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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 Fish, on July 20th, 2017.

chile_spice_rubbed_roasted_salmon

This recipe really needs to be titled “Citrus Marinated Roasted Salmon with Chili Powder and Other Spices.” But whew. Can’t call it that!

Originally this recipe was titled “Barbecue Roasted Salmon.” It’s an old recipe from Cooking Light (2001) but they totally misnamed this one. It’s not barbecued, nor does it contains typical “barbecue” spices. So I dubbed it Chili-Rubbed Roasted Salmon instead. You’ll see why shortly. And don’t let the Cooking Light source make you think this is  not all that good! It’s fabulous.

IMHO, the pineapple juice/lemon juice marinade is the secret to this recipe. It makes it SO very juicy and tender. It doesn’t need to be marinated all that long, either. Periodically I buy a 6-pack of pineapple juice in little baby cans. Sometimes they don’t last (the cans bulge and you know the juice has gone bad). I threw away 2 cans before I found one that was still okay. My recollection is that I can’t buy just one of those tiny cans of pineapple juice. I don’t drink it ever – it’s only used for cooking. But I certainly didn’t want to have to go grocery shopping in order to make this. Fortunately I had everything on hand.

Am sure I’ve mentioned it here before .. . . even though I’m a family of one now, I buy the big slabs of farm-raised salmon at Costco, cut them up into fillets and pack two to a bag and vacuum seal them for freezing. It takes less than an hour to defrost one of those bags and it gives me two meals.

salmon_foil_ready2bakeSo first, the salmon fillets went into a ziploc bag with the juices. Into the refrigerator they went for about an hour. It’s very possible that left in the marinade any longer the fish would have begun to disintegrate. Pineapple juice is a powerful marinade in that it contains enzymes that break down food. Which is why it’s often used in a meat marinade, to give it tenderness. This one, though, is really meant just for flavoring, I’m guessing, since salmon doesn’t need tenderizing! Pat it dry, then you put the brown sugar and spices (chili powder, lemon zest, ground cumin, salt and a pinch of ground cinnamon and salt) on the fish. I made a foil “tray” for the fish and roasted it in my toaster oven for only about 10-11 minutes (the fillets weren’t all that thick) and they were plu-perfect! Ideal cooked internal temperature of a salmon fillet is 135°F. I garnished with a lemon slice or two, more lemon zest and a sprinkling of mint, and onto my plate it went. In the background of the photo at top you can see the watermelon/feta/mint salad and some roasted vegetables I’d made a few days before. Wonderful dinner. And then I had the second fillet to re-heat a few nights later. It was still wonderful, although reheating it dried it out just a tad.

What’s GOOD: so very tender and juicy salmon – loved the spice combo on it. Very easy to make too. A winner of a recipe. I’ll be making this again. The calorie count for one serving is 235. Yea! And that assumes you’ve consumed (drunk) the pineapple and lemon juices, so it’s actually less than 235! This could easily be a company meal (it’s certainly fancy enough) but can also be an easy weeknight dinner too. Don’t marinate the fish more than an hour, though.

What’s NOT: Do use thicker salmon if you can – it will roast better with no tendency to dry out. No down side to this recipe at all.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chili-Rubbed Roasted Salmon

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Cooking Light, May 2001
Serving Size: 4

1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets — (6-ounce each)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Lemon slices (optional)
Chopped mint for garnish
Grated lemon zest for garnish

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally. (Don’t marinate longer or it will begin to break down the fish.)
2. Preheat oven to 400°.
3. Remove fish from bag; discard marinade. Pat dry the fish with paper towels. Combine sugar and next 5 ingredients (chili powder through cinnamon) in a bowl. Rub over fish; place in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish lined with foil. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork (done internal temp should be 135°F). Serve immediately with lemon slices, and a sprinkling of fresh, chopped mint and lemon zest.
Per Serving: 235 Calories; 6g Fat (24.8% calories from fat); 34g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 88mg Cholesterol; 408mg Sodium.

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  1. hddonna

    said on July 20th, 2017:

    Looks like another winner. My sister’s favorite seasoning for grilled salmon is just equal parts sugar and chili powder, if I remember right. This looks to be a bit more complex but not too time-consuming. I look forward to trying it.

    You’ll be pleased, I’m sure. The pineapple juice just does something to the taste. For the good, obviously . . . carolyn t

  2. hddonna

    said on July 21st, 2017:

    And I think I have some of those little cans on hand, too! (Just for cooking in my case, also.)

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