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Currently Reading

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Just finished another great book, The Girl With No Name by Diney Costelhoe. What a good book. Perhaps you’ve read before about the huge numbers of German refugee children who were sent to England before Hitler closed down any exits. This is a novel about one particular young girl, who is devastated when her mother puts her on one of the boats. She ends up in London, in an orphanage kind of place, and is eventually placed with a childless couple. She speaks no English. They speak no German, but they manage soon enough. Lisa (who eventually becomes Charlotte) is so homesick. She’s bullied at school, because most people and children don’t want any Germans there. A boy steps up to protect her, and as she grows up, she’s attracted to him. She shouldn’t be – he’s also German and from her own home town. He’s not a good match for her. You live with her through the blitz during all those war years and during one attack, she’s badly injured and loses her memory (and no ID on her). Through a series of mishaps she ends up in a village far from London, with a spinster woman who does eventually come to love her very much – they name her Charlotte and Charlotte she becomes. She goes to school there, still longing, though, for her mother and brother and her London foster family too. Then when she’s 16 she returns to London to help at the orphanage where she was originally placed and tries to find her foster parents. The story goes on from there, with the boy/man who “wants” her, the bad boy, and a good boy/man she befriends in the village in the country. Eventually she regains her memory. SUCH a good read.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee. If you, like me, know little about North Korea and how it came to be what it is today, you’ve got to read this book. It’s a memoir written by a young woman who escaped from North Korea about 9 years ago. Her journey – and I mean JOURNEY – is harrowing, frightening, amazing, heart-rendering all at the same time. She chronicles the lives of the Kims (Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il to current Kim Jong Un), shares the strict propaganda that surrounds every North Korean citizen, the poverty and hunger, as well as the underground black market for food and goods. It took her awhile to get from North Korea, to China and eventually to South Korea, where she currently lives. She’s well educated and speaks English quite well. She was invited to be a speaker at a TED talk – you know about those, right? TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a media organization which posts talks online for free distribution, under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” I listen to them as  podcasts now and then. Always very educational, if sometimes over my head when it gets very technical. She works diligently for human rights now, doing her best to help other North Koreans escape. You owe it to yourself to read this book.

Also just finished reading The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. Another WOW book. I’ve always liked the author – many years ago I read his book, Midwives and really liked it. Don’t confuse this book with the one I recently read, The Last Midwife: A Novel by Sandra Dallas that I reviewed recently. I think we read it in one of my book groups. He’s a brilliant writer, and this one has a lot of characters and twists. It’s a novel, but based on a lot of truth regarding the Armenian genocide. Most of the book takes place in Aleppo, Syria with some good Samaritan folk trying to help rescue people (mostly children) following the forced long marches the Turks made prodding the Turkish Armenians to exit their country. But it also jumps to near present day as a family member is trying to piece together obscure parts of her grandparents’ former lives there. She uncovers some hidden truths (many survivors of the genocide never-ever-ever wanted to talk about it) and a bit more about her Armenian heritage. A riveting book – I could hardly put it down. Lots to discuss for a book club read. I simply must read more of Bohjalian’s books (he’s written many).

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.


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, on July 22nd, 2012.


It’s been years ago that I found this recipe on a MasterCook (that’s the recipe software I use) user’s group recipe exchange. What got me was what she wrote about it – that she makes it up on Sunday, uses it for a family barbecue and always has leftovers to use all week long on everything you can think of – chicken, fish, even tomatoes and other veggies.

I think the gal who uploaded it was Terry Pogue – at least that’s the name I have on my original sheet for this. Whether it’s her original recipe, I don’t know. I also found it online at and her name is associated with the recipe there as well. I just want to give credit where it is due. I’d want other people to do the same for me. The point is – I have no idea whatsoever what the title means or where it came from.

green_sauce_sausageIt’s not news that I love cilantro. And avocados, so putting the two together can just be a perfect duo for me. What makes this different is the addition of vinegar and water (plus the green onions, serrano chiles and a little bit of olive oil). We were grilling ribs (it wasn’t meant to go with the ribs since they had lots of barbecue sauce on them already) and some Italian sausages, so I made up a batch of the sauce – it makes a LOT – and served it that way. Not everyone at our dinner took any of it to go with the sausages, but those who did said they liked it a lot. I liked it a lot. Next time I think I’d make a 1/3 recipe (using one avocado) which would be fine for a dinner for 4-5, I think. It had to have made nearly 3+ cups of sauce. I gave half of it to our daughter-in-law, Karen, and I still have a big bowl of it! You don’t use a lot of it. It doesn’t stick much to the meat – you kind of dip it into it and try to get some onto the fork. It’s not a smooth sauce at all – it’s chunky and liquid, actually. Which is why I added less vinegar and water to it than indicated. Perhaps it depends on how much cilantro is in a “bunch,” too. Seems to me that cilantro bunches have less cilantro in them than they used to – do you agree? Maybe making the cilantro mixture in the blender would also emulsify it better as well. I just stirred it in at the end. The avocados are diced up and added after you’ve mixed everything else.

What I liked: the piquant taste (piquant=tart, from the vinegar), but it goes exceedingly well with a piece of protein. There’s almost no fat in it – I added about 2 T. to the entire recipe, so really hardly any at all. With all that acid, the avocados stayed perfectly green for many days.

What I didn’t like: it was just a tad too soupy to me, so that’s why I’ve reduced the vinegar and water in the recipe below – add more if you think it needs it. You don’t want it floating all over your plate!

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

Little Girlie’s Green Sauce

Recipe By: Adapted from a recipe at
Serving Size: 15
NOTES: Make a batch and serve it on everything for the rest of the week – grilled chicken, fish, tacos, steak, roast chicken. Try it on sliced tomatoes too. You can make this in a food processor also, but the blender works better for finely mincing the chile peppers.

3 bunches cilantro — chopped (if small, use another bunch)
2 bunches green onions — white part and some green
3 whole serrano peppers — cored, chopped
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup white vinegar
A drizzle of olive oil
3 whole avocados — (3 to 4) cut in tiny dice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Roughly chop cilantro, and green onions and place in bowl.
2. Add chilies, vinegar and some water in a blender and blend until minced. Add remaining water, then add this to bowl. Add finely diced avocados. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Per Serving: 68 Calories; 6g Fat (73.5% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 6mg Sodium.

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  1. Kalyn

    said on July 22nd, 2012:

    Must try this!!

    It’s really good, Kalyn! I still have some in my frig as I write this – it’s 2 weeks old, and it looks fine. I think I’ll make a fresh batch though. The avocado is still light green and nice looking! . . . carolyn t

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