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I’m going to write up an entire blog post about this book. It may be one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s a memoir by Pat Conroy (an author I’ve long admired). He died a year or so ago – sad, that. In order to get the most out of My Reading Life, I recommend you BUY THE HARDBACK. I can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s an autobiography of sorts, but not really. He never wrote one, I don’t think, and I doubt he would ever have written one as he likely didn’t believe anyone would want to read about his (sad) life. In this memoir, he chronicles the books (and the people who recommended them) that influenced his life. Starting at his mother’s knees and continuing through influential teachers and mentors and friends. One of my book clubs read it, and I devoured it, cover to cover, with little plastic flags inserted all the way through to re-read some of the prose. Pat Conroy was a fabulous writer – he studied words from a young age and used them widely and wisely throughout his writing, but better than most authors would. He adored his mother, and hated (with venom) his aviator military father who physically abused everyone in the family, including his mother. They all took it like stoic Buddhas. I’m going to have to read Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel because of reading this book. I’ve never read it. Conroy says that book’s first page is the best first page of any book he ever read in his life. Wow. And maybe my book group is going to re-read Tolstoy’s War and Peace (Vintage Classics) too because of the chapter on that book. We might have to assign that to a 2-month or longer read. If you have friends or family who are avid readers, this would make a great gift, this book, My Reading Life. If YOU are a reader, it needs to be on your bookshelf, but in hardback, so you can go back to it and re-read his stories. It’s a series of essays, each one about a sub-section of his life. A must-have and a must-read.

Also read The Towers of Tuscany by Carol Cram. It was a bargain book through amazon or bookbub (e-book). Back in the Middle Ages women were forbidden to be artists. Their only place was in the home, caring for children and sewing and cooking. But the heroine in this book was taught to paint by her widowed artist-father (in secret, of course). When her father suddenly dies, all hell breaks loose and she must fend for herself. Much of the book takes place in Florence as she disguises herself as a boy in order to continue her life’s passion – painting. Very interesting story and worth reading.

Also finished The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin. It popped up on a list I subscribe to and was available for $1.13 as an e-book. As it begins, you’re hearing from A.J., a grieving widower who owns a bookstore on an obscure island off the East Coast. He’s angry, rude and every other negative adjective you can imagine. A book rep comes to visit and he’s awful to her, yet she perseveres and manages to sell him a few books. You get to know his friends (a friendship with him is full of sharp points) and one day an abandoned toddler is found in his bookshop. In between the story line about A.J., the book rep, the little girl and others, you will learn all about A.J.’s book tastes. If you’re an avid reader, you’ll really enjoy that part. It’s a charming book; loved it.

Also read 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 need that kind of book – you may not want to read this one.

 

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.

little_girlies_green_sauce_spoon

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 www.cookingjunkies.com 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 cookingjunkies.com
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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