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Just finished 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 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 parents were 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 a old 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.

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.

Eye On the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press, by James, McGrath Morris. Each year my AAUW book club reads something related to Black History Month. This is a biography of a woman you’ve probably never heard of, Ethel Payne, and about her life-long journey in journalism, struggling to keep her head above water financially, but staying true to her purposes of telling the truth about the black stories and black racism of the day. Sometimes biographies aren’t all that riveting, but I found this one to be so, and I savored each new chapter. We had a really good discussion of the book, and the ups and downs of Payne’s life, especially during her years as a Washington reporter. You’ll not be sorry to have spent the time reading this book. It’s well-written, as well. I was thrilled when the author, Morris, left a message here on my blog, thanking me (and my group) for reading his book.

H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald. This one has been on the best seller list. It’s a memoir about a woman who takes on a personal challenge of taming a wild hawk. Prior to reading this book, I knew next to nothing about the entire subject of hawking, or taming any of the big, wild birds. The book is equally about the writer’s inner journey. She’s a consummate writer, and every page was a joy of words, for me. My only problem is my own – I found it hard, the more time that went by, and the more time the writer spent trying to tame this bird, to scream out “let the bird go.” Perhaps it’s because I spent time in Africa in 2015, seeing animals in the wild, that I felt more for the bird than I did with the writer’s discontent with herself and the taming process. Little did I know what a hard job it is to tame a hawk. I actually didn’t finish the book. It was a book club read, and highly recommended by several of our members. And I ended up not being able to attend the meeting as I had a cold. So perhaps there is some great ending to it that would have made me feel better. I haven’t gone to the end to find out. I just had to stop reading it. But I’m not NOT recommending it. If nothing else, read it for Macdonald’s sublime proficiency with words.

Also read George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution, by Brian Kilmeade and Dan Yaeger. Here’s what it says on amazon: When George Washington beat a hasty retreat from New York City in August 1776, many thought the American Revolution might soon be over. Instead, Washington rallied—thanks in large part to a little-known, top-secret group called the Culper Spy Ring. He realized that he couldn’t defeat the British with military might, so he recruited a sophisticated and deeply secretive intelligence network to infiltrate New York. I won’t exactly call this book a riveting read, but it was interesting. Relating facts that few people knew about, this Culper Spy Ring. It’s a little chunk of American history researched in depth by the authors. An interesting read.

Also read The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel by Nina George. If you’re an avid reader, you probably have the same kind of longing as I do for a quaint, independently owned bookstore right around the corner. So few exist anymore. This novel is about a very unusual book store, and book store owner. In Paris. On a boat/barge. It’s not a typical book store, and the writer takes you on a journey of discovery about (likely) her own lifetime of book reading. You’ll learn all about a variety of existing books and why they’re a good read. But it’s all cloaked in a story about this book store and the owner. And the customers. Very fun. I’m reviewing it for one of my book clubs next month.

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
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
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