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Currently Reading

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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. The cookie recipes are divided up in several sections. Click on the title below to go to that section. Brownies are kind of a cookie, but also kind of a dessert. They’re listed here, but you may find other bar-type desserts under DESSERTS!


Bars and Squares (but not Brownies)!

Almond Bar Cookies
Almond Spice Wafers (Moravian Sugar Cookies)
Baked Apricot Rosemary Bars
Brandied Apricot Bars (contains liquor)
Butterscotch Walnut Meringue Bars
Chocolate Almond Saltine Bars
Chocolate Amaretto Bars
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Bars
Frosted Coffee Cookies
GF Ginger Bars
Ginger Crunch Bars
Ginger Pumpkin Bars (kind of like gingery pumpkin pie in a bar)
Graham Cracker Chewy Pecan Bars
Lemon-Lime Macaroon Bars
Maple Walnut Bars
New York Special Slices (similar to Nanaimo Bars)
No-Bake Cookie Cubes (chocolate)
Snickery Squares
Viennese Chocolate-Walnut Bars

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Chocolate Almond Biscotti
Easy Chocolate Biscotti (from Farmgirl Susan)

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Brownie Thins
Cream Cheese Brownies (from an illustrious magazine)
Heavenly Cream Cheese Brownies
Spiced-Up Brownies (spicy and a little hot)

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Chocolate Chip!

Almond Paste Chocolate Chip Cookies
Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookies
Blue Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cardamom Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chewy Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Almond Cherry Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies (yet another)
Chocolate Chip Cookies from Ad Hoc
Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Baked [Cookbook])
Chocolate Chip Cookies from Silver Moon Bakery
Chocolate Chunk Dried Cherry Oatmeal Cookies
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Bars – these are more cake than cookies
Food 52’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies with Rum
Katherine King’s Double Chocolate Almond Cookies
Maida Heatter’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (crispy outside, soft inside)
Mini-Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies
Nancy Silverton’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (eh)
One Bowl Thin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Salty Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Wellesley Chocolate Chip Cookies
White Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Christmas Cookies!

Almond Cranberry Cookies
Baked Apricot Rosemary Bars
Chocolate Kiss Treasures
Cardamom Cookies
Chocolate Almond Saltine Bars
Cranberry Noels
Harlequin Pinwheels

Lemon Snowball Cookiesa lemon Mexican Wedding cookie
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Rocky Road
Viennese Chocolate-Walnut Bars

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Refrigerator Cookies!

Apricot Thyme Cookies
Coffee Walnut Cookies
Cranberry Noels
Earl Grey (tea) Cookies
Lemon Polenta Cookies
Maple-Walnut Cookies (or Maple Pecan)

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Other – Everything Else!

ANZAC Biscuits
Baked Cinnamon Toasts (made with bread)
Cardamom Cookies
Cashew Caramel Cookies
Cherry Cherry Heering Cookies
Chocolate Almond Cloud Cookies
Chocolate Almond Cookies (very similar to the cloud type above)
Chocolate Bacon Bark
Chocolate Brownie Cookies (B. Patisserie)
Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Chocolate Korova Cookies
Chocolate Port Balls
Chocolate Puddle Cookies
GF Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
GF Ginger Cookies
Cranberry Orange Cookies
Ginger Cookies
Ginger Snaps with a Ginger Kick
Graham Cracker Cookies from Breadfarm Bakery
Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Midnight Crackles (Chocolate)
Olive Oil Orange Madeleines
Orange Coconut Sour Cream Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies (a different one)
Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free – and they’re fabulous)
Peanut Butter Pinwheel Cookies
Ranger Cookies
Safari Anzac Biscuits
Safari Seeded Cookies
Sara’s Sugar Cookies – untraditional
Shortbread Cookies
Triple Ginger Cookies

Walnut Black Pepper Cookies

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