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Just finished reading The German Girl: A Novel by Correa. It chronicles the story of a wealthy German Jewish family in Berlin, as the Nazis arrive and make life a living hell. The family is lucky (I guess you could say this) to be allowed to purchase passage on the M.S. St. Louis, a passenger liner, to take them to “the Americas.” The destination is actually Cuba. The story is told from two voices – the teenage daughter in this story, and from a current-day distant family member who is trying to learn about her ancestry. Of the 900+ passengers on the ship, only a few were allowed to disembark since the Cuban President decided he needed more money to accept them. Most families had no money left, as the Reich had taken nearly all of their assets. The daughter and her very eccentric mother were allowed to stay in Cuba.  The remaining passengers are rejected by the U.S. too, and eventually return to Europe, where most of the Jews end up dying in concentration camps. The story goes back and forth from the 1939 journey to current day as the link between the two women is slowly revealed. I had a tough time sometimes, tracking the people in this book, but the story was very riveting. It’s based on facts about the ship (see Wikipedia link above if you’re interested). A shameful chapter in history.

Recently finished reading a magnificent historical novel. Not new. Philippa Gregory has been a favorite author of mine for a couple of decades. You may remember her most famous book, The Other Boleyn Girl, published some years ago. I thought that was a really great book. I’ve read other books by Gregory, but most recently I read The King’s Curse (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels). The time period is the 1450s to 1541, mostly under the rule of King Henry VIII, the infamous womanizer and wife/Queen-killer. The man who cursed Rome/the Pope because he wanted his first marriage annulled because Queen Catherine couldn’t produce a living male heir. And subsequently made himself the head of the church in England in order to do so. It was a Catholic country at the time. This story (it’s fiction, but woven with intricate historical detail) is from the voice of a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine, Margaret of York, later titled Countess of Salisbury, but a Plantagenet in her own right (which is key to the later events in the book). Certainly I’ve read other novels over the years that dealt with Henry VIII, but not with this much breadth of info. What a wicked, sinful man he was. And did I say tyrant. Wow.  I could hardly put it down, through its nearly 600 pages. In the author’s notes at the end, she shares relatively recent medical info that suggests Henry probably suffered from a rare problem, Kell positive blood type, which can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and infant deaths IF the mother has the more common Kell negative blood type. And that in his later years, he may have had McLeod syndrome, a disease only found in Kell positive individuals. Around the age of 40 it causes physical degeneration and personality changes resulting in paranoia, depression and irrational behavior. All of those King Henry VIII had in spades. If you read the book, you might read the author’s notes (at the end) before reading the book. If you like historical fiction (I love any book about English history) you’ll just love this one. It’s interesting, though, as I think about the many books I’ve read covering this era in English history, that each book presented its hero/heroine as the most innocent and worthy individual vying for the crown of England. I remember thinking Anne Boleyn was dealt with so badly during her life (and certainly her beheading), and yet reading this book, I completely reversed my opinion. Anne Boleyn was called a wh–e by most people during the years she shared Henry’s bed. The “curse” from the title pertains to Henry’s inability or the curse on the Tudors, that caused him to fail in producing a male heir. In any case, none of Henry’s wives should have died for it – likely it was all Henry’s fault anyway. Just read this one, okay?

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, too!

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.

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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