Subscribe

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

Archives

Currently Reading


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

Just finished reading 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 Novelby 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 (she arrived after the birth, actually). 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 father is a wealthy man in the area who carries a lot of clout. 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.

On my recent road trip, I visited one of my local libraries and borrowed 5 books on tape. We listened to 3 of them. I’m a big fan of Craig Johnson, the author of a series of mysteries taking place in Wyoming, and a TV series on Netflix called Longmire. This book, A Serpent’s Tooth: A Longmire Mystery was really complex. Hard to explain, but it’s about graft and greed and oil. Worth reading, for sure. Also read Stone Kiss by Faye Kellerman, another complex mystery about Lt Decker, an LA cop who journeys to NYC to help out his family when a murder occurs. Lots of violence in this one.  Not particularly a fav book, I’d venture. Then read Leaving Time: A Novel by Jodi Picoult. I’ve read most of her books – always very riveting. In this book, you’ll learn a whole lot about elephants since the protagonist in it is a young girl whose mother disappeared when she was quite young. Her parents ran an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire. In the ensuing years, Jenna has tried to find clues as to her mother’s whereabouts because she just cannot believe her mother would have up and abandoned her. There are a whole cast of characters (her mother, her father, employees at the sanctuary, a cop or two, and a psychic). All play fairly prominent roles. Fascinating book – I really liked it, almost as much for the education about the behavior of elephants as about the mystery. A great read.

Also on the trip, I read a book (on Kindle) for one of my book clubs, The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin. It’s about the relationship between Truman Capote and his “swans,” a group of middle-aged high society ladies, and specifically Beth Paley. I don’t know whether to recommend this book or not. Truman Capote was not a nice man, although the whole novel (vs. non-fiction, which this is not) is conjured from speculation about the years Truman was kind of adopted by the group of women. He cared about all of them (most were married/divorced, and wealthy) but in the end he betrays them all by writing a novella about their secrets, their marriages, their affairs (theirs or their spouses, information they’d all shared with him, thinking he could be trusted with their innermost secrets). It was scandalous, and yes, all that part is true. I finished the book, but almost felt like I’d read a “dirty book.” There is no graphic detail in this book – it’s just what Capote did to destroy these women, supposedly his dear, darling “swans.” He was the villain in the book, and in his old age . . . well, I won’t spoil the story if you’re interested in reading it.

 

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 Pork, on April 17th, 2010.

Oh my, was this ever sensational. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you’ll understand when I say this recipe is going onto my Carolyn’s Favs list. I’ve posted about 550+ recipes here on this blog – to date – and I have a list of about – oh, 40-50 of them that rank as 5-star, or blue ribbon worthy, or whatever superlative you’d like to use. This one, and it’s a simple one at that, is going onto the list.

This was the entree I served to friends who came to dinner a couple of nights before we left on this last 2-week trip. It starts with a pork tenderloin. Our Costco carries tenderloins and I usually bring them home, open up the package and seal them individually and freeze them. There were 5 of us for dinner that night, and two tenderloins were just enough.

Here’s another photo – I sliced the meat, a little bit on the diagonal, then pounded the pieces a little. Pork tenderloin is a very lean and soft piece of meat to begin with, so it took only a couple of flat pounds for each piece. Don’t make it super-thin, just thinner. Each tenderloin was cut into 6 slices (above) and pounded.

The sauce was SO simple. Since the pork did have to be cooked just before guests were served, I got everything all ready ahead of time – for the sauce – so once I cooked the meat I could make the sauce in a jiffy. Then it’s garnished with the sliced green onion. Everybody raved about this dish, me included. It had been in my to-try file since 2007 (Bon Appetit). I’m so glad I did. The only caution is about the red chili sauce – if you’re at all sensitive about spice-heat, reduce the amount. When I made it, I adjusted down the amount (to the tablespoon listed below) so it’s really spicy if you were to use the full amount. Taste as you go – that would be best!
printer-friendly PDF

Pork Medallions with Chili-Maple Sauce

Recipe By: Bon Appétit | April 2007
Serving Size: 3

NOTES: Be sure to reduce down the chicken broth until it’s started to thicken. Otherwise it’s too watery. And be careful about the amount of chili-sauce you use – it’s hot. Add it sparingly until it suits your taste.

12 ounces pork tenderloin
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup — (the real stuff)
1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce
1 whole green onion — chopped

1. Cut tenderloin crosswise into 6 slices. Using meat mallet, pound medallions between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to 1/2-inch thickness (this doesn’t take all that many swings with the flat mallet). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and five-spice powder.
2. Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Add pork; cook until brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to platter. Add next 3 ingredients to skillet. Boil until reduced to scant 1/4 cup, about 2 minutes. Pour sauce over pork; sprinkle with green onion.
Per Serving: 212 Calories; 9g Fat (37.4% calories from fat); 27g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 74mg Cholesterol; 193mg Sodium.

A year ago: Blueberry Lemon Drop
Two years ago: Sopa de Calabacitas (a Southwestern style vegetable soup)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Get Recipes by Email, Free!

  1. Karen

    said on September 23rd, 2012:

    Just found your blog and want to tell you that I have spent many hours going through your archives savoring each and every recipe and story that goes with them!! I have chosen many recipes to try, and value the extra advice with each (as above recipe with the heat of the chili garlic sauce!) I also am drawn to the picture above…yum! and absolutely love the plate your served it on…any idea where you purchased it?

    Hi Karen – welcome to my website! As for the plate – I THINK I got it at TJ Maxx, but I’m not positive about that. Might have been at Williams-Sonoma, but it was several years ago. Oddly enough, the center of the plate has begun to craze, which means it wasn’t fired properly. So that probably means it was a TJ Maxx purchase. Although I also have another platter I purchased at WS, and it’s begun to craze too. I paid full tilt for that platter, and it was expensive. The platter might have been from Home Goods too. Am just not sure!
    . . . carolyn t

Leave Your Comment