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Currently Reading

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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.

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Recipes highlighted in red are some of my all-time favorites. The fish and shellfish recipes are divided up in several sections. Click on the title below to go to that section. There is some overlap – the SOUPS section of the index may have some fish recipes. These below are main dishes mostly.


Amber Halibut Steaks
Broiled Halibut with Lemon Aioli
Cornflake Crusted Halibut with Aioli
Crispy Parmesan Fish (Halibut) with Capers & Lemon
Greek Style Halibut
Halibut Balsamico
Halibut Osso Buco
Halibut Provencal with Yukon Gold Potatoes
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Orange Roughy!

Almond Crusted Orange Roughy
Parmesan Crusted Fish Filets
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Achiote Salmon with Beurre Blanc Sauce
Baked Salmon with Agave & Lime
Baked Salmon with Honey Mustard
Cedar-Planked Fire Roasted Salmon
Cedar-Planked Salmon
Fillet of Salmon with Dill Sauce (sous vide 140°)
Grilled Salmon with Lemon Piccata Caper Sauce
Slow Roasted Chipotle Salmon
Crispy Salmon with Lentil Salad
Grilled Salmon on Caesar Salad
Grilled Salmon with Watercress Salad
Mustard Salmon on Bean Ragu
Pancetta-Wrapped Salmon
Pan-Seared Salmon with Tomatoes
Pecan Crusted Salmon with Artichoke Tartar Sauce
Pistachio Crusted Salmon with Apricot Glaze
Poached Salmon with Herb Caper Vinaigrette
Salmon Cakes with Bacon (canned salmon)
Salmon Dill Salad (good for leftover salmon)
Salmon Moqueca (a fish soup)
Salmon Papillotes (foil pouches)
Salmon Steaks with Soy Sauce, Maple Glaze
Salmon with Leeks, Maple and Orange Sauce
Salmon with Asparagus Pesto
Salmon with Maple Syrup and Thyme
Salmon with Orange and Leek Sauce
Salmon with Parsnips
Salmon with Pickled Ginger
Steamed Salmon with Capers (done in a Lekue Steam Box)
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Tarragon Sauce for Salmon


Scallops with Blood Orange Gastrique
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Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp, Zucchini and Lemony Cream Sauce
Barbecued Southern Shrimp
Caribbean Spinach Shrimp Salad
Crunchy Shrimp with Couscous Salad and Spicy Sauce
Grilled Shrimp with Bread Croutons and Romesco Sauce
Grilled Shrimp with Polenta and Corn Cakes
Grilled Shrimp with Tabouleh Salad
Linguine with Lemon-Garlic Shrimp
Risotto with Avocado Tomato Salsa and Shrimp
Seafood Paella
Shrimp Al Pastor on Pasta with Pineapple, Cilantro
Shrimp and Creamy Grits
Shrimp and Orzo Salad with Feta
Shrimp, Scallops & Calamari in Coconut Lime Sauce
Shrimp Khichdi (an Indian rice dish)
Shrimp Sliders

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Filet of Sole with Almond Sauce (Julia Child)
Filet of Sole Salad with Bacon, Shallots and Asian Dressing
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Skewered Swordfish Souvlaki
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Crispy Tilapia with Fennel Tzatziki Sauce
Indian Broiled Fish
Tilapia Curry with Roasted Indian Spices
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Broiled Trout with Bacon, Onions & Raisins
Trout Filets
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Clementine’s Tuna Pasta Salad>
Sicilian Tuna Salad (canned tuna)
Tuna La Scala (also uses canned tuna)
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BouillabaisseCurry Coconut Fish Stew
Fresh Crab Cakes
Sea Bass with Potato Leek Crust
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