Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Saga of Thousand Island Dressing and the Original Recipe for it!


I just came back from the Thousand Islands, a natural wonder that occurs where the Great Lakes pour into the St. Lawrence River.  These islands range in size from tiny outcroppings in the river to islands where there are farms and dozens of families living on them year ‘round.   Most, however, are home to seasonal summer homes accessible only by boat.  There are well over a thousand of them, 1864 to be exact, scattered along a fifty mile downstream stretch from Kingston, Ontario.  To qualify as an island, the land must be above water level all year round, have an area of at least one square foot and support at least one living tree.  Those islands that are not a part of the province of Ontario are all located in New York State.  Boat tours leave from both sides of the border, pointing out the homes of the rich and famous, who summered here at the turn of the 19 th century.  Among those is one of the greatest rock piles I’ve ever seen, Boldt Castle.  It’s the subject of much legend and romance.  And it’s part of the intrigue surrounding Thousand Island Salad Dressing.         

Monday, September 30, 2013

Remembering Margaret Mathews with a bowl of Split Pea Soup and a smile.

        I just left Montreal, where I was born and where my family had roots going back three generations before we all left at the height of the Separatist movement.  This 'revolution' scared the bejesus out of the Anglos in the province and my family were hardly alone in abandoning the province of Quebec.  Montreal is a completely different place now and a wonderful one. My visit, I have to say, was tinged with a kind of regret; the city is such a model of multi-culturalism and stands in such stark contrast to the lunatic fringe that's operating in today's USA. But today is a cause for celebration and I am reprising a post I wrote a couple of years ago.  It celebrates an event that I hope you will celebrate with a Martini later today.  And if there are Martinis in heaven, glasses are being lifted there too. 
      My mother, Margaret Somerville Stewart Mathews was born on this day in 1911.  That would make this her 102nd birthday.  She would have loved to have been here for it, especially if there were any kind of party involved. She was a true extrovert.  She loved to laugh, dress beautifully, enjoy a cocktail or three, travel far and wide, keep up with a circle of friends that literally dated from first grade at the Trafalgar School for Girls.  She was full of fun, told wonderful stories, volunteered for every possible charitable, civic and club activity, took what life gave her and had an uncanny ability to believe that whatever she had was the best. She loved life and would have gone on living indefinitely had cancer not taken her from us at 88 years of age.  About the only thing she truly did not like about life was cooking.
My nephew, Michael, Mom and my son, Alex at her 85th Birthday
        Now this is not to say she didn’t enjoy eating.  She and my father had epicurean appetites and spent a great deal of time at better restaurants everywhere.  Since we lived in Montreal growing up, there were plenty of opportunities to indulge their mutual passion for fine food and endless martinis.  But for Mother, somehow the joys of the table never translated into the Joy of Cooking.  So you can imagine her delight when frozen food was introduced and much of her kitchen labor was reduced to slipping boiling bags into hot water or firing up the oven and feeding us all TV dinners at every opportunity.