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Carolyn

Sara

Sara and me

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Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

Alan Hlad has written quite a novel. From true life. The Long Flight Home. It tells the story based on family history, of the homing pigeons that were used in Britain during WWII that flew back and forth across the English Channel into German-occupied France. It’s a heartwarming story. Heart-wrenching sometimes. War is an awful thing no matter which side you’re on when it comes to how it affects everyday people. You’ll learn a lot about pigeons, but also about love. Great read.

Riveted to Katie Munnick’s novel The Heart Beats in Secret. It begins in Scotland in 1940. A woman, a single mother. A journey across the sea. Then her daughter’s story, and finally the granddaughter’s story, when she inherits her grandmother’s old cottage back in Scotland. Plenty of mother-daughter dysfunction. But it comes right in the end.

Sarah Vallance has written a book about her devastating brain injury. Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain. What a story. What a saga of her recovery. And how she did it. An open wide sharing of her angst, her anger, her journey. Well worth reading. If you have anyone who has suffered a brain injury, it would be wise reading.

Just love all of Amy Harmon’s books. This one is no exception. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel. A pioneer story of a young woman made a widow on the trail to the west. 1850s. As it was in life, tragedies occur. But there is caring and love too. Loved it.

Read Her Mother’s Hope: Marta’s Legacy Series Book 1 (A Gripping Historical Christian Fiction Family Saga from the 1900s to the 1950s) (Marta’s Legacy) by Francine Rivers. After leaving her childhood home of Switzerland, young Marta Schneider dreams of one day owning a boardinghouse, until marriage and motherhood change her ambitions. Determined to give her family a better life, she vows to raise strong children. But her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, creating repercussions that will echo for generations.

Esther Freud’s book The Sea House: A Novel is about a small village on England’s southern coast.  The book is about love found, love lost, love sometimes found again, sometimes not. About how fleeting it can be or seem.

Amor Towles’ book, Rules of Civility: A Novel was quite a read. It’s NYC, 1937. Twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent [Kon-TENT she iterates to many] is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. What an adorable book. True story about Stacey’s 20 years with a feisty but lovable barn owl.

Loved The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella. It takes place in the middle of WWII in Naples. A young British officer, Captain James Gould, is sent to Naples to wade through the zilions of applications from soldiers to marry local Italian women (and presumably take them back to England when the war ends).

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald. So interesting. Jill is  young, with a newly minted degree in library science at a time when the economy was very slow. She accepts a position in a minimum security prison in Ohio.

The Walls of Lucca by Steve Physioc. A novel that takes place in between WWI and II about a weary Italian soldier.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. A novel about Croatia in the aftermath of their more recent wars.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

Having read all of Kristin Hannah’s books, I knew I’d read her latest too: Between Sisters: A Novel.  Two sisters, raised by the same mother but different fathers. At a young age a rift occurs and the sisters go their own way.

Just finished Matt McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year. It tells the true life story of his first year as an intern at a New York hospital.

Also read Karen Harper’s book The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The time frame is 1890s onward, at Sandringham, when Charlotte Bill (a real person) was hired by the Duke and Duchess of York, to care for their children.

Also read Roger Swindell’s Mendelevski’s Box. It’s an historical novel about the aftermath of WWII in impoverished Amsterdam.

Also read a very quirky non-fiction book: The Perfect Gentleman: The remarkable life of Dr. James Miranda Barry by June Rose. This is a biography about a person who lived in the mid-1800s. He was a surgeon; graduated from Edinburgh Medical School at the age of 14. Joined the British Army as a medical officer then sent off to South Africa and many other tropical outposts during his career.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The premise of this book is different . . . a woman writer goes to Scotland to connect with her distant heritage.

Another great read, The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See. It’s about Jeju Island off the coast of Korea where the island as a whole is matriarchal because the women were trained from a young age to deep dive, free dive, for mollusks. These women were the breadwinners. Husbands stayed home and cared for the babies. The island is real. The history is real.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. A novel about the early days of radio in London.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). Her family was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt.  You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. 

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania.

One of my book clubs had us read Louise Penny’s novel, A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel). The book takes place at a lovely inn in Canada and Chief Inspector Gamache (he is quite a character – along with his wife – are vacationing there) when a murder occurs.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation.

Running Blind (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher mystery. From amazon: Across the country, women are being murdered, victims of a disciplined and clever killer who leaves no trace evidence, no fatal wounds, no signs of struggle, and no clues to an apparent motive. They are, truly, perfect crimes. Until Jack Reacher gets in the middle of it. A page turner, as are all of the Jack Reacher stories.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. A sweet book, true story, of the author and her friend, during one summer in the midst of their college years, going by train to NYC and ultimately getting a job of Tiffany’s.  Cute read.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? If I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who  lacks self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. Sweet story.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.  From Amazon’s description: August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. Every year he’s spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip’s ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go. What none of them could have known was how transformative both the trip—and the bonds that develop between them—would prove, driving each to create a new destiny together. Have a tissue handy at the end. It’s such a charming, sweet story. You’ll fall in love with the young boys, and fall in love with them again 10 years later.

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by JoJo Moyes.

Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3) by Francine Rivers.

Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America

Answer As a Man

Celeste Ng Little Fires Everywhere.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright.

C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel).

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes.

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively.

 

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

Posted in Beef, on June 11th, 2020.

meatballs_french_onion_soup_style

More and more, I see bloggers who show food-sloppy pictures. So here’s mine!

As I write this, looking at that picture, I’m laughing. What a messy casserole! I could have tried to clean it up before taking the picture, but oh well. It is what it is. I’m also laughing at myself – – – when I make something that is wildly delicious, the next day my fingers are just itching to get to my keyboard to start writing up a post. This is one of those kind of posts. After checking my email and doing my online jigsaw puzzle to wake up my brain, I was right into it, correcting the recipe with the changes I made, preparing the photos and beginning to write the story.

My neighbor, who is still doing a lot of my grocery shopping for me, bought sweet onions (instead of regular yellow ones). Afterwards, I gave her a little lesson in onions (she’s not much of a cook – she COOKS, but not because she likes to – because she has to feed her family of 4). She had never heard of sweet onions – so I gave her a quick lesson about them. I should give her a link to the blog post I did some years ago after my friends Tom and Joan gifted me with a passel of Texas Noonday sweet onions. And, last week she went to Costco (for herself, but also for me) and I had her buy a 3-pack of the ground beef. I froze two, and left one the frig. So, here I was with ground beef and sweet onions (you know, of course, that sweet onions don’t last as long in your pantry as regular onions – they have more moisture/water in them, so they tend to spoil much sooner). I searched my recipe database, and up popped this recipe that I hadn’t tried yet.

meatballs_fr_onion_style_onions_sauteeingAnd what a winner of a recipe it is. I’ll be making this again. I think next time I’ll try it with ground turkey, just to make it a bit healthier. First you have to slice 2 big sweet onions (cut in half first, then sliced) and they sweat away with some EVOO until they’ve caramelized. That takes awhile – especially with the sweet onions. When they get to the end of caramelizing you add in a little solution of beef broth and red wine and sweat that off too.

meatballs_fr_onion_style_sauteeingThen you make the meatballs. First you mix some of the usual kinds of ingredients. A cube of mozzarella cheese is put into the center of each meatball. Not a very big piece as lots of the cheese oozes out during cooking. Then you brown the meatballs.

Meanwhile, the onions are put into bottom of a casserole dish (or you can make this in a frying pan that’s suitable for going into the oven, that’ll save one more dish from dishwashing). The meatballs go in on top. Then you make a cornstarch-thickened mixture with broth and more red wine and that cooks in the residual fat left in the frying pan. Once thickened, that’s poured over the top of the meatballs.

meatballs_fr_onion_style_baking_cheeseInto the oven they go for about 15-20 minutes, then you take them out and add the cheese on top and back into the oven they go for another 15-20 minutes, and they’re done.

There’s a picture of the casserole (the second one I made that I gave to my neighbor) ready for the second baking with the cheese on top.

Once the casserole is done, I suggest you take it out of the oven and let it sit for about 4-5 minutes. It’s really hot, and that cheese will, for sure, burn the roof of your mouth. meatballs_fr_onion_style_plated

I probably should have had just three meatballs. I splurged and had four. And oh, were they ever good. There really isn’t “soup” as you might think – there are delicious red-winey-onions on the bottom, then the meatballs, crispy with the golden brown cheese. This could be served on a bed of rice, cauliflower rice (buttered), some mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower too, or some noodles? Or a bed of buttered garlic spinach.

What’s GOOD: everything about this was delicious. The onions have great flavor, especially with the little bit of red wine added, then the sauce too, which has broth and red wine in it. The beef was tasty, especially if you had a bit of cheese and onion with every bite. I almost licked the bowl.

What’s NOT: well, this does take a bit of time to make. If you have some extra hands in the kitchen to do the meatballs, that would be a great help. It probably took about an hour and 20 minutes or so to do it all, altogether, including the 30 minute baking time. The onions take a long time – you could easily do those ahead, as that would save a lot of time.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Meatballs French Onion Soup au Gratin Style

Recipe By: Tweaked slightly from Cupcakes and Kale Chips blog
Serving Size: 8

ONIONS:
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 large sweet onions — halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — or 1 tsp dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup red wine
MEATBALLS:
1 3/4 pounds ground beef — or could use ground turkey
1/4 cup bread crumbs — or panko, or gluten free, if needed, or oatmeal
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
8 ounces mozzarella cheese — about 2 ounces of it cut into half-inch cubes, the remainder shredded for the topping
1/2 tablespoon EVOO
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish — optional
SAUCE:
1 3/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste (may not be needed)

1. ONIONS: the onions: Heat oil in a skillet over medium, add onions, salt & pepper, cook 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently or until caramelized. If using sweet onions it will take 30-40 minutes. Add thyme, sauté for minute or two, then add the wine and beef broth. Reduce until very little liquid remains. Pour into a casserole dish large enough to hold all of the meatballs. Set aside.
2. MEATBALLS: Combine all ingredients except the cheese in a large bowl, and gently combine with your hands. Divide the meat mixture into 16-18 equal pieces. Take one piece of the meat mixture and flatten slightly into a patty. Place one cube of cheese in the center of the patty and wrap the meatball around the cheese, sealing as best you can. Roll the meatball beween your two palms to make it more round. Repeat with the remaining meat and cheese cubes.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F.
4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides. Place meatballs in casserole on top of the onions.
5. SAUCE: Whisk together the sauce ingredients and pour into the skillet you used for the meatballs (that has some residual fat in it). Heat mixture, stirring frequently, until thickened. Taste for seasonings – it may not need any additional. Pour over the meatballs. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and sprinkle the shredded cheese over the meatballs and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. The cheese may be golden brown in places (perfect). If not, turn on broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired. Serve over rice, cauliflower rice, noodles, mashed potatoes, or sauteed spinach with butter.

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