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Just finished reading How It All Began: A Novelby Penelope Lively. I find it hard to describe this book – it’s wonderful. I loved it. But describing it is perplexing. The title relates to one of the characters, a woman of a certain age, who is mugged, and has to go live with her daughter and son in law for awhile since she’s stuck with crutches and has mobility problems. That starts the cavalcade of events that spread around her, with the characters. And she knows nothing whatsoever about them, hardly. They’re all somewhat inter-related (not much family, but mostly by circumstance) and they all get into some rather logical and some peculiar relationships. You engage  with each and every one of them; at least I sure did; and was trying to tell some of them to back away from what they were about to do. Or “be careful;” or “don’t go there.” That kind of thing. There is nothing insidious, no mystery involved – it’s all about these people and what happens to them. I was sad when the book was finished. The author, Lively, does add a chapter at the end – I wonder if it wasn’t part of the master plan – that kind of tidies up everything, and you get to see all of the characters move on with their lives, happy or not, but mostly happy. Really enjoyed the book. Am not sure it would be a good book club read, as the only thing to discuss are the characters themselves. Lively paints these characters well; you can just picture them as they get themselves in and out of relationship mischief.

The Last Midwife: A Novel by Sandra Dallas. It’s a very, very good read. It tells the story of an older married woman who lives in a small mining town in the Colorado rockies (this is the mid-1800’s), and is well known by all because she’s the only midwife in the area. Often people can’t pay her anything, or very little for her days of service with little or no rest or food. Suddenly, a couple accuse her of strangling their infant (she arrived after the birth, actually). Hence the story is about how this small town rallies or rails for or against Gracy. She didn’t commit the crime, but not everyone can be convinced since the father is a wealthy man in the area who carries a lot of clout. There’s plenty of relationship issues here, which make really great fodder for a novel. And there are plenty of characters in the book that you’ll love or hate. Some secrets get dredged up too. Oh, such a good read.

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 middle-aged 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, and wealthy) 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.

 

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 Uncategorized, on January 20th, 2017.

No, this isn’t a repeat from yesterday – these are the best-est recipes I posted last year. Yesterday’s post was for 2015. Sorry if this is confusing. Altogether different recipes here. For 2016 I had a total of 8 recipes. In years past I’ve had more best-est recipes, but I used to post every 2-3 days then. These days I’m posting every 4-5 days. Here’s 2016 best-est recipes:

 

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Spinach, Jicama, Red Onion and Orange Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

 

 

 

 

 


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Pork Enchilada Verde Casserole

 

 

 


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Chile-Buttermilk-Brined Pork Tenderloin

 

 

 

 


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Safari Seeded Cookies

 

 

 


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Blueberry Buckle

 

 

 


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Apple Bread Crumb Pudding

 

 

 


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Best Almond Cake

 

 
   Cinnamon Chocolate Cake

 

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  1. hddonna

    said on January 20th, 2017:

    How do you choose the best recipes, Carolyn? These look good–I don’t think I’ve made any of them yet, but I’m glad to have them brought to mind again. That chile buttermilk brined pork tenderloin looks like one I’d like to try. And the pork enchilada verde casserole. The desserts are all appealing, but I am trying not to give in to temptation!

    As I write up blog posts I have an actual hard-copy list (not the full post) of each one so I can find them later if I need to. As I write the list, I put an asterisk next to the listing meaning I’ve concluded it was extra-special. That’s how I’ve created my “Carolyn’s Favs” page on my blog. It’s also a kind of worksheet I maintain and tick a mark next to each one once I’ve included the link into my recipe index. My index doesn’t create itself – I physically have to add the recipe link onto the list. I do that about every 2-3 weeks. I add photos on my better recipes on Pinterest (although I haven’t done it lately as so many people are now doing specialized long, narrow photos on pinterest – way too commercial-ly to me). I could do the specialized photos, since I have PhotoShop, the big version, but it all takes time to do. Maybe too much time for me!

    Hope that answers your question – and probably more than you wanted to know about blog writing! . . . carolyn t

  2. hddonna

    said on January 21st, 2017:

    Thanks. I am interested in how you do your blog, so appreciate the detailed reply. It answers another question–I sometimes look for a recipe I’ve seen fairly recently by checking the index, but the dish is not listed. Now I know why! I’m not on Pinterest, so haven’t seen your photos there, but I do enjoy the ones on the blog. Thanks for all the effort you put into your blog–it is my favorite–if I could only read one, it would be yours, and I keep it front and center on my Yahoo home page.

    Wow, Donna! I had no idea!!!! Thank you. IF you are trying to find a recipe, instead of looking at the index, do a search (top left of left sidebar) of something you remember from the title. If you do “chicken,” well, it’ll bring up hundreds, but if you can provide any other details about it the search box might be more helpful. Thank you for being such a faithful reader! You made my day, once again. . . carolyn t

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