Subscribe

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

Archives

Currently Reading


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

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.

Scroll down to the bottom to view my Blogroll

Posted in Miscellaneous, on July 20th, 2007.

mango salsa

My love affair with salsa goes way back to my childhood. Growing up in San Diego, my parents and I frequented on a weekly basis, without fail, a Mexican restaurant in Old Town dating to the early 1950’s. It was called the Aztec Dining Room. When the matriarch of the family died in about 1985, the family closed the restaurant down. Although I didn’t live there anymore, I was very sad to hear it. Their family recipes were kept very close to the chest, as the saying goes, but were better than most. My Dad used to order their chile verde con queso, #6 on the menu, which is not what is currently served by that name in countless Mexican restaurants (it’s pork and green chiles). This was a tomato and green chile-based sauce with a large layer of cheese melted on the plate. My Dad would place a flour tortilla in the middle of this steaming dish and scoop the tomato cheese sauce up and over the tortilla, adding a layer of their good home made refried beans, another tortilla, more beans, then the rest of the sauce scooped around and over the top. My Dad rarely ordered anything other than that item. It was muy delicioso as he’d often tell the waitresses every time he ordered it, or the owner, Mrs. Sandoval.

The restaurant made their own salsa, though it was not the salsa fresca served most places now. I suppose it was made with canned tomato sauce. Good nevertheless. I remember dipping hundreds of crisp tortilla chips into their sauce over the years.

Then about 20 years ago I visited Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since I’d read up on what to do in Santa Fe, I knew a meal at the Coyote Cafe was high on my list. And it was there, watching Mark Miller (now fairly famous in restaurant circles with multiple restaurants to his name – that night he was making cocktails in the bar), that I came to know about fruit salsa. This Pineapple Salsa recipe comes from his book, The Coyote Cafe Cookbook. Salsas are a regular part of my summer repertoire now. I make both a pineapple one, and a mango one, but use the same recipe. I love it served on grilled fish, grilled chicken and even steak. It’s quite versatile, really. The lime juice makes a difference, so don’t be tempted to use lemon juice. And I always add more cilantro, because I like it.
printer-friendly PDF

Pineapple Salsa or Mango Salsa

Recipe: Adapted from the Coyote Cafe Cookbook by Mark Miller
Servings: 8
COOK’S NOTES: I have yet to find any grilled meat, poultry or fish that doesn’t go well with this. I always make a larger quantity because it’s so good on other things. I buy a whole pineapple and just mix and taste as needed. The lime juice makes a difference – lemon juice just doesn’t taste right. And, I always use more cilantro.

1 cup fresh pineapple or mango — (see notes)
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar — or substitute
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar — seasoned
2 whole serrano peppers — minced (or less to suit your taste)
1/4 cup red bell pepper — minced
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp cilantro — minced

Use a very ripe pineapple. Peel, core and finely dice the pineapple or prepare in food processor. In a bowl combine all of the ingredients. Taste and add more lime juice and chiles as needed. Stir and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Will keep for about a week.
Per Serving: 17 Calories; trace Fat (5.2% calories from fat); trace Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1mg Sodium.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Get Recipes by Email, Free!

Leave Your Comment