Subscribe

Get updates sent to you for free by RSS, or by email:

Archives

Currently Reading


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Just finished News of the World: A Novel by Paulette Jiles. One of my book-reading friends said this is one of the best books she’s ever read in her life. That kind of praise required me to read it and I just LOVED it. It’s about an old man (a widower), who was a former military captain, during the 1800s, who goes from town to town to read out loud the current news of the world (yes, there WAS such a job.) Newspapers didn’t make it to small towns back then. By chance he’s asked to take a 10-year old girl to East Texas to reunite with relatives. The child had been captured by an Indian tribe as a baby (her parents were killed in the raid), raised by the Kiowa and as was often the case of such children, she wants nothing to do with leaving. So the “hero” in this story has his hands full. And yet, they learn to trust each other on the journey. Reaching the destination, there are lots of complications (of course!). This book is truly a wonderful read – I didn’t want it to end. The author has a gift of description and the severe dangers and difficulties of a old west horse and wagon journey. The relationship is tender. Now I’ve got to investigate the author’s other books, of which there are many.

Winter Journey by Diane Armstrong. Have you ever read about forensic dentistry? I sure had not, so I found it fascinating reading. It’s a debut novel for the author, and what a story. Halina, an Australian, with Polish roots, specializes in this obscure profession as a forensic dentist, and is asked to go to Poland, to help identify bone (and tooth) fragments, to put to rest a sad event in the story of this small town, when many, many people (Jews) were murdered. Was it the Nazis? Or was it the local townspeople who disliked the Jews. What a tangled web of intrigue, including Halina’s own mysterious past. I really enjoyed the read. The author does a great job of developing the characters (which I always like). This is no light read if you consider the subject matter, although it IS a novel (but based on fact). Nor is it a spy thriller – it’s more just an historical novel with lots of interesting people throughout. There’s a romance thrown in too, and a whole lot of angst about the discoveries found in the mass grave. But, the subject expanded my knowledge about forensics.

The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece by Jonathan Harr. I just LOVED this book. I’ve never been much of a fan of Caravaggio’s paintings, although I’ve seen plenty of them (many are extremely large) in museums around the world. His paintings were dark, often with dark subjects. But as with many of the old masters, occasionally some obscure work surfaces, perhaps credited to another artist, even, that turns out to be one done by “the” master. In this case, Caravaggio. Although this book is written as a novel (with dialogue, etc.) it’s historical through and through. It begins with two young women art scholars, in Italy, who are asked to do a research project. One thing leads to another, and to another. All true.  If you enjoy books about art – I learned some things about the paint and the canvases of the time – you’ll be intrigued as I was.

Eye On the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press, by James, McGrath Morris. Each year my AAUW book club reads something related to Black History Month. This is a biography of a woman you’ve probably never heard of, Ethel Payne, and about her life-long journey in journalism, struggling to keep her head above water financially, but staying true to her purposes of telling the truth about the black stories and black racism of the day. Sometimes biographies aren’t all that riveting, but I found this one to be so, and I savored each new chapter. We had a really good discussion of the book, and the ups and downs of Payne’s life, especially during her years as a Washington reporter. You’ll not be sorry to have spent the time reading this book. It’s well-written, as well. I was thrilled when the author, Morris, left a message here on my blog, thanking me (and my group) for reading his book.

H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald. This one has been on the best seller list. It’s a memoir about a woman who takes on a personal challenge of taming a wild hawk. Prior to reading this book, I knew next to nothing about the entire subject of hawking, or taming any of the big, wild birds. The book is equally about the writer’s inner journey. She’s a consummate writer, and every page was a joy of words, for me. My only problem is my own – I found it hard, the more time that went by, and the more time the writer spent trying to tame this bird, to scream out “let the bird go.” Perhaps it’s because I spent time in Africa in 2015, seeing animals in the wild, that I felt more for the bird than I did with the writer’s discontent with herself and the taming process. Little did I know what a hard job it is to tame a hawk. I actually didn’t finish the book. It was a book club read, and highly recommended by several of our members. And I ended up not being able to attend the meeting as I had a cold. So perhaps there is some great ending to it that would have made me feel better. I haven’t gone to the end to find out. I just had to stop reading it. But I’m not NOT recommending it. If nothing else, read it for Macdonald’s sublime proficiency with words.

Also read George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution, by Brian Kilmeade and Dan Yaeger. Here’s what it says on amazon: When George Washington beat a hasty retreat from New York City in August 1776, many thought the American Revolution might soon be over. Instead, Washington rallied—thanks in large part to a little-known, top-secret group called the Culper Spy Ring. He realized that he couldn’t defeat the British with military might, so he recruited a sophisticated and deeply secretive intelligence network to infiltrate New York. I won’t exactly call this book a riveting read, but it was interesting. Relating facts that few people knew about, this Culper Spy Ring. It’s a little chunk of American history researched in depth by the authors. An interesting read.

Also read The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel by Nina George. If you’re an avid reader, you probably have the same kind of longing as I do for a quaint, independently owned bookstore right around the corner. So few exist anymore. This novel is about a very unusual book store, and book store owner. In Paris. On a boat/barge. It’s not a typical book store, and the writer takes you on a journey of discovery about (likely) her own lifetime of book reading. You’ll learn all about a variety of existing books and why they’re a good read. But it’s all cloaked in a story about this book store and the owner. And the customers. Very fun. I’m reviewing it for one of my book clubs next month.

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.

Scroll down to the bottom to view my Blogroll

Posted in Soups, on October 1st, 2007.

Okay, friends. Listen up. I’m sharing today one of my very favorite recipes ever. I’ve been making this soup/stew since about 1966. That’s 40 years. Wow. Even surprises me! So why have I waited 6 months to tell you about it, you ask? Simple. It wasn’t soup season. This is one of those dishes that sticks to the ribs. Hearty. Hot. If I had a restaurant, say, Carolyn’s Country Kitchen, this would be at the top of the menu as Carolyn’s signature soup. Or stew. Or stoup, as Rachel Ray calls these kinds of concoctions.

This is so much of a favorite that it’s going onto my Carolyn’s Fav’s , a tab at the top. Now, you need to love soup and stew to like this recipe. And vegetables. And cumin (although you could leave that out). To me, the cumin is an important component, however, even though it wasn’t in the original recipe; that was one of my additions. And you need to like mashed potatoes.

Many of you know how much I like soups, and that I keep a regular stock of soups in my frozen soup library.

Here it is in the pot, stewing away. Note the thickness to it – I had just added the cabbage. Over the years I’ve adapted it with my own additions (garlic, cumin, shrooms, some heat, etc.) but the basics are the same. A ground beef (or turkey or chicken) and vegetable soup (cabbage, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and kidney beans) with a mound of buttermilk-enhanced mashed potatoes on top. As you eat it, the mashed potatoes just begin to kind of melt into the soup. This recipe is very forgiving. You don’t like cabbage? Fine, leave it out. Same with mushrooms. Add corn. Or substitute something else or just leave out the things you don’t care for. But, when you prepare it, it needs to have a thick consistency – not a lot of liquid, in other words, but mostly veggies. Here, below, it’s in the bowl, ready for the mound of mashed potatoes. The soup mixture is not thickened (like a creamed soup where you’ve added flour), but it’s “thick” with vegetables.

I make this in a very large quantity when I do it because it’s a real winner for freezing. I make the mashed potatoes too, and pile them into smaller Ziploc freezer bags (doing the same procedure, flattening them out so they freeze and defrost easily), then the soup goes into a larger bag. When I want a quick dinner I just take out one soup and one potato bag to defrost.

Now mashed potatoes become a weird duck when you freeze them. They lose all their form and become mostly a liquid. So just a warning here – don’t be alarmed and think the potatoes are ruined. Once you heat them up, the starch firms them right back up again. Amazing, but true. Sometimes I even put the potato bag (smaller) into the larger Ziploc bag, then pour the soup around it. Then it’s all contained in one package. But then you can’t get so much soup into the larger bag, so I usually separate them.

About 7-8 months ago, before I had my own blog, I was reading Tummy Treasure, Erika’s blog. She was trying to make some thrifty meals, so I emailed her this recipe. She liked it so well she wrote up a blog post about it. I was so thrilled! Wow, my recipe in lights! If you’d like to read it, click

If soup season has arrived at your house, I highly recommend this one. A lot. Our son-in-law, Todd, is visiting us at the moment, and he ate two full bowls last night and would have licked the bottom if he could. My suggestion: you need to order up a bowl right away.
printer-friendly PDF

Cabbage Patch Stew

Recipe: Originally from a Betty Crocker cookbook.
Servings: 8

SOUP:
1 pound ground beef (or chicken, turkey or soy protein chunks)
2 medium onions — sliced thin
1 1/2 c cabbage — shredded or sliced thinly
1 1/2 c celery — diced
2 cloves garlic — minced
2 c kidney beans — canned, undrained
2 c tomatoes — canned, undrained
2 c fresh mushrooms — sliced
2 tsp chili powder — or more to taste
1 tsp ground cumin – – or more to taste (I usually add about 1 T.)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c chicken broth – – or water (or vegetable broth)
1 tsp beef broth concentrate — diluted in water (or vegetable concentrate)
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 c water
POTATOES:
10 med potatoes
1/2 c buttermilk (or soy milk)
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter

1. Brown ground beef over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, cabbage and celery and cook until vegetables have lost their raw color. Add beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and seasonings (and some water if it appears to be too thick) and continue to simmer for 15-25 minutes. The original recipe called for the addition of 2 cups of water, but I’d recommend about 1 cup, maybe 1-1/2 cups.
2. Meanwhile, boil potatoes until fork tender and mash them using the butter, buttermilk and salt & pepper to taste
3. Serve about 1 to 1-1/2 cups stew per person in large bowls, then add scoops of hot potatoes on top.
Per Serving: 505 Calories; 18g Fat (30.9% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 63g Carbohydrate; 16g Dietary Fiber; 53mg Cholesterol; 155mg Sodium.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Get Recipes by Email, Free!

  1. ann

    said on October 2nd, 2007:

    Oh that sounds delicious! Faintly Polish or Hungarian or something, but perfectly Betty Crocker. Thanks for sharing. It does sound perfect for that first truly cold fall day. I’ll keep it in mind!

  2. Erika W.

    said on October 2nd, 2007:

    Mmm. It IS delicious. This reminds me that I should pick up some cabbage and make it soon. My favorite part is the beans- I’m on a bean fetish right now, and anything that includes beans is a winner in my book.

    Carolyn, I’d love to add a link to your blog in my blogroll, but I thought I should ask if that would be okay with you. You have some great stories to tell- I would love to share them with my loyal readers.

  3. FOODS & BEVERAGES

    said on October 4th, 2007:

    Mmmmmm,oh my god just reading this blog entry made me hungry!N now i’m going to the store to get some cabbage and try it.Thanks buddy for sharing.

  4. Pixie

    said on January 20th, 2008:

    What a wonderful soup, I’ll definately try this recipe as well within the next few weeks!

  5. Carolyn T

    said on January 20th, 2008:

    Pixie – I do love this soup. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and what’s so funny is that there’s nothing all that special in it. Ordinary ingredients, but put them together and they make magic.

  6. Mary S

    said on November 4th, 2013:

    I would never have thought to put a scoop or two of mashed potatoes in the middle of a bowl of stew, but now that you mention it…. What a wonderful idea!! I can’t wait to make this stew. I think when I do make this, I will add a couple cups of corn to the mix. I feel about corn, the way your husband does. Yum!

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe, especially now that the weather has turned towards the cold and wintery.

    The soup/stew is a wonderful comforting bowl of goodness. I’m sure you’ll like it. And I like the idea about adding corn – I know my DH would love it too – I’ll have to remember that. The dish is also very, very simple! . . . carolyn t

Leave Your Comment