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Currently Reading

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Just finished News of the World: A Novel by Paulette Jiles. One of my book-reading friends said this is one of the best books she’s ever read in her life. That kind of praise required me to read it and I just LOVED it. It’s about an old man (a widower), who was a former military captain, during the 1800s, who goes from town to town to read out loud the current news of the world (yes, there WAS such a job.) Newspapers didn’t make it to small towns back then. By chance he’s asked to take a 10-year old girl to East Texas to reunite with relatives. The child had been captured by an Indian tribe as a baby (her parents were killed in the raid), raised by the Kiowa and as was often the case of such children, she wants nothing to do with leaving. So the “hero” in this story has his hands full. And yet, they learn to trust each other on the journey. Reaching the destination, there are lots of complications (of course!). This book is truly a wonderful read – I didn’t want it to end. The author has a gift of description and the severe dangers and difficulties of a old west horse and wagon journey. The relationship is tender. Now I’ve got to investigate the author’s other books, of which there are many.

Winter Journey by Diane Armstrong. Have you ever read about forensic dentistry? I sure had not, so I found it fascinating reading. It’s a debut novel for the author, and what a story. Halina, an Australian, with Polish roots, specializes in this obscure profession as a forensic dentist, and is asked to go to Poland, to help identify bone (and tooth) fragments, to put to rest a sad event in the story of this small town, when many, many people (Jews) were murdered. Was it the Nazis? Or was it the local townspeople who disliked the Jews. What a tangled web of intrigue, including Halina’s own mysterious past. I really enjoyed the read. The author does a great job of developing the characters (which I always like). This is no light read if you consider the subject matter, although it IS a novel (but based on fact). Nor is it a spy thriller – it’s more just an historical novel with lots of interesting people throughout. There’s a romance thrown in too, and a whole lot of angst about the discoveries found in the mass grave. But, the subject expanded my knowledge about forensics.

The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece by Jonathan Harr. I just LOVED this book. I’ve never been much of a fan of Caravaggio’s paintings, although I’ve seen plenty of them (many are extremely large) in museums around the world. His paintings were dark, often with dark subjects. But as with many of the old masters, occasionally some obscure work surfaces, perhaps credited to another artist, even, that turns out to be one done by “the” master. In this case, Caravaggio. Although this book is written as a novel (with dialogue, etc.) it’s historical through and through. It begins with two young women art scholars, in Italy, who are asked to do a research project. One thing leads to another, and to another. All true.  If you enjoy books about art – I learned some things about the paint and the canvases of the time – you’ll be intrigued as I was.

Eye On the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press, by James, McGrath Morris. Each year my AAUW book club reads something related to Black History Month. This is a biography of a woman you’ve probably never heard of, Ethel Payne, and about her life-long journey in journalism, struggling to keep her head above water financially, but staying true to her purposes of telling the truth about the black stories and black racism of the day. Sometimes biographies aren’t all that riveting, but I found this one to be so, and I savored each new chapter. We had a really good discussion of the book, and the ups and downs of Payne’s life, especially during her years as a Washington reporter. You’ll not be sorry to have spent the time reading this book. It’s well-written, as well. I was thrilled when the author, Morris, left a message here on my blog, thanking me (and my group) for reading his book.

H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald. This one has been on the best seller list. It’s a memoir about a woman who takes on a personal challenge of taming a wild hawk. Prior to reading this book, I knew next to nothing about the entire subject of hawking, or taming any of the big, wild birds. The book is equally about the writer’s inner journey. She’s a consummate writer, and every page was a joy of words, for me. My only problem is my own – I found it hard, the more time that went by, and the more time the writer spent trying to tame this bird, to scream out “let the bird go.” Perhaps it’s because I spent time in Africa in 2015, seeing animals in the wild, that I felt more for the bird than I did with the writer’s discontent with herself and the taming process. Little did I know what a hard job it is to tame a hawk. I actually didn’t finish the book. It was a book club read, and highly recommended by several of our members. And I ended up not being able to attend the meeting as I had a cold. So perhaps there is some great ending to it that would have made me feel better. I haven’t gone to the end to find out. I just had to stop reading it. But I’m not NOT recommending it. If nothing else, read it for Macdonald’s sublime proficiency with words.

Also read George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution, by Brian Kilmeade and Dan Yaeger. Here’s what it says on amazon: When George Washington beat a hasty retreat from New York City in August 1776, many thought the American Revolution might soon be over. Instead, Washington rallied—thanks in large part to a little-known, top-secret group called the Culper Spy Ring. He realized that he couldn’t defeat the British with military might, so he recruited a sophisticated and deeply secretive intelligence network to infiltrate New York. I won’t exactly call this book a riveting read, but it was interesting. Relating facts that few people knew about, this Culper Spy Ring. It’s a little chunk of American history researched in depth by the authors. An interesting read.

Also read The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel by Nina George. If you’re an avid reader, you probably have the same kind of longing as I do for a quaint, independently owned bookstore right around the corner. So few exist anymore. This novel is about a very unusual book store, and book store owner. In Paris. On a boat/barge. It’s not a typical book store, and the writer takes you on a journey of discovery about (likely) her own lifetime of book reading. You’ll learn all about a variety of existing books and why they’re a good read. But it’s all cloaked in a story about this book store and the owner. And the customers. Very fun. I’m reviewing it for one of my book clubs next month.

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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