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On my recent road trip, I visited one of my local libraries and borrowed 5 books on tape. We listened to 3 of them. I’m a big fan of Craig Johnson, the author of a series of mysteries taking place in Wyoming, and a TV series on Netflix called Longmire. This book, A Serpent’s Tooth: A Longmire Mystery was really complex. Hard to explain, but it’s about graft and greed and oil. Worth reading, for sure. Also read Stone Kiss by Faye Kellerman, another complex mystery about Lt Decker, an LA cop who journeys to NYC to help out his family when a murder occurs. Lots of violence in this one.  Not particularly a fav book, I’d venture. Then read Leaving Time: A Novel by Jodi Picoult. I’ve read most of her books – always very riveting. In this book, you’ll learn a whole lot about elephants since the protagonist in it is a young girl whose mother disappeared when she was quite young. Her parents ran an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire. In the ensuing years, Jenna has tried to find clues as to her mother’s whereabouts because she just cannot believe her mother would have up and abandoned her. There are a whole cast of characters (her mother, her father, employees at the sanctuary, a cop or two, and a psychic). All play fairly prominent roles. Fascinating book – I really liked it, almost as much for the education about the behavior of elephants as about the mystery. A great read.

Also on the trip, I read a book (on Kindle) for one of my book clubs, The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin. It’s about the relationship between Truman Capote and his “swans,” a group of aging high society ladies, and specifically Beth Paley. I don’t know whether to recommend this book or not. Truman Capote was not a nice man, although the whole novel (vs. non-fiction, which this is not) is conjured from speculation about the years Truman was kind of adopted by the group of women. He cared about all of them (most were married/divorced, wealthy women) but in the end he betrays them all by writing a novella about their secrets, their marriages, their affairs (theirs or their spouses, information they’d all shared with him, thinking he could be trusted with their innermost secrets). It was scandalous, and yes, all that part is true. I finished the book, but almost felt like I’d read a “dirty book.” There is no graphic detail in this book – it’s just what Capote did to destroy these women, supposedly his dear, darling “swans.” He was the villain in the book, and in his old age . . . well, I won’t spoil the story if you’re interested in reading it.

I’ve written up an entire blog post about this book. (It hasn’t been posted yet, but will soon.) 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 Siena (and also San Gimignano) as she disguises herself as a boy in order to continue her life’s passion – painting. Very interesting story and worth reading.

 

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