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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 my favorites. The veggies and sides are divided up in several sections. Click on the title below to go to that section.

CARB SIDE DISHES (including pasta, polenta, potatoes, rice, etc.)!


BEANS and LEGUMES (if you’re interested, here’s a post containing a CHART on how to cook every kind of bean – the regular way, in a pressure cooker or in a slow cooker)
Barbecue Beans
Garbanzo Bean, Feta and Cilantro Salad
Garbanzo Bean Thai Curry Salad
Mujadara – Lebanese Lentils, Rice & Caramelized Onions
Tuscan White Beans
Western Style Baked Beans


BUTTERNUT and OTHER WINTER SQUASHES
About Winter Squash
Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin
Buttternut Squash Fries
Butternut Squash and Onion Gratin
Cornmeal and Kabocha Squash Polenta
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Maple Sauce
Yams, Carrots and Ginger
Yam Slices with Garlic and Rosemary


CARROTS and PARSNIPS
Algerian Carrots
Apple Parsnip Mash
French Glazed Carrots
Orange Spiced Carrots (easy, done in microwave)
Parsnips in Orange Sauce (low calorie, easy, pressure cooker)
Roasted Carrots with Feta Vinaigrette
Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
Roasted Carrots with Thyme
Roasted Root Vegetables with Olive Relish
Yams, Carrots and Ginger


FRUIT
Chunky Cider Applesauce with Walnuts


PASTA
Creamy Orzo with Corn, Spinach & Arugula
Fettucine with Artichokes and Prosciutto
French-style Poppy Seed Noodles
Israeli Couscous Salad with Tomato
Noodles and Cabbage
Noodle Kugel
Orzo Risotto
Orzo with Artichoke Hearts and Olive
Orzo with Dried Cherries and Almonds
Orzo with Peas, Dill, Pancetta and Lemon
Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce
Tofu Shirataki Noodles (not a recipe, really, but it’s a low-carb substitute for pasta)


POTATOES and SWEET POTATOES
Australian Style Potato Salad
BLT Smashed Potatoes (bacon, leeks and fresh tomatoes)
BLT Mashed Potatoes (bacon, leeks and sun dried tomatoes)
Broth-Braised Potatoes
Caribbean Sweet Potatoes (with bananas)
Celery Root & Potato Mash with Arugula
Crispy Potato Roast (a very dressy side dish)
German-Style Mashed Potatoes with Apples (great with sausages)
Goat Cheese Potato Gratin
Green Potatoes (mashed with Spinach)
Hash Brown Casserole
Mashed Potatoes, Make Ahead (Slow Cooker)
Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Cheddar and Chives
Mashed Potatoes with Blue Cheese & Caramelized Onions
Mashed Potatoes with Mascarpone Cheese
Mashed Potatoes with Shallots and Truffle Oil
Monterey Scalloped Potatoes
New Potato Salad with Chipotle Vinaigrette
Pear and Potato Gratin with Horseradish
Poblano, Potato and Corn Gratin
Potato and Onion Cakes
Potato, Corn and Spinach Gratin
Potato Gratin with Blue Cheese
Roasted Root Vegetables with Sage
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Sweet Potato Black Bean Salad with Jalapeno Dressing
Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes with Bacon and Parmesan
Smashed Potato Cakes with Rosemary Salt
Sweet Potato Gratin
The PERFECT Baked Potato


RICE and WILD RICE (including Risotto)
Armenian Rice Noodle Pilaf
Balinese Yellow Rice
Butternut Squash Risotto with Pancetta
Baked Rice Poblano Corn
Caribbean Rice
Champagne & Asparagus Risotto
Curried Pineapple Rice
Garlic Lime Cilantro Rice
Greek Spinach and Rice
Lemon Rice Pilaf
Lemon Southwest Rice
Mexican Rice
Mujadara (a Lebanese rice and lentil dish)
Mushroom Risotto (pressure cooker)
Rice Pilaf with Pistachios and Prunes
Rice with Pecans, Garlic and Spinach
Risotto with Mushrooms, Brandy & Cream
Saffron Basmati Rice
Saffron Risotto Cakes
Wild and Brown Rice


TURNIPS
Leek and Turnip Puree


OTHER
Apricot Almond Couscous
Boursin Polenta
Italian Sausage Dressing (for Turkey) with Leeks and Mushrooms
Mushroom Bread Pudding
Parmesan Cheesy Grits
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Vegetables!

ARTICHOKES
Baby Artichoke & Scallion Saute
Roasted Roman (Stuffed) Artichokes


ASPARAGUS – and a post just About Asparagus
Absurdly Addictive Asparagus
Asparagus with Bits of Bacon
Asparagus with Chile Butter
Crumbled Asparagus (that’s with a panko coating)
Pan Roasted Asparagus with Shallots and Orange


BEETS
Orange Glazed Beets


BROCCOLI
Broccoli Affogati (it’s an Italian method using red wine)
Broccoli Casserole
Broccoli Mayo Mustard
Broccoli Rabe
Broccoli with Garlic and Dried Cranberries
Crumbled and Roasted Broccoli
Dilled Broccoli and Leeks
Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Olive Oil (easy)
Sauteed Broccoli with Mellow Garlic and Thyme


BRUSSELS SPROUTS
Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Mustard Butter
Brussels Sprouts with Brandy, Orange and Dried Cranberries
Brussels Sprouts Gratin
Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup
Creamy Brussels Sprouts
Grilled Brussels Sprouts (a food52 recipe)
Marinated Brussels Sprouts Salad
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts
Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pine Nuts


CABBAGE
Braised Red Cabbage and Apples
Cabbage and Leek Gratin
Cabbage and Noodles
Cabbage with Corn, White Beans, Raisins and Thyme
Low-Carb Cabbage, Bacon & Onion
Red Cabbage with Apples
Sweet and Sour Cabbage


CAULIFLOWER
Cauliflower and Green Onion Mash
Cauliflower Cheese
Cauliflower Gratin
Cauliflower Gratin with Tomatoes and Feta
Cauliflower Tabbouleh Salad
Cauliflower with Bacon and Mushrooms
Cauliflower with Gruyere and Whiskey
Indian Spiced Cauliflower
Mushroom Cauliflower “Risotto”

Roasted Cauliflower with Fennel
Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and a Tahini Drizzle
Roasted Cauliflower Slices
Steamed Pureed Cauliflower
Tandoori Style Cauliflower
Twice Baked Cauliflower and Take Two


CORN (yes, it’s a carb, but I’ve listed it here with veggies)
About Corn
Calabacitas con Crema (corn, zucchini, grilled chiles)
Corn, Sugar Snap Pea and Bacon Saute
Corn with 10-Spice Rub
Grilled Corn with Peruvian Chile Lime Seasoning
Gulliver’s Creamed Corn
North African Grilled Corn on the Cob
North African Grilled Corn on the Cob (easier – foil wrapped and lightened up)
Quick Calabacitas (corn, zucchini and chiles)
Ricotta Cheese Corn Pudding
Southwest Corn Cakes
(Mexican) Street Corn with Cotija Cheese


CUCUMBERS
About Cucumbers


EGGPLANT
About Eggplant
Charred Eggplant Salad
Roasted Eggplant with Fried Onion and Lemons (a Middle Eastern style)
Sauteed Eggplant Salad
Stewed Eggplant and Tomatoes
Sweet and Sour Eggplant


FENNEL
Baked Fennel
Fennel Fritters
Fennel with Orange, Coriander and Fennel Seeds


GREEN BEANS
About Green Beans
Feisty Green Beans
French Green Beans with Pears and Parmesan
Garlic Green Beans (almost dry pan roasted)
Green Beans with Caramelized Red Onions and Pine Nuts
Green Beans with Dijon and Caramelized Shallots
Green Beans with Garlic and Olive Oil
Green Beans with Hazelnut Butter
Green Beans with Shallots and Balsamic Vinegar
Green Beans with Tomatillo Salsa
Haricot Verts with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Quick & Easy Green Beans with Shallots & Balsamic Vinegar

KALE
Kale Mix (a salad)


MUSHROOMS
Casali Family Mushrooms (with wild harvested hen-of-the-woods)
Mushroom Bread Pudding
Mushroom Calabacitas
Spinach & Mushroom Cream Gratin


ONIONS
Baked Onions With Thyme
Butter and Herb Roasted Red Onions
Cheesy Roasted Onions
Madeira Onions
Onion & Pepper Roast with Indian Spices
Sugar Snap Peas and Mushrooms
Uncle Wilson’s Grilled Onions (done in foil)


PEAS (I know they’re a carb, but most people think of them as a veggie)
Peas with Pancetta


PEPPERS
Roasted Peppers & Onions with Mild Indian Spices


SPINACH
Creamed Spinach and Basil
Greek Spinach and Rice
Gulliver’s Creamed Spinach


SWISS CHARD
Sauteed Swiss Chard with Bacon
Swiss Chard with Dried Cranberries


SUGAR SNAP PEAS
Sugar Snap Peas and Green Peas
Sugar Snap Pea Tops


TOMATOES
About Tomatoes
Marinated Tomatoes


ZUCCHINI and YELLOW SQUASH
About Zucchini
Calabacitas (zucchini, corn, chiles)
Calabacitas Con Crema
Mushroom Calabacitas (my riff on calabacitas)
Simple Summer Squash
Southwestern Squash and Corn (easy)
Summer-Squash Casserole (with jalapeno chiles)
Summer Squash (both yellow and zucchini) “Linguine”
Yellow Crookneck Casserole
Yellow Crookneck, Corn & Sugar Snap Pea Gratin
Zucchini Cheesy Casserole
Zucchini Gratin
Zucchini Pancakes
Zucchini Ribbons
Zucchini (and other veggies) in Foil Packets (grilled)
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