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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.

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I make almost all of my own dressings. There are only a couple of bottled salad dressings that I’ll use, and that’s just rarely. Recipes highlighted in red are my favorites. The dressings are divided up in three sections. Click on the title below to go to that section. Some salads listed under the main SALADS page have dressings that go with them and not all of those are titled here.

Creamy Dressings!

Avocado Garlic Dressing
Avocado Green Goddess Dressing
Creamy Lemon Citronette
Garlic VIP Dressing
Green Goddess Dressing (traditional type, this one with tarragon)
Green Goddess Dressing (traditional type, but much better than the one above, this one from America’s Test Kitchen)
Mock Caesar Dressing
Divorce Salad Dressing
Mayo Caesar Salad Dressing
Sweet & Spicy Horseradish Dressing
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Vinaigrettes!

Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Balsamic Fig Dressing
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Basil Vinaigrette
Champagne Vinegar Tangerine Juice Dressing (very citrusy and low-calorie)
Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette (kind of a salad, not exactly a dressing)
Cranberry Vinaigrette (eh)
Creamy Garlic Blue Cheese Dressing (probably my #1 favorite dressing)
Creamy Herb Vinaigrette
Herb Mustard Vinaigrette
Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette with Dill
Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette
Lemon Sherry Vinegar Dressing
Lime Cilantro Dressing
Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
Molasses Honey Vinaigrette
Orange Jalapeno Vinaigrette
Orange Vanilla Vinaigrette
Rose’s Vinaigrette
Ruby Vinaigrette
Silver Palate’s Basic Vinaigrette
Tangerine Vinaigrette
Tomato, Blue Cheese and Saffron Vinaigrette
Velvet Vinaigrette (contains raw egg)
Vinaigrette (basic)
White Wine Vinaigrette
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Other!

Tikka Salad Dressing (an herb riff on Indian Tikka dishes)
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