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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.

Scroll down to the bottom to view my Blogroll

Recipes highlighted in red are some of my all-time favorites. I did write up one essay with information about beef in general.

The beef recipes are divided up in several sections. Click on the title below to go to that section.

Ground Beef (hamburger types)!

Beef Burgers with Bacon, Thyme, Wine Sauce on a Bed of Spinach
Beef Sliders
Beef Sliders from Trader Joe’s
Danish Ground Beef Steak with Onions
French Hamburgers
Japanese Burgers with a Caramelized Onion & Curry Sauce
Steakhouse Mushroom Burgers w/Spinach Sauce

Ground Beef Casseroles, Meatloaves and Ground Beef in any other form!

Bacon-Wrapped Mini-Meatloaves
Beef and Biscuit Casserole (a big family favorite with regular biscuits)
Beef and Biscuit Casserole (made with sweet potato biscuits)
Beef and Sausage Enchilasagna
Bobotie (a South African casserole)
Chili Spaghetti
Chinese Meatloaf
Chipotle Meatballs
Ground Beef Moussaka
Ina Garten’s Meatloaf
Italian Delight Casserole (kind of a spaghetti casserole)
Italian Spaghetti and Meat Sauce with Meatballs (my go-to recipe for 40+ years)
Ina Garten’s Weeknight Bolognese (fantastic quick dinner)
Johnny Marzetti (a simple, comfort-food casserole)
Meatballs with Quick Tomato Cream Sauce with Pasta
Meatloaf with Italian Sausage
Meatloaf with Sweet & Sour Sauce
Slow Cooker Tamale Pie
Spicy Hamburger, Green Chile and Corn Pie
Sunday Sauce Russo (a beef and mixed meat Bolognese sauce)
Swedish Meatballs
Swedish Meatballs a la Ikea
Unstuffed Sweet and Sour Cabbage (a real favorite)

Roasts!

Corned Beef Dinner (my favorite for St. Patrick’s Day)
Corned Beef Sous Vide 178°
French Pot Roast
Italian Pot Roast in a Pressure Cooker
Standing Rib Roast with Red Wine Port Sauce
Tri-Tip with Tequila and Chopped Tomatoes

Short Ribs and other cuts!

Barbecued Short Ribs (my favorite short rib recipe)
Grilled Skirt Steak

Steaks and Beef Tenderloin!

In case  you’re interested, I wrote up an article (synopsis of a magazine article – no recipe) about Steaks – Myths and Truthsabout grilling steaks.

Beef Tenderloin with Mock Bearnaise Sauce
Beer Marinated Steaks with Creamy Peppercorn Sauce
Cajun-Rubbed Steak with Maque Choux
Chile Hoisin Marinated Beef Kebabs
Chipotle-Rubbed Steaks on Cambazola Toasts
Grilled Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola and Sage
Filet Mignon with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese
Filet Mignon with Mushroom and Port Sauce
Filet Mignon with Wine Hollandaise
Flank Steak with Orange Marmalade
Grilled Ribeyes with Amazing Glaze (our favorite steak recipe)
Grilled Sirloin Steak Caesar Salad
Grilled Skirt Steak with Quesadillas
Italian Bragiole (Flank Steak)
Sizzling Ribeye Steaks with Red Pepper Sauce
Smoky Ribeyes with Spicy Sweet Mint Glaze Sous Vide 131°
Steak Diane Flambé
Steak Pizzaiola
Tenderloin with Bacon and Port Sauce
Tenderloin in Puff Pastry
Tenderloin with Herb Crust
Tenderloin with Herbs and Garlic with Roasted Mushrooms
Tenderloin Cajun Style
Tenderloin Steaks with Garlic Herb Butter
Thyme-Rubbed Beef Tenderloin with Pinot Noir Sauce

Stew Meat, Soups and other Beef Chunks!

Beef in Barolo Wine (an Italian pot roast)
Cabbage Patch Stew
Beef Stew Cormack
Beef Stew with Currant Glaze
Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew
French Pot Roast
Glover’s Mixture (a one-pan steak and onion preparation)
Greek Steak in Pita (an entree sandwich)
No Heat Beef (Chili) Soup
Steak and Mushroom Soup
Texas Chili Burritos

Veal

Veal Osso Buco