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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 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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