Monthly Archives: August 2017


Visit a library and your spirits are likely to lift. I love all libraries. Last week the post of a friend on Facebook plunged me into a pool of comforting nostalgia for the library in the small town where I grew up. It is and was a magical place.

I share some of the libraries I have most enjoyed using over the years.


and Now

Reinbeck, Iowa Public Library

Clinton, Iowa Public Library

Dixon, Illinois Public Library – one interesting note about the Dixon library involves the lower level where local history was available in open stacks. Large grade level windows allowed the sun to stream in on the days I spent there. It was absolutely delightful. There were many comfortable places to read and work. I had the place to myself.

Galena, Illinois Public Library

Bloomfield Township, Michigan Public Library

UW-Madison Historical Library at Madison, WI

Iowa State University, Ames Iowa

University of Iowa Library at Iowa City

Perhaps I have forgotten a favorite, time will tell. Over the years the University Libraries are most likely to change. Hope I identified correctly the buildings I used, when I used them. But do let me know if I’ve made mistakes.

Realizing many of us love all libraries, do share one or two of your favorites.


The Woman In Cabin 10: a novel
Author: Ruth Ware
Scout Press: 2016
Genre: Thriller
Paperback Edition: 540 pages plus sneak peak The Lying Game
Source: Personal Copy


Second self


A huge reading pie is served up at summer-end and into fall. You blog readers want to know what good reads are lurking among the new releases. Look for one that surprises, one you can’t wait to hold in your hands or load onto your kindle.

Braving the Wilderness: the Quest for True Belonging and the Courage To Stand Alone by Brene Brown
One may think this book was about hiking but apparently it is about community and belonging.

A Column of Fire by Ken Follett
Here is the latest in Follett’s epic fictional saga set in Kingsbridge during the Middle Ages.
September 2017

Glass Houses by Louise Penny
Lousie Penny cares less about the conventions of crime than she does about conscience, or so some say. Inspector Gamache in Three Pines delves into another mystery.
August 2017

Grant by Ron Chernow.
Cherow is well-known for tackling the lives of Washington and Hamilton. In this book he brings readers the opportunity to reexamine the life of Ulysses S. Grant.
October 2017

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan.
This story begins in Depression-era Brooklyn where a girl’s father disappears.
October 2017

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
Word is this is a compelling thriller set in Northern Michigan is one of the newest such books not-to-be-missed.
June, 2017.

Origin: A Novel by Dan Brown
Brown commands a legion of fans; his latest is described as an inventive tale.
October 2017

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It! : Simple Scrumptious Recipes for Crazy Busy Lives. By Ree Drummond
The title says it all.
October 2017

Sing, Unburied, Sing By Jesmyn Ward
Her sixth book, fiction, involves a multi-generational family on a farm in Mississippi. Sounds a bit like the television series Queen Sugar, doesn’t it?

The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
All are raving in anticipation of this new thriller. How Horowitz has this ready so soon after Magpie Murders seems amazing. This one is at the top of my list even as it is the bottom of this one. Heard about the release on Twitter.
August 24, 2017

Guess if pop albums are announce via Twitter, if government personages release ideas on Twitter, why not the release date of books via Twitter?

Yes, I can vouch for all of these writers except Karen Dionne and Brene Brown.


Open Shelving

Yes, it’s trendy but ….
Be ready to dust and wash!

Loading Flatware in Dishwasher

So many mixed messages on this one. Here we may have the last best word: knives point down, forks point up, spoons alternate.

Create your next Skakshuka with Eggplant

The filling will be delicious and beautiful

Not Coconut Oil

Instead: EVOO, Corn Oil, Canola Oil, Avocado Oil, Sesame Oil
Avocado oil especially for salad dressing
Add sesame oil at the end of cooking for flavor.

And one more – no picture

Use Glass Containers for Storage

This September issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine is a treasure of trends and hints, not to mention great sounding recipes!

Check it out!


Will tomato season soon be upon us? Have you been to the Farmer’s Market near you? Did you come home with a beautiful bounty of cherry and heirloom tomatoes? What will you do with your tomatoes?

Enough with the questions!

Today I share two recipes for Tomato Jam and the start of a journey of dreaming and learning.

Tomato Jam
From New York Times Food Section, August 16, byline Alison Roman

4 pounds red or green tomatoes (not heirloom), cored and cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Garlic, chiles de arbol (look for dried peppers in an envelope)
Red pepper flakes or thyme (the author adds a note: red pepper flakes or 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves.

Toss the tomatoes,sugar and salt together and let sit 15 minutes or up to overnight. Toss to coat periodically to dissolve the sugar.

Put a small plate in the refrigerator to chill. (the mystery begins)

In a heavy pan bring tomatoes to a strong simmer over medium heat until the skins bust and juices start to boil, about 10 minutes. Add those optional flavorings.

Cook the jam, using a wooden spoon to stir occasionally. Near the end of this process stir often to prevent sticking. Cook until mix resembles thick shiny tomato sauce: 35-45 minutes.

Here’s where that plate comes into play. When you think jam may be finished, spoon some onto the chilled plate, return to fridge and chill two minutes. Drag finger and jam should hold its shape, not watery or runny. Perhaps it needs to cook a few more minutes?

Discard chilis. Sppon jam into jars leaving ¼ inch head space and seal immediately. Or just put into a clean jar and refrigerate.

You can learn more online “Make Summer Last” at

Black Bandywine Tomatoe Jam
from the Heirloom Tomato Cookbook by Mimi Lueggermann

5 pounds black brandywine tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoons light olive oil
½ cup dry red wine
3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons saba vinegar or aged balsamic vinegar
½ stick cinnamon
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate

pinch of sea salt.

Brush cut sides of tomatoes with olive oil. Roast in a 400 degree oven, cut side own on a baking sheet until charred and soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Puree tomatoes and juice.

Cook in heavy nonreactive saucepan and combine with other ingredients except chocolate and salt. Bring to boil and simmer stirring constantly until tomatoes are jamlike, about 1 ½ hours. Remove cinnamon stick.

Add chocolate and salt and stir until chocolate melts.

Remove from heat and cool.

Spread on toasted walnut bread and top with a slice of blue cheese.

Oh my! All that stirring! That’s a lot of expensive heirloom Black Brandywines.

American Spoon Farmhouse Tomato Relish.

You can purchase this sweet and savory item in a jar. American Spoon also sells Brandywine Tomato Preserves.

Mrs. Miller brand makes Tomato Jam. Maybe Stonewall Kitchens, but I couldn’t find it.

The magazine Fine Cooking suggest 12 ways to use Tomato Jam. Here are a few: Slather on – Grilled Cheese, Lentil Soup, With eggs and Bacon, On a BLT

Or toss with avocado
Or whisk into vinegriette
Or spread on brushetta with cream cheese.

But really if you love this savory sweet treat, you will think of million ways to use it.



BRITISH TV SERIES – Writer and creator Anthony Horowitz

The photo of actor Michael Kitchner in his 40’s fedora may cause a viewer to think this 2002-2015 British TV series boring. Never.

Kitchner plays DCS Christopher Foyle a middle-aged small town police officer in Hastings on the South Coast of England, a dangerous place during the early years of WWII. He fights crime on the home front. The charming actress Honeysuckle Weeks plays his driver and budding investigator Sam. All supporting roles are excellent including side-kick investigator Milner. Foyle initially rescued him from a military hospital. Foyle also has a handsome fly-boy son, Andrew.

More than a detective series, Kitchner uses his calm, laid-back manner and impressive intellect to solve people-problems as well as crime. Everything about this series shows quality. There’s humor, caring, kindness and more. Shows run about 90 minutes.

It is featured today on the blog because so little is available on TV that I’ve been rewatching a few shows. The series remains a favorite. It is available on Netflix for streaming or purchase, and can be purchased from other sources as well. It is also available on Acorn TV. Recently I wrote about enjoying the mystery novel Magpie Murders. My enjoyment of that book by Anthony Horowitz the creator and writer of this series prompted me to watch a few episodes of Foyle at work. The series remains as addicting as ever.

5 Stars. Give it a try, or check the Tomato Meter from the Rotten Tomatoes Reviewing service. See what others have to say!!!


For this reader, non-fiction usually seems to go slower than much fiction, although this past week I’ve been trying to read a best seller many of you loved. I find it very easy to put aside to read my current non-fiction books. After 150 pages of the fiction, I think I’ll put it aside for good.

Today’s post focuses on Non-fiction.

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

Yes, I finished this classic. It is not an easy read.

It seemed like I was with Matthiessen and his sherpas on most days, climbing, climbing, climbing over the iced trails, clinging to a narrow ledge, the weather so cold that climbing was preferable to being burrowed in a sleeping bag in a thin tent. All this while subsisting on lentil soup and dry bread or some food that was totally unclear to me. Climbing, one observes scarce wild-life dominated by blue sheep and hopes to sight a Snow Leopard. I never want to be that cold and hungry again.

Sabbath As Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now by Walter Brueggemann

Walter Bruegggemann is a Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary and the author of dozens of books. But thanks to another Brueggemann fan, I have just discovered him. I am totally enthralled and expect to read another of his books straightaway. He is a famous theologian I had never heard of, but then I’m not always up on such matters. I hope to hear him speak here in the Detroit area in a few weeks.

The book is a fresh look at the restfulness of the Sabbath, keeping the Sabbath, resting, rather than multi-tasking. Reading this book I am convinced I am listening to God’s word as given to us from earliest times, yet completely relevant to my life today.

As with Pharaoh of the time of the Israelites in Egypt, I am so busy multi-tasking, focused on production that my anxiety grows even as I wish to escape it. The book also focuses on the commandment to love our neighbors. This is something we are having difficulty doing these days.

Keeping the Sabbath is freedom from the coercive expectations of our lives, freedom from the fear that makes us want to fence our world to keep others out rather than embracing our neighbors as God expects us to do. Our restlessness, our lack of rest, our constant drive to acquire things cuts us off from our neighbors, from compassion and justice. Brueggemann makes the way to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control seem clear.

Which of his books will I choose next? Many of his books are available from Amazon.

Egg Shop: The Cookbook by Nick Korbee

This book is filled with interesting reading about eggs and a restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Many of the recipes seem unusual and even strange. Let me search for some examples.

What I need to do is spend more time reading this book, because so far, not much is clear or understandable to this home cook. Mostly, my recent reading has focused on searching for a great, easy to prepare egg recipes. But, back to unusual examples instead of easy to prepare, “I want to eat it right away” egg preparations. It would be easier to do this with a better table of contents or listings of recipes in a section. The mass of info and lack of organization doesn’t support easy browsing.

Notice how I still haven’t given you examples. Are you up for Hollandaise, Microhuevos, Spicy Tea and Tamari Cured Soft-Boiled Egg, Tamagoyaki or Dashi. Yes, these dishes are explained, but the book is thick, hard to hold open, and the explanations complicated, needing ingredients not in my pantry, and I wouldn’t know where to obtain them. One more. Manchego and Jamon Eggs with Fried Guava Jelly. Does that sound better tasting than your usual scrambled eggs? The book is thick, 300 plus pages and unwieldy. Spanish and California dishes are prominent.

But if you are going to Brooklyn, or you’ve just moved to an apartment there, do search for the egg shop. The book? You decide.


American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life In a Vanishing Land
Author: Monica Hesse
Publisher: Norton, 2017
Genre: Non-fiction, True Crime
Hardcover Edition: 240 pages plus notes

True Crime Reporting with humanity, humor and an understanding of the people and the community where the crime occurred.

Comment concerning this best seller appeared on this blog dated July 24.

Saints For all Occassions

Author: J. Courtney Sullivan
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf , 2017
Genre: Literary Fiction
Hardcover Edition: 335 pages

Two sisters leave Ireland for America in 1957. Their stories and the stories of their children may bring you to tears. It is a moving novel that takes place over a span of 50 years.

See book comments on this blog June 7, 2017.

Hillbilly Elegy:A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis
Author: J. D. Vance
Publisheer: Harper Collins, 2016
Genre: Nonfiction, memoir and commentary on Appalachian culture
Hardcover Edition: 257 pages

This is a personal and passionate look at life in Eastern Kentucky and the Rust-belt cities to which many from the mountain areas moved in search of a better life. The author is compassionate and discerning as he discusses Appalachian culture. He seems to suggest that perhaps many people in this area of our country have lost sight of the American dream of success. He makes his story unforgettable. Others must agree. It sits near or at the top of many best-seller lists.

See book comments on this blog on March 6, 2017

The Other Einstein : A Novel
Author Marie Benedict
Published 2016
Genre: Novel

This novel is about the woman who was Einstein’s wife, a physicist in her own right she was often overshadowed by her husband. Well-reviewed by many, Kirkus Reviews has this to say: “Benedict’s debut novel carefully traces Mileva’s life-from studious schoolgirl to bereaved mother-with attention paid to the conflicts between personal goals and social conventions. An intriguing… reimagining of one of the strongest intellectual partnerships of the 19th century.”

When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi with foreward by Abraham Vergese
Publisher: Random House, 2016
Genre: Memoir

An idealistic young neurosurgeon is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Praised by many, this bestseller was named one of the best hundred books of the year by several publications. It was a Books For A Better Life Award Finalist.

The Whip: A Novel inspired by the story of Charley Parkhurst
Author: Karen Kondazian
Publisher:Hansen Publishing, 2012
Genre: Fiction

Winner of several Best Western Fiction awards. Called authentic and fascinating, this novel is about a woman who concealed her gender and among other notable actions was the first woman to vote in the United States. It has been called entertaining and well-written.

Which one will you pick up first?


Magpie Murders
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2017
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Hardcover Edition: 236 pages
Source: Library copy

This author is also the television screenwriter for Midsomer Murders and the award-winning Foyle’s War, perhaps my all time favorite TV series from Britain. So it should be no surprise that this mystery is first-rate, a joy to read. Horowitz tells us why we like mysteries on p. 183. “Whodunnits are all about truth: nothing more, nothing less. In a world full of uncertainties, is it not inherently satisfying to come to the last page with every I dotted and every t crossed? We are surrounded by tensions and ambiguities, which we spend half our life trying to resolve, and we’ll probably be on our own deathbed when we reach that moment when everything makes sense. Just about every whodunit provides that pleasure.”

This mystery pays homage to Agatha Christie. The opening is riveting in spite of the fact it is set in a quiet English Village and the characters are all quite ordinary. Horowitz is a master at character as he has shown in his TV writing. This mystery is also a mystery within a mystery. Sounds complicated but it is remarkably easy to follow.

So many good books this year! I feel like I’m always anointing one and then another as the best book I’ve read this year. This one is clearly in the running. When I began I did not realize I was so familiar with some of Horowitz’s TV writing. When I did make that obvious connection, I wasn’t surprised I so much enjoyed this read! It looks like a thick book, but the story moves quickly with the last quarter perhaps a bit slower. Most likely I was afraid I would miss some important clue.

Highly recommended!