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Currently Reading

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Just finished another great book, 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.

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Recipes highlighted in red are some of my all-time favorites. These dessert 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 COOKIES!

Posts (Informational) – About Specific Fruits or Dessert Things:
Peaches and Nectarines


Brownie Bottom Pudding Pie
Bailey’s Cream Cheese Brownies
S’Mores Brownies
Chewy Brownies
Chocolate Chunk Brownies
Classic Brownies (the Best Ever)
Heavenly Cream Cheese Brownies
Irish Cream Brownies
New Method Cream Cheese Brownies Brownies
Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies

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Cakes, Cupcakes and Cheesecake!

86 Proof Chocolate Cake (Maida Heatter)
Almond Buttermilk Cake
Almond Cake with Lemon & Creme Fraiche Glaze
Angel Food Cake (GF)
Anise Cake a la Coyote Cafe

Apples – Apple Pear Upside Down Cake
Apples – Apple Raisin Custard Cake
Apples – Apple Pie Cake with Brown Sugar and Rum Sauce
Apples – Apple Sharlotka
Apples – Apple Snacking Spice Cake
Apples – Applesauce Spice Cake with Caramel Topping
Apples – Babette Friedman’s Apple Cake
Apples – Cajun Apple Cake with Brandy Drizzle
Apples – Caramelized Apple Gingerbread
Apples – Emily Luchetti’s 50-Year Apple Cake with Crumb Topping
Apples – Ginger Apple Cake Torte
Apples – Mrs. Paxton’s Apple Cake
Apples – Grandgirl’s Fresh Apple Cake
Apples – Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake
Apples – Rum Raisin Apple Cake with Apricot Glaze
Apples – Rustic Raw Apple Cake
Apples – Teddie’s Apple Cake
Apples – Umbrian Apple Apple Cake with Cider Creme Anglaise

Applesauce Bundt Cake with Caramel Icing

Apricots – Apricot Plum Raspberry Strudel Cake
Apricots – Roasted Apricot Almond Cake
Apricots – Apricot Nectar Cake (bundt cake)

Blueberry Nutmeg Cake
Banana Caramel Chocolate Chip Cake
Blood Orange Polenta Upside Down Cake
Brown Sugar Cake
Brown Sugar Berry Shortcakes
Carrot Cake (used to be my favorite – – see next one below)
Neva Tee’s Carrot Cake (layer cake)

Cheesecake – Lemon Cheesecake
Cheesecake – Lindy’s Cheesecake (New York City fame)
Cheesecake – Sweet Potato Cheesecake
Cheesecake – Gourmet Cheesecake
Cheesecake – Peach Yogurt Cheesecake

Chocolate – 86 Proof Chocolate Cake (Maida Heatter)
Chocolate – Bittersweet Chocolate Almond Torte
Chocolate – Bittersweet Chocolate Pear Cake
Chocolate – Chocolate Chip Banana Loaf Cake
Chocolate – Chocolate Citrus Almond Torte GF
Chocolate – Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Lecha Frosting
Chocolate – Chocolate Dried Cranberry Sponge Cake
Chocolate – Chocolate Grand Marnier Decadence Cake
Chocolate – Chocolate Guinness Cake
Chocolate – Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
Chocolate – Chocolate Mug Cake (a single serving cake in a mug)
Chocolate – Chocolate Olive Oil Cake (an easy one using a cake mix)
Chocolate – Chocolate Pistachio Bundt Cake (an easy one using a cake mix)
Chocolate – Chocolate Sponge Roll
Chocolate – Chocolate Walnut Truffle Cake
Chocolate – Craggy Chocolate Cake (kind of a souffle cake with a crinkly top)
Chocolate – Flourless Chocolate Cake with Caramel Sauce
Chocolate – French Chocolate Cake
Chocolate – German Chocolate Chip Cake (an easy family favorite using box mix)
Chocolate – Hazelnut Chocolate Torte
Chocolate – Joanne Weir’s Mom’s Best Chocolate Cake
Chocolate – Mexican Chocolate Almond Torte (GF)
Chocolate – Mexican Chocolate Torte with Brown Sugar Glaze
Chocolate – Mocha Pecan Roll
Chocolate – Mocha Chip Chiffon Cake
Chocolate – Mocha Sheet Cake with Chocolate Frosting and Pecans
Chocolate – Molten Chocolate Cake with Caramel Sauce
Chocolate – Orange Chocolate Souffle Cake
Chocolate – Rocky Road Coca-Cola Cake
Chocolate – Silky Chocolate Cake
Chocolate – Triple Chocolate Torte with Raspberry Sauce
Chocolate – Unbelievable Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Cocoa Spice Cake

Cupcakes – Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting (Ina Garten mix — no longer available)
Cupcakes – Chocolate Spice Cupcakes
Cupcakes – Cocoa Creme Fraiche Cupcakes
Cupcakes – Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting

Danish Dream Cake
Dates – Moroccan Date Cake
Four Spice Cake

Gingerbread – Ginger Spice Cake with Dried Cherries
Gingerbread – Classic (moist and light)
Gingerbread – Laurie Colwin’s Damp Gingerbread
Hazelnut Shortcakes with Plum Raspberry Compote
Honey Glazed Spago Cornbread Cake

Kahlua Bundt Cake
Lemon Bundt Cake (from a mix – easy)
Lemon – Lemon Cake (Ina Garten’s)
Lemon – Lemon Cake with Lemoncello and Lime Mousse
Lemon – Lemon Curd Frosted Angel Food Cake
Lemon – Lemon Upside Down Cake
Lemon – Lemoniest Lemon Ice Box Cake
Chocolate – Chocolate Walnut Truffle Cake
Mace Cake
Orange – Dario’s Olive Oil Cake
(a dense style bundt cake)
Peach Raspberry Streusel Cake
Pear Upside Down Cake
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (Thomas Keller’s)
Plum Blueberry Kuchen
Purple Plum Torte

Pound Cake – Anise Pound Cake
Pound Cake – Chocolate Coconut Pound Cake
Pound Cake – Grilled Pound Cake with Balsamic Peaches
Pound Cake – Almond Pound Cake with Limoncello
Pumpkin Cake (in a pumpkin mold)
Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Gingersnaps – a very tender and beautiful cake
Rhubarb – Fern’s Rhubarb Cake
Rhubarb-Almond Cake
Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
Rum Cake (kind of a cross between a pound cake and a sponge cake – amazing)
Stone Fruit Tea Cake
Tres Leches Cake
Warm Honey Gingerbread
Wattleseed Bundt Cake
Woodford Pudding (a cake-like pudding)
Yellow Cake with Fudge Frosting (made from scratch super-tender cake)
Zebra Cake (chocolate and vanilla, zebra design)

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Cobblers and Crisps!

Apple Bread Crumb Pudding (kind of like an apple pie without any crust
Apple Cobbler with a Cookie Crust
(My Mom’s) Apricot Cobbler
Berry Cobbler – with cream biscuits on top
Blueberry Buckle
Brown Sugar Apple Cobbler – with brown sugar biscuits
Crisp Apple Pudding (really it’s an Apple Crisp – my all-time favorite, my mother’s recipe)
Peach Bourbon Cobbler
Peach Cobbler
Peach Cobbler with Almond Flavoring
Peach Cobbler – Dottie’s Peach Cobbler
Peach Cobbler – Texas Style
Peach Crisp
Peach-Blackberry Crisp with Cream Biscuits
Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce
Peaches a la Piemontese
Pear Cobbler
GF Pear Crisp
Pear Cranberry (and Vanilla) Crumble
Pear Crisp
Plum and Almond Cobbler
Raspberry Brown Sugar Gratin
Rhubarb Crisp
Southern Peach Cobbler
Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

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Dessert Sauces!

Bing Cherry Compote
Chocolate Syrup (oh gosh, this stuff is delicious!)
Lemon Curd (not my favorite – see the one just below)
Lemon Curd from America’s Test Kitchen
Mango Coulis
Orange Ginger Custard Sauce
Plum Compote
Regal Chocolate Sauce

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Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Gelato!

Amaretto Ice Cream
Apricot Ice Cream
Balsamic Fig Sherbet
Ginger Ice Cream
Honey Lavender Ice Cream
Honeydew Mint Sorbet
Lemon Ginger Frozen Yogurt
Lemon Velvet Ice Cream
Olive Oil Gelato
Peach Ice Cream
Peach Buttermilk Ice Cream (like a sherbet – healthy)
Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream
Roasted Banana Ice Cream
Roasted Peach Ice Cream
Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
Sour Cream Ice Cream
Strawberry Ice Cream with Kirsch
Wattleseed Ice Cream (but you’ll have to GET wattleseed from Australia to make it)

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Pies and Tarts!

My favorite Short Crust Press-In Tart Shell
Apple & Champagne Custard Torte
Apple Crumb Pie
Blueberry Sour Cream Tart
Chocolate – Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Torte with Chocolate Caramel Sauce
Chocolate – Chocolate Apricot Torte
Danish Almond Puff (kind of like a coffeecake)
Chocolate – French Chocolate Silk Pie
Chocolate – Dark Chocolate Almond Tart
Furr’s Millionaire Pie (a pineapple cream pie)
Hot Lemon Souffle Tart (Julia Child’s)
Candied Kumquat Ricotta Cookie Tart
Lemon Buttermilk Pie
Peach Galette
Pear and Chocolate Tart
(My Mom’s) Pear Pie
Plum Sour Cream Tart
Pumpkin Pie with Ginger
Raspberry Almond Truffle Tart (chocolate)

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Puddings, Bread Puddings, Custards, Pudding Cakes, Steamed Puddings!

Aarti’s Indian Rice Pudding
Apple Bread Crumb Pudding
Arborio Rice Pudding
Blackberry White Chocolate Fool
ButterSCOTCH Pudding
Chocolate Mousse (quick – made in a blender)
Chocolate Pudding
Chocolate Tres Leches Tiramisu
Cinnamon Apple Pudding Cake
Coconut Tapioca Pudding
Coffee Cardamom Pot de Creme
Ginger Creme Brulee
Heavenly Rice Pudding
Lemon Panna Cotta with Blueberry Sauce
Milk Chocolate Pudding
Moro’s Noodle Pudding
Old Fashioned Lemon Pudding
Orange Ginger Custard Pudding (it’s a sauce, but it’s also great as a pudding)
Panna Cotta with Strawberries
Pumpkin Butterscotch Angel Food Pudding
Pumpkin Praline Pudding
Rice Pudding
Ricotta Souffle Pudding
Salted Caramel Apple Parfaits
Ultimate Lemon Mousse
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Blackberry Zinfandel Sauce
Very Creamy Vanilla Rice Pudding
Woodford Pudding (a kind of cake-pudding)

Bread Puddings:
Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce
Chocolate Banana Croissant Bread Pudding
Cinnamon Raisin Apple Bread Pudding
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Orange Ginger Custard Sauce
Raspberry Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
White Chocolate Bread Pudding

Almond Custard
Normandy Apricot Custard
Blackberry, Fig and Ginger Clafouti
Pear Clafoutis

Pudding Cakes:
Chocolate Upside Down Baked Nut Pudding Cake
Cranberry Pudding Cake
Gingerbread Pudding Cake
Lemon Pudding Cake
Lemon Sponge Pudding
Montreal Maple Pudding (Pudding Chomeur)
Peach Pudding Cake
Sticky Chocolate Sponge Pudding
Warm Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Cake

Steamed Puddings:
Chocolate Steamed Pudding

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Other – Everything Else!

Black Raspberry Ice Cream Float
Brownie Bottom Pudding Pie
Chocolate Amaretti Torte
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Chocolate Ribbon Dessert (a layered dessert)
Cranberry Porter Trifle
Frosty Strawberry Squares (frozen dessert)
Kumquats – Poached Kumquats with Vanilla Syrup
Lemon Curd
Lemon-Lime Macaroon Bars
Lime Chocolate Delicious (a Jell-O dessert – eh)
Mixed Berry Meringue Parfait (easy)
Oranges in Vanilla Syrup
Pavlova (meringue shell with fruit & whipped cream on top)
Pineapple Refrigerator Dessert
Plums – Spicy Plum Soup
Portuguese Custard Tartlets
Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle (easy)
Pumpkin Spice Gingerbread Trifle
Raspberry Lemon Sorbet Floats
Roasted Stone Fruit Olive Oil Madeleines
Strawberry Chocolate Refrigerator Dessert (a Jell-o dessert – eh)
Tiramisu – Orange Tiramisu (oh my gosh, SO delicious, nontraditional)
Tiramisu – Pumpkin Amaretti Cookie Tiramisu (very different – everything about tiramisu but with pumpkin)
Tiramisu (another one – this from Cook’s Illustrated – I prefer this one)

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