago.

Also recently read 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 free-lance 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 family was 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 an old (wild) 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. Just read this one first!

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.

egg-muffins

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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