OUR DAD, TOM STOCKLEY, was always cooking. He and our mother, Peggy, lived on a Lake Union houseboat, where they hosted everyone for dinner, from fellow wine critics to lonely bachelors on the dock who were always hungry, to his college daughters (my sister, Dina, and me) home for the holidays, ready and willing to dive into a platter of ribs, spinach ricotta gnocchi or coconut prawns. All these memorable dinners were enhanced by sipping the latest Washington wines on the back deck of their houseboat, feet in water, as ducks and kayakers floated past.
As The Seattle Times’ wine columnist for nearly 30 years, his column and unpretentious approach to wine drinking brought Seattle readers up from the dark days of sipping sherry with beef stroganoff and drinking sweet Cook’s Champagne for New Year’s Eve to the sophisticated, wine-loving city it is now, and a state where there are more than 1,000 Washington wineries.
The fact that he was keeping a journal of his favorite recipes on the side collected on his travels or at various wine lunches and dinners did not surprise us. We found it among his papers after his and our mother’s untimely deaths in the Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crash of 2000, and we often cooked from it and shared the recipes with our friends.
When his publisher, Elliott Wolf, suggested Dina and I publish it and add some of our dad’s columns and other writings, we thought it was a grand idea. It is in journal form, exactly as he laid it out, and in his handwriting, which was always unique and, luckily, easy to read. His recipes are quick and easy to follow and bring back the magic of his effortless dinners at the houseboat that everyone loved and, to this day, still talks about.
We included many of his columns, including the one about taking Julia Child crabbing on her visit to the Northwest; the time a trout jumped into their rowboat; and a trip to Tuscany, our parents’ favorite place, where he learned to make pici pasta. All show his delight in easy cooking, good friends and good wine. So to that, as he often said, “Cheers!”