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On my recent trip, I managed to get in a lot of reading on my Kindle. On airplanes, waiting for airplanes, waiting for the bus to load, waiting in lobbies for everybody to show up to leave, and at night when I couldn’t sleep. A fun book was Mr. Mac and Me, by Esther Freud. It takes place in England in 1914. In a time and place where a 13-year old boy has a lot of freedom. Although the war is looming, this little village is relatively quiet and safe, as life used to be. Boys will be boys, and he enjoys sort-of spying on people, especially people he doesn’t know well. He imagines that a man who arrives in town to rent a house with his paints and easels, might be a spy. Thus begins a story that starts from that premise, but eventually takes you into a very special friendship that develops between the man, Mr. Mac, his wife, and this boy. The story is absolutely charming. War brings some brutal truths for everyone in the village, yet this friendship flourishes. Great book.

Occasionally I’ll latch onto a book about food or restaurants. This one, The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O’Neal, is a romance (not a sticky sweet one) about a youngish woman (and her dog) who take a big leap to Colorado when she’s offered a job as a chef. The restaurant is fraught with some issues, but the author weaves in a romance, her skills as a leader in the kitchen, throws in some recipes (that I have yet to extract from my Kindle pages, that I want to try) along with it, and you have a book that held my interest all the way through. Formulaic, I suppose, but it’s a cute story. Books about restaurants always divulge some new tangle of how a kitchen runs. I enjoyed the read.

If you haven’t already read it, you are missing a really good and insightful book, Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan by Bill O’Reilly. I was riveted from page one, all the way through to the end. O’Reilly has a very engaging way of re-telling history and making it ever-so readable and interesting. He weaves people’s stories, ones  you likely haven’t read or heard, into his narrative, to give you such a sense of place. You can just feel how these soldiers, pilots, prisoners and seamen made their mark, but likely all unsung heroes. It’s a must-read, it really is.

Having read some of Kent Haruf’s other books, I read Our Souls at Night. A lonely widow decides to invite a neighbor man, also a lonely widower, if he’d like to come to her home, at night, to spend the night. I simply can’t tell you anything else because it would give away the story. This isn’t a story about s-x, but about two lonely people who come together for friendship and companionship. It’s very sweet, not twee, but sweet. You really feel for both of these older people. Read 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 Desserts, easy, on July 16th, 2011.

rhubarb_crisp

Oh, do I love rhubarb. As I was growing up, my mother used to have a rhubarb patch in our back yard. She’d never let me go cut any of it, though, since the leaves are poisonous. My mom and dad liked stewed rhubarb. Period. Although once in awhile my mother would make a rhubarb pie, perhaps for guests. I rarely make anything with rhubarb because my DH knows that rhubarb requires a lot of sugar to make it palatable. Therefore, he avoids it most of the time and I never make it because of that.

Picnik collageBut when were visiting our friends Sue and Lynn, and I asked to help with dinner, she handed me the printout for this one afternoon and I made it according to her recipe. Dave said yes, he’d have some. He loved it. I loved it. Sue and Lynn loved it, of course.

This recipe is quite simple – it comes from cooks.com. One of dozens of such recipes, but this one’s a winner, I think.

You mix up a crumble of oatmeal, flour, sugar, and some melted butter, etc. and half of it goes in the bottom of a glass baking dish. Then the fresh chunked rhubarb goes in on top of it. That’s what you can see in the top photo at left with the cornstarch-based clear sauce that’s poured over the top. The remaining crumbs are sprinkled on top.

Into the oven it goes for about an hour. Or longer if the top doesn’t quite brown sufficiently. You do want it to be a golden brown when it comes out of the oven. The baked version is in the lower photo.

During the baking the sauce and the rhubarb marry and create a lovely loose fruit mixture and the crumbs on top add a delicious crunch.

Serve it with vanilla ice cream or pour over some half and half. Whichever suits you! Thanks, Sue, for a great recipe.

What I liked about it: the flavor, the texture of the topping. Not too sweet. Not too sour. Just right, as the saying goes. Also easy!

What I didn’t like: absolutely nothing.

printer-friendly PDF

Rhubarb Crisp

Recipe By: From my friend, Susan L. (from cooks.com)
Serving Size: 7

1 cup flour
3/4 cup oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter — melted (1 cube)
1 cup water
4 cups rhubarb — in 1/2″ chunks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. In a bowl mix flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Place half of the mixture in the bottom of a 9×9 glass baking dish
2. Add raw rhubarb on top.
3. Combine in a pan the water, vanilla, sugar and cornstarch. Cook over low heat until the mixture thickens. Pour over rhubarb and top with remaining crumb mixture.
4. Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes (or longer) until crust is brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream or half and half poured over it.
5. You may substitute 2 cups of strawberries for 2 cups of rhubarb – if so, use 1 more T. of cornstarch.
Per Serving: 429 Calories; 14g Fat (28.8% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 74g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 35mg Cholesterol; 147mg Sodium.

A year ago: Caribbean Rice
Two years ago: Corn – everything you ever wanted to know about it
Three years ago: Peaches and Nectarines – everything you ever wanted to know about them
Four years ago: The BEST Bean Salad (a Paul Prudhomme recipe, very low calorie and VERY good)

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