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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 2023, I’m still doing 99% of the blogging and holding out hope that these two lovely and excellent cooks will participate. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

Under the Java Moon, by Heather Moore. Sometimes these WWII books are tough to read. This is a true story (written as fiction, though) about a few Dutch families who are taken prisoner on Java Island, by the Japanese. Certainly it’s a story about unbelievable deprivation and sadness, but also about resilience too. Not everyone survives, as you could guess, but you’ll be rooting for young Rita who takes on so many responsibilities far beyond her 6-year old’s abilities. I read this because a dear friend of mine’s husband (now deceased) was in the Army during WWII and spent a lot of his duty in Indonesia and had horrific stories to tell about the weather and environment (awful!). A period of his life he liked to forget. The book certainly brings that period and place to the forefront. I’m glad I read it.

Never in a million years would I have picked up Blind Your Ponies, by Stanley Gordon West. If I’d read the cover or flap that the bulk of the story is about basketball, I’d have put it back on the shelf. But oh, this book is – yes, about basketball, but it’s about a place in time in Montana, a few decades ago, when a tiny town supported their high school team. It’s about a dream. About the town who believed in them. About a tall young man who comes to lives in the town, and his deliverance, really, from a pretty awful background as he plays basketball, when he’d never played before. It’s about relationships, marriages, families and about how this little team makes it. Such a great story and SO glad I read it.

A Girl Called Samson, by Amy Harmon. I’m a fan of anything written by Harmon, and this one delivered as all her books do. 1760, Massachusetts. Deborah Samson is an indentured servant but yearns for independence. From being a rather tall, skinny kid (a girl) to faking it as a young soldier (a young man) in the Continental army. You’ll marvel at her ability to hide her true self. It’s quite a story. She’s thrown into the worst of situations in the war and comes through with flying colors. You’ll find yourself rooting for her and also fearing mightily that she’s going to either get killed, or be “found out,” by some of the men. Riveting story beginning to end. There’s a love interest here too which is very sweet.

On Mystic Lake, by Kristin Hannah. This is a book Hannah wrote some years ago, and tells the story of a woman, Annie, who finds out (on the day their daughter goes off to a foreign land for an exchange quarter) that her husband is in love with another woman and leaves her. Annie, who has been the quintessential perfect corporate wife, is devastated. She felt blind-sided. She cries and wallows, but eventually she returns home to her small town, where her widowed dad lives, in Washington. There she runs into many people she knew and at first feels very out of place. Slowly, she finds the town more welcoming and she helps a previous boyfriend, now widowed with his young daughter. A connection is there. Annie has to find herself, and she definitely does that. Her husband rears his head (of course he does!) after several months, and Annie has to figure out what to do. I don’t want to give away the story. Lots of twists and turns.

The Vineyard, by Barbara Delinsky. A novel with many current day issues. Husband and wife own a vineyard in Rhode Island. Husband dies. Widow soon (too soon) marries the manager, a hired employee, much to the consternation of her two grown children. Widow hires woman as personal assistant (much of the book comes from her voice) and she gets entangled into the many webs, clinging from the many decades the winery has tried to be successful. Really interesting. Lots of plot twists, but all revolving around work of the vineyard. Cute love story too. It wouldn’t be a Delinsky book without that aspect.

Consequences, Penelope Lively. I’ve always loved this author’s writing style. Have read many of her books. This one follows a rather dotted line family, the women, as they grow through worn-torn London and England. There’s poverty and both major events and minor ones that send the story’s trajectory in new directions. Riveting for me. Lively won the Booker Prize for Moon Tiger, her most famous book.

Below Zero, C.J. Box. Mystery of the first order. A Joe Pickett novel (he’s a game warden in Wyoming) with a family member thought dead is suddenly alive. Or is she? Joe’s on the hunt to find out. I don’t read these books at night – too scary. I love his books, though.

Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga, by Sylvain Tesson. I’m not sure what possessed me to read this book. About a late 30s guy who seems to crave solitude; he’s offered a 11×11 cabin in the cold/frozen Siberian outback, on a huge lake that freezes over in winter. Here’s a quote from the book: “A visit to my wooden crates. My supplies are dwindling. I have enough pasta left for a month and Tabasco to drench it in. I have flour, tea and oil. I’m low on coffee. As for vodka, I should make it to the end of April.” Vodka plays large in this book. Tesson (who is French, with Russian heritage) is a gifted writer, about the wilderness, the flora and fauna, about the alone-ness, the introspection. Mostly he ate pasta with Tabasco. No other sauce. Many shots of vodka every day. Drunkenness plays a serious role too – what else is there to do, you might ask? He lived there for about a year. I’d have lasted a week, no more.

The Auburn Conference by Tom Piazza. Another one, given my druthers I’m not sure I’d have picked up. For one of my book clubs. Excellent writing. 1883, upstate NY. A young professor decides to make a name for himself and puts on an event, inviting many literary luminaries of the day (Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Forrest Taylor and a romance novelist [the outlier] Lucy Comstock). Part panel discussion, part private conversations, the author weaves a tale of discord, some moderate yelling, some rascism and much ridicule of the romance novelist. Also some words of wisdom, maybe not from the authors you’d have expected. Unusual book.

As Bright as Heaven, by Susan Meissner. 1918. Philadelphia. About a young family arriving with the highest of hopes. Then the Spanish Flu hits and dashes everything. You’ll learn a whole lot about that particular virulent flu and the tragic aftermath. Really good read.

Hour of the Witch, by Chris Bohjalian. Boston, 1662. A young woman becomes the 2nd wife of a powerful man, a cruel man. She determines to leave him, something just “not done” back then. Twists and turns, she’s accused of being a witch. Story of survival, and a redeeming love too.

My Oxford Year, by Julia Whelan. At 24, a young woman is honored with a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. She’s older than most of her fellow classmates, and as an American, doesn’t fit in very well. She’s left a good job back home, but determines to try to work some for the political campaign job she’s left, and also do the work for her Oxford scholarship. She meets a professor. Oh my. Such an interesting book. I loved learning about the culture of Oxford, and there’s a fascinating romance too, somewhat a forbidden one with said professor.

Madame Pommery, by Rebecca Rosenberg. I love champagne. Have read a number of books over the years (novels) about the region (and I’ve visited there once). This is real history, though in a novelized form. Madame Pommery was widowed, and determined she would blaze a trail that was not well received (no women in the champagne business for starters). And she decides to make a different, less sweet version. She’s hated and reviled, but sticks to her guns, veering away from the then very sweet version all the winemakers were producing. Fascinating story.

The Wager, by David Grann. A true tale of shipwreck, mutiny and murder back in the 1740s. Not exactly my usual genre of reading, but once I heard about the book, I decided I needed to read it. This is a novelized version of the story, based on the facts of an English shipwreck, first off Brazil, then later off Chile. Of the men, their struggle to survive (and many didn’t). Yes, there’s murder involved, and yes, there’s mutiny as well. Those who survived stood trial back in England many years later. Riveting read.

Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate. 1939. A shantyboat in the backwaters of the Mississippi River. A 12-year old girl is left to care for her younger siblings when her mother is taken ill. A mystery ensues, and soon officials chase these youngsters to take them into an orphanage, one that became infamous for “selling” the children, weaving wild tales of their provenance. Dual timeline, you read about a successful young attorney who returns home to help her father, and questions come up about the family history. Fascinating read. You’ll learn about this real abominable woman, Georgia Tann, who profited by her “sales.”

The Vaster Wilds, by Lauren Goff. This tells the story of a young servant girl, in the aftermath of the starvation in Jamestown, the beleaguered town that virtually disappeared because the people weren’t prepared for the harshness of survival in those days. She escapes before the demise of the town and heads west, with nothing but the clothes she’s wearing. She survives longer than you might think, and encounters a lot of interesting experiences and people. Very interesting historical read.

Lady Tan’s Circle of Woman, Lisa See. Historical fiction, from 1469, Ming Dynasty, China. Based on the true story, however, about a young woman mostly raised by her grandmother who is a well known physician. Her grandfather is a scholarly physician, her grandmother, more an herbalist, or like a pharmacist of the day. Tan eventually marries into a family and is immediately subjugated by the matriarch, who won’t allow her to practice any of her healing arts. Quite a story, and also about how she eventually does treat women (women “doctors” were only allowed to treat women) as a midwife and herbalist. You’ll learn a whole lot about the use of flowers and herbs for healing and about the four humors.

Winter Garden, by Kristen Hannah. Quite a story, taking place in Washington State with apple orchards forming a backdrop and family business. Two sisters, never much friends even when they were young, return home to help care for their ailing father. Their mother? What an enigma. She took no part in raising them, yet she lived in the home. She cooked for the family, but rarely interacted. Yet her father adored his wife, their mother. How do they bridge the gulf between each other and also with their mother. Another page turner from Kristen Hannah.

Trail of the Lost, by Andrea Lankford. Not my usual genre. This is nonfiction, about Lankford who has plenty of credentials for rescue services, and is an avid hiker herself, determines to try to find some missing people who have disappeared off the face of the earth on the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s about how rescues work, everything from the disconnect between active citizens who want to help, and seemingly the unwillingness of authorities to share information. Not exactly a positive for law enforcement in this book. Really fascinating. There are hundreds of people who have disappeared off various long hike trails in the U.S. This is about four who were hiking (separately and at different times) on the PCT.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin. I’ve never been a “gamer.” Not by any standard definition, anyway. Not like people who really get into games, adventure, killers, etc. And this book isn’t a game .. . but it’s a novel (and a great story, I might add) about how these games come into being. How they’re invented, how they morph. First there were two college students, then a third person is added, and they end up creating a wildly popular game. A company is born. And it goes from there. Mostly it’s about the people, their relationships, but set amidst the work of creating and running a gaming company. Not all fun and games, pun intended.

Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt. Oh gosh, what a fabulous book. It’s a novel; however, much of the story is about the intelligence of octopus. In particular this one, Marcellus, who lives in an aquarium in a fictitious town in western Washington State. More than anything the book is about relationships, not only Marcellus with a woman (of a certain age) who cleans the aquarium at night, but the various people in this small town.

Trust, by Herman Diaz. This novel is an enigma in so many ways. It’s a book, within a book, within a book. About the stock market crash back in 1929, but it’s about a man. Oh my. It’s really interesting. This book won the Pulitzer. That’s why I bought it.

Cassidy Hutchinson is a young woman (a real one) who works in politics or “government.” She’s worked for some prestigious Washington politicians, and ended up working for Trump. The book is a memoir of her short spin working at the highest levels, and obviously at the White House. She worked under Mark Meadows and suffered a lot of ridicule when she quit. Truth and lies . . . when she couldn’t live with herself and subvert the truth. Enough, gives you plenty of detail leading up to and after the January 6th uprising. She testified to Congress about what she knew. Really interesting. I almost never read books about politics because I think many (most?) of our elected politicians succumb to the lure of power and forget who they work for, us, the public.

Becoming Dr. Q, by Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, MD, is an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and Oncology at Johns Hopkins University. This is his memoir about how he went from being a penniless migrant from Mexico to one of the world’s most renowned experts in brain tumors.

The Invincible Miss Cust, by Penny Haw.  In 1868 Ireland, a woman wasn’t allowed to attend veterinary school, much less become a veterinarian. It took  years of trying (to the horror of her aristocratic family) and finally someone took her under their wing, she enrolled using a pseudonym (a name not revealing her gender). This is a true story of Aleen Isabel Cust, who did just that.

Her Heart for a Compass, by Sarah Ferguson (yes), the Duchess of York. I was pleasantly surprised as I read this book that it wasn’t the usual romantic romp – there’s more to this story than you might think. Ferguson utilizes some of her family ancestors as real characters in the book. Sweet story but with lots of twists and turns.

Someone Else’s Shoes, by Jojo Moyes.Nisha, our heroine, is a wealthy socialite. She thinks her life is perfect. At the gym someone else grabs her gym bag, so she grabs the similar one. Then she finds out her husband is leaving her and he’s locked her out of their high-rise apartment. She’s penniless. No attorney will take her on. She has nothing but this gym bag belonging to someone else (who?).

The Eleventh Man, Ivan Doig. What a story. Ben, part of a Montana college football team in the 1940s, joins the service during WWII. So do all of his eleven teammates. After suffering some injuries in pilot training he is recruited by a stealthy military propaganda machine. His job is to write articles about his teammates as they are picked off at various battle theaters around the Pacific and Europe. Ben goes there, in person, to fuel the stories. Ivan Doig is a crafty writer; I’ve read several of his books, my favorite being The Whistling Season.

Wavewalker, by Suzanne Heywood. Oh my goodness. A memoir about a very young English girl who goes off with her besotted and narcissistic parents and her brother on a years-long sailing journey supposedly following the route of James Cook. A very old, decrepit 70-foot schooner. Four people, 2 sort-of adults and 2 children. Sometimes a helper or two. A seasick mother. A dad who is driven to the extreme, whatever the damage he creates. She spent 10 years aboard.

Claire Keegan wrote Small Things Like These. It’s won a lot of awards, and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Takes place in Ireland. Some profound questions come up in this novella, about complicity, about restitution. There’s a convent nearby, and attached one of those places young girls were sent if they found themselves “in the family way,” and about how the church helped, supposedly, by taking the children and placing them in homes, without consent. It’s ugly, the truth of the matter. Really good read.

Nicholas Sparks isn’t an author I read very often because his books are pretty sappy, but daughter Sara recommended this one, The Longest Ride. It begins with Ira (age 93), stuck in his car as it plunges off the edge of a road, and it’s snowing. As the hours tick by, he reminisces about his life.

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind, by Barbara Lipska. Interesting that I’ve read two books recently about the brain (see Doctor Q above). This is a true story about a woman, a neuroscientist, who developed a metastatic melanoma in the brain.

The Price of Inheritance, by Karin Tanabe. This is a mystery, of sorts. Our heroine is an up and coming employee at Christie’s (auction house). In bringing a large collection of expensive art to auction, she makes a misstep about the provenance of a desk. She’s fired. She goes back to her roots, takes a job at a small antique store where she used to work.

The Covenant of Water, by Abraham Verghese. Did you read Cutting for Stone, years ago, by this author? Such a good book, so I knew I’d enjoy this one, and oh, did I!. The book takes place in a little known area of southern India, and chronicles a variety of people over a few generations, who inhabit the place.

Finding Dorothy, by Elizabeth Letts. My friend Dianne recommended this book to me, and it was so special. Loved it beginning to end. It’s based on the story of 77-year old Maud Gage Baum (her husband Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz).

The Bandit Queens, by Parini Shroff. It’s about a young Indian woman, Geeta, as she tries her best to make a living after her husband leaves her. Yet the community she lives in, thinks Geeta murdered him.

Attribution, by Linda Moore. We follow art historian Cate, as she struggles to succeed in her chosen field against sexist advisors. She finds what she thinks is a hidden painting.

The Measure, Nikki Erlick. Oh my goodness. This story grabbed me from about the third sentence. Everyone in the world finds a wooden box on their doorstep, or in front of their camper or tent, that contains a string. Nothing but a string. The author has a vivid imagination (I admire that) and you just will not believe the various reactions (frenzy?) from people who are short-stringers, or long-stringers.

The Book Spy by Alan Hlad. True stories, but in novel form, of a special Axis group of men and women librarians and microfilm specialists, sent to strategic locations in Europe to acquire and scour newspapers, books, technical manuals and periodicals, for information about German troop locations, weaponry and military plans of WWII. I was glued to the book beginning to end. Fascinating accounts.

A Dangerous Business, Jane Smiley. What a story. 1850s gold rush, story of two young prostitutes, finding their way in a lawless town in the Wild West. There’s a murder, or two, or three, or some of the town’s prostitutes, and the two women set out to solve the crime.

Storm Watch, by C. J. Box. I’m such a fan of his tales of Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett’s adventures catching criminals. Loved it, just like I’ve loved every one of his books.

Defiant Dreams, by Sola Mahfouz. True story about the author, born in Afghanistan in 1996. This is about her journey to acquire an education. It’s unbelievable what the Taliban does to deter and forbid women from bettering themselves.

Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This is fairly light read, a novel – but interesting, about the meaning behind many flowers.

The Rome Apartment, by Kerry Fisher. Such a cute story. Maybe not an interesting read for a man. It’s about Beth, whose husband has just left her, and her daughter has just gone off to college. Beth needs a new lease on life, so she rents a room from a woman who lives in Rome.

All the Beauty in the World, a memoir by Patrick Bringley. Absolutely LOVED this book. Bringley was at loose ends and accepted a job as a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. He’d been a journalist at The New Yorker magazine, but after his brother was ill and died, he needed refreshing. After his training at the museum, he moves from room to room, guarding the precious art, and learning all about the pieces and the painters or sculptors.

The Queen’s Lady, by Joanna Hickson. I love stories about Tudor England, and this one didn’t disappoint. Joan Guildford is a lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth. Oh my goodness are there twists and turns.

Once in awhile I’m ready to read another Louise Penny mystery. This time it was World of Curiosities. Usually I’d write something wonderful regarding “another tome about Three Pines.” Not going to say it this time. Three Pines becomes a sinister place. Murders (many).

Over the years I’ve read many of Jodi Picoult’s books. This, her newest, or very new, is called Mad Honey. Oh, my. This book is beyond Picoult’s usual borders, but then she always writes edgy books. That’s her genre. This one is written with a co-author, a woman who is gay (I think) and also a trans-gender.

Philippa Gregory is one of my fav authors. Just finished her 3rd (and last, I think) in the Fairmile series called Dawnlands. If you scroll down below you’ll find the 2nd book in the series, Tidelands. Very interesting about English history, but about the same families from the first book in the group. Loved it, as I loved all of them.

Am currently reading Rutherfurd’s long, long book, Paris. I love these involved historical novels about a place (he’s written many about specific places in the world). It’s a saga that goes back and forth in time, following the travails of various people and families, through thick and thin. Some of it during the era of the King Louis’ (plural, should I say Louies?). Very interesting about some of the city’s history and royalty.

Although this book says A Christmas Memory, by Richard Paul Evans, it’s not just about Christmas. A young boy is the hero here, but really an older widower man who lives next door plays a pivotal part of this book.

Wish You Were Here, by Jodi Picoult. Another page-turner. I loved this book. A thirty-something woman, about to take a trip with her boyfriend, when Covid breaks out. Covid plays a major role in this book, beginning to end. She decides to go anyway as her boyfriend is a doctor and cannot leave. She ends up on a remote Galapagos island, and you go along with her – with people she meets, the life she leads, the isolation she experiences, the loneliness she feels, but the joy of nature is a sustaining aspect.

Not everyone wants to read food memoirs. When I saw Sally Schmitt had written a memoir, titled Six California Kitchens, I knew I wanted to read it. I met Sally a few times over the years when I visited Napa Valley, and bought some of her famous pickled items, chutneys, jams, etc. She was the original chef at The French Laundry, before it became truly famous by Thomas Keller.

Being a fan of Vivian Howard (from her TV show), when I saw she’d written another book, I knew I should buy it. This Will Make It Taste Good is such an unusual name for a cookbook, but once you get into the groove of the book, you’ll understand. What’s here are recipes for some “kitchen heroes” she calls them. They’re condiments. They’re food additions, they’re flavor enhancers.

As soon as it came out, I ordered Spare, by Prince Harry. I’ve always been interested in the Royal Family.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. Usually I don’t seek out short stories. I might have purchased this book without realizing it was. There aren’t that many stories – each one gets you very ingrained in the characters. I love her writing, and would think each story in this book could be made into a full-fledged novel.

A Lantern in Her Hand, by Beth Streeter Aldrich. A very interesting and harrowing story of early pioneer days in the Midwest (Nebraska I think); covered wagon time up to about 80 years later as the heroine, Abbie Deal, and her husband start a family in a small town.

The Messy Lives of Book People, by Phaedra Patrick. From amazon’s page: Mother of two Liv Green barely scrapes by as a maid to make ends meet, often finding escape in a good book while daydreaming of becoming a writer herself. So she can’t believe her luck when she lands a job housekeeping for her personal hero, mega-bestselling author Essie Starling, a mysterious and intimidating recluse.

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr. I’m a fan of this author and relished reading his book about a year in his personal life, with his wife and very new, newborn twins. Doerr was given an auspicious award – a year of study in Rome, with apartment and a stipend. There are four chapters, by season.

Kristin Hannah’s Distant Shores is quite a read. Some described it as like a soap opera. Not me. Interesting character development of a couple who married young. She put her own career/wants/desires aside to raise their children. He forged ahead with his life dreams. The children grow up and move on. Then he’s offered a huge promotion across the country. She’s torn – she doesn’t want to be in New York, but nothing would get in the way of his career.

Oh, William! by Elizabeth Strout. Lucy Barton is divorced. But she’s still sort of friendly with her ex. It’s complicated. Out of the blue he asks her to go on a trip with him to discover something about his roots.

Tidelands,  by Philippa Gregory. It tells the tale of a peasant woman, Alinor (an herbalist and midwife), who lives barely above the poverty level, trying to raise two children, during the time of great turmoil in England, the rancorous civil war about Charles 1.

Read Reminders of Him, by Colleen Hoover. A page turner of a story. A young woman is convicted of a crime (young and foolish type). Once released her sole purpose is to be a part of her daughter’s life.

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty. Oh my goodness. The wicked webs we weave. How in the world did the author even come UP with this wild story, but she did, and it kept me glued. Sophie walked away from her wedding day, and always wondered if she made the wrong decision.

Very funny and poignant story, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor (no, not that one). Mrs. Palfrey, a woman of a certain age, moves into an old folks’ home in London. It’s a sort of hotel, but has full time elderly quirky residents.

For one of my book clubs we read Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus. This book is so hard to describe. Elizabeth is a wizard at chemistry and struggles to be recognized for her intelligence and research. She meets a man at her company who is brilliant too. They make quite a pair. They have a child, then he suddenly dies. Her work isn’t taken seriously, so she leaves her employment and becomes an overnight phenom on a cooking show where she uses the chemical names for things like sodium chloride, etc. You go alongside her struggles, and her raising of her daughter. LOTS of humor, lots to discuss for a book club.

Horse. Oh my, is it a page turner. Loved it from the first page to the last. Sad when it ended. It’s a fictional creation but based on a real racehorse owned by a black man, back in the 1850s. Technically, the story is about a painting of the horse but there are many twists and turns. If you’ve ever enjoyed Brooks’ books in the past, this one won’t disappoint.

The Book of Lost Names, by Kristin Harmel (no, not Hannah). Certainly a little-known chunk of history about a woman who becomes a master forger during WWII to help get Jewish children out of France. Not easy to read, meaning the difficulty of anyone finding the means and place to DO the forgery and right under the noses of the Nazis. Really good read.

Liane Moriarty’s first novel, Three Wishes, follows the travails of adult triplets, so different, yet similar in many ways. Two are identical, the third is not. So alike, and so not. It takes you through a series of heart-wrenching events, seemingly unrelated, but ones that could bring a family to its breaking point and test the bonds of love and strength.

Recently I’ve read both of Erin French’s books, her cookbook, The Lost Kitchen, and since then her memoir, Finding Freedom. About her life growing up (difficult) about her coming of age mostly working in the family diner, flipper burgers and fries (and learning how much she liked to cook). Now she’s a very successful restaurant entrepreneur (The Lost Kitchen is also the name of her restaurant) in the minuscule town of Freedom, Maine. She’s not a classically trained chef, but she’s terrifically creative. See her TV series on Discover+ if you subscribe.

Jo Jo Moyes has a bunch of books to her credit. And she writes well, with riveting stories. Everything I’ve read of hers has been good. This book, The Girl You Left Behind, is so different, so intriguing, so controversial and a fascinating historical story. There are two timelines here, one during WWI, in France, when a relatively unknown painter (in the style of Matisse) paints a picture of his wife. The war intervenes for both the husband and the wife.

Eli Shafak’s Island of Missing Trees. This book was just a page turner. If you’ve never read anything about the conflict in Cyprus (the island) between the Turks and the Greeks, you’re in for a big history lesson here. But, the entire story centers around a fig tree. You get into the head/brain/feelings of this big fig tree which plays a very central part of the story. You’ll learn a lot about animals, insects (ants, mosquitos, butterflies) and other flora and fauna of Cyprus.

Also read Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. Ohhh my, such a good book. I couldn’t put it down. Whatever you do, do not read the ending before you start the book. I’ve never understood people who do this. The book chronicles the day a mom just ups and disappears. The grown children come back home, in panic. The dad isn’t much help, and he becomes the prime suspect of foul play. There is no body, however.

If you’d like a mystery read, try Dete Meserve’s The Space Between. It’s just the kind of page-turner I enjoy – a wife returns to her home after being away on business for a few days, to find her husband missing and what he’s left for her is an unexplained bank deposit of a million dollars, a loaded Glock in the nightstand, and a video security system that’s been wiped clean.

Read Alyson Richman’s historical novel called The Velvet Hours. Most of the book takes place in Paris, with a young woman and her grandmother, a very wealthy (but aging) woman who led a life of a semi-courtesan. Or at least a kept woman. But this grandmother was very astute and found ways to invest her money, to grow her money, and to buy very expensive goods. Then WWII intervenes, and the granddaughter has to close up her grandmother’s apartment, leaving it much the way it had been throughout her grandmother’s life, to escape the Nazis. Years go by, and finally answers are sought and found. An intriguing book, based on the author’s experience with an apartment that had been locked up similarly for decades, also in Paris.

Susan Meissner is one of my favorite authors. This book, The Nature of Fragile Things tells a very unusual story. About a young Irish immigrant, desperate to find a way out of poverty, answers an ad for a mail order bride.

Also read Rachel Hauck’s The Writing Desk. You could call this a romance. A young professional, a writer of one successful book, has writer’s block. Then she’s asked to go to Florida to help her mother (from whom she’s mostly estranged) through chemo. She goes, hoping she can find new inspiration.

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.

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 becomes something else. There is graphic detail here.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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Posted in Desserts, Miscellaneous, on April 5th, 2024.

Oh, I’m in love. Never again will I make it on the stovetop!

You’ve read it here before – I have a lovely Meyer lemon tree. It’s probably 30 or more years old, and it just keeps on producing the most wonderful lemons. The first crop each year, the biggest crop, is always the one that is in full fruit in about February each year. I get 3-4 crops/year on this tree. Just amazing. But none is as big as this one. I’ve probably got 60 lemons on it right now, and I’ve already used 15-20 already.

My friend Dianne, who is a home economist, happened to mention to me recently about making lemon curd in the Vitamix. I’m sure I looked askance at her. She said, yup, look it up. Sure enough. I read comments – there were a number. Knowing that Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular ones, I knew I’d need to reduce the sugar. Several people had commented they thought the recipe had too much sugar in it. Fine with me . . . and I needed to adjust the recipe to make a smaller amount. Their recipe makes something like 4 cups. This one makes 2 cups. With 4 cups,  I’d never use it up in time before it would spoil.

I have a second, smaller (Vitamix) container (than the standard that comes with the Vitamix) and so I adjusted the recipe some. So my recipe not only includes a bit more egg, but also reduces the amount of sugar by a lot. If you use a non-Meyer, you will need more sugar.

Into the blender container you place the zest, juice, eggs and sugar. Oh, and a bit of salt. What makes this unique is that the Vitamix blender heats when you blend on high speed. So after increasing the speed, you blend for 5 full minutes at high speed. That mixes the lemon curd completely AND heats it. Then you remove the plug in the lid and add butter – slowly, piece by piece while it’s running – and because the curd is hot, it melts instantly. You continue to blend for another 30 seconds, and the lemon curd is done. Hooray. Yippee! No standing over the stove stirring for awhile.

What’s GOOD: this lemon curd is every bit as good as any I’ve ever made. My previous favorite lemon curd was from America’s Test Kitchen. I’ve been making it that way since 2012. But now I have this one. New favorite. So easy to make.

What’s NOT: well, if you don’t have a Vitamix blender you can’t make it. Sorry about that.

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Lemon Curd in the Vitamix

Recipe: Adapted some from Vitamix website
Servings: 28

Zest of 3 Meyer lemons
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice — from Meyer lemons
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar — heaping
1/2 teaspoon salt — optional
1/4 cup unsalted butter — cut into pieces

NOTE: This recipe varies slightly from the original on the Vitamix website. This one makes a smaller quantity, uses slightly more egg, and a lot less sugar because I used Meyer lemons.
1. Place lemon juice, eggs, sugar, salt and zest into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
2. Blend for 5 minutes.
3. Reduce speed to Variable 5 and remove the lid plug. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, through the lid plug opening incorporating butter completely between additions.
4. Replace the lid plug and increase speed to Variable 10. Blend for 30 seconds. Mixture may seem too thin, but it thickens as it chills.
5. Chill before serving or allow to cool slightly and serve at room temperature.
Per Serving: 50 Calories; 2g Fat (37.6% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 24mg Cholesterol; 49mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 4mg Calcium; trace Iron; 10mg Potassium; 11mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Cookies, on March 29th, 2024.

What a revelation these cookies are. So tender and crispy. The texture is sublime.

Some months ago I put Claire Ptak’s baking cookbook, The Violet Bakery Cookbook, on my Christmas wish list and oh-happy-day, I received it as a gift. I don’t feel so guilty acquiring another cookbook if it’s a gift. Since there is no way that I need another cookbook. No way, Jose. Once Christmas was over with, I couldn’t wait to get into reading it. I do love reading cookbooks, but more than anything I enjoy reading the headnotes about the recipes. I keep a stack of those little plastic sticky-back flags nearby when I’m devouring a new cookbook. I have about 12 flags on the top edge of this cookbook. This is the first recipe I’ve tried. If this is any indication of what’s to come, I’m going to love a lot of the recipes.

What’s different about this recipe: (1) it uses only egg yolks; (2) it has a higher proportion of butter/fat in ratio; (3) you don’t overly mix the dough; (4) the dough must be frozen or refrigerated; and (4) I added walnuts, because I like them in chocolate chip cookies, always.

Also, I veered away from the original recipe – Ptak wants you to roll the batter/dough cookie balls and place them on cookie sheets, then freeze them for hours or overnight before baking. Well, no way do I have room in my freezer for trays of cookies. Instead of freezing them, I refrigerated the dough overnight (in the mixing bowl) and made the balls just before baking.

A caution: because of the amount of butter in this recipe, you can’t just remove the bowl from the refrigerator and begin scooping the dough into balls. Why? Because of the amount of butter in these and it’s not whipped-up butter as you don’t overly mix the butter and sugar as you do with lots of cookie doughs, the dough is just-about hard as a rock. You need to allow the bowl to sit out for about 30 minutes (or more) before you begin rolling the dough into balls. I used a kitchen knife to poke big slices into the dough to break it apart (not exactly easy).

The other change I made was to add some unsweetened cocoa powder to the dry ingredients (and removed an equal amount from the flour quantity). I doubled the recipe below, so I used 2 T of unsweetened cocoa powder. It didn’t change the flavor profile at all, but the cookies themselves are slightly darker in color.

For the bakery, she makes these into gigantic 4-5″ diameter cookies. I never do that, so these are more standard size, using balls that are about 1 to 1 1/4″ in diameter. My cookie scoop couldn’t cut through this dough, it was just too solid, so I used the knife to break apart pieces and formed them by hand into sort-of balls. The cookies are baked on parchment paper. Hers take 18 minutes, but mine took 14 minutes. In the recipe below I suggest 13-14. If  you want a softer center, remove them earlier. I love crispy crunchy, so I did the full 14 minutes.

What’s GOOD: oh my goodness, everything about these are wonderful. These may become my new favorite. Not sure until they are cooled, frozen, and I eat them from a frozen state. Do try them if you’re a fan of chocolate chip cookies. The texture is so different – you CAN tell they use egg yolks. It’s a lovely, rich dough and finished cookie.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of, unless you only like soft cookies; if so, these won’t be winner for you.

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Egg Yolk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe: Adapted slightly from Claire Ptak, Violet Bakery
Servings: 52

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour — less one tablespoon
1 tablespoon cocoa powder — unsweetened
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter — plus 2 tablespoons, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar — lightly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks — at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup walnuts — chopped

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugars. Beat on medium-high until combined. You are not looking for light and fluffy, just until the dough is thoroughly mixed through, 1-2 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the mixer to low and add the egg yolks, scraping down the bottom and sides. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined.
3. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl once more, and beat on low for an additional 30 seconds. Increase the mixer to medium-low, add the chocolate chips and walnuts all at once, and beat until both are evenly distributed throughout, about 1 minute.
4. Chill the cookie dough for several hours or overnight. Remove bowl from refrigerator and allow to sit for 30 minutes before you begin scooping the dough (otherwise it’s almost impossible to scoop as the butter in the dough is rock-hard).
5. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Form dough into about 1″ or 1 1/4″ balls and place on prepared pans.
6. Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 355°F. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper. Place the cookie balls about 2″ apart on the prepared sheet pans.
6. Bake one pan at a time for 13-14 minutes, or until the edges have set but the centers are still gooey. Cool the cookies on the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, or until the edges and bottoms of the cookies have set and feel firm to the touch. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough (or freeze it to bake later).
7. Serve warm or at room temperature. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container or zip-lock bag at room temperature for up to 3 days. Otherwise freeze them in freezer bags for up to two months.
Per Serving: 114 Calories; 7g Fat (53.5% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 21mg Cholesterol; 100mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 14mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 42mg Potassium; 30mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Breads, Brunch, on March 22nd, 2024.

So very tasty. Sara makes the best scones!

Over the holidays we had extended family with us at the desert house. One morning Sara was inspired to make one of her favorite scones, this one with dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. Sara just loves to bake, and as her two children were growing up, on weekends, she’d almost always bake something, whether it was biscuits or scones, or some brownies, or cookies. Something sweet. Their two children are in their mid-twenties now. Sabrina is in her second year of medical school in South Carolina, and son John just graduated from Virginia Tech, is working but is still figuring out his next career step(s).

Over that period of time she developed her own favorite method for scones, and then varies the additions (so, raisins, or nuts, or other kinds of dried fruit). Her family loves white chocolate in just about anything, so it was an easy addition to make scones with dried cranberries and the white chocolate chips. With her now standard scone recipe.

What’s different about the scones is the GRATED BUTTER she uses. A full stick of butter – hard frozen – grated on the big box grater. What that method does is disburse the butter all through the dough and it stays frozen almost, until the scones hit the oven and then it does its magic, allowing for lovely light lift. She also uses buttermilk, to make the scones so-tender. And this recipe also calls for the zest of an orange too.

In the picture here, you can barely see some of the orange zest (adds such lovely flavor) and the dried cranberries.

Sara likes to make hers into a rough round shape, about 10″ in diameter, then she cuts the round into wedges. Those went onto a big baking sheet lined with parchment and into a 375°F oven they went, for 18-20 minutes. She used some heavy cream to brush on top of the scones, and sprinkled some coarse sugar (not sure that is visible in the photo) on top, too.

What’s GOOD: these scones are to die for. They were gone, gone. I think a couple of family members breezed by the kitchen and grabbed an extra one. This recipes makes 8 scones, but you could create more if you used a biscuit cutter.

What’s NOT: not a single thing. This recipe is a keeper.
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Cranberry White Chocolate Scones

Recipe: A Sara C original
Servings: 8

2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter — FROZEN, grated
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
zest of one orange
2 tablespoons heavy cream — to brush on top
2 tablespoons coarse sugar — to sprinkle on top

1. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar together in a medium sized bowl.
2. Mix in the frozen, grated butter, then add the buttermilk all at once. Mix with fork until dough begins to hold together. Add cranberries and white chocolate chips and the orange zest.
3. Gently roll or press out into a round and cut into wedges (or cut into biscuit type rounds). Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush cream on top of each scone and sprinkle coarse sugar over all of them. Place tray of scones in the freezer while the oven heats up (20 minutes or so).
4. Heat oven to 375°F and bake scones for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve immediately with butter.
Per Serving: 386 Calories; 17g Fat (39.2% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 38mg Cholesterol; 360mg Sodium; 30g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 156mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 97mg Potassium; 214mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, on March 18th, 2024.

Such a nice, tender corned beef with a semi-sweet apricot glaze with mustard.

Change of subject here: It’s been a long time since I’ve talked (written) about grief. In another week or so it will be 10 years since my dear husband Dave died after having a stroke. I can’t believe it’s been that long . . . time sometimes dragged after it happened; every day was a misery, then as grief does, a day of less angst, then more of them, until eventually the days upon days of grieving were mostly in the past. It took about a year or more for that to happen. At first there were lots of business-y things to deal with, the trust attorneys, the special tax return to be filed. Money to be moved here and there. Some of that busy-ness kept me grounded, distracted from the grieving. It was always there in the background, though. Erupting in the evenings when I felt so alone. I still have moments, memories arise and cause a fall of my stomach, sometimes from seeing an old photo, or a fragment of a memory of old times.

Recently I’ve had some issues with my main house. I had a major leak and mold to deal with. Teams of people had to come in to fix, repair. It took weeks and weeks and weeks to get it repaired. Then a roof leak during the last heavy rains. Fortunately I was able to get someone to come and find the leak and repair it. Then I needed termite work done. Money has been pouring through my checking account. Dave would have been front and center making the phone calls, weighing the bids, watching the repairs. Since he’s been gone those things fall on me. Sometimes it’s a heavy load.

As I’ve mentioned before, grief is a fickle thing. It comes and goes. I feel it today – I’m writing this on Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day. I am out in the desert, a small condo Dave never knew since my daughter Sara, her husband John, and I bought it just a few years ago. Knowing St. Patrick’s Day was coming up, I decided to make a celebratory dinner. Celebratory. What was I celebrating, I asked myself? Just me. I bought a corned beef, had cabbage and onions on hand, a few carrots, and then I decided to make Irish Soda Bread.

As the day has progressed, the corned beef slowly simmered on the stove, soda bread was made, and vegetables prepared. And I suddenly felt very bereft. Lost. Sad. Alone. Dave would have loved the upcoming meal – he loved corned beef. At one point I weighed, did I really even want this dinner? Many holidays since Dave has been gone go unmarked, no special fanfare. And I’ve been fine with it. Not Christmas or Thanksgiving because I’m almost always with family then, but other holidays like July 4th, Easter, or this, St. Patrick’s Day. Tears began to form in my eyes, me feeling sorry for myself. I took a deep breath. Talked to myself. Pick yourself up, Carolyn, make it festive. Could I hear Dave’s voice saying, enjoy it, honey, wish I was there with you. Yes, I could imagine him saying that, though I didn’t really hear him. Can’t waste a perfectly good (and expensive) corned beef. Get a grip. And so I did.

The Irish Soda Bread is already on the blog – it’s Ina Garten’s, lightly flavored with orange zest. Wonderful as toast with butter and jam. The corned beef was made differently – although I like the recipe I’ve used in the past (more than one) I was interested in making one with a fruit glaze. Found one online that suggested orange marmalade as the base. Shopping at the store, they were OUT of marmalade, so I substituted Bonne Maman’s apricot fruit spread instead. Mixed with Dijon mustard and brown sugar.

The corned beef was simmered for hours, then put into a low baking dish, glazed and baked for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile I cooked the vegetables in the same pan I’d simmered the corned beef. Sliced a piece of the bread, still warm from the oven, spread with butter. A dinner made. The corned beef was great, but I wasn’t by that time, really in the mood. I ate. I washed a mound of dishes, watched TV and went to bed. Now I’m writing this on Monday morning, back home. Feeling fine today, not sad. That little grief spell is overwith now. Glad to see it go .. . meanwhile, do try the corned beef and especially the Irish soda bread.

What’s GOOD: I loved the corned beef, particularly with the kinda sweet/savory glaze (the savory coming from the mustard). I had a bit of the glaze with every bite. The veggies were okay. Loved the bread, especially the 2nd slice I had not just with butter, but some of the apricot fruit spread on top too.
What’s NOT: nothing really .. . all of it was good. And yes, I’d make it again with the apricot glaze.
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Apricot Glazed Corned Beef

Recipe: Adapted from a recipe
Servings: 7

2 pounds corned beef brisket — flat cut
1/2 cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
VEGETABLE SIDES: cabbage wedges peeled potatoes (or sweet potatoes), peeled carrots, onion wedges

1. Remove corned beef from the brining package. Rinse off any herbs and spices.
2. Add corned beef to a large soup pot and cover amply with water.
3. Bring mixture to a slow simmer, cover, or cover partially, and cook for 3-4 hours until a fork probed into the meat seems tender. The water should not be fully boiling, just below that, at about 200°F.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
5. Remove meat and place it in a casserole dish.
6. In a small bowl mix the apricot jam, Dijon and brown sugar until no streaks of mustard are visible. Use about half of the glaze to brush or spoon onto the top of the corned beef..
7. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove meat to a cutting board. Cut meat across the grain into about 1/2″ thick pieces. Shingle them onto a serving platter and serve the remaining glaze on the side.
8. VEGETABLES: If you want cabbage, onions, carrots and potatoes with the meal, prep them and add to the pot of simmering fluid you cooked the corned beef in. Pour out most of that liquid and simmer the vegetables in about 1″ of the water. Bring back to a simmer and allow vegetables to cook for about 20-25 minutes. Drain and serve alongside the corned beef.
Per Serving: 325 Calories; 20g Fat (54.2% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 70mg Cholesterol; 1636mg Sodium; 12g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 19mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 413mg Potassium; 157mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, Soups, on March 8th, 2024.

Can I just say – this chili is SO good. So easy to make. Very satisfying.

I started off with a recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen – she used ground turkey instead of chicken (and you could use either one – my daughter Sara happens to prefer ground chicken so I used that), and the sweet potatoes (no beans in this recipe). Since sweet potatoes are a resistant starch, I like including them in any potential recipe I make. Most of the seasonings are similar to Kalyn’s, but I made a few changes. I wanted more vegetables (just because) and I used some small pieces of cauliflower too which just melded into the soup (couldn’t see it or taste it). I’m not a fan of green peppers – never have been. I know they add a distinct flavor in some cuisines, but I just don’t like them. So in my recipe I used red. You could use yellow or orange, as well. Or a mixture.

The chili has a deep, dark color, which comes from using ancho chili powder. If you haven’t added this seasoning to your spice pantry, you should, as it has a wonderful deep flavor. It’s only been in recent years that you could buy it ground. Yes, you can use the whole, dried anchos – cut off the stems, remove the seeds, chop coarsely then run them through a spice grinder. I just buy the powder already ground.

I also use a spice mix from Penzey’s, called Chili 3000 (I also use the Chili 1000 too) but the 3000 was the one I used here. You don’t have to buy that unless you’d like to try it.

When I made this chili, I doubled the recipe. I was out at the desert house and I made it in our huge 12-inch “MadeIn” pot I bought for that house to use on our induction range. Sara and John were there, and we had it for dinner one night. It got rave reviews from all of us. I froze some of the portions, gave some to Sara to take home and I brought a few servings home with me too. Loved the toppings – we had yogurt, green onions, grated Cheddar and cilantro.

What’s GOOD: Gosh, so delicious. Loved the complex flavors (am sure it’s a combination of the ancho chili powder and the Penzey’s Chili 3000 mix). The ground chicken – don’t we know – doesn’t have a lot of flavor, but the protein is healthy for us – so the flavor here has to come from other things. Altogether fabulous. For me, this recipe is a real keeper.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. Make sure you buy the ancho chili powder.

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Ground Chicken Sweet Potato Chili

Recipe: Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Servings: 8

2 tablespoons olive oil — divided
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
2 red bell peppers — seeds and stem removed and chopped
1 large onion — chopped
2 stalks celery — minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground ancho chiles — (or use more regular chili powder if you don’t have ancho)
1 tablespoon Penzey’s Chili 3000 seasoning — or other chili seasoning mix
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
8 ounces diced green chiles — not jalapenos
14 ounces diced tomatoes — canned, undrained
8 ounces tomato sauce
28 ounces low sodium beef broth
2 medium sweet potatoes — skinned and diced into cubes
1 cup cauliflower — cut into small dice
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
TOPPINGS: unflavored yogurt (or sour cream), grated cheese, diced green onions and chopped cilantro

1. In a large soup pot, heat half of the olive oil, add ground chicken, and cook over medium-high heat until the chicken is well-browned and all liquid has evaporated. Break it apart with a spatula.
2. Spoon out the chicken into a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
3. Add the other amount of olive oil to the soup pot, add the chopped red pepper, chopped onion and celery, and sauté about 3-4 minutes over medium heat.
4. Add the minced garlic, chili powder, Ancho chile powder, and ground cumin and cook 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken back into the soup pot. Then add the diced green chiles with juice, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beef broth to the soup pot. Bring the chili to a simmer, then turn heat to low.
5. Dice the sweet potato into pieces about 3/4″ square and add to the chili along with the diced cauliflower and simmer about 45 minutes, adding a little water if it gets too thick.
6. Taste for seasoning and add hot sauce if desired, salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste. Serve hot, with toppings of your choice: yogurt or sour cream, grated cheese, green onions and cilantro. The chili will keep in the fridge for about a week and it freezes well.
Per Serving: 239 Calories; 11g Fat (40.0% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 73mg Cholesterol; 328mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 63mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 1086mg Potassium; 239mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on March 1st, 2024.

Such a nice salad. Love the lightly sweetened cranberry juice salad dressing.

This recipe I’ve made a couple of times since Diane Phillips demonstrated it and served it at the December class she and Phillis Carey gave in early December. I made it the other day but decided not to do the fancy stuff with the pecans. Rather than coat them in a sweetened egg white mixture and roast them, I just toasted the pecans without. There are dried cranberries there (hard to see), and some nice chunks of goat cheese. And then the really delightful dressing.

I’d say the only down side to this salad is that you have to buy a bottle of cranberry juice cocktail. (Don’t use the diet type.) Didn’t they used to sell them in small cans? All I could get was as huge bottle of it. I’m glad I have family coming with little kids (my two great-grands) who will drink it up, I hope.

The dressing is easy-peasy to make. Just combine cranberry juice cocktail (not the diet type), sugar (I used part artificial sugar when I made it), rice vinegar (don’t use the seasoned type as that contains sugar), Dijon, salt, pepper and vegetable oil in a jar and shake. I used a mixture of field greens and arugula in the salad above. Ideally toss the salad with the dressing. If you’d like to, I think you could reduce the sugar just a little bit, to make it slightly less sweet. But not by much.

My friend Dianne and I were doing a fund-raising event for 10 people, so when I made it on this occasion, to save time about 10-15 minutes ahead we plated the greens, added the cranberries, pecans and goat cheese, then just before serving I drizzled the dressing on each plate of salad. The dressing should keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator.

What’s GOOD: love the dressing, slightly sweet. Make ahead. Very easy salad to put together. Easy to take to a party. Dressing will keep for a week or two.

What’s NOT: only that you’ll have to buy a bottle of cranberry juice cocktail. I don’t drink fruit juice anymore. Maybe around Thanksgiving or Christmas time they have it frozen in concentrate? Might have to look next fall. I’ll freeze a bit of the juice for the next time I want to make this.

SALAD (both dressing and salad): printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

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

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Field Green Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese

Recipe: Diane Phillips, cooking class 12/2023
Servings: 6

1 large egg white — about 2 T
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
6 tablespoons raw sugar
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon seasoning salt — like Lawry’s
2 cups pecans — or walnuts, raw, or use combination
8 cups salad greens — (field or combination)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup goat cheese — crumbled
1/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail — (do not use diet juice)
1/4 cup rice vinegar — (do not use “seasoned” style)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup vegetable oil — might need up to 2/3 cup
salt and pepper to taste

1. NUTS: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
2. Whisk together egg white, Tabasco, sugar, garlic salt and seasoning salt.
3. Add nuts and stir to coat well.
4. Spread pecans onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, shaking the pan every 10 minutes for even toasting. Remove pan from oven and cool completely. Break up the pecans and store in airtight container. The pecans can be made ahead and frozen for up to 3 months.
5. SALAD: Place greens in a large salad bowl.
6. In a small jar, combine cranberry juice, rice wine vinegar, sugar, mustard and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Taste for acidity and add more oil if needed.
7. Pour dressing over salad, plate the salads individually and garnish with dried cranberries, pecans and goat cheese.
Per Serving (this is a bit high because there is more dressing here than you will use): 616 Calories; 54g Fat (76.1% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 26g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 31mg Cholesterol; 234mg Sodium; 21g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 146mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 224mg Potassium; 247mg Phosphorus.

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Cranberry Juice Vinaigrette

Recipe: Diane Phillips, cooking instructor, from a class, 12/2023
Servings: 8

1/4 cup cranberry juice — do not use diet
1/4 cup rice vinegar — do not use “seasoned”
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup vegetable oil — or a smidge more if needed
salt and pepper to taste

NOTE: This goes well with a field green salad (field greens mixed with some other lettuces, or arugula), then add some dried cranberries, toasted pecans and some little torn chunks of soft goat cheese (from the log).
1. In a jar, combine the cranberry juice, rice vinegar, sugar, Dijon mustard and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Taste for acidity and add more oil if needed.
2. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Shake well before using.
Yield: 1 cup
Per Serving: 149 Calories; 14g Fat (80.1% calories from fat); trace Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 42mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 3mg Calcium; trace Iron; 12mg Potassium; 5mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Desserts, on February 25th, 2024.

That looks kinda odd, doesn’t it? That’s a bit of whipped cream (not quite whipped enough, actually) on top of tapioca pudding that has some flecks of vanilla bean in it.

Since we went through Covid, every once in awhile I crave some dessert comfort food. Seems like more than I used to. And rice pudding is one I turn to, also my mother’s apple crisp, and occasionally tapioca pudding. So I reviewed my options and tapioca pudding was the choice. Made with more half and half than milk, using a Cook’s Country recipe to start from. I improvised a bit with it, but it’s pretty darned good. Worth making.

The dairy (half and half and milk) is poured into a saucepan, then you add the tapioca, sugar, an egg and an egg yolk (mixed up before adding), a tad of light brown sugar and salt. Then you add the innards of the vanilla bean (cut with a knife lengthwise, carefully, then use the side of the knife to scrape out all that good paste). The bean pod is added while it’s cooking and removed afterwards. The mixture is left to sit a few minutes before you bring it to a boil and simmer, carefully stirring constantly at that point, for two minutes. The tapioca does its thing (thickening) as it cools – it’s still pretty thin when you pour it into a bowl, then it gels up later. Add a piece of plastic wrap (after 15 minutes or so) to the top of the pudding, so it doesn’t develop a crust. Allow it to cool, then refrigerate for two hours. I had a hard time waiting two hours . . . then an extra step is added that I’d not done before. You whip up 1/2 cup of heavy cream – I whisked it by hand rather than get out my hand mixer – with a tablespoon of sugar added. HALF of that whipped cream is added to the pudding and stirred in. The other half is garnished on the pudding.

For me, the pudding was very thick – too thick to my liking when I took it out of the refrigerator – even with the small amount of whipped cream added, so I added some extra milk to it and stirred it in until it was smooth, without clumps. Scoop out servings into small bowls and dollop the whipped cream on top. Serve. Divine.

What’s GOOD: well, rich and creamy. That’s the ticket. Absolutely delicious. A keeper of a recipe. The half and half (obviously) gives it a nice richness, and the whipped cream gently added in at the end gives it a nice texture. Really liked that part. After the first serving, I ate it without the whipped cream. It was plenty-rich, so if you don’t want to do that whipped cream topping, just add it all in when you stir it in at the end.

What’s NOT: nothing at all, unless you don’t have vanilla bean on hand. Or half and half!

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Creamy Rich Tapioca Pudding

Recipe: Adapted from Cook’s Country
Servings: 8

3/4 cup whole milk
1 3/4 cups half and half
1 large egg
1 egg yolk — lightly beaten
1/4 cup granulated sugar — plus 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup tapioca — Minute type
1 whole vanilla bean
More milk to thin the pudding, if needed
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Combine half and half, milk, egg and yolk, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt and tapioca in a medium saucepan.
2. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and use a sharp knife to scrape the seeds into the mixture. Drop the scraped bean pod into the pan (it will be removed later), and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes.
3. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Remove the bean pod, and then pour the pudding mixture into a bowl. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the top of the pudding and allow to cool completely. Remove plastic wrap. Cover bowl tightly and chill for at least two hours. When ready to serve, stir the pudding – if it seems to be extra-thick, add some milk to it and stir well, to combine without big lumps.
4. Beat the heavy cream and remaining granulated sugar with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold half of the whipped cream into the chilled pudding. Serve the remaining whipped cream dolloped on top of the pudding, along with fresh summer berries.
Per Serving: 195 Calories; 13g Fat (60.7% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 84mg Cholesterol; 129mg Sodium; 11g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 100mg Calcium; trace Iron; 127mg Potassium; 99mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Desserts, GF or Gluten Free, on February 23rd, 2024.

A really tasty GF Bundt cake. Every bit as good as one made with flour.

So I have to confess, the Bundt cake had a few problems coming out of the pan. Although I sprayed it with nonstick spray AND it’s a nonstick pan, still several chunks didn’t want to release. Therefore the underside that’s supposed to be the top side wasn’t at all pretty. Oh well, I just left it this way, topside up, and no one seemed to mind. I thought I had a photo or two of the sliced cake, but after a recent purge of food photos on my phone, I guess I must have deleted it.

I made this over Christmas, for my cousin Gary, who can’t eat wheat. Most holidays when he comes to visit, I make at least one or two GF desserts for him for our family gatherings, so he isn’t left out of the celebration.

Nielsen-Massey - Pure Lemon PasteThe recipe came from the ‘net, All Day I Dream About Food (a blog). I made a couple of changes – I used lemon paste (I bought it from King Arthur) in addition to lemon zest, and I didn’t make the glaze because I was lazy. And what was left of the cake went home with Gary in his backpack, on the plane. I hope it didn’t get squished beyond recognition. What the lemon paste does is give a more intense lemon flavor. What’s there not to like about that option?

The only really unusual ingredient here is whey protein powder, unflavored. I have some that I keep on hand as it’s a common item in keto baking. I’m not eating keto anymore, but I still use keto recipes frequently. Whey proteins have excellent water-binding properties, which can help to increase the moisture content and softness of baked goods. Hence, this cake was VERY tender and moist.

The making of it was quite standard, and it was baked at a little lower temperature. When using whey protein it’s better to either bake a cake for fewer minutes and/or lower the temp so it doesn’t dry out.

What’s GOOD: this makes a really tasty, lemony, tender Bundt cake. The recipe is a keeper.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. If you have concerns about your Bundt pan sticking, bake this in a loaf cake instead. And use parchment paper.

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

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Poppyseed Lemon Bundt Cake GF

Recipe: Adapted from: all day I dream about food blog, 2019
Servings: 12

3 cups almond flour
1/3 cup whey protein powder — unflavored
3 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter — softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs — at room temperature
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon paste
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup water
Glaze: (optional)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
a little bit of fresh lemon juice

NOTES: Do grease the Bundt pan, even if you’re using a nonstick one. Be generous with the coating.
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Liberally grease a bundt pan. Make sure you get into all the nook and crannies. Otherwise, bake in a loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together: the almond flour, protein powder, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter with sugar until well combined. Add eggs, scraping down the beaters and the sides of the bowl as needed. Add lemon zest, lemon paste, and vanilla extract.
4. Add half of the almond mixture in until there are no more dry patches, then mix in the water. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula.
5. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until top is deep golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
6. GLAZE: whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. If too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar until it’s the right pouring consistency. Drizzle glaze over the cooled cake.
Per Serving: 163 Calories; 10g Fat (52.8% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 67mg Cholesterol; 241mg Sodium; 14g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 109mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 49mg Potassium; 157mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Vegetarian, Veggies/sides, on February 9th, 2024.

Lovely roasted veggies enhanced with lemon juice in a vinaigrette.

Having shopped that morning and with numerous vegetables to choose from, I decided a sheetpan of roasted veggies sounded good for dinner. My complete dinner. But adding some kind of dressing would be even better, so I kind of made up a dressing with EVOO, a tad of red wine vinegar and fresh lemon juice (my Meyer lemon tree is loaded, absolutely loaded with them), Dijon, a tiny bit of sugar, salt and pepper and some minced shallot.

After cutting up the veggies (one sweet potato, chunked large, 1 large sweet onion cut in wedges, about 12 Brussels sprouts, halved, one baby bok choy, cut into wedge thirds), I piled them onto a sheet pan lined with parchment. EVOO was drizzled over it and I used my hands to make sure every surface had been kissed by the oil. Then I added some salt and freshly ground black pepper, and it was ready. Into a 400°F oven it went for 35 minutes. If I’d wanted more caramelization I wouldn’t have used the parchment, but they were just done in that time frame (and the sheetpan was mostly clean). Meanwhile, I’d mixed up the vinaigrette, tasted it, and added a bit more oil. Once the veggies came out of the oven I put them onto my plate and drizzled (using a teaspoon) some of it over each piece of vegetable. That way, I hoped, I’d use less of the dressing (therefore fewer calories). So delicious. As I write this, I made the veggies last night, and at lunchtime today I couldn’t wait to have more of them. I reheated them in the microwave for a quick meal.

The recipe below makes more than you’ll need of the dressing – use what’s left on a green salad. Therefore, the calorie count in the actual recipe is way off. This is a mix-and-match kind of dish – don’t like sweet potatoes? Add white potatoes. Don’t like Brussels, add red, yellow and green bell peppers, cauliflower or eggplant. Don’t have sweet onion? No problem. Regular onions should work just fine. Add carrots to this – they’d be great – they become very sweet when roasted. I was trying to stick with low carb. Sweet potatoes are a resistant starch, so they don’t get absorbed by the body like most starches/carbohydrate. I have some portobello mushrooms and if I make this again in the next few days, I’ll add those, although they’d need the dark gills cleaned out  (otherwise the resulting dark fluid would spread over the other veggies – wouldn’t look pretty). I’m not a fan of cooked celery, but it probably would work here too. Regular cabbage would work too if cut into smaller wedges.

What’s GOOD: oh gosh, every veggie was wonderful. The vinaigrette just “made” it – it was the lemon juice that was the key to that. If you cut the veggies in somewhat even thickness they’ll all be done at the same time. Using parchment made for easy clean-up. The leftover vinaigrette I’ll use on a salad in the next few days. Absolutely wonderful dinner. If you wanted to serve it with a side of protein – a grilled chicken breast, or some rotisserie chicken, easy. A grilled pork chop maybe, or even a piece of fish. All good with the vegetables.

What’s NOT: only that you need to have the right combo of vegetables. Use what you have. No complaints here!

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

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Roasted Vegetables with Lemon Vinaigrette

Recipe: My own recipe, made it up on the fly
Servings: 2

1 medium sweet potato — peeled
1 large sweet onion — peeled, cut in wedges
2 whole bok choy — cut in thirds, through the core
10 whole Brussels sprouts — ends sliced off, halved
1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
VINAIGRETTE: (this makes more than needed for the vegetables)
1/3 cup EVOO
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 small shallot — peeled, finely minced

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large sheetpan with parchment paper.
2. Prep vegetables and combine on the sheetpan. Drizzle EVOO over all and toss the vegetables to coat them. Sprinkle salt and pepper over all.
3. Bake for 35 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
4. Meanwhile, prepare vinaigrette and shake well to combine. Taste for acid balance – add more oil or lemon juice as needed.
5. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the hot, roasted vegetables and serve immediately.
Per Serving (makes more dressing than needed, so calories are way high): 578 Calories; 47g Fat (70.2% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 38g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 175mg Sodium; 15g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 171mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 989mg Potassium; 175mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Fish, on February 2nd, 2024.

Having made shrimp and grits before . . . well, these are the best ever.

It’s taken me awhile to catch up with all of the recipes I’ve made or had, and this was one that got lost. Phillis Carey made these at the class in early December, and they are just the bomb. What’s there not to like about bacon, mushrooms, lovely succulent shrimp and a bunch of cheese mixed in and around the pile of creamy grits?

Ideally, have everything out, ready, measured before you begin. The grits take less than 10 minutes to cook, and the shrimp even less than that, so be prepared. Chicken broth and cream are added to a pot, then once it’s up to a boil you slowly – ever so slowly – drizzle in the grits, stirring constantly with a whisk (not a spoon, a whisk). Once mixed, turn down the heat, cover and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes. Then you add in the salt, butter, and cheeses, plus some white pepper, cayenne and nutmeg (yes, nutmeg).

Phillis used 6 slices of bacon in this dish – – – I use 4 slices, as the bacon flavor was very prominent. You don’t want it to overpower the delicacy of the shrimp. The shrimp are cooked in the residual bacon fat (plus oil if needed), until it just begins to get opaque (pink), then you add green onions, the bacon and garlic. It’s then seasoned with lemon juice, some hot sauce plus salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, the grits are done, they’re spooned into a nice big wide soup bowls and the shrimp mixture is piled on top. Sprinkle with Italian parsley for color. Serve immediately so it doesn’t cool off.

What’s GOOD: every little morsel of this was delicious. I mean, really  . . . shrimp, mushrooms, bacon, grits with cheese and cream? Oh yum.

What’s NOT: well, there’s not much that’s healthy about this, lots of calories. A decadent splurge, let’s put it that way.

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

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Shrimp and Grits with Mushrooms and Bacon

Recipe: Phillis Carey, class, 12/2023
Servings: 5

3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream — or use more broth instead
1 cup grits — quick, not instant type
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup cheddar cheese — grated
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
Freshly ground white pepper, cayenne and nutmeg (to taste)
4 slices bacon — diced
Oil for frying
1 pound large shrimp — cleaned, with or without tails
1/2 pound mushrooms — white, sliced
1 cup green onions — sliced
1 clove garlic — minced
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Crystal hot sauce, to taste, or Tabasco
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Italian parsley — chopped

1. GRITS: Place broth and cream in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Gradually whisk in grits (too fast and you’ll get lumps). Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until grits are creamy and tender, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in salt, butter and cheeses. Add a pinch of each: white pepper, cayenne and nutmeg.
2. SHRIMP: Cook bacon in large skillet until browned on the edges. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels.
3. If the bacon fat doesn’t provide a thin layer all over the pan, add a bit of neutral oil. Heat over medium high heat and add shrimp and mushrooms, tossing well. Cook until shrimp JUST starts to color, then add green onions, cooked bacon and garlic. Season with lemon juice, hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
4. Divide grits among four plates or wide bowls. Spoon shrimp mixture over grits and serve sprinkled with Italian parsley.
Per Serving: 718 Calories; 46g Fat (57.2% calories from fat); 43g Protein; 34g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 231mg Cholesterol; 1565mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 708mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 615mg Potassium; 773mg Phosphorus.

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