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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 Desserts, on May 14th, 2009.


When the bundt cake works, it works like a charm. I was extremely careful to butter every single ridge and groove of the pan, to help it along and make sure when I inverted it, it wouldn’t leave some cake behind. Then I poked holes all over the top and sides of this and drizzled the limoncello syrup over it, letting it sink in. Then I lemon-bundt-cakemade the mousse. The mousse was easy. Talk about delicious. Talk about a combination from heaven.

This recipe is going onto my favorites list, so if you have learned to trust in my “favs,” then you’ve gotta make this cake. In case you haven’t looked, I have a separate page (glance at the tabs across the top, under the home page photo) here on my blog that has a list of my favorite recipes, with links to the posts for each. Out of the 500+ recipes I’ve posted here at Tasting Spoons, they are my favorites.

This recipe came from Food & Wine. But, it was created by Lynn Moulton, Pastry Chef at Blu Restaurant in Boston. The cake contains lemon zest, and it’s drizzled with the limoncello syrup. The mousse is just a mixture of Greek yogurt (the strained type, so it’s thicker – use full fat for this) and whipped cream, with some freshly squeezed lime juice and sugar added. It’s stunning all on its own – could be used for a great parfait with a cookie. It’s thickened up with a package of plain gelatin, which helps it keep firm for a day or two. I think this cake will serve more like about 16 people, by the way, so keep that in mind.

lemon-cake-limoncelloOur son, who does enjoy sweets, said, “I think this is the best cake I’ve ever eaten.” Them’s are the kind of words every mom/cook/chef wants to hear. I urge you, without delay, to get yourself some limoncello, some lemons and limes, some Greek yogurt, whipping cream, and bake this CAKE! You simply MUST make the yogurt lime mousse too – it puts this cake into the superlative category. The cake is light (it’s a sponge cake) and very lemony, but with the limoncello glaze and the mousse, it’s just perfect!

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Lemon Cake with Limoncello Syrup and Lime-Yogurt Mousse

Recipe: Food & Wine, September 2007
Servings: 10 (more like 16, I think)

6 whole eggs — separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract Zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons lime juice
6 tablespoons sugar
1 cup Greek yogurt, full-fat
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Limoncello — (lemon liqueur)
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup sliced strawberries

1. CAKE: Preheat oven to 375.
2. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup of the sugar
3. Beat the egg yolks with the water, olive oil, vanilla and lemon zest plus remaining 1 cup of sugar. Add the dry ingredients.
4. Fold in the egg whites. Spoon into a well-buttered Bundt cake pan. Gently rap the bundt pan (twice) on the counter (to remove large bubbles). Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove to a rack and cool for 15 minutes, then invert onto the rack to cool completely.
5. SYRUP: Meanwhile, for the syrup simmer the water and sugar in a saucepan for 6 minutes. Let cool and stir in the Limoncello. Using a toothpick, prick the cake in lots of places, then brush the syrup over the cake, allowing it to sink into the holes.
6. MOUSSE: Sprinkle the dry gelatin over the water and let stand for 5 minutes. In a saucepan combine the lime juice and 6 T. sugar. Simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the softened gelatin. Whisk into the yogurt.
7. CREAM: Beat the cream with the 2 T. sugar until firm. Fold into the yogurt mousse and refrigerate until chilled and set.
8. Cut slices of cake, spoon a large scoop of the mousse on the side or partly on the cake, then garnish with sliced strawberries.
Per Serving: 545 Calories; 25g Fat (41.0% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 72g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 169mg Cholesterol; 318mg Sodium.

A year ago: Barbecued Short Ribs (pressure cooker)
Two years ago: Algerian Carrots (a real favorite)

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