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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.

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Posted in Fish, on April 29th, 2009.


Did you know it’s halibut season? At our local Costco, they have fresh Alaskan halibut that is unbelievably fresh and tasty. Most of what they have is in large portions – I should have invited some guests to come over as we have leftovers to serve probably another 4 people. The fish I bought was $20. What a bargain.

Now, if I can just get you to make this recipe. I think it’s going to have to go into my favorites list, it’s that good. Will you trust me about this? And, the recipe came from Cooking Light, too! Imagine that. Healthy and tasty too. According to the write-up from September of ’07, this recipe was created by Lia Huber and first printed in the magazine in March of ’04. The recipe received the test kitchen’s highest rating, and continues to be a staff favorite. I can see why. This may be my new, forever go-to recipe for halibut.

This  is VERY easy to make. Truly it is. Trust me on this too. The aioli is just mayonnaise, minced fresh cilantro, a bit of fresh minced chile (serrano) and a minced garlic clove. The breading is merely flour and cornflake crumbs (with salt and pepper added in). You dunk the halibut into a mixture of milk and egg white, then into the breading mixture. You pan fry the halibut about 4 minutes per side, put on a dollop of the sauce and it’s done. How easy is that?

My DH made mmm noises all through dinner. A good sign. I served the fish on a bed of mashed potatoes (a real treat) and alongside I served some fresh asparagus, made according to Marie’s recipe from over at A Year from Oak Cottage. It’s called crumbled asparagus, and it’s become one of my favorite ways to make asparagus. So now, will you please go out and buy some halibut and make this?

A few changes have been made from the Cooking Light recipe: (1) I used less serrano because it was way too hot; (2) a full cup of milk is more than needed for dipping; (3) less cornflake crumbs were needed; (4) I also made this with regular mayo since I didn’t have any fat-free, and I made more sauce than the recipe called for. So those changes have been incorporated into the below recipe. The nutrition count below assumes you eat all the dipping and dunking mixture, which you probably won’t.
printer-friendly PDF

Cornflake-Crusted Halibut with
Chile-Cilantro Aioli

Recipe: adapted from Cooking Light, September ’07
Servings: 4
Serving Ideas: The recipe indicated serving this with green beans (definitely need a green vegetable with this, for color) and rice tossed with cilantro and red bell pepper. I served the fish fillets on top of a small mound of mashed potatoes, plus roasted asparagus.

4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
4 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise — or any kind of mayo
1/3 whole serrano pepper — seeded and very finely minced
1 whole garlic clove — minced
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1 large egg white — lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups corn flakes — finely crushed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
24 ounces halibut fillets — (6-ounces each)
Lemon wedges for garnish

1. To prepare aioli, combine first 4 ingredients, stirring well. Set aside (or refrigerate if made ahead).
2. To prepare fish, combine milk and egg white in a shallow dish, stirring well with a whisk. Combine cornflakes, flour, salt, and black pepper in a shallow dish.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Dip fish in milk mixture; dredge in cornflake mixture. Add fish to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with mayonnaise mixture and lemon wedges.
Per Serving (not accurate since it includes all the dipping and breading): 342 Calories; 11g Fat (29.3% calories from fat); 39g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 55mg Cholesterol; 690mg Sodium.

If you really like halibut, and have time to make it, I have one other recipe here on my blog for Halibut Osso Buco.

A year ago: Shrimp, Bacon & Vegetable Chowder

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  1. Marie

    said on May 3rd, 2009:

    Oh gosh, look at the crust on that fish. It looks fabulous!! The sauce looks really good too. I think I would serve it with mashed potatoes as well. I love fish with mashed potatoes.

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