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Carolyn

Sara

Sara and me

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Just finished reading The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship by Joanna Burger. Such an interesting book – nonfiction. The author is an ornithologist by profession (and a PhD) and this memoir of sorts is about her Red-Lored Amazon parrot she and her husband own. But no, it’s the parrot who owns her/them. Tiko tolerates Joanna’s husband Mike. Joanna and Tiko bonded. But it took years. This parrot breed mates for life, and Joanna is definitely Tiko’s mate. They acquired Tiko when he was already 30 years old (they live up to age 80 or so), hence it took a long time for Tiko to decide that Joanna could be trusted. This book is just so charming, and interesting. The author weaves into the story lots of facts about parrots in general, this type of parrot, as well as a variety of other birds she has studied. She’s an author of many other books about birds (scholarly works). She’s a professor and world-renowned researcher at Rutgers. I’m not a birder, but I do love books about the relationships between birds and people. If you know someone who loves birds, they’d definitely enjoy this book.

Also finished reading My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. A book club friend recommended this book, I immediately bought it on my Kindle. I could NOT put the book down. I devoured it. Any other “work” I should have been doing was swept aside as I read and read of Resolute’s adventures. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

Finished The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel by Kim Richardson.  It’s a novel about the first mobile library in Kentucky (this is the 1930s) and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and ? just as importantly ? a compassionate human connection. The heroine in this book is called a blue-skin, a genetic mutation that causes the skin to be dark indigo blue. In rural Kentucky, most of the blue-skins were shamed and caused fright in people who saw them. The author decided to share this rare condition in the book and it wove its tentacles into many of the relationships the hard-working librarian made.  Partly the book is about library books, booklets, recipes, but mostly as it says above, it’s about the connections the librarian made with remote people who went weeks or more without seeing another human being. Very unusual book about the hardships endured in that time, but the hardship and bravery of the librarians who went out day in and day out, often for 2-3 days at a time to deliver books.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This book was offered as a bargain book from Bookbub, and something about the description resonated with me – maybe because of my Old Testament readings regarding the lives of shepherds back in ancient days. I utterly loved this book. It might not suit everyone – it’s a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being about attending further education and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. He bickers with his father, eventually moves out. One night in a pub with his blokes (friends) he enters some kind of a contest in the pub and realizes he has a lot more knowledge than he thought he did. In time he applies to get what I’d call here in the U.S. a G.E.D (high school diploma), which he does, and then he applies to Oxford, on a whim. And gets in. He graduates. He applies his knowledge to his rural life. He marries, has children, but still, his day to day life is all about his Herdwick sheep although he does have a day job too working for UNESCO. You’ll learn more about sheep than you might have wanted to know. I absolutely loved, LOVED this book. If you are interested, James Rebanks has a Twitter feed, called @herdyshepherd1, and you can sign up to get updates from him about his farm and his sheep. I don’t do Twitter or I would.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. I could hardly put it down. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote. You yearn to hug her, comfort her. Yet she finds eventually happiness and peace. A beautiful book worth reading. Was a book club read.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation. So it is with surprise that she finds in this cold and bitter country the capacity for new love and perhaps even a new home. I just loved this book – could hardly put it down; yet it’s not a mystery. You’ll come away with a desire to find that house by the fjord. I want to go there and have some coffee with the Anna, who was a Brit, yet fell head over heels in love with Norway.

Running Blind (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher mystery. From amazon: Across the country, women are being murdered, victims of a disciplined and clever killer who leaves no trace evidence, no fatal wounds, no signs of struggle, and no clues to an apparent motive. They are, truly, perfect crimes. Until Jack Reacher gets in the middle of it. A page turner, as are all of the Jack Reacher stories.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. If you like Hyde’s novels, for the month of September many of her books are available on Kindle at a very reduced price ($1.99 and $.99 each). Go grab them while they’re available. I just purchased 6 of her books. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. A sweet book, true story, of the author and her friend, during one summer in the midst of their college years, going by train to NYC and ultimately getting a job of Tiffany’s. This took place in the 40s, and at the time no women were ever seen on the showroom floors, but these two pretty young women were the harbinger of equality, though none of that comes into play here. They were “runners,” who whisked orders and money to and fro from the salesMEN to the office. They stood in silence near the elevators on the ground floor and waited for a sale to take place. They lived in cramped quarters. They enjoyed everything NYC had to offer them at the time, and they were wowed by an occasional celebrity sighting. Cute read.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. No one can seem to solve them, and those who try also get caught in the crossfire. Finally a man is brought in from back East. That’s where the inception of the FBI comes into play, though there was no FBI then. This is a very interesting read, probably sufficient info to do a book club read. A book everyone should read if you know little (or a lot) about the abominable treatment given to the Native Americans over the last several hundred years. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? When I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did. It tells the tale of a 70ish man, a widower, who has been diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. He’s a retired physician, knows the scenario of death by cancer, and doesn’t want to do it. He decides he’s going to take a bird hunting trip, east of the mountains in Washington State (Guterson writes a lot about his part of the world), with his two dogs, and he’ll commit suicide. He sets up an elaborate ruse with his children and grandchildren, and heads out. All of this, so far, takes place in the first 10 pages of the book. First he has an accident in his car, and that sets off a cavalcade of incidents. You’ll learn a whole lot about flora and fauna (one of Guterson’s writing attributes). You’ll learn a lot about apple and pear orchards, which abound in eastern Washington (I’ve been there, it’s beautiful, pastoral and full of fruit). Flashbacks of his life story are interspersed throughout, his growing up on an apple farm, meeting his wife, his service in WWII, their reuniting after the war and the life they had. You’ll learn some about his cancer pain, the grief of his wife’s death 5 years prior, and about his resolve to end it all. Please don’t NOT read this because  you’ll think it’s depressing. It is and it isn’t. It’s so much more for the better. And I just read, this book is being made into a movie.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? I marvel sometimes about how authors ever come up with the ideas they do, to create the premise for a novel. And this one is right up there at the top of the list. Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who has a big lack of self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. He discovers she’s blind and needs some help, which he gives her. Then he discovers that there is a lot more to know and understand about this elderly little lady down the hall and he begins a journey to try to find someone for her, the Luis Velez of the title. If you want to use coming-of-age to describe this, that’s partly true. He learns all about himself, the abilities he didn’t know he had, the kindness that lives within him that he never realized was there, and the friends he makes along the way who make some life-changing differences in his young life. He discovers he has some gifts that he can give to others, something most teenagers don’t understand. I can’t recommend this book highly enough – it’s a bit of a tear-jerker, but for every good reason and moral character trait described in the book. It’s there.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.  From Amazon’s description: August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. Every year he’s spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip’s ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go. What none of them could have known was how transformative both the trip—and the bonds that develop between them—would prove, driving each to create a new destiny together. Have a tissue handy at the end. It’s such a charming, sweet story. You’ll fall in love with the young boys, and fall in love with them again 10 years later.

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by JoJo Moyes.

Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3)by Francine Rivers.

Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America

Answer As a Man

Celeste Ng Little Fires Everywhere.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright.

C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel).

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. A

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes. W

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively.

 

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 Beef, on October 21st, 2019.

lazy_sunday_pot_roast

Remember? Brown food doesn’t look so great in a picture! But oh, this one’s worth the effort, and it doesn’t take much to make this pot roast dinner.

Even though I eat a somewhat restricted set of foods, there are lots of things I can make and enjoy. Last night I had a group of friends over for dinner and made this pot roast, a tabouli salad made with millet, Brussels sprouts with bacon, golden raisins and pomegranate seeds, a type of dip – called a hummus because of its texture – but made with zucchini, and then I made a strawberry black pepper refrigerator cake. The only thing I made that wasn’t on my diet was the dessert. But I had some anyway. Well, I suppose I’m not to have pot roast, either (too much fat) but I did.

I still subscribe to a bunch of blogs, and truly, as I scan through them I can often whiz right past because they have foods that I’m not supposed to eat on this anti-lectin, Gundry diet. I’m a sucker, though, for an interesting story, and this one was just so special. Written by John “Doc” Willoughby, I was hooked from the first words. If you’re interested, click HERE, to the full story. In a nutshell, Doc knew from when he was a child, that he loved his Grandmother’s pot roast, but he never knew much about what was in it. After his grandmother passed away, Doc inherited her collection of cookbooks and recipes. And then he found the old 3×5 card with the recipe on it. Since then, he’s made this pot roast countless times, and often for company, because he says it’s pretty foolproof, AND it’s easy.

The recipe, on the surface, looks kind of mundane. But oh, it’s not. He explains that he’s made it without the caraway seeds, and without the marjoram, and he says the finished product doesn’t measure up. So, those herbs/spices are essential to the result. First, buy a 4-pound chuck eye roast. Pat it dry with paper towels, salt and pepper it, then sear it in oil in a big, lidded Dutch oven type pan. Remove the meat, then sauté 2 onions, halved and sliced, then you add in the other ingredients – broth, brown sugar, the caraway seeds and marjoram (I used dried), some bay leaves, and some apple cider vinegar. The roast is nestled in there, and more broth is added if needed, to bring the liquid level up halfway on the roast (mine needed about another 3/4 cup of water). Into a 300°F oven it went (covered) and baked for 3 hours. I removed it and turned the roast twice. Then you add 3 Granny Smith (or similar type) apples, cored and peeled, then sliced and cut in 8ths, cover and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the apples kind of puff up. A few of them fell apart in my pot, and some hardly seemed done, but they were.

The only kind-of-sort-of hard part was getting that 4-lb. roast out of the pot – it was hot and heavy and it fell apart. But oh well. It’s supposed to rest for 10-15 minutes before you serve it, so I put it out on the platter and covered it with foil while I wrestled with the good stuff left in the pot – the apples, onions and flavorful broth. It took a bit of doing – and my friend Judy helped me some – to remove some of the fat. I have a fat separator which helped, but the onions kept clogging up the sieve part. But we managed. The apples and onions went out onto the platter (see photo) and some of the broth swam all over the platter as well. The strained, somewhat de-fatted broth went into a pitcher to pass at the table.

What’s interesting is that none of us – me included – could taste the caraway or the marjoram. That was kind of astounding to me – I pride myself on being able to detect flavors. Couldn’t find it at all in this dish. With the list of ingredients, I’d guess this recipe has German origins (the caraway, apples and apple cider vinegar are the clues), but the marjoram makes me think France. But no matter, this dish comes together well. There’s a lot of liquid left over, so I’ll probably make some kind of soup with it – maybe with some of the left over pot roast cut into little cubes (if I can, as the meat is meltingly tender).

What’s GOOD: the flavor – oh my yes – so tasty. You can detect the sweet (brown sugar) and the apples impact a delectable flavor to the overall dish. It was perfectly tender, and I liked having a dish that offered the apples to serve alongside, with the very tender onions too. It was easy. The article actually suggested making it the day before up to the apple-adding step, then reheating it and baking for 15-20 minutes. I wasn’t so sure that was a good idea – so I made it the day of. Will I make this again? Absolutely, although probably not for myself. Only for company, I’d say. I’m sure you could make a smaller one – say a 2 1/2 pound roast, however.

What’s NOT: nothing really, except that you need to plan ahead several hours. But that’s not news to anyone who’s made a pot roast before. There were no complaints from anyone.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Lazy Sunday Pot Roast

Recipe By: John “Doc” Willoughby, from his grandmother Schwyhart
Serving Size: 8

4 pounds boneless beef chuck eye roast Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions — halved and thinly sliced
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh marjoram — or 2 tablespoons dried
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups low sodium beef broth — or chicken stock (2 to 2 1/2)
3 Granny Smith apples — or other tart apples such as Cortlands or Baldwins, quartered, cored, and peeled

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Dry the roast well with paper towels, sprinkle it very generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large, ovenproof pot over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the roast and brown well on all sides—this should take at least 10 or 12 minutes—then remove to a platter and set aside.
3. Add the onions to the pot and saute, stirring frequently, until translucent, 7 to 9 minutes. Put the meat back in the pot, add the bay leaves, caraway seeds, brown sugar, marjoram, vinegar, and enough stock so that the liquid comes just halfway up the sides of the meat. Bring just to a simmer then cover, put in the preheated oven, and cook for 2-1/2 hours, turning over once or twice during this time.
4. Add the apples to the pot and continue to cook until the apples are soft and puffed up and the meat is very tender, about 15 minutes. To check the meat for doneness: Plunge a fork straight down into the meat and try to pull the fork out; if the fork slides out easily, the meat is done; if the meat hangs on to the fork, give it more time.
5. Remove meat, cover it loosely with foil, and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Skim the fat from the braising liquid and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut the meat into thick slices and serve, accompanied by the apples, onions and the braising liquid. Strain some of the broth, if possible, and pass it at the table.
Per Serving: 490 Calories; 20g Fat (35.7% calories from fat); 65g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 184mg Cholesterol; 199mg Sodium.

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  1. Toffeeapple

    said on October 21st, 2019:

    I have never made a pot roast in my entire life! I doubt I shall start now. I have been cooking lots of vegetables though, especially a gorgeous Savoy cabbage, the remains of which are sitting in a container of water so that it continues to live. I have been roasting organic carrots, how sweet they taste, delicious! My supplier has Quinces for sale this week so I shall buy some and leave them on my kitchen counter so that they perfume the whole apartment before I cook them.

  2. Donna Woerth

    said on October 23rd, 2019:

    I’m hoping my market has chuck roast on sale this week, because I can’t wait to make this! The temperature is supposed to fall into the fifties tomorrow and stay there for at least a week, so pot roast sounds wonderful, and this recipe looks like it would be perfect!

    I’ve been munching on the leftovers. So good. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. . . carolyn t

  3. hddonna

    said on November 3rd, 2019:

    I did make this a few days ago, and it was great! My son commented on how tender and juicy the meat was. We could definitely taste the caraway, but I thought it went very well with the apples and the slight sweetness of the juices which I thickened just a tiny bit with a couple teaspoons of potato starch. I couldn’t taste the marjoram, but I’m not really attuned to that flavor, and I had only dried. And I was surprised that the vinegar wasn’t that noticeable. I was expecting a definite sweet-and-sour flavor, but that was subdued. My roast was 4 1/2 pounds, and we got four meals for three out of it, the last being individual cottage pies. It was a bit sweeter than one expects in that dish, but very tasty nonetheless! I love a meal you can stretch into several others! (I was munching on the leftovers, too! Kept nibbling on the last chunk of meat while I was working on that cottage pie!)

    I’m so glad you liked it, Donna. I noticed when I ate some of the juices in the leftovers, I COULD taste the caraway and marjoram, but hadn’t prior to that. I packaged up the leftovers in a vacuum seal bag and popped it in the freezer. My cousin Gary is coming down for Thanksgiving and I think I’ll pull that out when he’s here. Will make for an easy meal with a salad and veg. He’s not hard to please, so anything I make is fine with him. I used to make a pot roast – years ago – that was a recipe from Sunset Magazine (you know of it, in the Western States) that had all the various recipes for making leftover meals. I think I still have it – want me to copy and send it to you? I used to make it often when I was working and had so little time at night to make a full meal for the family. . . carolyn t

  4. hddonna

    said on November 4th, 2019:

    Oh, yes, please. I’d love to have the Sunset recipe. I’ve never seen the magazine, but I’ve got a couple of their paperback (magazine size) cookbooks. I recently made an apple cake that I’ve been making since the 80s that original came from Sunset Magazine and was printed in the newspaper back then. Still delicious! As for pot roast, I’m planning to try another one soon which appeared in my local paper, a request from a favorite restaurant of ours, The Big Sky Café. It also has apple, plus red wine vinegar, red wine, carrots, celery, onion, tomato paste, and a tablespoon of honey. If that interests you, do a search for stl today big sky potroast and it should come up.

    I so rarely make a pot roast because it’s just ME eating it. I’m not supposed to eat much beef anyway, on this diet. A little bit, but I give in when I’m offered a steak (not on the diet either). Only supposed to have pasture-raised 90% ground beef, and at that only about once a month. I’ve sent the recipe to you via email. . . .carolyn t

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