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 Veggies/sides, on September 21st, 2009.

cabbage sweet sour Even though it’s still the peak of summer here in Southern California, my mind is already jumping ahead to Fall. Onto some cooler evenings. Onto what few trees we have here that do change color. But we have weeks and weeks to go before that even beGINS to happen. September is usually the hottest summer month we have here in the Southland. Actually August was cooler than normal and with the exception of a few days of blisteringly-hot and humid weather, September has been mostly in the 80’s. More humid than usual, though.

But in Carolyn’s kitchen, my head was leaning towards some Fall things like gingerbread, sausages and onions, stews. I’ve put out the Fall decorations – a pumpkin wreath on the front door, some ceramic pumpkins that grace our kitchen island. A couple of Halloween candles. There must be more of them in the closet, so I’ll have to look further.

cabbage cooking With cabbage in the refrigerator, I decided to try some of the new pork chops we bought from the meat truck, Personal Gourmet. And a recipe from Gourmet magazine in September of 2006 attracted my eye. I had all the ingredients on hand. Love it when that happens!

This was an EASY dinner. The pork chops were seasoned and browned, then finished their cooking in the oven (briefly). I made the cabbage easily enough – and tomorrow I’ll actually print the complete recipe – the combination of the pork chops and the cabbage. But this cabbage recipe can really stand on its own, so that’s why I’m writing a post about this alone. I’ve extracted it from the combo recipe provided in the magazine. As you can see in the photo above (when it was cooking) I used both red and white cabbage. Pretty, I think! I’d definitely make this again – it’s simple, straightforward, and has a delicious piquant taste with the sweet and sour both going for it. I used Splenda for the sugar, but otherwise I made this almost exactly as written. Just be sure to cook the cabbage JUST until it’s barely done – further and the color fades and it becomes mushy.
printer-friendly PDF

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Recipe: Adapted from Gourmet, Sept. 2006
Servings: 4

2 slices thick-sliced bacon — chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion — chopped
1 small red cabbage — halved lengthwise, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (or white cabbage, or mixture)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar — or Splenda
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook bacon in a 4-5 quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, and transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Measure fat and, if less than 2 tablespoons, add enough vegetable oil to bring total to 2 tablespoons.
2. Heat fat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onion, stirring occasionally, until it begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes.
3. Add cabbage and turn with tongs until coated with fat. Stir in red-wine vinegar, water, sugar, caraway seeds, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and braise cabbage over moderately low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 25 to 35 minutes.
4. Stir the bacon into cabbage (or sprinkle on top) and serve.
Per Serving: 111 Calories; 7g Fat (51.9% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 5mg Cholesterol; 772mg Sodium.

A year ago: Chicken Posole
Two years ago: Green Beans in Garlic & Olive Oil (one of my most favorite recipes – so easy and SO delish – I can eat a mountain of them)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Get Recipes by Email, Free!

Leave Your Comment