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Currently Reading

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Recently finished reading 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.

The Last Midwife: A Novel by Sandra Dallas. It’s a very, very good read. It tells the story of an older married woman who lives in a small mining town in the Colorado rockies (this is the mid-1800’s), and is well known by all because she’s the only midwife in the area. Often people can’t pay her anything, or very little for her days of service with little or no rest or food. Suddenly, a couple accuse her of strangling their infant. Hence the story is about how this small town rallies or rails for or against Gracy. She didn’t commit the crime, but not everyone can be convinced since the angry father is a wealthy and influential man in the area. There’s plenty of relationship issues here, which make really great fodder for a novel. And there are plenty of characters in the book that you’ll love or hate. Some secrets get dredged up too. Oh, such a good read.


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)!

Apple Cranberry Sauce (a side with meat)
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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