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Just finished reading The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant. A very, very intriguing book. The book is written from the voice of a Jewish grandmother as she tells her granddaughter the saga of her life starting about 1910, who struggles with her own individuality, with her domineering mother who never says a kind word to her. It’s certainly a coming-of-age story as she grows up, finds a job, makes friends, joins a literary girls club, moves out, but still suffers under her mother’s thumb and tongue. She becomes a reporter on a local newspaper, which opens her eyes to more of the world than she ever knew. She finally meets the right man (of course!) and she shares the stories about her life, and her friends and family members as she grows up, giving some sage advice along the way. Part of the time she’s talking to herself – to her young self  (really wanting to tell young Addie to keep on, forgive herself for her perceived transgressions, to live life, and experience the world).

One of the best books I’ve read in a long time – Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Rivers is a prodigious writer of Christian fiction, and I’d never read anything by her until now. As I write this, I’ve already read this, another one (below) and just purchased the Kindle trilogy called Mark of the Lion (Vol 1-3) that I haven’t yet started. (Two of my friends have said the trilogy is her best.) Redeeming Love details the fictional story of a godly man, Michael Hosea, forging his way in the era of the Gold Rush. He’s “driven” to rescue a beautiful prostitute who lives and works her trade in a nearby town. The entire book is about the story, the rescue, and it parallels a bit of scripture about Hosea who rescues a prostitute names Gomer. You get into the heads of both Hosea and the prostitute, named Angel. We read this for one of my book groups. A great read.

As soon as I finished the above book I promptly visited my church library and found a whole shelf of Rivers’ books, and grabbed one called The Atonement Child. This book takes place in the 1980s or 90s, about a young college student who is raped. She was engaged to be married, was a stellar student. The book chronicles what happens to her when she discovers she is pregnant from the rape. Every possible thing goes wrong in her life. I don’t want to spoil the story if you’re interested in reading it, but I couldn’t put it down. I ended up spending a good part of a day plowing through it. You hear her inner voice (I’m guessing this is a common thread in Rivers’ books) from a Christian perspective. Lots of meaty issues to discuss in a book club if your group would be interested and willing to talk about rape, abortion, adoption and the thorny issues surrounding all of those things, but with a Christian bent, for sure.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen. It’s kind of amazing how many and varied plot lines can be created from events of WWII. This is another one, about a current day woman who finds papers in the attic, after her father’s death, with references to “the child.” She never knew her father could have had another child – could she have a step-sibling somewhere? Her father she knew, had been shot down over Italy, but he never talked much about it. But of course, she must go to Italy to find out about this “child.” The book flips back and forth from this daughter on the search, to her father during the war, all of it taking place in a very small town in Tuscany. It’s about the varied people she meets who want her to go away and not dredge up anything about the war years (are they hiding something, you question), about how much she loves the landscape, and some of the people. And about the intense love affair between the injured pilot and a caring woman of the village. Very charming story. I could almost smell the flowers, taste the olives, hear the bees flitting, and loved the prose about the simple meals that were described. I really enjoyed the book. Perhaps not enough meat for a book club read, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading it nonetheless.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Almost a page turner. When one uses the phrase “coming of age,” it usually means (I think) love and loss/boyfriend/girlfriend, and in this case it’s somewhat that way. When Ethan, a 17-year old boy and his mother come home unexpectedly to find dad and his young secretary in a compromising position, all hell breaks loose. Separation happens instantly and just as his father moves out, his mother has to go take care of her aging mother. Ethan’s too young to be left in the NYC apartment alone, so Mom sends son to the father who is escaping from the world in Wyoming, living in a primitive A-frame house, and continuing his daily 20+ mile running journeys. Ethan and his father are barely speaking. They live in the middle of nowhere. Ethan feels betrayed by his father in every possible way, and somewhat by his mother for forcing him to live with his father for a temporary period. Then his father doesn’t return one day from his run. The authorities do a cursory search, but they are under the impression the dad wants to “get lost” on purpose. Ethan, although he thinks he doesn’t care, really does. What happens next is best left to you reading this book. Very interesting people (kind of loners) enter the picture and off they go to search. So worth reading.

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. The chicken and turkey recipes are divided up in several sections. Click on the title below to go to that section. If you’re interested in Chicken Soups, go to the index for SOUPS. In one post I referred my readers to an article at ThermoWorks that talks about why we cook chicken to the temps we do (they’re the folks who manufacture the ThermaPen). If you want to read it, click here.

Casseroles!

Baked Chicken and Prosciutto Casserole
Bombay Chicken
Chicken Cacciatore
Chicken Pudding with Pea Gravy (an old-time English recipe)
Deep Dish Turkey Chili Pie (uses ground turkey)
Turkey Hachis Parmentier


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Chicken Breasts Only!

Almond Crusted Chicken Breasts with Lemon Aioli
Almond Crusted Chicken Breasts
Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Breasts with Thai Green Curry Sauce (easy)
BFF Crispy Coated Chicken Breast Strips
Chicken on Greens with Chile Buttermilk Dressing
Chicken Breasts Santa Fe Style
Chicken Breasts with Alabama White Sauce
Chicken Breasts with Asian Lemon Sauce
Chicken Breasts and Chipotle Rice with Cilantro Sauce
Chicken Breasts Flambe with Tarragon Tomato Wine Sauce
Chicken Breasts with Apricot Onion Pan Sauce
Chicken Breasts with Bacon and Mushrooms
Chicken Breasts with Chianti Mushroom Sauce
Chicken Breasts with Emmental & Arugula
Chicken Breasts with Maple Mustard Sauce
Chicken Breasts in Milk with Sweet Potatoes
Chicken Breasts with Panko and Mustard Crust
Chicken Breasts with Prosciutto Mushrooms and Basil
Chicken Breasts with Spinach and Gorgonzola
Chicken Chili
Chicken Cordon Bleu Rolls with Lemon Mushroom Sauce
Chicken Madeira (healthy – something like the Cheesecake Factory’s but healthy)
Chicken Relleno (not chile rellenos, but relleno style chicken)
Chicken Saltimbocca with Basil Butter
Chicken Sausage and Mushroom Pot Pie
Chicken Tacos
Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Breasts Tikka Masala Sous Vide 146°
Chicken with Garlic Lemon Crust
Chipotle Mayo Chicken Breasts
Cilantro Chicken
Cajun Chicken Breasts with Creole Sauce
Crispy Mustard Chicken Breasts
Curried Maple-Mustard Chicken Breasts
Fresh Herb-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Lemon Caper Sauce
Lemon Basil Chicken Breasts with Tomato, Cucumber & Basil Beurre Blanc
Lemon Chicken Breasts
Oven-Fried Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Oven-Fried Chicken Cordon Bleu Bundles (with broccoli and bacon)
Oven-Fried Parmesan Chicken
Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Gorgonzola
Parmesan Chicken with Spinach and Gorgonzola Sauce
Pecan Crusted Chicken Breasts with Corn and Blueberry Salsa
Pretzel-Crusted Chicken with Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Seared Chicken Breasts with Lemon Chive Pan Sauce
Shiitake Crusted Chicken with Sauce
Sous Vide Red Chile Chicken Breasts
Stacked Chicken Enchiladas
Tequila Chicken Pasta
White Chicken Chili


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Grilled Chicken!

Bademiya’s Chile Cilantro Grilled Chicken
Big Daddy’s Tandoori Chicken
Cha Cha Cha Jerk Chicken
Chicken Breasts with Alabama White Sauce
Chicken with Artichokes and Olives
Greek Marinade for Chicken
Grilled Chicken Breasts with Belize Barbecue Sauce
Grilled Chicken Breasts with Citrus and Honey
Grilled Chicken Grand Marnier
Grilled Chicken with Jalapeno Jelly Salsa
Grilled Chile Chicken Breasts with Strawberry Salsa
Grilled Lemon Chicken
Grilled Marinated Drumsticks
Moroccan Spiced Chicken Breasts
Orange Sesame Glazed Chicken
Peruvian Grilled Chicken
Spicy Garlic Cashew Chicken


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Ground Chicken or Turkey!

Cabbage Patch Stew (make with ground turkey and either mashed potatoes or the “cauliflower” mash)
Chicken with Poblano Peppers and Sauce
Cousin Gary’s Turkey Chili (healthy)
Italian Chicken Sausage with Bell Peppers
Piccadillo (a ground meat mixture to serve over a carb – use ground turkey)
Szechuan Green Beans with Ground Turkey
Thai-Inspired Turkey Larb Salad
Turkey Breakfast Sausage
Turkey Meatballs
Unstuffed Sweet and Sour Cabbage


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Roasted and Baked Chicken!

Chicken a l’Orange (eh)
Chicken Bamako
Chicken Barbere(an Ethiopian spicy chicken)
Chicken Bouillabaisse
Chicken-in-a-Pot (it’s French)
Country Captain Chicken
Ina Garten’s Coq au Vin
Italian Crumb-Crusted Chicken
Mustard and Herb Chicken
Oven-Fried Chicken
Roast Chicken – the best I’ve ever made (tender & moist)
Roast Lemon Chicken
Roast Potatoes Better than the Chicken (eh)
Rustic Lemon Onion Chicken
Sheetpan Chicken with Bacon, Sourdough Croutons and Squash
Sheetpan Chicken Sausage with Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Sheetpan Chicken Thighs with Cabbage
Spicy Chipotle Chicken Breasts w/ Panko Crust
Spicy Garlic Cashew Chicken
Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken & Vegetables


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Salads and Sandwiches!

Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Almond Edges
Cornish Game Hen Salad
Curried Chicken Salad
Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Parmesan Crusted Chicken Salad
Roast Chicken Salad a la Zuni Cafe
(Updated) Fumi Chinese Chicken Salad


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Stovetop (mostly all in one pan)!

100 Almond Chicken Curry
Baked Rice with Chicken & Mushrooms
Bal’s No-Butter Chicken (Indian)
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken Jalfrezi (a curry and peppers dish)
Chicken Supreme (no oil, with Benson’s herb blend)
Chicken with Aged Red Wine Vinegar
Chicken with Leeks, Candied Lemon and Walnuts
Chicken with Piquillo Peppers
Chicken with Red Wine Vinegar Sauce
Chicken with Sage and Pesto
Creole Jambalaya
Crispy Fried Chicken
Dinah Shore’s Chicken Curry Without Worry (could substitute turkey)
Fesenjen (slow cooker)
Greek Cinnamon Stewed Chicken with Pasta
Indian Chicken with Green Chiles
Indian Pepper Chicken (black pepper, not veggie peppers)
Lemon Chicken with Herbs & Orzo
Mexican Chicken and Grapes Uva
Murgh Korma (Indian Chicken Curry)
Pecan Crusted Chicken with Rosemary Orange Sauce
Quick Chicken Tikka Masala (using left over chicken)
Quick Coq au Vin
Risotto with Turkey Sausage, Corn, Leeks, Tomatoes and Spinach
Saffron Chicken Curry
Saffron Chicken Tagine
Sicilian Stewed Chicken
Spicy Chicken Thighs with Shallot Sour Cream Pan Sauce
Very Lemony Chicken Thighs


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Turkey!

Dry-Brined Turkey Breast
Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast
Turkey – Kosher
Turkey & Pancetta Gravy
Pancetta, Sage & Rosemary Turkey
Spatchcocked Turkey (partly deboned – easy for Thanksgiving)
Turkey Hachis Parmentier (fantastic casserole for left over turkey)
Turkey Pot Pie
Turkey Tetrazzini (adapted from Pioneer Woman)
White Turkey Chili


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Other!

Pizza with Chicken, Red Onion and Kalamata Olives
Chicken Broth from Penzey’s
Crockpot Chicken Paprikash
Pasta with Artichoke Hearts, Broccoli, Chicken & Lemon
Steeping Chicken (a preparation for chicken breasts – easy)

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