This week, Jan­ice Stein­berg, the author of The Tin Horse blogs for The Post­script on what to cook for a Tin Horse-themed meal. The Post­script series is a spe­cial peek behind the scenes” of a book. It’s a juicy lit­tle extra some­thing to add to a book clubs dis­cus­sion and a read­er’s under­stand­ing of how the book came togeth­er. 

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Think­ing about cre­at­ing a Tin Horse-themed meal, I real­ized that all of the eat­ing scenes in the book are emo­tion­al­ly fraught. This is not, I guess, a big sur­prise in a nov­el about a Jew­ish immi­grant fam­i­ly. Here’s the menu — and where in the book the dish­es come from:

The chick­en and green beans are eat­en at a Shab­bat din­ner on March 10, 1933. I know the date with cer­tain­ty because I set my fic­tion­al din­ner to coin­cide with the real-life Long Beach earth­quake. As din­ner is being pre­pared, cat­a­clysms take place in Elaine Green­stein’s fam­i­ly. Then, at 5:54 p.m., the earth rup­tures. For­tu­nate­ly, the epi­cen­ter is 20 miles away, no one is bad­ly hurt, and the grate­ful sur­vivors have the liveli­est Shab­bat din­ner in Green­stein fam­i­ly history.”

Mama would have picked out her chick­en live at the kosher poul­try shop in Boyle Heights, the vibrant work­ing class Jew­ish area of L.A. in the 1920s and 30s. You’ll be glad to know that’s not nec­es­sary. Just rub a whole chick­en with a mix­ture of 1 T. olive oil, 1/2 t. cumin, and 1/4 t. cin­na­mon, pop a thyme branch in the cav­i­ty, and roast at 425° for an hour, bast­ing once or twice. This recipe is from my cousin Meg Bort­in’s web­site, The Every­day French Chef.” For the green beans, this ver­sion includes lemon and almonds. Yum. 

At anoth­er tense din­ner, the guest of hon­or is Cousin Mol­lie, who’s come to Los Ange­les to orga­nize the dress­mak­ers. Mol­lie has tar­get­ed fac­to­ries owned by Jew­ish busi­ness­men, Papa sides with the own­ers, and every­one gets drawn in — even Mama, though she first tries to defuse the con­flict by offer­ing more kugel. I would­n’t dream of sug­gest­ing a kugel recipe, since every­one has a favorite. But do make kugel part of your Tin Horse meal.

On to dessert! 

The inspi­ra­tion for The Tin Horse was a minor char­ac­ter in the Ray­mond Chan­dler detec­tive nov­el The Big Sleep. And Chan­dler’s sleuth, Philip Mar­lowe, gets a role in my book. He offers to look for Elaine’s run­away twin sis­ter, and he wins Mama’s approval by ask­ing for a sec­ond slice of apple cake. This Nigel­la Law­son ver­sion, using almond flour, isn’t what Mama would have made, but it was a hit when I baked it for my mom’s 90th birth­day, which fell dur­ing Passover, and it’s so sim­ple and tasty, it’s become my go-to cake recipe. Plus, it’s gluten-free.

The Tin Horse is very much a Cal­i­for­nia sto­ry as well as a Jew­ish sto­ry, so of course I rec­om­mend Cal­i­for­nia wines. I chose these love­ly wines from Cam­bria in hon­or of the new book I’m work­ing on, in which a char­ac­ter lives there.

Bite’avon! Enjoy the meal!

To read more from Jan­ice, see her Vis­it­ing Scribe posts here

Jan­ice Stein­berg is author of The Tin Horse and of five mys­tery nov­els. She is also an award-win­ning arts jour­nal­ist and has pub­lished over 400 arti­cles in the San Diego Union-Tri­bune, Dance Mag­a­zine, Los Ange­les Times, and else­where. A Mil­wau­kee native, she holds a B.A. and M.A. from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia-Irvine. She lives in San Diego with her husband.