When my father graduated from high school in 1941, he found work with the Reiss Steamship Co., as a deckhand on the A.M. Byers, a self-unloading freighter on the Great Lakes.
The Japanese had not yet bombed Pearl Harbor, but most people knew it was only a matter of time until the United States went to war.
So it was a time between for my father, who dreamed of other things, possibly a career in history or journalism.
The war intervened, of course, and he joined the Army and went off with the 4th Infantry’s combat engineers unit to land at Utah Beach and forge his way into France and Germany.
He got into the restaurant business after the war ended, but years later, as a young father, went off to “work on the lakes” again, this time as second cook on the Peter Reiss, another self-unloading coal freighter. That must have been a lonely time for my father. I missed him terribly, and recall the day I played my 45 of "The Poor People of Paris" over and over again because it had been a gift from him.
Working on the lakes meant being away from your family from late March until December. But the pay and the benefits were excellent. Winter homecomings were something we began looking forward to in fall, when the first of the boxes from fancy Detroit department stores began to arrive.
So when Mary aka Breadchick from The Sour Dough contacted me about reviewing “Ships of the Great Lakes Cookbook” for a Cookbook Spotlight Event, I agreed, seeing an easy fit with this blog.
The book’s publisher, Creative Characters Publishing Group, supplied the cookbook. I will be featuring several recipes from the book over the next few weeks as the 2007 shipping season gets underway.
Since my husband is a boat designer by profession, I saw a fit there, too.
The book is full of good food but many of the recipes are designed to feed a crowd; I generally cook for no more than four people at a time. This would be a good cookbook for anyone who cooks down-home food for large church or school groups or special events. It's perfect for a restaurant chef, too,someone looking to create unpretentious, but still stylish menus.
Today was the first Sunday of spring and we invited my mother for dinner. I prepared a Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Chicken that was tasty and melted in our mouths. I have never tasted such tender chicken. I served it with roast pepper-and-zucchini medley.
Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Chicken
1 5-6 pound roasting chicken
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
8 garlic cloves, crushed
8 medium red onions, peeled and cut into pieces
2 whole garlic heads
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 450. Remove and discard giblets and chicken neck. Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry. Loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers and gently pushing between the skin and the meat. Place chopped rosemary and crushed garlic under skin. Lift the wing tips up and over the back, tucking under the chicken.
Place chicken breast side up in broiler pan. Trim ends of onions and remove papery skins from garlic. Do not peel or separate cloves. Brush onions and garlic with oil and arrange around chicken. I tucked in some rosemary, too.
Bake at 450 for 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake for another hour and 15 minutes or until chicken reaches 180 degrees.
We loved it and will do it again soon. This particular recipe is from the M.V. Paul R. Tregurtha, a coal boat. John R. Duning is head cook.
But first, a few more recipes from the Great Lakes. What next? There's everything from Lobster Bisque to Rotini with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil and Parmesan.