Get new posts by email:


Currently Reading

Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2021, I’ll still participate, but the two daughters are going to do more posting from here on out – well, I hope that’s not wishful thinking. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

We participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny $ something (pennies, really) if you purchase any books recommended (below), or buy products occasionally mentioned on the blog with an amazon link. 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers. It tells a detailed chronology of its inception, and all the various  parts that had to come together every day, three meals a day, plus some, to make a mammoth food machine run. I have no background in the restaurant biz, but found the story very interesting. Would make a great gift.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers. The story is mostly about a young woman, educated, a Jew, who is the scribe (in secret) to an aging religious leader (in a time when women would have been verboten to hold such a position). And about her own curiosity about her religion and how she eventually begins writing letters (using a male pseudonym) to various Jewish leaders abroad, questioning their religious beliefs. The book is extraordinarily long – not that that kept me from turning a single page! – and complex with the cast of characters from the 1600s and the cast in today’s world of highly competitive experts analyzing the ancient papers. Altogether riveting book. Loved it from beginning to end.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid. Then to current time as a young woman tries to ferret her family history and particularly about some old-old jewelry that they can’t quite figure out – how the grandmother came to have them. Fascinating tale.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius, held captive in a woe begotten prison. It’s about Jewish history, about relationships, and certainly a lot about the starvation and mistreatment (and many died there) of this boat load of people who never should have been sent there. So very sad, but it has bright and hopeful moments toward the end when many of them finally made it to Tel Aviv, their original destination.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then become something else. There is graphic detail here (was it really necessary? not sure of the answer) so if you don’t like that sort of thing, you might want to pass on this – or else skip by those details when you read it. Women have been victims in so many ways for so many centuries, and it’s hard to read that it’s still a common thing in today’s society.

Barbara Delinsky writes current day fiction. Coast Road is really sweet story. Jack (ex-husband) is called away from his career to care for his two daughters when his ex (Rachel) has an accident and is in a coma. Over the course of weeks, he spends time with his daughters (he was an occasional dad). He also spends a lot of time at his ex’s bedside, getting to know her friends. Through them he learns what went wrong in their marriage. I don’t want to spoil the story. I liked it a lot.

Christina Baker Kline has written quite a story about Tasmania. You may, or may not, remember that my DH and I visited Tasmania about 10 years ago (loved it) and having read a lot about Botany Bay and the thousands of criminal exiles from Britain who were shipped there as slave labor in the 1800s. This book tells a different story. The Exiles: A Novel. This one mostly from a few women who were sentenced to Tasmania. There is plenty of cruelty on several fronts, but there is also kindness and salvation for some. Really good read.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name. She meets a guy and they share a bond of reading and some romance. Years go by and she’s now owner of a failing independent bookstore (and married, or separated) and suddenly begins receiving a used book (that she recognizes) every day from a different place in the country. A message for sure, but where will it lead? Yes, it’s a romance. Lots of introspection going on. Enjoyed it.

Marion Kummerow wrote an amazing WWII novel. Not Without My Sister. If you don’t like concentration camp stories, pass on this one, but it’s very riveting, much of it at Bergen-Belsen. Two sisters (17 and 4) are separated at the camp. The story switches back and forth between the two sisters’ situations, and yes, the horror of the camp(s), the starvation, the cruelty. But, even though I’m giving away the ending . . . they do get back together again. The story is all about the in between times. Excellent book.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping. This book is about a young man, who is a young father also, loses his beloved wife. He’s barely functioning, trying to get through a day, taking care of his young son. And visiting the cemetery (the one in Montmartre, Paris). There are several peripheral characters (his son, a neighbor and best friend of his departed wife, a good fellow friend too, plus a young woman he befriends at the cemetery). Before his wife’s death she asks him to write 33 letters to her after she’s gone, and to put them in a special box hidden in the cemetery monument. And that begins the story.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

As you’ve read here many times, I marvel at authors who come up with unusual premises for their books. This one Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel of Grace Kelly’s Royal Wedding. And yes, it IS somewhat about Grace Kelly’s wedding, but most of the novel is about a young woman perfume designer, Sophie, who accidentally rescues Grace Kelly from the relentless photographers who hound her every move.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Also a kind of quirky book by Beth Miller, The Missing Letters of Mrs. Bright. Picture a middle-aged woman, slogging through life with a not-very-attentive husband, grown children, and one day she decides to leave. Completely. Packs up and leaves.

Katherine Center’s book, Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel is certainly vivid. There aren’t very many women firefighters out there in the world – this is about one.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

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.

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.

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.

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, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.


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 Lamb, Pork, Uncategorized, on October 25th, 2021.

A tasty way to use up that summer zucchini!

A post from Karen.  Among the things I loved about this creation is it is one of the few ways I can get my son to eat zucchini.  He not only ate it…he went back for seconds!  And that was my motivation for coming up with this.  My fruit truck guy, Roberto, visits every Thursday morning in our neighborhood with his picks of the freshest and most tasty produce.  On this day he had gorgeous-looking zucchini.  I couldn’t resist, even though I knew it would be tough going to convince my son to enjoy it with us.  So I started thinking about what I could pair with the veggie to make it more palatable to him.  Sausage was a good starting point.  I looked online for existing recipes for zucchini casseroles, but on this particular day, nothing looked like something that would tempt my son.  So, it was time to get creative.

I’m all for making your own sauce, but if you need to save time, we really liked the Vero Gusto Calabrian Marinara.

In addition to the sausage, I had some stale ciabatta bread that I didn’t want going to waste.  I also had cottage cheese and started thinking about layering ingredients like lasagna.  So that was the impetus for cutting the zucchini lengthwise instead of in rounds.  Among the recipes I had read on casseroles, more than one mentioned taking the time after slicing to salt the zucchini to draw out the extra moisture so you would avoid an overly mushy casserole.  sounded sensible to me, so I incorporated that step.

I hadn’t made a lot of casseroles using bread cubes but knew I wanted to make sure they absorbed enough flavors and moisture, so I decided I would try folding them in with the cheese, egg, and cream mixture.  This ended up working really well.  I have made this recipe more than once experimenting with different types of bread.  We have decided the ciabatta has both a nice chew texture and savory flavor profile that we prefer.  The Savory Spice “Limnos Lamb Rub” was a wonderful blend of herbs to add to both the white sauce and for topping off the casserole.  If you need to select a different rub or make your own, this particular rub is a blend of coarse sea salt, garlic, lemon peel, onion, black pepper, fennel, rosemary, Mediterranean thyme, sage, basil, parsley, Greek oregano, spearmint, marjoram.  As for the different sausage choices, we enjoyed both the Hot Italian Sausage and the Lamb Merguez, so I’m content to let my mood or freezer dictate which one I use.  Speaking of the freezer, I have tested freezing the leftovers into individual portions and it worked really well!

What’s Good:  My son will willingly eat this dish.  Paired well with a lite salad for a complete meal.  It’s a great way to use up some bread that is past its prime.

What’s Not:  Only that I have to be organized enough to make sure I have the ingredients on hand.

Printer-Friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Zucchini and Sausage Casserole

Recipe By: Original by Karen
Serving Size: 12

28 ounces zucchini slices — about 1/4 inch slice, length wise vs. rounds
1 pound hot Italian sausage — no casing, or a lamb merquez sausage
1 large onion — chopped
20 ounces tomato sauce — Vera Gusto (Medium Heat)
8 ounces cottage cheese
2 eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 cups bread cubes — dried thick cut,1 inch cubes, I prefer Ciabatta, crust removed
1 tablespoon herb rub — I use Limnos Lamb rub from Savory Spice or similar
1 pound mozzarella cheese — low moisture, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese — grated
kosher salt — for sprinkling

1. Place sliced zucchini on clean kitchen towels and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let sit at least 30 minutes to draw out moisture. Then wipe dry with a clean towel.
2. Preheat oven to 350*
3. Saute loose and broken up sausage – let brown on one side then add onions and continue to saute until onions are soft, 5-10 minutes.
4. Mix egg into cottage cheese (or can substitute Ricotta) with 1 TBS. Limnos Lamb Rub and heavy cream. Pour mixture over dried bread cubes and mix well.
5. Grease a 9×13 casserole pan and pour in 1/2 the red sauce. Place 1/2 the zucchini slices in an overlapping layer over the sauce. Pour bread mixture on next and spread evenly. Sprinkle sausage and onion mixture and then 1/2 of the shredded Mozzarella cheese. Create another overlapping layer with the remaining zucchini. Spread remaining red sauce over zucchini, followed by remaining Mozzarella. Top with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with more Limnos Lamb rub if desired.
6. Bake for 1 hr or until bubbling and nicely browned on top.
Per Serving: 377 Calories; 26g Fat (62.0% calories from fat); 21g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 109mg Cholesterol; 597mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 326mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 503mg Potassium; 321mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Uncategorized, on August 9th, 2021.

Isn’t that just the prettiest cocktail you’ve ever seen?

A post from Carolyn. For my birthday my granddaughter Taylor (the one who is living with me) gave me a bottle of lavender-colored gin. From the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC. So, we began searching for some recipes to use it. As we perused many, they required simple syrup (which I could have made, but it wouldn’t have had time to cool down and we wanted these cocktails right then). Many suggested items we didn’t have on hand. So, as they say, ingenuity is the mother of invention. What I did have was a bottle of Crème de Violette – a gift daughter Sara gave me a couple of years ago after we had enjoyed an Aviation cocktail in Asheville, NC. We made a kind of a variation on the Aviation cocktail.

The Empress Gin is a gin, but with perhaps some other botanical flavors in it: In addition to the butterfly pea blossom and requisite juniper, the gin uses blended tea from Victoria’s own Fairmont Empress Hotel. Other botanicals used are grapefruit peel, coriander seed, rose petal, ginger root, and cinnamon bark.

Taylor and I began with a recipe, but because we veered off with more than one item, I guess this is my own invention of an Empress Gin Cocktail with Violette & Tonic. The recipe called for soda water, but I had Fever Tree tonic (that I really like – see picture) so I added that. I popped out to my kitchen garden and grabbed some fresh lavender and a sprig of rosemary and added those to the mix.

There at left – the short bottle is the Empress Gin, the tall one the Crème de Violette, and the short turquoise bottle is the Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic.

What’s GOOD: oh, so refreshing. Lovely flavors and gosh, isn’t the color just beautiful? I’m a sucker, I guess, for a lavender colored cocktail! Not too sweet, but it did have some sweetness from the liqueur. I’m looking forward to having another one. We’re having a family celebration (3 birthdays within a few days of one another) and I’ll offer to make these for anyone who wants one.

What’s NOT: well, you need the Crème de Violette (do get the Rothman & Winter brand – Sara had to mail order it). And you’ll need to buy the Empress Gin too. Search out the tonic.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Empress Gin Cocktail with Crème de Violette and Tonic

Recipe By: My own invention, loosely based on an Aviation cocktail
Serving Size: 1

1 1/2 ounces Empress gin
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce Crème de Violette liqueur
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh lavender
2 ounces Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic water
ice cubes

1. Combine the gin, lemon juice and Crème de Violette, in a glass.
2. Add the sprig of rosemary and lavender. Then add ice.
3. Add a couple of ounces of tonic. Stir and serve immediately.

Posted in Uncategorized, on July 28th, 2021.

More road trip from Carolyn. Whenever I dig out my suitcases, my kitty, Angel, is ever so curious. He’s blind, but hey, it doesn’t bother him one bit, he’s just as inclined to jump into boxes. He was all over this suitcase, pawing the corners, for bugs? Who knows what cats think sometimes.

These photos aren’t in any particular order, so I’ll just give you a little bit of commentary. I love big flower arrangements outside, this one at Big Sky, at the golf course restaurant.

Big Sky, Montana, is surrounded by mountains, these were on the east side.

Other than the scenery in Big Sky, on one of my days returning to California I drove from Klamath Falls to the north east side of Mt. Shasta. This was a view as I was driving. It was a gorgeous day, bright blue sky, and no fires or smoke anywhere to be seen there.

This was actually on my first day out, driving up the “old” 395 highway with a view of the Sierra Nevada. It was crystal-clear that day (and beastly hot too) but the views were beautiful.

At Big Sky, the small private lake there serves lunch from a food truck, with a small set of tables set amidst the sand. This beautiful group of flowers graced one side of that area.

At Powell & Karen’s condo, this picture hangs on the wall in one of the guest rooms. It just riveted my eye, how curious the dog was, about to sniff that lovely trout.

One of my favorite pictures of the whole trip, a view of the lake at Big Sky, through the trees. My grandson, Vaughan, went out into the lake in a kayak for awhile.

Posted in Uncategorized, on July 16th, 2021.

Snapshot I took of the Sierra/Nevada mountains (California) as I was driving.

Last year, my son and his wife Karen bought a condo in Big Sky, Montana. They’d vacationed there for several years, and decided they wanted to have their own place to ski and summer vacation. For the month of July Karen and grandson Vaughan are here, with Powell flitting in and out when he can get away from work. So, several months ago when they invited me to come visit during July, I said yes. And I’d make a road trip out of it. Having never been to Big Sky, I didn’t really know what to expect, other than photos I’d seen. Big Sky is located about 1 1/4 hour drive south of Bozeman, and about an hour north of the western gate to Yellowstone. Set nestled in between very tall peaks and valleys.

That picture was taken from the restaurant at the golf course near the Big Sky Resort. As you can see, there is smoke in the air, but we enjoyed a really nice lunch, sitting outside.

As I’m writing this, I AM in Big Sky, and have been for several days, enjoying the alpine location (7200 feet), the wonderful pine tree smell that pervades, the good food (both out and at home). And not enjoying the altitude sensitivity I have. I won’t be here long enough to acclimate to the altitude, so I’m just being careful by not exerting myself too much. I had a low grade headache for the first two days, but that finally went away. Walking much at all is out of the question as I get winded. But going in and out of various restaurants is certainly do-able!

That’s the view from their living room window. Ski slopes abound in every direction and that ramp you can see on the right is a ski-on, ski-off way to get down the hill to the ski lifts.

And again, as I write this, I’m having to re-adjust my itinerary as my next stop was going to be in Lolo National Forest (near Missoula, Montana), which is currently under fire evacuation orders. So, scratch that long day trip of driving in the Bitterroot Valley. In a few days I’ll head back to Coeur d’Alene, where I’m staying with my friend Ann (you’ve seen photos of her when she visited SoCal over several winters for a week in Palm Desert with me – we couldn’t do it that last Jan/Feb because of Covid, but hopefully this next winter she’ll be able to fly south).

My plan is to do some wine tasting in Walla Walla, Washington and if I find anything I really like I’ll have it shipped to home. I don’t want to cart cases of wine in my car trunk through hot summer weather. I have encountered lots of high temps on this trip (over 100 degrees, driving up the old 395 highway along the eastern edge of California). I had just driven through the area that was hit with a 5.9 earthquake that tumbled boulders down onto the highway. And yes, my car tipped left and right – I thought it was an uneven road . . . no, it was the earthquake! I stayed at a hotel nearby and was awakened several times during the night with aftershocks. Good thing I’m used to those kinds of tremors.

Once I arrived in Idaho it was about 100 degrees every day. Oh my goodness, is that ever hot! During my drive in California I encountered one day at 109 degrees, but I was comfortable in my air conditioned car, thankfully! I enjoyed the three days of driving to get from Southern California to northern Idaho, and I’ve been listening to a couple of books as I go. I’ve subscribed to Chirp, a discounted website for audio books. They don’t offer very many books at the lower prices, but I’ve found a few to keep me entertained. My car doesn’t have a CD/DVD slot anymore (my newest car that’s now 1 1/2 years old and still had less than 10,000 miles on it because of Covid) so I can’t use books on CD anymore from the library as I’d done in the past.

FYI, last night I made those vegetarian enchiladas that were posted about a week ago. Karen and Vaughan really enjoyed them, and me too. That recipe is a real keeper. I’ll post again in coming days if I have time.

Posted in Uncategorized, on June 26th, 2021.

These used to be called 7-layer salads? Remember them? I’ve seen several recipes recently, so I guess there’s been a renewed interest in them.

The layered salad is supposed to be made in a glass bowl so you can SEE the layers. Other than a trifle bowl I didn’t have a clear glass bowl so I needed to use my etched glass salad bowl. You can sort of see through the various vegetables silhouettes etched in the outside of the glass. I was making the salad to serve 5, so the various veggies didn’t exactly line up in layers because the bowl is quite wide. But, oh well, it was the idea that counted. The recipe I’d read recently was a Keto version, but I’d already decided I wasn’t going to make it a keto salad anyway.

Really, you can use ANY vegetables you want to in this kind of salad. Supposedly, it’s the colored layers that make it so pretty. Try to have some dark green (I used arugula on the very bottom), some light green (Romaine, sugar snap peas and green onions), some orange (carrots and yellow/orange baby peppers). Mine also had a layer of corn, just sliced off the fresh cobs. Red is another nice layer (tomatoes for mine but red bell peppers would be good too). You don’t want to put two green layers next to each other, so put in an orange layer or a red one in between. In the old-time salad there was always a layer of frozen peas put in as the last veggie layer. Instead I added 3 hard boiled eggs that had been chopped up. Then you spread the dressing (used to be just a big glob of mayo) on top and add a generous layer of shredded cheddar cheese to the top. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. See photo at left of the top view.

It’s great for taking to a picnic or a shared gathering or a backyard barbecue. The dressing I made was an equal quantity of sour cream and mayo, then I added about 1/2 teaspoon of dill weed (in the jar because I don’t have fresh) and just because . . . I added about 1/2 teaspoon of blackened seasoning. No real reason – just that the packet was already opened and you know that mixed seasonings don’t last. That was spread over the top layer and the grated cheddar was added last.

All I’ll tell you is that everyone at the dinner table went back for seconds on the salad. Me too.

What’s GOOD: that it can be made the day ahead. Just takes a bunch of chopping and layering. Loved the dressing mixture with the dill and blackened seasoning. Altogether refreshing salad, and yes, I’d make this again exactly as I made it this time. It was a good combination.

What’s NOT: only that it requires a bunch of chopping and mincing, layering, and it’s best if prepared the day before serving. I made it about 8 hours ahead, which was fine too.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Layered Salad

Recipe By: An old-old recipe, updated with different veggies and a new dressing
Serving Size: 6-8

3 cups romaine lettuce — chopped
1 cup baby arugula — chopped
2 large carrots — chopped or shredded
1 bunch green onions — chopped, including tops
3 ears corn — kernels removed, cobs discarded
1 cup grape tomatoes — halved
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas — trimmed, chopped
3 eggs — hard boiled, peeled, chopped
2 cups cheddar cheese — grated
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon blackened seasoning

1. In a glass bowl with 3-4″ sides, add in the Romaine and arugula. Add carrots next, with the corn. Add sugar snap peas, then halved tomatoes, placing more of them around the outside edges (for color). Add a layer of green onions. Add more greens if you prefer (arugula and Romaine) then add the chopped up hard boiled eggs.
2. DRESSING: Combine in a bowl the sour cream, mayo, dill and other seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste, then spread the dressing all over the top of the salad, spreading it out to the edges as much as possible.
3. Sprinkle the grated cheddar all over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to 24 hours. When serving suggest your guests dig deep into the bowl to reach the bottom layer with only a small amount of the dressing and cheese in each scoop.
Per Serving (6): 538 Calories; 37g Fat (60.6% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 184mg Cholesterol; 721mg Sodium; 11g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 655mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 783mg Potassium; 547mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Uncategorized, on June 19th, 2021.

A vegetable-laden soup with chicken, plus croutons and a spicy sauce (it’s French).

A post from Carolyn. This soup recipe has been in my repertoire for a long time. Just now I looked at my MasterCook soup file and see that it contains 458 recipes. That’s both soup recipes I’ve tried and those I haven’t. This one came from a Phillis Carey cooking class many years ago – I’m guessing 15. And why I’ve not made it more often, I don’t know (maybe because of the extra steps to make the sauce?), because it’s full of good flavor.

Bouillabaisse (pronounced boo-ya-bess) traditionally is a fish and seafood soup. So why not adapt it to chicken, eh? What sets this one apart is the use of saffron and the spicy rouille (pronounced roo-eel). And it contains some bread to thicken the sauce (baguette, to be exact) and does involve that extra step to whiz up the rouille in a blender. I changed the recipe just a little bit – I like celery in soups, not only for flavor, but for texture. I had a whole red bell pepper and decided I wasn’t going to roast it (too much trouble) so I merely used some in the soup and some in the sauce. The recipe called for potatoes – I didn’t have any – and I’d usually leave them out anyway, but they are traditional. There’s also a strip of orange peel in the soup. That is unusual, too. Up top, in that picture, you can’t see the little baguette slices – they’re underneath the rouille that I dolloped on top. The rouille adds a TON of flavor to this – don’t even think about making this without doing the sauce. And you can drizzle the rouille all over the soup – not just on the little croutons – the soup is enhanced so much with the garlicky flavors from the sauce.

The sauce, the rouille, contains saffron too, along with lots of garlic, Dijon, mayo, oil, salt and a dash of cayenne. But you start with some of the broth from the soup – first you add that to a shallow bowl, add the saffron (so it will develop its unique flavors in the warm liquid) and the garlic, then the bread – so it soaks up the liquid. You let that sit for awhile and the garlic sort-of cooks a little (barely), then the batch goes into the blender container, along with Dijon, the red bell pepper, mayo, 1/2 cup of EVOO, and some salt and cayenne to taste. The bread gives the sauce a little bit of substance, a thickener, of sorts. Do blend awhile to make sure it purees the way it should and it emulsifies.

You can make the sauce while the soup is simmering. You’ll likely have more sauce than you need for the number of soup servings, and I recommend you use the leftovers as a drizzle on roasted or steamed vegetables – like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans – even potatoes! The sauce is SO good. The garlic predominates, obviously.

What’s GOOD: so many layers of flavor – the sweet from the onions, the nuance of the saffron, the texture from the celery and chicken. And then there’s the rouille – the star of the show, in my opinion, which is very garlicky.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. Maybe that it takes a little longer to make, because of the sauce, but you won’t regret it once you’ve whizzed it up in the blender. I have broccoli in the refrigerator now, which will be enhanced with some of that great leftover sauce.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chicken Bouillabaisse with Spicy Garlic Rouille

Recipe By: Adapted from a Phillis Carey recipe
Serving Size: 7

1/4 cup olive oil
1 whole onion — finely chopped
1 cup celery — diced
8 whole chicken thighs, without skin — boneless
14 1/2 ounces diced tomatoes — canned
2/3 cup red bell pepper — diced
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup vermouth
2 whole garlic cloves — peeled
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 strip orange peel
1 whole bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon saffron
2 medium potatoes — White Rose (optional)
4 whole carrots
14 thin slices of baguette, toasted
Salt and pepper — to taste
1/4 cup liquid from soup pot
1/4 teaspoon saffron — crumbled
2 whole garlic cloves — parboiled
3/4 cup French bread — crustless, cubed
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup red bell pepper — diced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste

1. SOUP: heat olive oil in a large pot and sauté onion for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add chicken pieces, cut in 3/4 inch cubes, and toss for 2 minutes to brown, but not cook through. Add canned tomatoes, broth, wine, garlic, saffron and herbs. Then add carrots, bell pepper and potatoes (if using), season to taste with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Lower heat, cover and cook until chicken and vegetables are cooked through, about 30-45 minutes.
2. To serve: place 2 toasted baguette slices in each soup bowl. Ladle soup on top and then drizzle with the rouille.
3. ROUILLE: During the soup cooking time, ladle out the 1/4 cup of soup liquid into a 2-cup bowl, then add the saffron and garlic. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add the cubed bread and let stand for at least 10 minutes to allow bread to soften and absorb the liquid. Place mixture in a food processor and puree. Add the mustard, red bell pepper and mayonnaise, then puree again. Drizzle in the oils until an emulsion forms. Season with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and a dash of cayenne or to taste.
NOTE: You’ll have leftover rouille, most likely. If so, drizzle it on hot broccolini, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans or potatoes.
Per Serving (this seems high – perhaps some of the ingredients aren’t reading the nutrition correctly): 617 Calories; 34g Fat (49.7% calories from fat); 39g Protein; 38g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 156mg Cholesterol; 742mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 78mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 1088mg Potassium; 420mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Uncategorized, on June 9th, 2021.

A short post from Carolyn. No food in this post . . . just a little catch-up regarding the blog. Finally the blog platform is working the way it should, and those of you who have been long-time subscribers have been added to the new website that does subscription forwarding. It’s called, and they – of course –  are an online marketing website and offer a variety of tools to a user (like you) to “follow” various websites – news, or whatever. It’s up to you whether you utilize any of their other services besides the one you’ll get from the blog. You should receive an email in your inbox whenever there is a new post from tastingspoons. If you don’t get them, please email me – go to the contact page for how to reach me directly, or you can leave a comment on this post. I’m hoping they won’t be loading you up with more emails about their services – hopefully you can opt out of various notifications if it becomes a nuisance.


Chart above from If you want to see more charts describing changing food habits, click on See How Much We Ate Over the Years. It’s a fascinating article with multiple charts similar to the above. The one for vegetables was also very interesting. Are we surprised (the chart above) to note that chicken has taken over top spot for protein? Look where chicken was (on the left) back in the 70s and how it’s leaped up and up and up. Beef has moved into 2nd place, and pork into 3rd.


Posted in Uncategorized, on May 27th, 2021.

Refreshing spring side-dish salad with Asian flavors

This is a post from Karen.  Back in 1976 when I was 9 our family and a number of others on our block hosted high school students from Japan.  Some of the students were game to host a potluck with dishes from their hometown.   Minoru was staying with our neighbor and he put together a dish his mother would make.  He enjoyed its simplicity and fresh spring flavors.  We enjoyed it so much, my mom made a  point to get the recipe from him.

It would be over a decade before we ventured into sushi, but our family has fully embraced that as well.  My dad and I even took a class on making sushi.  My son was 3 when I took him for his first taste.  He was starving after his Tae Kwon Do “Tiny Tigers” class and right across the street was what would become his favorite sushi bar, so I walked him in and let him order off of the picture menu.  He picked Ikura, which is the sushi topped with Salmon roe.  I had not ordered that personally because it was a texture I wasn’t into, and fishier than I chose to venture. I didn’t think I should be ordering something I grew up putting on the end of my fishing hook to catch trout!  I was about to stop my son from ordering it, but then told myself that I shouldn’t censor or bias his food choices just because they might not be mine.  Who knows, he might like it.  And guess what, he did!  I asked him what he liked about it and he told me, “It tastes good and I like the way the balls pop in my teeth!” For the next two years that was always the first thing he ordered.  The owner and the sushi chef were so delighted to see this American kid enjoying their sushi instead of asking for buttered pasta that they made a point to spoil him rotten and ensure that his parents brought him back, which we happily did for many years before we moved.  But I digress, back to the Harusame Salad and 1976:

Back then we didn’t have rice vinegar as an option, so mom used apple cider vinegar.  We used regular white sugar at the time, but now I’ve tried alternatives and settled on palm sugar.  Whichever one you use, I make the sauce first so the sugar has time to dissolve. I have listed one tablespoon of sugar, but the original recipe said 1-2 TBS.  One works fine for me.  If you only have access to thick-skinned and waxed cucumbers I would go ahead and peel those.

Short on time?

I have also cut the noodles by picking up a hand full and cutting them with my kitchen scissors directly into the bowl.

I have experimented over the years with different vegetables and proteins.  I was out of ham but had chicken.  And when I was out of cucumbers I used red bell pepper or carrots.  But I always stuck to Minoru’s premise that everything should be uniform in size, roughly 3″ lengths for the noodles, vegetable, and protein.  Once it is done, it’s all I can do to wait and give the flavors a chance to meld for at least 30 minutes.  It doesn’t last long after that because we all love it so much.  I do make a point to use chopsticks when I eat this.  They hold onto the noodles better than a fork can. I also use it up within 1-2 days.  Otherwise, the cucumbers get soft, releasing more of their liquid and ultimately diluting the flavor.

What’s good:  Very easy, fresh flavors, great texture between the crunch of the cucumbers and the chew of the noodles and ham.

What’s not:  It disappears too fast.  Will get watery and dull if not eaten within a couple days.

printer-friendly PDF and Master Cook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Harusame Salad

Recipe By: Minoru, a Japanese Exchange student that stayed with our neighbors in 1976
Serving Size: 8

1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
1 tablespoon sugar — I use palm sugar
150 grams Saifun Bean Threads — dried bean noodle package, softened and cut in roughly 3″ lengths
1 large cucumber — or 1 large Japanese or English Cucumer or 2-3 Persian cucumbers cut in matchsticks.
6 ounces ham slices — Black Forest or Canadian bacon works, cut in matchsticks
Garnish: toasted white sesame seeds, chopped green cilantro, onion or chives
Additions: red bell pepper, seaweed, tofu, carrots, shredded egg omlette, chicken

1. Mix together rice vinegar, soy sauce and sugar and set aside.
2. Set noodles in a deep dish and cover with boiling water, let stand about 20 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain well and chop into 3″ lengths. Place cut noodles in mixing bowl.
3. Cut cucumber and ham into 3″ matchstick pieces and add to bowl with noodles.
4. Give sauce a final stir and pour over noodle mixture, toss all ingredients to mix well.
5. Let chill in refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.
6. Use within 2 days.

Per Serving: 129 Calories; 4g Fat (25.0% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 13mg Cholesterol; 448mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 14mg Calcium; trace Iron; 152mg Potassium; 51mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Uncategorized, on May 22nd, 2021.

These tacos arrive with the warmer weather and fresh fruit!

This is a post from Karen.  While there are dishes I rely on often, I allow a lot of my menus to be dictated by what is fresh for that season.  This week fresh mango and papaya wandered into my kitchen, bringing with them the memory of yummy light fish tacos we had done the last time they came to visit. Fortunately, I had some fresh-frozen cod in my freezer.  I’ve used sole in the past, but have been wanting to find more ways to work cod into our menu.  In this preparation, working from frozen is nice because after just a little thaw I can slice them more easily into uniform pieces for more even cooking.
I like that this dish doesn’t take long and that the salsa and fish can be prepped a few hours ahead to come together quickly later.  The Peruvian Chile Lime seasoning from Savory Spice is used for both the fish and the salsa.  I also love adding some to my fresh guacamole.  If you don’t have access to that feel free to try your own spice blend!  New for me this time was the Cholula Green Pepper Hot Sauce, thanks to my son who added it to my cart the last time we were at the market.  I have to be careful how often he goes with me, he can be a very enthusiastic shopper, but if I think he is going overboard I just tell him he can have it if he can pay for it…The sauce has quite a kick, and I loved topping my taco with a few shakes from the bottle.  Since jalapeno heat can vary, the amount I put in can adjust as needed.  Today’s batch was pretty mild, I could have safely added a third.

What’s GOOD:  An easy sell to Powell and Vaughan!  Comes together quickly, but if REALLY short on time Salsa can be prepped ahead.  Can substitute other white fish. Could change out tortillas for lettuce cups if still working off those Pandemic Pounds….like I am…

What’s NOT: People who don’t like fish.  erase erase erase, just kidding.  It’s a winner in our house.

printer-friendly PDF and Master Cook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cod Tacos with Mango Papaya Salsa

Recipe By: Karen’s Inspiration
Serving Size: 5

1 cup mango — peeled and cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 cup papaya — peeled and cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 cup red onion — cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 cup cilantro — roughly chopped
2 jalapenos — minced
2 limes
1 teaspoon salt — or to taste
Savory Spice brand Peruvian Chili Lime Seasoning, about 1 teaspoon or to taste
20 Ounces cod fillets — sole works great too, cubed small
1/2 teaspoon salt Savory Spice brand Peruvian Chili Lime Seasoning, about 1 teaspoon or to taste
1 tablespoon oil — grape seed or EVOO both work great
12 corn tortillas
CONDIMENTS: Hot Sauce (Cholula Green Pepper recommended), Sour Cream, Lime wedges, Cubed Avocado Note, may need to use two tortillas per taco if too fragile with one.

1. Prepare the salsa ingredients, combine and set aside.
2. Evenly distribute the seasoning over the cut fish.
3. Heat saute pan with oil on medium heat and saute the fish until opaque, about 4 minutes
4. Heat tortillas, I microwaved 6 at a time in a tortilla warmer for two rounds of 30 seconds on high.
5. Divide fish among the 12 tortillas, top each taco with 2-3 tablespoons salsa and garnish as desired.
Note: The Chalula Green Pepper has a kick. Serve immediately. Serving Ideas : Can make Salsa several hours ahead. Fish can be cut and seasoned hours ahead, ready to saute.
Per Serving: 317 Calories; 6g Fat (15.2% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 49mg Cholesterol; 792mg Sodium; 14g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 101mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 855mg Potassium; 443mg Phosphorus. 

Posted in Uncategorized, on May 16th, 2021.

Hi there, I’m Karen.  I have enjoyed being Carolyn’s daughter-in-law for almost 20 years now.  Both sides of our family enjoy getting in the kitchen.  I love the holidays as much for enjoying what everyone brings to the table as I do for how it can bring us all together.  My husband, Powell, and I have one son, Vaughan and you will likely see our Bernese Mountain Dog, Shelby from time to time. (Yes, I have to sweep the Shelby hair out of the kitchen before I start cooking!) As you have seen from Carolyn’s previous entries, we are doing what we can to encourage Vaughan’s confidence in the kitchen too!

In addition to enjoying the kitchen, I teach piano and enjoy reading, camping, fishing, gardening, volunteering on the school district foundation, and a number of winter sports.  I used to do Tae Kwon Do regularly until my body decided I would have some arthritis in my hip.  So….I’ve adjusted my sights.  But I do miss that one!

Customers never saw the lovely backside of this machine. It had to face the wall in Dad’s shop.

So, what is with the picture of the espresso maker?  When Powell and I were getting married, my Dad had just retired from running his coffee business of 13 years.  I was visiting my parents one day, standing in the garage with my dad, who had just asked what I would like for a wedding present.  I looked over at the professional copper espresso maker just sitting in his garage and said – If that is going to just sit in here, I’d love the Espresso Machine!”  My soon-to-be husband thought I was nuts…until a few years later when we had the opportunity to install it and get it back in action.  I can’t say it is practical but it comes with a lot of great memories from my Dad’s store and has helped us create even more as we gather with friends and family.

I look forward to sharing my kitchen exploits with you- recipes coming soon!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...