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I’m going to write up an entire blog post about this book. It may be one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s a memoir by Pat Conroy (an author I’ve long admired). He died a year or so ago – sad, that. In order to get the most out of My Reading Life, I recommend you BUY THE HARDBACK. I can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s an autobiography of sorts, but not really. He never wrote one, I don’t think, and I doubt he would ever have written one as he likely didn’t believe anyone would want to read about his (sad) life. In this memoir, he chronicles the books (and the people who recommended them) that influenced his life. Starting at his mother’s knees and continuing through influential teachers and mentors and friends. One of my book clubs read it, and I devoured it, cover to cover, with little plastic flags inserted all the way through to re-read some of the prose. Pat Conroy was a fabulous writer – he studied words from a young age and used them widely and wisely throughout his writing, but better than most authors would. He adored his mother, and hated (with venom) his aviator military father who physically abused everyone in the family, including his mother. They all took it like stoic Buddhas. I’m going to have to read Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel because of reading this book. I’ve never read it. Conroy says that book’s first page is the best first page of any book he ever read in his life. Wow. And maybe my book group is going to re-read Tolstoy’s War and Peace (Vintage Classics) too because of the chapter on that book. We might have to assign that to a 2-month or longer read. If you have friends or family who are avid readers, this would make a great gift, this book, My Reading Life. If YOU are a reader, it needs to be on your bookshelf, but in hardback, so you can go back to it and re-read his stories. It’s a series of essays, each one about a sub-section of his life. A must-have and a must-read.

Also read The Towers of Tuscany by Carol Cram. It was a bargain book through amazon or bookbub (e-book). Back in the Middle Ages women were forbidden to be artists. Their only place was in the home, caring for children and sewing and cooking. But the heroine in this book was taught to paint by her widowed artist-father (in secret, of course). When her father suddenly dies, all hell breaks loose and she must fend for herself. Much of the book takes place in Florence as she disguises herself as a boy in order to continue her life’s passion – painting. Very interesting story and worth reading.

Also finished The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin. It popped up on a list I subscribe to and was available for $1.13 as an e-book. As it begins, you’re hearing from A.J., a grieving widower who owns a bookstore on an obscure island off the East Coast. He’s angry, rude and every other negative adjective you can imagine. A book rep comes to visit and he’s awful to her, yet she perseveres and manages to sell him a few books. You get to know his friends (a friendship with him is full of sharp points) and one day an abandoned toddler is found in his bookshop. In between the story line about A.J., the book rep, the little girl and others, you will learn all about A.J.’s book tastes. If you’re an avid reader, you’ll really enjoy that part. It’s a charming book; loved it.

Also read 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 need that kind of book – you may not want to read this one.

 

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:
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

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 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 – 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
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!

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
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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