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Just finished a quirky book, Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel by Rachel Khong. She’s a new writer (newly published, I guess I should say) and this story is about Ruth, a 30+ something, trying to readjust to life without her fiance, who’s dumped her. She goes back home to help with the care of her father, who has Alzheimer’s. Written in a diary style, it jumps all over about her life, her mother, the funny, poignant things her father says on good days, and the nutty stuff he does on not-so-good days, her ex-, and her very quirky friends, too. Then a woman flits through who had had an affair with her father –  you get to observe all the angst from the mom about that. Mostly it’s about her father, as he’s relatively “together” early in the book, but then he disintegrates. Reading that part isn’t fun, although the author is able to lean some humor into it. I’m not sure I recommend the book exactly – I read it through – and felt sad. It doesn’t tie up loose ends – if you want that kind of book – you may not want to read this one.

Also finished Julian Fellowes’s Belgravia. You know Julian Fellowes, the producer and writer of Downton Abbey? He lends his mind to a story about a family or two from the similar time period as Downton, who live in London. There’s some amount of intrigue, romance, observations from within the halls of wealthy Londoners and moderately well off tradesmen and their families. There’s affairs, shady business dealings, an illegitimate child, the comings and goings of the “downstairs” staff too, etc. The characters were well done – I had no trouble keeping all of the people identified. The story is somewhat predictable, but it was interesting clear up to the end.

The Letter by Kathyrn Hughes. It’s a very intricate tale. At first it’s about Tina, a battered wife [at which point I paused and wondered if I wanted to read any further, but I’m glad I did]. She tries to get the courage to leave her husband. Then enters the letter she finds in a suit pocket in the thrift shop where she volunteers. It’s old – sealed and stamped, but never mailed. Then you learn about Crissie, decades earlier, a young pregnant girl who is sent off to Ireland to a distant relative by her father, then to a rigid (meaning horrible) convent [the book takes place mostly in Manchester, England and in rural Ireland]. The letter is addressed to her. Jump forward decades and William, the adopted child Crissie gave up, tries to find his birth mother. William meets Tina in Ireland [a serendipitous moment] as she’s trying to find the woman to whom the letter is addressed. This book is the #2 best seller on Amazon at the moment. It’s a riveting tale and I really enjoyed it.

The Muralist: A Novel by Shapiro. It tells the story of a young woman, an artist, who was part of the U.S.’s WPA mural project from the 1930s-40s (she is fiction, the WPA is not). As with so many artists, even today, they live in abject poverty through much of their lives. This woman, though, had family in France, desperately trying to escape before Hitler’s henchmen rousted them into concentration camps. The story, a bit of a mystery but not of the mystery-genre, is about Alizée Benoit, this young painter, who slightly captivates Eleanor Roosevelt’s help. It also skips into current time when the painter’s great-niece uncovers paintings she believes were painted by her aunt. The painter had disappeared into thin air in 1940, and her relative tries desperately to find out what happened to her. It’s a really good story including such Abstract Expressionist painters as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner well-woven into the narrative. It keeps you guessing right up to the end. A good read. The author also wrote The Art Forger: A Novel a few years ago.

Also recently read 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 free-lance 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 family was 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 an old (wild) 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. Just read this one first!

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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Biscotti!

Chocolate Almond Biscotti
Easy Chocolate Biscotti (from Farmgirl Susan)


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Brownies!

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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