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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 Desserts, on November 9th, 2019.

cherry_cheesecake_trifle

The title is a bit of a misnomer, I think. There isn’t much “trifle” here. It’s a layered kind of cheesecake pudding with Amaretto overtones and accented with sweet, dark cherries.

My friend Cherrie does a girls’ luncheon every October. She calls it a witches lunch and does all kinds of witch-type themes. We’re supposed to come in some kind of costume. I wore a Halloween apron that says BOO on it. I’ve never been much of a costume person. Most of the ladies had very fancy Halloween head paraphernalia, or hats, or scarves, or orange/black feathers. The apron was just fine for me. Some just wore black. But all that aside, it was very fun. I offered to bring dessert and this pudding kind of thing seemed just right.

The original recipe came from Taste of Home (I didn’t try to look it up online), just copied it from a booklet Cherrie gave me. What’s missing from the recipe for a “trifle” is some kind of cake – like ladyfingers, or pound cake – which is more common in a trifle. So how it got named a trifle is beyond me.

What you see there in the cup (a beverage cup) is a layer of Amaretto-scented cheesecake pudding (not a cooked type), a layer of dark sweet cherries, then topped with a bunch of Cool-Whip, then accented with one cherry and some shaved chocolate. I made the cheesecake part (most of it) the day before. It’s merely cream cheese, powdered sugar and Amaretto mixed together. Just before serving you lighten it up with some Cool-Whip. That was a little bit tedious as the cheesecake part was relatively firm, and the other, obviously, very light and fluffy. It took a couple of minutes of light folding to get it all to combine. It worked. That went into the bottom of the cup. The day before I’d also cooked the frozen cherries with sugar and vanilla and let them chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Cherrie’s daughter-in-law Brianna helped me compose all these desserts. I was very grateful for her help because it was a bit tedious to make these for 13 people. Probably took about 20 minutes altogether with two of us working at it. So, one piece of advice, don’t make this for a large group (recipe said not to make it ahead, probably because of the Cool-Whip not holding  up in the cheesecake part). For 6-8 people, it wouldn’t be difficult.

Since I’ve now made this, I’ve decided to change-up the recipe a little bit. First, I’d use real whipped cream for the topping. But I’d still use the Cool-Whip for the cheesecake part. I’d also cook the cherries differently – I’d use my favorite recipe for cherries, Fresh Bing Cherry Compote. They’re flavored with allspice, clove and cinnamon and poached in red wine. THIS recipe used frozen cherries – which will work just fine with that recipe for fresh Bing cherries. The only other change I’ve made to this recipe is to use some of the flavorful juice – I spooned some of it in the middle, and then some more on the top. Made the finished dessert look prettier. So, the recipe below incorporates all of those changes I’d make.

What’s GOOD: so creamy and delicious. If you don’t like cream, or creamy pudding like desserts, give this a pass. It was a great dessert in my book.

What’s NOT: you can’t make this up ahead – needs composing just before serving. Also, it’s a bit time-consuming to assemble, so don’t make this for a big group. Much too tedious. But for 6-8 it would be fine.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cherry Cheesecake Trifles

Recipe By: Adapted from Taste of Home
Serving Size: 6

CHERRIES:
1 pound cherries — fresh, stemmed, pitted, halved *
1/4 cup sugar
1 whole clove
1 whole allspice berry
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
AMARETTO CREAM CHEESE FILLING:
8 ounces cream cheese — softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Amaretto
8 fluid ounces Cool Whip® — Extra Creamy type, thawed
TRIFLE:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
GARNISH:
6 cherries — from the cooked batch above
shaved chocolate

* Or use same quantity of frozen and thawed unsweetened cherries. Recipe indicates using frozen (hence cold) may affect cooking time.
1. CHERRIES: In a medium saucepan heat cherries, sugar, clove, allspice berry, cinnamon and red wine over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir in. If possible, make this a day ahead and chill, allowing the flavors to meld.
2. FILLING: In a medium bowl, beat softened cream cheese and sugar with a mixer at med-high speed until smooth and creamy. Add Amaretto, beating to combine. Add whipped topping and beat until smooth. Do not make this ahead.
3. TRIFLE: Whip the heavy cream with sugar until stiff peaks form. Layer Amaretto cream cheese on bottom of short parfait glasses or cups, a layer of cherries with some of the juice, then add the whipped cream. With a spoon, swirl the whipped cream up to a slight peak if possible and that’s where you’ll place the single cherry.
4. GARNISH: Garnish with additional cherries if available, drizzle with a bit more of the cherry juices and shave chocolate over the top.
Per Serving: 521 Calories; 31g Fat (54.0% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 54g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 96mg Cholesterol; 148mg Sodium.

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  1. Toffeeapple

    said on November 12th, 2019:

    I used Cool-Whip once, many years ago, and promptly threw up after two mouthfuls of it. I have never tried it again. Did your diet allow all of the things that it contains – there are some scary ones in there?

    Having said all that it does look a pretty dessert. I think I would make it with strained yogurt, that has a good texture for sweet or savoury items.

    Hoping that the wildfires are not a threat to you and yours. Thinking of you.

    Yes, Cool-Whip by itself is pretty awful tasting. But it works for some things when it’s not the main flavor. People who simply can’t take the time to whip up cream use it. Me, not usually. Yes, yogurt would work fine. No the wildfires weren’t anywhere near me – within about 40 miles. Fires here where I live blew through a few years ago and destroyed most of the wilderness land so it’ll take a couple more years for the wild foliage to re-grow and be a big enough threat. I’m very lucky. But our fire season isn’t overwith yet – we’re still having very warm weather and no rain in sight. . . carolyn t

  2. Toffeeapple

    said on November 14th, 2019:

    I shall keep my fingers crossed that you stay safe.

    No fire alerts going on here. Just a school shooting this morning in a town about 50 miles from me. So sad. . . carolyn t

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