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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 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, 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
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


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
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)
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
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


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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