Book Review: Out of the Depths

Usually when I review books I choose ridiculous rom-coms [yes, that's a book genre too]. This time, the subject is a bit more serious: World War II, the sinking of a ship, and survival at sea, in the spirit of Unbroken and Louie Zamperini’s story. I was sent a complimentary copy of Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis by Edgar Harrell USMC with David Harrell as part of Bethany House Publishers‘ book review program.

Out of the Depths Book Review | thepajamachef.com

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

July 30, 1945—The USS Indianapolis and its 1,196-man crew is making its way toward a small island in the South Pacific. The ship is sailing unescorted, assured by headquarters the waters are safe. It is midnight, and Marine Edgar Harrell and several others have sacked out on deck rather than spend the night in their hot and muggy quarters below. Fresh off a top-secret mission to deliver uranium for the atomic bombs that would ultimately end World War II, they are unaware their ship is being watched. Minutes later, six torpedoes are slicing toward the Indy . . .

For five horrifying days and nights after their ship went down, Harrell and his shipmates had to fend for themselves in the open seas. Plagued by dehydration, exposure, saltwater poisoning, and shark attacks, their numbers were cruelly depleted before they were miraculously rescued. This is one man’s story of courage, ingenuity, and faith in God’s providence in the midst of the worst naval disaster in U.S. history.

As usual, my five point review:

  • I read Unbroken a few years ago and loved it. If you loved it too, Out of the Depths is for you. It’s equally inspiring and moving. The author credits his survival on the open seas to God and his story of faithfulness is apparant in the pages of this book.
  • Throughout the book I was just amazed at all the author and his fellow shipmates endured. It’s a hard to story to read–both in terms of war details [about the atomic bombs in Japan] and the horrific conditions the sailors endured on the water. But it’s an important one that I enjoyed learning about.
  • Being from Indiana, I was surprised that the story of the USS Indianapolis isn’t taught in schools. But I did learn that there’s a memorial in Indianapolis that I’d love to visit next time I’m there. I shouldn’t be surprised though, because many of the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the ship was kept hidden until the late 1990s.
  • For the most part, I enjoyed the way this book was written: focusing in detail about each day. The story was told in enough detail to be compelling but not too much to be boring. But parts of it felt forced and too much like a history book and too little like a personal account. That’s just a minor complaint though.
  • Overall, the book was excellent. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in World War II history. It was neat reading the epilogue and learning the author lives in the Nashville area! :)

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

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Mystery Dish: Watermelon Salsa

A sweet watermelon salsa that has just a bit of kick to it… this may be my new favorite summer snack! Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com Hey hey! This was my month to host Mystery Dish and it was so fun! I got to invite a guest to participate with us and chose to ask my lil sis, Kathleen at Two Happy Bellies! So glad she could bake up a yummy treat this month. :) These ingredients I chose included:

  • coffee [grounds or brewed] – an unexpected summer ingredient
  • sour cream – for something creamy
  • farro – because I have a bag in the pantry I’ve been trying to use up…clearly that didn’t happen
  • almonds – for a crunch
  • cherries – they’re in season
  • watermelon – my favorite summer fruit…even more than berries [I know!!!]
  • cantaloupe – if you get a good one, they’re like candy
  • jicama – crunch crunch
  • cucumber – they’re super cheap at the farmer’s market and I love them
  • tomatoes – never buy these when it’s not summertime…just not woth it
  • infused or flavored olive oil – see farro
  • fresh herbs [any kind] – because fresh herbs rock
  • cornmeal – I have no idea, but thought it could be good for a crust or something
  • hot peppers [any kind] – spice, spice, spice it up! 

I hope my other Mystery Dish gals had fun with the ingredients I chose for them to play with…and now they know a little bit about why I chose the ingredients I did. I asked them to choose three for their dish. I used five–watermelon, cucumber, infused/flavored olive oil, fresh herbs, and hot peppers, and I meant to use a sixth–jicama, but forgot. Oh rats.Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com This salsa is like the stuff of my dreams. Though I love your basic smooth tomato-based salsas, sometimes a chunky fruit-based salsa just hits the spot. This salsa combines some of my favorite summertime fruits and veggies [watermelon, peaches, and cucumber] with some spicy jalapeno and chili powder for the tiniest kick to make things interesting. :) If spicy salsa isn’t your thing, leave out the jalapeno or use some bell pepper instead. Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com Now, I know that some of you may  be a bit hesitant to make a spicy watermelon salsa, or even to use watermelon in salsa to begin with. I have to admit, that not too long ago I was right there with you! I love eating watermelon in the summer [really, all year round but they are only GOOD in the summer] and rarely use it in recipes because I just love it plain. But I wanted to stretch myself and try a spiced up watermelon dish because I’ve seen tons of recipes doing just that. And I’m really glad I did. Yay for Mystery Dish! The salsa isn’t really too spicy, so don’t worry… the watermelon and cucumber cool everything down and the peaches provide a bite of sweetness. It’s pretty much a perfect combo. Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com I served this salsa with regular tortilla chips as well as the pictured multigrain tortilla chips [my fave!], but I think some cinnamon sugar tortilla or pita chips could be really good too! One last thing: be sure to make this salsa right before serving it. The watermelon definitely makes it pretty liquidy the longer it sits so eat up! :)
one year ago: Blueberry Buckle
two years ago: Mango Coconut Granola 
three years ago: Lavender-Lime Scones
four years ago: Creamy Baked Spaghetti

Watermelon Salsa

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Print
Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com
Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups watermelon, chopped into small cubes and drained in a mesh colander for 10 minutes
  • 1 small peach, chopped into small cubes [about 2/3 cup]
  • 1/3 cup cucumber, chopped into small cubes
  • 1/2 of a jalapeno, seeded and diced – optional
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coconut white balsamic vinegar [regular white balsamic vinegar is fine too]
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange infused extra virgin olive oil [some orange juice/zest mixed with a bit of evoo is fine too]
  • pinch of chili powder
  • garlic salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • tortilla chips, for serving

Directions: In a small bowl fold together watermelon, peach, cucumber, jalapeno, and cilantro. In a measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together vinegar, olive oil, chili powder, garlic salt, and pepper. Pour mixture over watermelon, then stir to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately with tortilla chips. Would also be great over fish, chicken, or pork, with tacos, or even with a spoon!

July Mystery Dish via thepajamachef.com

  1. Watermelon Salsa – The Pajama Chef
  2. Farro Salad – Chez CateyLou
  3. Cherry Almond Coffee Cake – Two Happy Bellies
  4. Watermelon Fruit Salad with Mint Lime Dressing – Yummy Healthy Easy
  5. Toasted Almond Caramel Mocha Gelato – Culinary Couture Blog
  6. Cherry Galettes with Almond Sour Cream Crust – The Well Floured Kitchen
  7. Cherry Watermelon Granita – Joyful Healthy Eats
  8. Cherry Almond Mocha Smoothie – Baking a Moment
  9. Pepperoni Pasta Salad – I Want Crazy
  10. Almond Cherry Bars – I Dig Pinterest
  11. Cucumber Salsa – Weary Chef
  12. Cherry Almond Popsicles – Blahnik Baker

Layered Asian Dip

This layered dip is chock full of crunchy vegetables and chicken drenched in a yummy Asian-inspired sauce. The creamy peanut butter base adds a fun twist! Enjoy with crackers at your next party! 

Layered Asian Dip | thepajamachef.com

There’s nothing like a good appetizer to get the party started, right? I have a confession to make: I am terrible at appetizers. Most seem so finicky. If I’m hosting, I can totally make some hot little bites in the oven. But as things have it, in this stage of life, I rarely host [even though I'd love to]. We’re usually tasked with bringing x, y, or z to a gathering…and it’s just a pain to try to transport a hot dish, and sometimes those cute little bites just get gross if they sit for awhile. So cold dips are my go-to appetizers. Hummus, guacamole, salsa, I love them all. But they aren’t very fancy.

Layered Asian Dip | thepajamachef.com

This Layered Asian Dip takes a normal dip up a notch! It’s a play off of Mexican Seven Layer Dip, even though it’s only a three layer dip. But it’s three layers of awesome: a creamy base of peanut butter and cream cheese; a wonderful medley of chicken, carrots, peanuts, cilantro, scallions, and aromatics like ginger and garlic; and last but not least–a slightly sweet, slightly spicy Asian dressing on top. This dressing is really what makes the dip, imo. Sure, chicken and peanut butter are staples of my diet, but the sauce brings everything together in a nice package. It’s tangy and delicious!

Layered Asian Dip | thepajamachef.com

This dip is perfect for a party because you can make all the components ahead of time and chill them in the fridge, then go get ready, and then assemble at the last minute. I love it when things work out that way so I don’t have to worry about the dish losing its beauty while we’re waiting for things to get started. This dip is best enjoyed the day it is made, but the leftovers are still tasty the next day. By the way, you’ll have some extra sauce leftover–it’s perfect for tossing with some plain white rice and cooked veggies [I love those bags of frozen Asian vegetables] for a quick side dish during the week. Enjoy!

one year ago: Grandma’s Banana Nut Bread
two years ago: Jamaican Jerk Chicken & Pineapple Black Bean Rice
four years ago: Butterscotch and Chocolate Yellow Cake

Layered Asian Dip

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 2-4 hours but only about 20 minutes active time
  • Print

from The Sweets Life

Ingredients:

for sauce

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine or white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 drops hot sauce [like Sriracha]

for topping

  • 3/4 cup cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
  • 2-3 sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

for base

  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 2-4 ounces creamy peanut butter [depending on how strong of a peanut butter flavor you like]
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • crackers for serving

Directions:

First, prepare sauce. Whisk brown sugar and cornstarch together in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Pour in water, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Cook for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Transfer to a small bowl to cool. When cool, cover and refrigerate to further thicken for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours in advance.

Next, stir together all topping ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Just before serving, beat together cream cheese, peanut butter, and just enough milk to make mixture smooth. Spread on the bottom of a 10 inch pie pan or serving dish. Sprinkle topping over cream cheese mixture, then drizzle 1/2 cup sauce [there will be leftovers] on top.

Serve with crackers immediately.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.