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Currently Reading

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Just finished another great book, The Girl With No Name by Diney Costelhoe. What a good book. Perhaps you’ve read before about the huge numbers of German refugee children who were sent to England before Hitler closed down any exits. This is a novel about one particular young girl, who is devastated when her mother puts her on one of the boats. She ends up in London, in an orphanage kind of place, and is eventually placed with a childless couple. She speaks no English. They speak no German, but they manage soon enough. Lisa (who eventually becomes Charlotte) is so homesick. She’s bullied at school, because most people and children don’t want any Germans there. A boy steps up to protect her, and as she grows up, she’s attracted to him. She shouldn’t be – he’s also German and from her own home town. He’s not a good match for her. You live with her through the blitz during all those war years and during one attack, she’s badly injured and loses her memory (and no ID on her). Through a series of mishaps she ends up in a village far from London, with a spinster woman who does eventually come to love her very much – they name her Charlotte and Charlotte she becomes. She goes to school there, still longing, though, for her mother and brother and her London foster family too. Then when she’s 16 she returns to London to help at the orphanage where she was originally placed and tries to find her foster parents. The story goes on from there, with the boy/man who “wants” her, the bad boy, and a good boy/man she befriends in the village in the country. Eventually she regains her memory. SUCH a good read.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee. If you, like me, know little about North Korea and how it came to be what it is today, you’ve got to read this book. It’s a memoir written by a young woman who escaped from North Korea about 9 years ago. Her journey – and I mean JOURNEY – is harrowing, frightening, amazing, heart-rendering all at the same time. She chronicles the lives of the Kims (Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il to current Kim Jong Un), shares the strict propaganda that surrounds every North Korean citizen, the poverty and hunger, as well as the underground black market for food and goods. It took her awhile to get from North Korea, to China and eventually to South Korea, where she currently lives. She’s well educated and speaks English quite well. She was invited to be a speaker at a TED talk – you know about those, right? TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a media organization which posts talks online for free distribution, under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” I listen to them as  podcasts now and then. Always very educational, if sometimes over my head when it gets very technical. She works diligently for human rights now, doing her best to help other North Koreans escape. You owe it to yourself to read this book.

Also just finished reading The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. Another WOW book. I’ve always liked the author – many years ago I read his book, Midwives and really liked it. Don’t confuse this book with the one I recently read, The Last Midwife: A Novel by Sandra Dallas that I reviewed recently. I think we read it in one of my book groups. He’s a brilliant writer, and this one has a lot of characters and twists. It’s a novel, but based on a lot of truth regarding the Armenian genocide. Most of the book takes place in Aleppo, Syria with some good Samaritan folk trying to help rescue people (mostly children) following the forced long marches the Turks made prodding the Turkish Armenians to exit their country. But it also jumps to near present day as a family member is trying to piece together obscure parts of her grandparents’ former lives there. She uncovers some hidden truths (many survivors of the genocide never-ever-ever wanted to talk about it) and a bit more about her Armenian heritage. A riveting book – I could hardly put it down. Lots to discuss for a book club read. I simply must read more of Bohjalian’s books (he’s written many).

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke. All I can say is “wow.” In a general sense, this book is based on the premise of The Pilot’s Wife. But this one has some totally different twists and turns. A young wife is met at the door by police, informing her that her husband has died in an auto accident. Then she finds out he died in Hawaii – not Kansas, where she thought he was, on business. Then she finds out there was a woman in the car. Then she meets the fiance of the woman passenger and the two of them embark on a fact-finding mission in Hawaii to discover the truth. Well, I’m just sayin’ . . . the plot thickens. And thickens. And thickens clear up to the last few pages. Hang onto your seat. A really, really good, suspenseful read.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes. What a WONDERFUL book. It opens up a shameful part of America’s past, but one you might not have heard about before this. In the late 1800s thousands of Chinese workers were brought to the West Coast to help with a variety of construction projects and a myriad of other things where laborers were needed. Many settled, married and made a new life for themselves. But suddenly the white population didn’t want them here anymore and they summarily ordered them ALL out of our country. This book chronicles a young Chinese girl, who was on a ship that was supposed to take her family to China, but the ship’s captain decided en route to dump them all overboard, to drown. The girl’s father knew it was going to happen and in order to save her, he threw his daughter off the ship as they were passing Orcas Island (in the San Juan Islands west of Seattle). She was saved. The book switches from that time to current time as a woman is rebuilding her family’s home on Orcas and finds a beautifully embroidered silk Chinese robe sleeve hidden under a stair step. The book is about that sordid past and the young girl’s descendents, and about the woman who is rebuilding. Stunner of a novel. Good for a book club read, I think. It has a reader’s guide at the back with good questions for book groups.

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively. I find it hard to describe this book – it’s wonderful. I loved it. But describing it is perplexing. The title relates to one of the characters, a woman of a certain age, who is mugged, and has to go live with her daughter and son in law for awhile since she’s stuck with crutches and has mobility problems. That starts the cavalcade of events that spread around her, with the characters. And she knows nothing whatsoever about them, hardly. They’re all somewhat inter-related (not much family, but mostly by circumstance) and they all get into some rather logical and some peculiar relationships. You engage  with each and every one of them; at least I sure did; and was trying to tell some of them to back away from what they were about to do. Or “be careful;” or “don’t go there.” That kind of thing. There is nothing insidious, no mystery involved – it’s all about these people and what happens to them. I was sad when the book was finished. The author, Lively, does add a chapter at the end – I wonder if it wasn’t part of the master plan – that kind of tidies up everything, and you get to see all of the characters move on with their lives, happy or not, but mostly happy. Really enjoyed the book. Am not sure it would be a good book club read, as the only thing to discuss are the characters themselves. Lively paints these characters well; you can just picture them as they get themselves in and out of relationship mischief.


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)


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
Sizzling Ribeye Steaks with Red Pepper Sauce
Grilled Top Sirloin Steak Balsamico with Cheese Sauce
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
Parker’s Beef Stew (an Ina Garten recipe)
Steak and Mushroom Soup
Texas Chili Burritos


Veal Osso Buco