Lighthouse keepers were the ultimate locavores or “local eaters.” One could not go far when work was round-the-clock and the only transportation was rowboat or horse. Keepers and their families ate what was in season and found at the doorstep – from the sea, from their gardens, and from nearby farms and forests.

At the Grosse Point Light Station, keepers dined on roots, roasts and chocoate cake, according to the “American Lighthouse Cookbook: The Best Recipes and Stories from America‘s Shorelines” by food writer Becky Sue Epstein and chef Ed Jackson.

The cookbook celebrates the dishes, history and lore of selected lighthouses across the country. Arranged into eight geographical regions and featuring 47 lighthouses chosen for their interesting backgrounds and stories, the cookbook is a culinary journey from coast to coast that captures the history and lore and celebrates the cuisine of each region.

In tandem with the story of each lighthouse is a menu for a modern-day lighthouse meal.


Each of the approximately 300 recipes captures the essence of the local foods available to lighthouse keepers from the 1700s through today. Some of the recipes have been contributed by lighthouse societies, inns, and individuals. The rest have been developed by Chef Ed Jackson.


Recipes featured in “The American Lighthouse Cookbook” from Grosse Point Lighthouse’s hearty Northern European supper menu include barley soup, kloese (potato dumplings), boiled beets with butter, roasted pork loin with gravy and chocolate fudge cake.


In the history section, the book notes that the Grosse Point Light Station was the first U.S. lighthouse to be automated, using a photoelectric cell and the first of the Great Lakes lighthouses to be designated a National Historic Landmark.