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Just finished reading The German Girl: A Novel by Correa. It chronicles the story of a wealthy German Jewish family in Berlin, as the Nazis arrive and make life a living hell. The family is lucky (I guess you could say this) to be allowed to purchase passage on the M.S. St. Louis, a passenger liner, to take them to “the Americas.” The destination is actually Cuba. The story is told from two voices – the teenage daughter in this story, and from a current-day distant family member who is trying to learn about her ancestry. Of the 900+ passengers on the ship, only a few were allowed to disembark since the Cuban President decided he needed more money to accept them. Most families had no money left, as the Reich had taken nearly all of their assets. The daughter and her very eccentric mother were allowed to stay in Cuba.  The remaining passengers are rejected by the U.S. too, and eventually return to Europe, where most of the Jews end up dying in concentration camps. The story goes back and forth from the 1939 journey to current day as the link between the two women is slowly revealed. I had a tough time sometimes, tracking the people in this book, but the story was very riveting. It’s based on facts about the ship (see Wikipedia link above if you’re interested). A shameful chapter in history.

Recently finished reading a magnificent historical novel. Not new. Philippa Gregory has been a favorite author of mine for a couple of decades. You may remember her most famous book, The Other Boleyn Girl, published some years ago. I thought that was a really great book. I’ve read other books by Gregory, but most recently I read The King’s Curse (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels). The time period is the 1450s to 1541, mostly under the rule of King Henry VIII, the infamous womanizer and wife/Queen-killer. The man who cursed Rome/the Pope because he wanted his first marriage annulled because Queen Catherine couldn’t produce a living male heir. And subsequently made himself the head of the church in England in order to do so. It was a Catholic country at the time. This story (it’s fiction, but woven with intricate historical detail) is from the voice of a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine, Margaret of York, later titled Countess of Salisbury, but a Plantagenet in her own right (which is key to the later events in the book). Certainly I’ve read other novels over the years that dealt with Henry VIII, but not with this much breadth of info. What a wicked, sinful man he was. And did I say tyrant. Wow.  I could hardly put it down, through its nearly 600 pages. In the author’s notes at the end, she shares relatively recent medical info that suggests Henry probably suffered from a rare problem, Kell positive blood type, which can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and infant deaths IF the mother has the more common Kell negative blood type. And that in his later years, he may have had McLeod syndrome, a disease only found in Kell positive individuals. Around the age of 40 it causes physical degeneration and personality changes resulting in paranoia, depression and irrational behavior. All of those King Henry VIII had in spades. If you read the book, you might read the author’s notes (at the end) before reading the book. If you like historical fiction (I love any book about English history) you’ll just love this one. It’s interesting, though, as I think about the many books I’ve read covering this era in English history, that each book presented its hero/heroine as the most innocent and worthy individual vying for the crown of England. I remember thinking Anne Boleyn was dealt with so badly during her life (and certainly her beheading), and yet reading this book, I completely reversed my opinion. Anne Boleyn was called a wh–e by most people during the years she shared Henry’s bed. The “curse” from the title pertains to Henry’s inability or the curse on the Tudors, that caused him to fail in producing a male heir. In any case, none of Henry’s wives should have died for it – likely it was all Henry’s fault anyway. Just read this one, okay?

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, too!

Winter Journey by Diane Armstrong. Have you ever read about forensic dentistry? I sure had not, so I found it fascinating reading. It’s a debut novel for the author, and what a story. Halina, an Australian, with Polish roots, specializes in this obscure profession as a forensic dentist, and is asked to go to Poland, to help identify bone (and tooth) fragments, to put to rest a sad event in the story of this small town, when many, many people (Jews) were murdered. Was it the Nazis? Or was it the local townspeople who disliked the Jews. What a tangled web of intrigue, including Halina’s own mysterious past. I really enjoyed the read. The author does a great job of developing the characters (which I always like). This is no light read if you consider the subject matter, although it IS a novel (but based on fact). Nor is it a spy thriller – it’s more just an historical novel with lots of interesting people throughout. There’s a romance thrown in too, and a whole lot of angst about the discoveries found in the mass grave. But, the subject expanded my knowledge about forensics.

The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece by Jonathan Harr. I just LOVED this book. I’ve never been much of a fan of Caravaggio’s paintings, although I’ve seen plenty of them (many are extremely large) in museums around the world. His paintings were dark, often with dark subjects. But as with many of the old masters, occasionally some obscure work surfaces, perhaps credited to another artist, even, that turns out to be one done by “the” master. In this case, Caravaggio. Although this book is written as a novel (with dialogue, etc.) it’s historical through and through. It begins with two young women art scholars, in Italy, who are asked to do a research project. One thing leads to another, and to another. All true.  If you enjoy books about art – I learned some things about the paint and the canvases of the time – you’ll be intrigued as I was.

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

This is a tough job – but here are my favorites of the recipes I’ve posted to date. Click on the title and you’ll go to a post about the recipe. The ones with asterisks are blue ribbon in my book.


APPETIZERS
Bacon & Tomato Dunk (a dip)
Bombay Cheese Ball
Coriander Lime Shrimp
Corn, Green Chile & Cheese Dip
Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese
Crostini with Blue Cheese, & Apples *****
Layered Hummus & Eggplant *****
Mahogany Onion Bruschetta
Orange Fennel Mostarda (a chutney-like spread for baguette slices or on top of cream cheese)
Roasted Carrot Platter
Sausage Pinwheels

BEVERAGES
Horchata Milk Shake (can be a dessert also)
Margaritas (marinated)


BREADS
Bishop’s Bread (a holiday sweet bread) *****
and the slightly revised Golden Bishop’s Bread
Buttermilk Scones *****
Chocolate Scones
Custard-Filled Cornbread
Goat Cheese Chive Muffins
Irish Soda Bread with Orange Zest
Herbed Biscuit Ring (easy, using canned biscuits)
Pumpkin Raisin Bread (yeast)
Welsh Cakes (like scones)

BRUNCH
Breakfast Eggy Muffins *****
Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Strata
Ham & Egg Cups (pesto, tomatoes) *****
Pineapple Upside Down French Toast
Pork & Ground Turkey Breakfast Sausage


COOKIES
Almond Spice Wafers  (like Moravian Sugar Cookies)
Baked Cinnamon Toasts
Blue Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies
Breadfarm’s Graham Crackers
Choc Chip Cookies from Silver Moon *****
Chocolate Almond Saltine Toffee *****
Chocolate Kiss Treasures
Cranberry Noels *****
Ginger Cookies
Harlequin Pinwheels
Heavenly Cream Cheese  Brownies
Mexican Wedding Cookies
No-Bake Cookie Cubes (chocolate)
One Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies (crispy, chewy, thin) *****
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – GF
Rocky Road (like fudge)
Safari Seeded Cookies
Viennese Chocolate-Walnut Bars


DESSERTS
Anise Cake a la Coyote Cafe
Apple Bread Crumb Pudding
Applesauce Spice Cake with Caramel Glaze *****
Apricot-Plum-Raspberry Streusel Cake
Banana Caramel Chocolate Chip Cake
Berry Cobbler (with cream biscuits on top)
Best Almond Cake
Blueberry Buckle
Butterscotch Pudding
Cajun Apple Cake with Brandy Drizzle
Chocolate Chunk Brownies
Classic Gingerbread
Crisp Apple Pudding *****
Dario’s Olive Oil Cake ****
86-Proof Chocolate Cake
Emily Luchetti’s 50-Year Apple Cake with Crumb Topping
German Chocolate Chip Cake (easy)
Ginger Apple Cake Torte *****
Gourmet Cheesecake
Grandgirl’s Fresh Apple Cake
Hazelnut Shortcakes with Plum Raspberry Compote
Horchata Milk Shake (add Kahlua and it’s decadent)
Lemon Cake, Limoncello Glaze, Yogurt-Lime Mousse
Lemon Velvet Ice Cream *****
Mixed Berry Meringue Parfaits
Peach & Blackberry Crisp
Pear & Chocolate Tart
Pear Crisp
Plum & Almond Cobbler
Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle (easy)
Purple Plum Torte
Regal Chocolate Sauce
Rice Pudding
Rum Cake (an egg-separated sponge-type pound cake)
Aarti’s Indian Rice Pudding
Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream
Roasted Banana Ice Cream/Gelato
Teddie’s Apple Cake
Tiramisu (from America’s Test Kitchen)
Wattleseed Ice Cream (but you do need a source for Australian wattleseed to make it!)
Woodford Pudding


MAIN DISHES (including main dish salads)
Baked Salmon with Agave & Lime
Beef & Biscuit Casserole (old-fashioned comfort food)
Beef Burgers with Bacon, Thyme Sauce on a Spinach Bed
BLT Salad
Braised Lamb Shanks (Moroccan style)
Chicken & Dumplings *****
Chicken in Red Wine Vinegar Sauce *****
Chicken with Alabama White Sauce
Buttermilk Brined Pork Tenderloin
Cornflake-Crusted Halibut with Mayo Aioili *****
Cornish Game Hen Salad
Country Captain Chicken
Easy Cassoulet
Eggplant Parmesan (a non-traditional method, healthier)
French Hamburgers
French Pot Roast
Greek Lamb with Pasta
Grilled Salmon on Watercress Salad *****
Grilled Shrimp on Tabbouleh Salad
Chicken with Mustard & Herbs
Crunchy Shrimp on Couscous with Spicy Sauce *****
Italian Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs
Kurobuta Ham with Mustard Sauce
Greek Lamb Ragu over Pasta
Lemon Risotto
Pecan Crusted Chicken Breasts with Corn & Blueberry Salsa
Pork Enchilada Verde Casserole
Ribeye Steaks with Amazing Glaze *****
Pasta a la Puttanesca
Pasta with Tomato and Butter Sauce
Pecan Crusted Chicken Breasts with Corn and Blueberry Salsa
Pizza with Chicken, Red Onion & Olives
Pork and Hominy Stew (similar to Posole)
Pork Loin Roast with Apricot Glaze *****
Pork Medallions with Chili-Maple Glaze *****
Pork Stew with Calvados Cream
Risotto with Avocado Tomato Salsa & Shrimp
Risotto with Turkey Sausage, Corn, Leeks, Tomatoes and Spinach
Roast Chicken (the best ever)
Roasted Chicken Salad a la Zuni Cafe
Salmon Steaks with Soy Maple Glaze
Salmon with Leeks, Maple Syrup and Orange Sauce
Savory Tomato Pie or a more recent version called Tomato Corn Pie
Sheetpan Chicken Thighs with Cabbage
Shepherd’s Pie with Chipotle Mashed Potatoes *****
Shrimp & Crouton Skewers with Romesco Sauce
Sizzling Ribeyes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Spicy Garlic Cashew Chicken *****
Summer Sandwich (make only in tomato season – vegetarian)
Unstuffed Sweet/Sour Cabbage
Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken with Vegetables
Weeknight Bolognese (Ina Garten) (a different, quick kind of spaghetti sauce using red wine and a bit of cream)
Zinfandel Sausage Sauce for Pasta (like a meat sauce)


MISCELLANEOUS/OTHER
Chocolate Syrup
Cranberry Relish (for Thanksgiving)
Cucumber Herb Butter for Tea Sandwiches
Little Girlie’s Green Sauce (a relish/salsa to go with all kinds of grilled meat or veggies)
Peppered Pecans (for sprinkling on a salad) *****
Pineapple (or mango) Salsa


SALADS
Apple, Cherry & Walnut Green Salad
Barbecue-Sauced Macaroni Salad
Corn, Tomato & Scallion Salad (has almost no fat in it – really tasty stuff)
Crunchy Napa Cabbage Slaw
Fresh Cranberry, Pecan and Apple Salad *****
Garbanzo Bean Salad w/Cilantro & Feta *****
Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms with Arugula Salad
Green Salad with Chevre Dressing *****
Joan’s Pasta Salad *****
Meyer Lemon Grains Salad with Asparagus, Almonds and Goat Cheese *****
Minted Watermelon & Feta Salad *****
Pesto Pea Salad
Radicchio Salad *****
Rice and Vegetable Salad with Silver Palate Vinaigrette
Sicilian Tuna Salad
Spinach & Berries Salad *****
Summer Grilled Panzanella Salad
Syrian Pita Bread Salad *****
Sweet Cabbage Slaw
Tomato & Watermelon Salad
Marinated Tomatoes
Watercress, Belgian Endive & Olive Salad


SALAD DRESSINGS
Caesar-Caper Dressing (mayonnaise based, part of a grilled Romaine salad) *****
Creamy Garlic Blue Cheese Dressing
Garlic VIP Dressing *****
Mock Caesar Dressing *****


SOUPS
Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger & Jalapeno
Cabbage Patch Stew *****
Cantaloupe Gazpacho (cold) ****
Cauliflower & Apple Soup with Almonds
Cream of Tomato *****
Cream of Cucumber (cold) *****
Creamy Cabbage Soup with Sausage
Farmhouse Vegetable Soup
Italian Sausage & Tomato Soup *****
Moroccan Harira Chicken Soup *****
Pork and Hominy Stew with Red Chiles and Avocado (like a New Mexican Posole)
Roasted Poblano & Asiago Soup
Strawberry Gazpacho *****
Thai Pumpkin & Shrimp Soup
Watermelon Gazpacho (cold) ****


VEGGIES/SIDES
Algerian Carrots
Armenian Rice & Noodle Pilaf
Baked Onions with Thyme
Brussels Sprouts with Brandy and Dried Cranberries
Calabacitas con Crema *****
Crumbled Asparagus *****
Garlic Green Beans *****
Haricot Verts with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Italian Sausage Dressing (stuffing) with Leeks and Mushrooms
Mexican Street Corn with Cotija Cheese
Monterey Scalloped Potatoes
Orzo, Dried Cherries and Almonds
Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce (easy) *****
Pepper & Onion Roast with Soft Indian Spices
Perfect Baked Potato
Potato, Corn and Spinach Gratin
Roasted Asparagus with Chile Butter *****
Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Pancetta
Roasted Sweet Potato & Black Bean Salad with Jalapeno Dressing *****
Saffron Basmati Rice *****
Summer Squash Casserole with Jalapeno
The Best Bean Salad
Zucchini Gratin