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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 salad recipes are divided up in several sections. Click on the title below to go to that section.

Bean Salads!

Black Bean & Mango Salsa Salad
Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Corn and Black Bean Salad
Shaved Asparagus and White Cannellini Bean Salad
The BEST Bean Salad (Paul Prudhomme’s recipe and he named it)
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Bread and Grain Salads!

Georgia Cracker Salad
Green Panzanella, Chicken and Pasta Salad
Grilled Panzanella Salad
Meyer Lemon Harvest Grain Salad with Asparagus
Pea & Bacon Panzanella Salad
Quinoa Salad with Shiitakes, Fennel and Cashews
Summer Grilled Panzanella Salad
Tomato Bread Salad with with Corn and Mozzarella
Wild Rice Salad
Zov’s Lentil Salad
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Fruit Salads!

Melon with Prosciutto
Minted Watermelon Feta Salad
Persimmon, Orange and Pomegranate Salad
Tomato Watermelon Salad
Watermelon and Nectarine Salad with Mint
Watermelon Arugula Feta Salad
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Green Salads!

Apple, Dried Cherry, Walnut Green Salad
Arugula Salad with Bacon and Balsamic Fig Dressing
Arugula Salad with Grapes, Fennel and Pecans
Arugula and Radicchio Salad with Blue Cheese, Walnuts and Oranges
BLT Salad (bacon, lettuce, tomato in a salad)
Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette (Salad)
Cocina Salad with Lime Cilantro Dressing
Greens with Fresh Cranberries, Pecans and Apples with Lime Dressing
Escarole, Belgian Endive and Apple Salad
Field Greens with Fire Roasted Poblano Chiles
Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms with Arugula Salad
Greek Village Salad
Green Salad with Avocado Lime Vinaigrette and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
Green Salad with Chevre Dressing
Green Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Dill
Green Salad with Plums, Asian Pears and Grapes
Grilled Caesar Salad
Hearts of Romaine with Blue Cheese, Pecans and Pears
Heirloom Cherry Tomato, Fennel & Arugula Salad
Iceberg Lettuce Wedge with Blue Cheese
Italian Basil Salad with Parmesan Crisps
Layered Greek Salad
Lemony Green Salad
Orange and Endive Salad
Roasted Carrot, Feta and Arugula Salad
Romaine Leaf Salad with Oranges, Walnuts and Pecorino
Pesto Pea Spinach Salad
Rustic Green Salad with Roasted Figs and Goat Cheese
Salad with Tuna, Egg & Green Beans
Spinach and Berries Salad
Spinach, Jicama, & Orange Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Spinach Salad with Mango
Spinach Salad with Roasted Apples and Pecans
Syrian Pita Bread Green Salad
Watercress, Belgian Endive, Kalamata Olive Salad
Watermelon and Field Greens Salad
Winter Greens Salad with Bacon, Orange, Walnuts and Blue Cheese
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Main Dish Salads!

Cajun Chopped Salad with Shrimp & Andouille
Chicken on Greens with Chile Buttermilk Dressing
Chicken Breast Salad Caribbean
Chicken, Arugula, Corn and Parmesan Salad
Cobb Style Salad with Mustard Crusted Grilled Chicken
Couscous Chicken Salad
Curried Chicken and Rice Salad
Deconstructed Chicken Caesar Salad
Fumi Chinese Chicken Salad
Grilled Caesar Salad with Chicken
Grilled Chicken Salad
Grilled Peach, Mozzarella and Chicken Salad
Grilled Sirloin Steak Caesar Salad
Grilled Steak Salad with Grilled Onions and Corn
Mexican Chopped Salad (with or without chicken)
Mexican Chopped Salad Take Two
Nicoise Style Chopped Salad with Shrimp
Pear, Arugula & Fennel Salad
Pacific Rim Shrimp Pasta Salad
Roasted Chicken Salad a la Zuni Cafe
Salade Nicoise
Seared Ahi Tuna Salad with Cannellini Beans
Seared Steak Salad
Shrimp on Lemony Watercress
Skirt Steak Salad with Tomatoes and Croutons
Summer Shrimp Salad
Thai Inspired Turkey Larb Salad
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Watermelon & Halloumi (cheese) Salad

Pasta Salads!

Asian Noodle Salad with Julienned Vegetables
Barbecued Macaroni Salad (dressing contains some BBQ sauce)
Curry Pasta Salad (from Namibia)
Grilled Oranges, Rice Noodle and Crab Salad
Joan’s Pasta Salad
Pasta Abrazzese with Tomato Confit
Pea, Cheese and Macaroni Salad
Sicilian Tuna Salad
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Potato and Rice Salads!

Basmati & Wild Rice Salad
Chipotle Potato Salad with Corn
Grilled Sweet Potato Salad
Potato Salad
Potato and Romaine Salad
Rice and Vegetable Salad (Silver Palate)
Roasted Sweet Potato Black Bean Salad with Jalapeno Dressing
Roasted Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Poblano Salad
Wild Rice Salad with Watercress
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Veggie Salads! (including cole slaws)

Algerian Carrots
Asian Slaw
Asparagus Summer Salad
Butternut Squash & Kale Salad
Cabbage, Apple and Dried Cranberry Slaw
Brussels Sprouts Salad (from Farmgirl Fare Susan)
Cabbage Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
Caesar Coleslaw
Carrot Ginger Slaw
Celery, Celery Root Salad with Horseradish
Celery, Date, Pecorino Salad
Cole Slaw with Peanuts and Buttermilk Dressing
Corn and Black Bean Salad
Corn, Tomato and Scallion Salad (healthy too)
Corn, Black Bean and Tomato Salad
Curried Apple & Pecan Broccoli Slaw
Fresh Corn Confetti Salad with Cilantro, Mint and Feta
Eggplant Salad (Mujadara – an Indian dish)
Grilled Veggie Salad with Mint and Feta
Heirloom Tomatoes with Mozzie and Balsamic
Hot Brussels Sprouts Salad with Dried Cranberries
Jicama Slaw
Kale Mix Salad
KFC Cole Slaw (no, it’s not really the recipe but I tried it anyway)
Lemony Green Bean Salad with Red Onion
Marinated Tomato Salad (Mrs. Nylander’s)
Moroccan Carrot Salad
Na’ama’s Fattoush Salad (a Middle-Eastern very veggie-centric salad)
Pea, Radish & Sugar Snap Salad
Radicchio Salad
Roasted Beet & Quinoa Salad
Scott’s Broccoli Salad
Spicy Carrot Salad with Arugula
Sweet Cabbage Slaw
Tex-Mex Jicama Salad
Tomato Corn Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette
Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese
Warm Moroccan Carrot and Spinach Salad
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Other Salads!

Armenian Parsley Walnut Salad
Lebanese Layered Salad
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