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Just finished a quirky book, Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel by Rachel Khong. She’s a new writer (newly published, I guess I should say) and this story is about Ruth, a 30+ something, trying to readjust to life without her fiance, who’s dumped her. She goes back home to help with the care of her father, who has Alzheimer’s. Written in a diary style, it jumps all over about her life, her mother, the funny, poignant things her father says on good days, and the nutty stuff he does on not-so-good days, her ex-, and her very quirky friends, too. Then a woman flits through who had had an affair with her father –  you get to observe all the angst from the mom about that. Mostly it’s about her father, as he’s relatively “together” early in the book, but then he disintegrates. Reading that part isn’t fun, although the author is able to lean some humor into it. I’m not sure I recommend the book exactly – I read it through – and felt sad. It doesn’t tie up loose ends – if you want that kind of book – you may not want to read this one.

Also finished Julian Fellowes’s Belgravia. You know Julian Fellowes, the producer and writer of Downton Abbey? He lends his mind to a story about a family or two from the similar time period as Downton, who live in London. There’s some amount of intrigue, romance, observations from within the halls of wealthy Londoners and moderately well off tradesmen and their families. There’s affairs, shady business dealings, an illegitimate child, the comings and goings of the “downstairs” staff too, etc. The characters were well done – I had no trouble keeping all of the people identified. The story is somewhat predictable, but it was interesting clear up to the end.

The Letter by Kathyrn Hughes. It’s a very intricate tale. At first it’s about Tina, a battered wife [at which point I paused and wondered if I wanted to read any further, but I’m glad I did]. She tries to get the courage to leave her husband. Then enters the letter she finds in a suit pocket in the thrift shop where she volunteers. It’s old – sealed and stamped, but never mailed. Then you learn about Crissie, decades earlier, a young pregnant girl who is sent off to Ireland to a distant relative by her father, then to a rigid (meaning horrible) convent [the book takes place mostly in Manchester, England and in rural Ireland]. The letter is addressed to her. Jump forward decades and William, the adopted child Crissie gave up, tries to find his birth mother. William meets Tina in Ireland [a serendipitous moment] as she’s trying to find the woman to whom the letter is addressed. This book is the #2 best seller on Amazon at the moment. It’s a riveting tale and I really enjoyed it.

The Muralist: A Novel by Shapiro. It tells the story of a young woman, an artist, who was part of the U.S.’s WPA mural project from the 1930s-40s (she is fiction, the WPA is not). As with so many artists, even today, they live in abject poverty through much of their lives. This woman, though, had family in France, desperately trying to escape before Hitler’s henchmen rousted them into concentration camps. The story, a bit of a mystery but not of the mystery-genre, is about Alizée Benoit, this young painter, who slightly captivates Eleanor Roosevelt’s help. It also skips into current time when the painter’s great-niece uncovers paintings she believes were painted by her aunt. The painter had disappeared into thin air in 1940, and her relative tries desperately to find out what happened to her. It’s a really good story including such Abstract Expressionist painters as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner well-woven into the narrative. It keeps you guessing right up to the end. A good read. The author also wrote The Art Forger: A Novel a few years ago.

Also recently read 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 free-lance 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 family was 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 an old (wild) 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. Just read this one first!

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, Miscellaneous, on April 1st, 2012.

lemon_curd_ATK

Have you made lemon curd before? I’ve made it oodles of times, but not since last March. I wrote it up here on my blog then. I read a description of lemon curd in the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook – they called some versions teeth-achingly sweet. Gosh, yes. That’s what mine was in 2011. The folks at ATK decided to fix it, and yes, they did. This is my new go-to lemon curd recipe. I didn’t enhance the photo at all – it’s all the egg yolks that give it that deep golden color.

I’d offered to take lemon curd to a friend’s home for a St. Patrick’s Day book group meeting. Each year the hostess and her wonderful husband make an Irish repast for our group. And mid-way through our book meeting they also serve multiple desserts. They make raisin scones too, and it’s for the scones that I usually offer to make lemon curd.

Remembering that last year’s version was too sweet, I pulled out cookbook after cookbook and compared the recipes. Some had nearly double the amount of sugar per lemon juice quantity of others. Whoa! No wonder I was overwhelmed with the sweetness! I should have just gone to my well-used The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. Every recipe turns out superbly from that cookbook. With copious lemons on our Meyer trees, it came together in a hurry. I really liked the addition of a few tablespoons of heavy cream at the end. It just smooths it out, somehow. I chose not to strain it (to remove the bits of lemon zest and any eggy things). I chilled it in a bowl over ice and gave it to the hostess. But not without a couple of teaspoons to taste, of course! It’ll be my forever favorite, I suspect.

What I liked: it’s easy. Delicious. Just the right amount of sugar to lemon ratio. It will keep for several weeks too, if it were to last that long. I gave all of it to my friend, so there isn’t any left over here at my house! Guess I’ll just have to make it again. I scaled down the recipe to use 4 egg yolks and 1 whole egg, FYI.

What I didn’t like: nothing at all. Perfection.

printer-friendly PDF
MasterCook 5+ import file – right click to save file, run MC, then File|Import

Lemon Curd (America’s Test Kitchen)

Recipe: America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Serving Size: 12 (maybe a lot more)
NOTES: This really takes no time to make and it’s SO much better than the store-bought type. I also like this recipe because it’s not teeth-achingly sweet. It’s “just right.”

7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar — + 2 tablespoons
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter — cut in 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Whisk the egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar together until just combined. Whisk in the lemon juice, zest and salt.
2. Transfer the mixture to a medium nonreactive saucepan, add butter, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency, about 5 minutes.
3. Strain the curd immediately through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean nonreactive bowl and stir in the cream. Cool and chill completely.
Per Serving (probably high as I think this will serve more than 12 scones!): 163 Calories; 9g Fat (48.8% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 175mg Cholesterol; 37mg Sodium.

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  1. Janet

    said on April 4th, 2012:

    I’ve been making a similar lemon curd for the last few years. I’ve never put cream in it though. My recipe calls for 4 whole eggs and 4 extra egg yolks. Otherwise it is the same. Yummy stuff.

    Well, I’d never put cream in it either, but it did kind of mellow it just a little bit and loosened the thickness of the curd. I liked it . . . carolyn t

  2. rima

    said on April 5th, 2015:

    Excellent recipe, great website. Wonderful job. I made it twice, once I folded in to the cool curd two stiffly beaten whites and 1/12 cups lightly sweetened whipped cream. Yum

    Yes, indeed, it’s great stuff! . . . carolyn t

  3. cindy reams

    said on January 14th, 2016:

    dreamy!!

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