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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. 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:
Cherries
Peaches and Nectarines
Plums
Vanilla

Brownies!

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

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

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 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 – 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 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)
Cupcakes – Chocolate Spice Cupcakes
Cupcakes – Cocoa Creme Fraiche Cupcakes
Cupcakes – Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting

Dates – Moroccan Date Cake
Four Spice Cake

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
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (Thomas Keller’s)
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
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!

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 – 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!

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
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

Custards:
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
Tiramisu (another one – this from Cook’s Illustrated – I prefer this one)

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