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On my recent road trip, I visited one of my local libraries and borrowed 5 books on tape. We listened to 3 of them. I’m a big fan of Craig Johnson, the author of a series of mysteries taking place in Wyoming, and a TV series on Netflix called Longmire. This book, A Serpent’s Tooth: A Longmire Mystery was really complex. Hard to explain, but it’s about graft and greed and oil. Worth reading, for sure. Also read Stone Kiss by Faye Kellerman, another complex mystery about Lt Decker, an LA cop who journeys to NYC to help out his family when a murder occurs. Lots of violence in this one.  Not particularly a fav book, I’d venture. Then read Leaving Time: A Novel by Jodi Picoult. I’ve read most of her books – always very riveting. In this book, you’ll learn a whole lot about elephants since the protagonist in it is a young girl whose mother disappeared when she was quite young. Her parents ran an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire. In the ensuing years, Jenna has tried to find clues as to her mother’s whereabouts because she just cannot believe her mother would have up and abandoned her. There are a whole cast of characters (her mother, her father, employees at the sanctuary, a cop or two, and a psychic). All play fairly prominent roles. Fascinating book – I really liked it, almost as much for the education about the behavior of elephants as about the mystery. A great read.

Also on the trip, I read a book (on Kindle) for one of my book clubs, The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin. It’s about the relationship between Truman Capote and his “swans,” a group of aging high society ladies, and specifically Beth Paley. I don’t know whether to recommend this book or not. Truman Capote was not a nice man, although the whole novel (vs. non-fiction, which this is not) is conjured from speculation about the years Truman was kind of adopted by the group of women. He cared about all of them (most were married/divorced, wealthy women) but in the end he betrays them all by writing a novella about their secrets, their marriages, their affairs (theirs or their spouses, information they’d all shared with him, thinking he could be trusted with their innermost secrets). It was scandalous, and yes, all that part is true. I finished the book, but almost felt like I’d read a “dirty book.” There is no graphic detail in this book – it’s just what Capote did to destroy these women, supposedly his dear, darling “swans.” He was the villain in the book, and in his old age . . . well, I won’t spoil the story if you’re interested in reading it.

I’ve written up an entire blog post about this book. (It hasn’t been posted yet, but will soon.) 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 Siena (and also San Gimignano) as she disguises herself as a boy in order to continue her life’s passion – painting. Very interesting story and worth reading.

 

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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