Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cookbook Spotlight - Ships of the Great Lakes

I love that I was invited by Sara of I like to Cook and Mary of Breadchick to participate in the Cookbook Spotlight this time around. What a cool book - Ships of the Great Lakes Cookbook from Creative Characters Publishing is filled with wonderful stories of all sorts of ships that sail the Great Lakes. There are menus, photos and stories about life on board steamers, Coast Guard vessels, passenger ships, tall ships and freighters. To me, the most fun was looking at recipes that would feed a small army. Okay, maybe not an entire army, but certainly a crew and passengers up to 75 or 80 - at least that was what some of the recipes said.

I must admit, I am not interested in spending time on a ship large enough to house an entire city, but I've watched TV shows that take you through the galleys - quite an operation, when you're cooking for thousands of people. And about five years ago we took the "once in a lifetime" wonderful cruise on the Paul Gaugin visiting French Polynesia. I admit, I was leary, but the ship only takes on a maximum of 320 passengers and when we went there were less than 200, so we really did have lots of privacy and never had to worry about seatings for dinner or be assigned to a specific table throughout the voyage. But I digress, and the only reason for mentioning the Paul Gaugin at all is that I took a tour of the two galleys - one for passengers and the other for the crew. I wish mine was as sparkling clean and organized! All that to say, I love the way this book is written and how we get such an up close and personal take on each of the ships.

For instance, a typical freighter that has a crew of 20-30 will have a grocery list every week that looks like this:

45 dozen eggs, 2 cases EACH of oranges, apples, bananas, 100 lbs/46 kilos flour!, 100 lb/46k EACH steak and roasting chickens, 20 lb/9k EACH pork chops, ground beef, chicken breasts, lamb, 50 loaves of bread and 50lb/23k turkey. All I can say is - OH MY!!!!

My favorite recipe (to read, that is) is from the MV Canadian Miner, transporting grain and iron ore in the Upper Great Lakes with a crew of 23. Apparently the crew's favorite "Jiggs Dinner" (sounds like stew with carrots, turnips, potatoes and cabbage) has as its main ingredient 1 (7lb/3k) pail of salt beef navels. Anybody out there know what beef navels are? And I can't imagine making the Sweet-n-sour pork or chicken like they do on the USCGC Bramble. This dish serves 50, so if you're going to have a large party you might want to try it out. You only need 20lb/9k boneless chicken breasts or pork loin plus 1 gallon of water, 1lb/.5k brown sugar, 1 16oz/453g jar of maraschino cherries plus lots of other goodies to make the sauce.

All kidding aside, there are some lovely recipes for feeding 2-10 people like this finger-lickin' awesome one I chose from the retired steamer William A Irwin. She retired in 1978 and carried steel for the Pittsburgh Steel Company with a crew of 32 and passenger capacity of 8.


Grilled Lamb Chops a la William A Irvin

I can't wait to see what everyone else chose as their favorite recipes.

Related links:


Sara said...

I too am wondering what the heck a beef navel is? So glad you took part Ruth! Thanks!

JudyAnn said...

"CMA Navels are what your grandmother would have wanted for her authentic Old World style plate pastrami. It's thicker and meatier, with just the right texture and marbling to absorb your seasonings and explode with mouth-watering flavor."....this was taken from the Chicago Meat Authority website...clear as mud right? There are several recipes posted there too and a picture of meat on a stick.

Ruth Daniels said...

Sara, JudyAnn, the picture at the Chicago Meat Authority website looks exactly like brisket to me!

Thanks for checking it out.

majikgodss said...

It's not brisket, it's from the plate :) I just figured this out today too--it's also called pastrami.

Anonymous said...

The salt beef being talked of here is cut from the navel end of the brisket, and packed in pails of brine. In centuries past, it was ubiquitous in maritime cultures, but as far as I know, the only salt beef of this type now available is prepared for the Newfoundland (home and diasporic) market.
In most of Canada, it's easy to find in grocery stores if you look around, but the quality is usually poor. Occasionally you'll get a good bucket, but your best bet is to find a store catering spicifically to Newfoundlanders, and ask them for Chalker's Trimmed Navel Beef.
You need to trim off excess fat, soak it in a couple of changes of water to reduce the salt. Once it has boiled for a while, it's a good idea to check the water, swappipng come out if things are still too salty.
...and by the way, if it's done well, it's as satisfying and delicious a meal as you'll find on the planet.

Ruth Daniels said...

Thanks so much for the clarification. Now that I'm living closer to Newfoundland, (I'm in Halifax) perhaps I can find some of the real thing.