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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. The pork and ham recipes are divided up in several sections. Click on the title below to go to that section. If pork (like sausage) is used in a soup, it’s under the SOUP category, not here under Pork. I have written up a blog post JUST about pork – the meat itself.

Chops!

Apple Brined Pork Chops Sous Vide 131°
Double Rib Pork Chops (Grilled) with Smoked Cinnamon
Grilled Pork Chops with Tomatillo Apple Sauce
Mongolian Pork Chops
Milk-Braised Pork Chops
Onion-Smothered Pork Chops
Pork Chops with Adobo Paste
Pork Chops with Apples & Dark Rum
Pork Chops with Basil Peanut Relish & Finger Limes
Pork Chops with Garlic Mustard Glaze
Pork Chops with Panko Crust
Pork Chops with Swiss Chard (a baked casserole)
Pork Chops with Apple Cider Sauce
Pork Chops with Sweet and Sour Cabbage
Southern Fried Pork Chops
Stuffed Pork Chops
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Ground Pork and Sausage (including sauces, meatloaf and casseroles)!

Lumpia (a fried Filipino turnover)
Mexican Black Bean Sausage Chili
Mister Charlie (casserole)
Piccadillo (a ground meat dish to serve over some kind of carb)
Sausage & Beef Enchilasagna
Swedish Meatballs a la Ikea
Zinfandel Sausage Sauce for Pasta
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Ham!

Ham Loaf (a ham meatloaf)
Ham Mousse (a filling for tea sandwiches)
Kurobuta Ham with Mustard Sauce (Kurobuta is also called Berkshire Pork)
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Ribs!

Asian Baby Back Ribs
Baby Back Ribs in Root Beer with Tomato Sauce
Baby Back Ribs with Peanut Butter Slather
Sweet and Spicy Barbecued Country Ribs
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Roasts!

Caramelized Carnitas Tacos
Crown Roast of Pork with Apple Gravy
Fruit Stuffed Pork Loin with Pear-Onion Sauce
Grilled Rack of Pork with Rosemary, Garlic and Sage
Mini-Roast with Memphis Rub
Pork Loin Roast with Apricot Glaze
Pulled Pork Sous Vide 140°
Roast Pork Loin with Apricot Compote
Roasted Chorizo-Stuffed Pork Loin
Rosemary Pork Loin
Slow Cooker Pork Sirloin Roast
Slow-Roasted Spiced Pork Shoulder
Smoked Pork Shoulder (in Brinkman smoker)
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Stews and Braises!

Crockpot Chile Verde
Malaysian Inspired Pork Stew
Pork and Green Chile Stew
Pork Osso Buco (like veal, but made in the same style)
Pork Ragu on Pasta
Pork Shoulder Ragu
Pork Stew with Calvados Cream
Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas
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Tenderloin!

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Buttermilk Brined Pork Tenderloin
Hoisin Sesame Pork Tenderloin Medallions
Pork Medallions with Chili Maple Sauce
Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Mushrooms and Bacon
Pork Tenderloin with Black Bean Salsa
Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Grape Sauce
Pork Tenderloin with Fennel
Pork Tenderloin with Fig and Port
Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Grape Chutney
Pork Tenderloin with Lemon, Herb Pesto and Sherry
Pork Tenderloin with Mango Sambal
Pork Tenderloin with Maple Mustard Vinegar Sauce
Pork Tenderloin with Maple Syrup and Mustard
Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Bourbon Cream Sauce
Pork Tenderloin with Onion Orange Pan Sauce
Pork Tenderloin with Pears and Pear Brandy Sauce
Pork Tenderloin with Pears and Mustard Port Sauce
Pork Tenderloin with Salsa Verde and Ancho Chile Sauce
Roast Pork Tenderloin Tangiers (Moroccan spices)
Rosemary Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Blackberry Sauce
Spice Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Succotash
Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Walnut Parmesan Crust
White Balsamic-Marinated Pork Tenderloin
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Other!

Andouille Sausage and Shrimp
Easy Cassoulet (contains sausage and chicken)
Fig, Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Pesto Pizza with Salad Top
Pork Enchilada Verde Casserole
Prosciutto Pizza with Mozzarella and Arugula Salad
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