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Just finished 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 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 parents were 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 a old 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 finished 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.

Recently finished reading 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.

Also just read Eye On the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press, by James, McGrath Morris. Each year my AAUW book club reads something related to Black History Month. This is a biography of a woman you’ve probably never heard of, Ethel Payne, and about her life-long journey in journalism, struggling to keep her head above water financially, but staying true to her purposes of telling the truth about the black stories and black racism of the day. Sometimes biographies aren’t all that riveting, but I found this one to be so, and I savored each new chapter. We had a really good discussion of the book, and the ups and downs of Payne’s life, especially during her years as a Washington reporter. You’ll not be sorry to have spent the time reading this book. It’s well-written, as well. I was thrilled when the author, Morris, left a message here on my blog, thanking me (and my group) for reading his book.

Also read H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald. This one has been on the best seller list. It’s a memoir about a woman who takes on a personal challenge of taming a wild hawk. Prior to reading this book, I knew next to nothing about the entire subject of hawking, or taming any of the big, wild birds. The book is equally about the writer’s inner journey. She’s a consummate writer, and every page was a joy of words, for me. My only problem is my own – I found it hard, the more time that went by, and the more time the writer spent trying to tame this bird, to scream out “let the bird go.” Perhaps it’s because I spent time in Africa in 2015, seeing animals in the wild, that I felt more for the bird than I did with the writer’s discontent with herself and the taming process. Little did I know what a hard job it is to tame a hawk. I actually didn’t finish the book. It was a book club read, and highly recommended by several of our members. And I ended up not being able to attend the meeting as I had a cold. So perhaps there is some great ending to it that would have made me feel better. I haven’t gone to the end to find out. I just had to stop reading it. But I’m not NOT recommending it. If nothing else, read it for Macdonald’s sublime proficiency with words.

Also read George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution, by Brian Kilmeade and Dan Yaeger. Here’s what it says on amazon: When George Washington beat a hasty retreat from New York City in August 1776, many thought the American Revolution might soon be over. Instead, Washington rallied—thanks in large part to a little-known, top-secret group called the Culper Spy Ring. He realized that he couldn’t defeat the British with military might, so he recruited a sophisticated and deeply secretive intelligence network to infiltrate New York. I won’t exactly call this book a riveting read, but it was interesting. Relating facts that few people knew about, this Culper Spy Ring. It’s a little chunk of American history researched in depth by the authors. An interesting read.

Also read The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel by Nina George. If you’re an avid reader, you probably have the same kind of longing as I do for a quaint, independently owned bookstore right around the corner. So few exist anymore. This novel is about a very unusual book store, and book store owner. In Paris. On a boat/barge. It’s not a typical book store, and the writer takes you on a journey of discovery about (likely) her own lifetime of book reading. You’ll learn all about a variety of existing books and why they’re a good read. But it’s all cloaked in a story about this book store and the owner. And the customers. Very fun. I’m reviewing it for one of my book clubs next month.

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 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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