The Menu

Cucumber and Apple Condiment
Apple Strudel

September’s Book Selection

In the Garden of the Beast: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Eric Larson


Of the five of us at the dinner 2 of the women (both writers) wanted to give it 4 1/2 stars while I felt  3 stars was generous. Although, extremely well written and researched, I found it tedious to read.

Coming back from Western Mass. on Sunday night didn’t leave me enough time to prepare the apartment, plan a menu, shop and cook dinner for Tuesday evening’s book club meeting so I asked if everyone wouldn’t mind ordering in for dinner. In keeping with the German theme of the book I looked into the menu of a German restaurant not more than 4 or 5 blocks from my home, but the cuisine wasn’t vegetarian friendly. Looking at the menu we probably could have ordered a couple appetizer but the sausage and heavy meat entrees were impossible. Of the restaurants suggested, everyone decided Indian food was the best option and the easiest to share. There are only a few Indian restaurants in my hood, meaning several blocks from my home, and they are mostly on Tenth Avenue where the cabbies stop to get their meals. They are good but don’t offer the variety that Basera Indian Bistro on Ninth does. We ordered several vegetarian dishes: Baigan Bharta, roasted eggplant with onions and tomatoes; Aloo Gabha, cauliflower and potatoes; Saag, spinach with chickpeas, and some Nan. The Aloo Gabha was particularly good.

I wanted to contribute in someway to the dinner and decided to make an appetizer so we could nibble while waiting for dinner to arrive. AlainDucasse_Nature_coverI reached for a relatively new cookbook in my library,  Alain Ducasse’s Nature: Simple, Healthy, and Good
to find a dish to prepare. A condiment which included cucumbers, apples, and tomatoes jumped out at me because of the unusual combination of ingredients. And with garam masala, a curry spice mixture, one of the ingredients, it was in keeping with the Indian dinner theme. I prepared the recipe exactly as describe and was glad I did since I can’t think of anything I would do differently. It was delicious with pita before dinner and an excellent condiment with the meal. The yogurt, cucumbers, and apples cooled the palette.

In the Garden of Beasts provided a very thoughtful, in-depth discussion. While I didn’t particularly enjoy reading the book, I was in the minority. I did find our discussion very engaging and worth the begrudgingly spent time reading it. Hitler’s rise to power had such a profound impact on the world that I felt guilty not reading with a keen interest the insider’s view the book gave of Ambassador Dodd’s and his daughter, Martha’s experiences. But I found it tedious reading especially the parts about the German cast of characters. The book is very well written and researched. Especially interesting are the quotes from an abundance of sources including Martha’s dairies. The four star rating is a consensus of everyone’s opinions and not mine which would have been three stars. The meal and discussion which ensued made for a very satisfying evening.

Erin as always baked a delicious dessert.

Apple Struddel Piece