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Recently finished reading The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke. All I can say is “wow.” In a general sense, this book is based on the premise of The Pilot’s Wife. But this one has some totally different twists and turns. A young wife is met at the door by police, informing her that her husband has died in an auto accident. Then she finds out he died in Hawaii – not Kansas, where she thought he was, on business. Then she finds out there was a woman in the car. Then she meets the fiance of the woman passenger and the two of them embark on a fact-finding mission in Hawaii to discover the truth. Well, I’m just sayin’ . . . the plot thickens. And thickens. And thickens clear up to the last few pages. Hang onto your seat. A really, really good, suspenseful read.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes. What a WONDERFUL book. It opens up a shameful part of America’s past, but one you might not have heard about before this. In the late 1800s thousands of Chinese workers were brought to the West Coast to help with a variety of construction projects and a myriad of other things where laborers were needed. Many settled, married and made a new life for themselves. But suddenly the white population didn’t want them here anymore and they summarily ordered them ALL out of our country. This book chronicles a young Chinese girl, who was on a ship that was supposed to take her family to China, but the ship’s captain decided en route to dump them all overboard, to drown. The girl’s father knew it was going to happen and in order to save her, he threw his daughter off the ship as they were passing Orcas Island (in the San Juan Islands west of Seattle). She was saved. The book switches from that time to current time as a woman is rebuilding her family’s home on Orcas and finds a beautifully embroidered silk Chinese robe sleeve hidden under a stair step. The book is about that sordid past and the young girl’s descendents, and about the woman who is rebuilding. Stunner of a novel. Good for a book club read, I think. It has a reader’s guide at the back with good questions for book groups.

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively. I find it hard to describe this book – it’s wonderful. I loved it. But describing it is perplexing. The title relates to one of the characters, a woman of a certain age, who is mugged, and has to go live with her daughter and son in law for awhile since she’s stuck with crutches and has mobility problems. That starts the cavalcade of events that spread around her, with the characters. And she knows nothing whatsoever about them, hardly. They’re all somewhat inter-related (not much family, but mostly by circumstance) and they all get into some rather logical and some peculiar relationships. You engage  with each and every one of them; at least I sure did; and was trying to tell some of them to back away from what they were about to do. Or “be careful;” or “don’t go there.” That kind of thing. There is nothing insidious, no mystery involved – it’s all about these people and what happens to them. I was sad when the book was finished. The author, Lively, does add a chapter at the end – I wonder if it wasn’t part of the master plan – that kind of tidies up everything, and you get to see all of the characters move on with their lives, happy or not, but mostly happy. Really enjoyed the book. Am not sure it would be a good book club read, as the only thing to discuss are the characters themselves. Lively paints these characters well; you can just picture them as they get themselves in and out of relationship mischief.

The Last Midwife: A Novel by Sandra Dallas. It’s a very, very good read. It tells the story of an older married woman who lives in a small mining town in the Colorado rockies (this is the mid-1800’s), and is well known by all because she’s the only midwife in the area. Often people can’t pay her anything, or very little for her days of service with little or no rest or food. Suddenly, a couple accuse her of strangling their infant. Hence the story is about how this small town rallies or rails for or against Gracy. She didn’t commit the crime, but not everyone can be convinced since the angry father is a wealthy and influential man in the area. There’s plenty of relationship issues here, which make really great fodder for a novel. And there are plenty of characters in the book that you’ll love or hate. Some secrets get dredged up too. Oh, such a good read.

 

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 Miscellaneous, Miscellaneous sides, on May 4th, 2008.

mango and strawberry salsa

Wow, is that not a gorgeous photo? If I do say so myself. Must be the colors, the mango, and the strawberry against the black bowl!

Sometimes recipes bear repeating. And sometimes when you change a part of a recipe it makes it different enough that you, my readers, need to know about it. Originally this recipe was for pineapple salsa, but one time years ago I didn’t have pineapple, and I did have mango, so made it that way instead. It was the same recipe, just different fruit.

The Pineapple Salsa was posted last year. However, I didn’t have a photo because that was just after I’d fractured my foot. Now we’ve got a photo, at least of this version! The other night I had some super thick pork chops from Niman Ranch (ordered online, and on sale some months ago). I brined them for a couple of hours, DH grilled them with our tried and true method (mark them over direct fire, then off to the side, reduced heat, until they reached 150 in the center) and served this salsa on the side. I didn’t have red bell pepper, so substituted strawberries. Delish.

If you click on this link for the Pineapple Salsa, just substitute mango and strawberry for the pineapple and red bell pepper.
Printer-friendly PDF recipe for Pineapple or Mango Salsa.

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  1. Jancd

    said on May 4th, 2008:

    Your salsa looks delicious. I made this salsa the other night for a get together and everyone loved it.

    Fruit Salsa from http://www.blogalabradshaw.blogspot.com/

    1 carton of fresh strawberries
    2 Granny Smith apples
    2 kiwi
    2 tablespoons of apple jelly
    2 tablespoons of brown sugar

    Puree cleaned and trimmed strawberries, apples (leave the skin on for the pretty green color), and kiwi in a food processor (or, if you don’t have one, chop the fruit into tiny pieces). Combine the fruit and add the jelly and sugar. If time allows, refrigerate the salsa for a while and the consistency will thicken up nicely.

    Serve with cinnamon-raisin bagel or pita chips.

  2. Carolyn

    said on May 4th, 2008:

    Yum, that sounds good. It’s only missing some heat (chiles) to spice it up a bit. I don’t think I’d puree the fruit, though, I’d rather have it in small chunks. Thanks for the suggestion of the fruits, though.

  3. Jancd

    said on May 4th, 2008:

    I left my salsa pretty chunky, too. Just pulsed it a few times. The fruits were still distinguishable (is that a word?).

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