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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.

Scroll down to the bottom to view my Blogroll

Recipes highlighted in red are some of my all-time favorites. Click on the title below to go to that section.

Chutneys and Marmalades!

Apple Chutney
Apple Onion Chutney
Balsamic Onion Marmalade
Cranberry Chutney
Lemon Shallot Chutney (actually a relish for grilled meat)
Mango Chutney
Nigel Slater’s Plum Chutney
Onion Pepper Marmalade
Peach Chutney
Peperonata (a bell pepper garnish or side)
Tomato Jam (so delicious on cream cheese)
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Dessert Sauces!

Bing Cherry Compote (topping for ice cream)
Mango Coulis
Rainier Cherry Compote (also for ice cream)
Regal Chocolate Sauce
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Fruit Sides!

Chunky Cider Applesauce (great with roast pork)
Roasted Figs
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Salsas and Relishes!

Black Bean Salsa
Blueberry and Ginger Salsa
Caramelized Onions with Dark Rum & Thyme
Chimichurri Sauce (for grilled meat)
Cranberry Port Gelee (Canal House) (sweet – for Thanksgiving turkey)
Cranberry Relish (sweet – for Thanksgiving turkey – contains cranberries, orange and apple)
Lemon Shallot Chutney (for grilled meat)
Mango Sambal
Mango Strawberry Salsa
Orange And Tomato Salsa
Peppers for Cold Meat
Pineapple Achar Relish
Pineapple Lentil Relish
Pineapple Salsa
Quick Preserved Lemon
Sour Cream Topping for Baked Potatoes
Spicy Lemon Orange Salsa
Tomato Caper Relish
Torrisi’s Spicy Sauce (a canned cherry pepper relish puree to serve with meats)
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Other (including Rubs, Sauces and Gravy)!

Balsamic Browned Butter (a sauce to go on top of green veggies)
Bacon-Onion Compound Butter (on top of steaks)
Bell Pepper Relish for Meat
Black Bean Sauce (not really a sauce, but not exactly a salsa either)
Bobby Flay’s Steak Rub
Caramelized Onions and Bourbon Sauce (for grilled meat)
Chili Maple Sauce (for fish, chicken, pork)
Citrus Rosemary Gray Salt (about the product)
Cucumber Herb Butter for Tea Sandwiches
Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
Harissa Bacon Mayo Dipping Sauce (to serve with artichokes)
Harissa Yogurt Sauce (great with grilled meat)
Leftover Sauce for Meat (to serve over meat leftovers)
Little Girlie’s Green Sauce (to serve with meat – healthy too)
Maple Mustard Vinegar Sauce (for fish, pork and chicken)
Memphis Rub
Mississippi Comeback Sauce
Mock Bearnaise Sauce (much lower in fat)
Mustard Sauce (especially good with ham)
Microwave Mustard Sauce (for Corned Beef)
Monet’s Tomato Gravy (Sauce)
Mushroom Whiskey (Scotch) Gravy (to serve over good grilled steak)
Onion Sticky Gravy (to serve with dinner-style sausages)
Peppered Pecans (for salads or nibbling out of hand)
Pickled Carrots
Pig Picker Pucker Sauce (a North Carolina style non-tomato BBQ sauce)
Remoulade Sauce
Short Crust Pastry (regular and press-in pastry)
Siciliana Sauce
Tarragon Lemon Butter (a compound butter)
Tartar Sauce (made with cottage cheese)
Turkey Gravy (that goes with an Italian Sausage Dressing)
Watermelon BBQ Sauce
Yucatecan Pickled Onions
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