Chicken and Red Kidney Bean Chili

It’s not always practical to follow a recipe, although it may be easier on some fronts.  Certainly, knowing that someone else has tested a recipe increases the chances of success.  On the other hand, when those moments arrive when ‘there’s nothing in the fridge to eat’ but still no space for more food, it’s time to get creative.   Typically, following a recipe is not going to use up the eclectic mix of ingredients found collected in your home and refrigerator.

In these moments, soup is one among many meals that work well for using up odds and ends of things.  However, this needs to be done in a somewhat thoughtful fashion, else the soup becomes a muddy, unappetizing mess – everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sort of mess.  The ingredients should somehow relate to one another.  What I found yesterday in the house were the following… all needing to find a home in a meal.

Red Bean Chicken Chili

Chicken and Red Kidney Bean Chili
olive oil
chicken breast
diced onion
diced green pepper
minced garlic
partial packet of taco seasoning from a taco kit
plus some extra cumin
salt and pepper
salsa
cooked red kidney beans
chicken broth

Heat the oil in a medium stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and peppers and saute until translucent.  Add the garlic, chicken, spices, salt and pepper and saute until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 30 minutes and either serve or let sit refrigerated for a day to absorb the flavors of the spices.

Annie
Waiting one more day before I go to the grocery store

Sun-dried Tomato, Artichoke and Spinach No Knead Bread

Let’s be honest, there is nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread in your own home to make you feel accomplished and cozy all at the same time.  This is a no knead version, so it’s super simple.  Mix, wait, shape, wait, bake, wait.  Eat.  With butter.  What could be better?

Sun-dried Tomato, Artichoke and Spinach No Knead Bread

5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon yeast
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 cup artichokes, drained and broken into pieces
1 cup lightly packed spinach, de-stemmed, washed and well-drained
1 to 2 cups of warm water

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. With your hands, mix in the sourdough starter, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. Begin to add water until the dough just barely forms a ball and there are no little dry bits hanging out in the bowl.

Cover the bowl with a layer of plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours or in the refrigerator overnight, until the surface of the dough has risen and is flat, not rounded. For those who have worked with traditional kneaded dough, this will look like a disaster. Just wait, it will be fine.Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 1

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a heavy (empty) pan or skillet in the bottom of the oven (you’ll use this when you put your bread in the oven to create steam). I use a cast iron skillet, filled with rocks I’ve picked from the garden and scrubbed clean, to create a sauna of sorts. It just stays in the oven all the time. The addition of moisture into the oven air helps the bread rise more and then creates a terrific crust.Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 2

Shape the dough into the loaves of your choice – 3 baguettes, 2 batons or 1 large boule. Do this by turning the dough onto a floured surface, cutting into the number of pieces you need and gently turning the edges under to form the desired shape. Sprinkle a baking sheet with corn meal or rice flour and place the loaf/loaves on the baking sheet.Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 3

Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 4

Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise again for another 20 to 45 minutes depending on the size and looseness of your loaf/loaves.

Slash the tops of the loaf/loaves with a sharp knife, transfer the baking sheet to the oven and immediately pour a cup of warm water into the pan on the bottom of the oven to create the aforementioned steam. Be extra careful with this step and quickly remove your arm from the oven once you’ve poured the water.

Bake until the exterior is golden brown and the bottom is firm, from 25 to 40 minutes depending on the size of your loaf/loaves.

Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 6
Happy that the house is warm and my belly is full
Annie

 

French Apple Cake – I Wouldn’t Change a Thing!

Most of the time when I follow a baking recipe, I have to change something.  It might be the extract or the zest or the alcohol or the fruit that I change, but I must change something.  When I made this recipe, for some reason, I just followed like a sheep in a herd and I’m so glad I did.  It’s lovely.  It’s delicious.  With coffee, with tea, by itself.  I’m a fan.

IMG_9873-001a

French Apple Cake
Published September 1, 2012,  Cook’s Illustrated.
Serves 8 to 10

The microwaved apples should be pliable but not completely soft when cooked. To test for doneness, take one apple slice and try to bend it. If it snaps in half, it’s too firm; microwave it for an additional 30 seconds and test again. If Calvados is unavailable, 1 tablespoon of apple brandy or white rum can be substituted.
Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges, and sliced 1/8 inch thick crosswise
1 tablespoon Calvados
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup (5 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Place prepared pan on rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place apple slices into microwave-safe pie plate, cover, and microwave until apples are pliable and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Toss apple slices with Calvados and lemon juice and let cool for 15 minutes.
2. Whisk 1 cup flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Whisk egg, oil, milk, and vanilla together in second bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Transfer 1 cup batter to separate bowl and set aside.
3. Add egg yolks to remaining batter and whisk to combine. Using spatula, gently fold in cooled apples. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges, gently pressing on apples to create even, compact layer, and smooth surface.
4. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons flour into reserved batter. Pour over batter in pan and spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar evenly over cake.
5. Bake until center of cake is set, toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and top is golden brown, about 1¼ hours. Transfer pan to wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar, cut into wedges, and serve.

Annie
This is me, not changing a thing

Eco-Friendly, Green and Local – What’s Next?

As a food writer and business owner I’m constantly challenged by what the next new idea is. It used to be that we were on the leading edge of things. We were one of the first 50 businesses in Maine to receive the Leadership in Hospitality award from the Department of Environmental Protection. Our “It’s All About the Food Cruises,” where 90% of our food came from within 100 miles of us, were the first of their kind in our area. Even composting and recycling on the boat — which trust me, took some effort to figure out — are places where we led the way.

But now that everyone and every business is “green” — or at least they say they are — where do we go from here to be a leader? Likewise, everyone is talking about how local they are. Now that we buy entire sides of local beef and pork, raise nearly half of our veggies in the garden and buy almost all the rest from a CSA, what’s next? Raising our own animals? On 0.6 acres of land? That’s “zero point six” acres, not 6 acres. Not likely. Perhaps we should have hens on the boat like they used to do on the ships that sailed around the world; from the beginning of the voyage those early sailors carried many of the animals that would become their sustenance.

Then my mind wanders to what prompted us to go green, local and sustainable to begin with. At the core, it was about providing a clean environment and healthy food for our family. In the end, the business received the benefit as well, but initially, all I wanted was to avoid hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, and chemicals in our food.

We began with the goal of healthy food for our family and in the process created a healthy food experience for our guests and for our schooner business.  Do we relish being a leader? Definitely. And will we keep looking for the next new good things for our family…AND for our schooner?  Absolutely.  And, in the meantime, we can also bask in the enjoyment of what we’ve created.  To love walking in the gardens early in the morning with a cup of coffee and deciding what is to be harvested for the next trip.  To know that the bulk of what we are serving and eating is full of that which is good for us.  And to enjoy the literal and figurative fruits of our creations.

I can be satisfied with that.  Absolutely.

 

Chloe Harvesting Sailing Morning

Gardening Duo 1

Gardening Duo 2

Reunion Cruise – A Lot Of Love

It is a rare moment in a life when one receives the gift of knowing your personal impact on others. Most days you go about your business, doing your work the best you can with as much grace and joy as you can. Some days you don’t feel like enough.

And then a moment comes that you might treasure for a long time to come. The echoes of which will ring softly in your bones as a knowing of your goodness and place in this world.

Such was a day for Jon and I two boarding nights ago when our crew alumni emerged out of the galley singing Rolling Down to Old Maui. As face after face from our seventeen years in the windjammer business, shining with song and surprise, surrounded us with their laughter and love, it took a while for us to understand what was happening.

They’d spent a year plotting and planning, via a galactically long Facebook thread, a reunion cruise. Crew members from as early as our first year as Maine windjammer owners stood beaming on the deck as hugs and exclamation after exclamation of surprise peppered the air.

They were sneaky and kept it a secret for a year. Elizabeth (our Shoreside Coordinator) was super sneaky and she might just have to do some sort of penance for the fibs she had to tell.

It was amazing to have so many of our favorite people in one place at one time. It was a gift to have them all with us again sharing stories of their Riggin time with each other and current stories of their life’s progress.

The trip was one big song, literally and figuratively.

To our crew alumni – Capt. and I are so blessed to have had each and every one of you to share our summers. The girls are blessed to have you amazing individuals in their lives.

That was a lot of love on our boat at one time.

Blessings to you all,
Annie

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Chocolate Ginger Cookies for Boarding

It’s a tradition on the Riggin to have homemade cookies with coffee or tea for boarding.  These are a fun batch I made this boarding and they were perfect for a foggy, chilly evening at the dock!

Chocolate Ginger Cookies

Thick & Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies
A faster way to get warm cookies in your mouth is to make the dough, wait 5 minutes for it to set a little and roll it into a log. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it. When you are ready for a few cookies, cut 1/2 inch rounds off of the log and bake for a few minutes longer than the recipe calls for.

You can also use this recipe to make bars – simply spread the dough evenly in a greased 9 x 13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes.

16 ounces semisweet chocolate (either chips or coarsely chopped)
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the chocolate in a microwave or double boiler. Set aside to cool slightly. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla lightly with fork; sprinkle in the coffee powder and stir until dissolved. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and beat until creamy. Gradually beat in the egg mixture. Add the chocolate and ginger and beat until combined. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt into the mixture and beat until just combined. Do not overmix.

Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until it firms up to a fudge-like consistency. Line 2 cookie pans with parchment paper. Form 1-inch balls and place them 1 1/2 inches apart on the cookie pan. Bake about 10 minutes, turning the cookie pans about halfway through. Cool on racks.

Makes 2 dozen

 

June Sailing and Maine Wildlife

This has been an amazing couple of weeks for wildlife which has reminded me how much affection I have for sailing during the month of June.

Eider Duck (photo by Kaido Kärner from Shutterstock)

Eider Duck (photo by Kaido Kärner from Shutterstock)

The eider ducks have hatched and the non-descript brown feathered mama ducks are leading their flocks of five to seven identical hued ducklings wiggling and scurrying around behind her.  In comparison, the showy tuxedo-garbed black and white males are now seen in small bachelor rafts of their own.

Rafts of razor bills, members of the Auk family and related to puffins, have been a common sighting as well.  One not seen as often as the eiders, but more than in previous years.

The osprey on the Pulpit Rock nest have hatched and Mama and Papa are diligent sentries warning passing schooners to keep their distance with their piercing warning calls to us and each other.  It’s hard to see how many are in the nest , but this pair usually hatches two (sometimes three, but the third one rarely makes it).

Osprey in Pulpit Harbor. (Photo by Jeannette Lovitch/ Freeport Wild Birding Supply)

Osprey in Pulpit Harbor. (Photo by Jeannette Lovitch/ Freeport Wild Birding Supply)

Loons are also back and calling their haunting songs early in the dawn and late in the glooming hours of dusk.  Mostly, we are seeing males as the pairs are still keeping close to their shore side nests – often on nearby lakes.

The jellyfish – both moon and lions mane are also coming alongside to say their good wishes and delight us with their undulating movement.  The moon jelly fish always seem a happy sort if one can attribute emotion to a jelly fish.  Maybe it’s just my emotion as I watch them as I know they don’t have a sting of any consequence.

Harbor Seal Pup (Photo NOAA)

Harbor Seal Pup (Photo NOAA)

Baby seals with their little heads poking out of the water have come to great us in numbers this month and they get a little closer to the schooner when we are at anchor than their parent because they can’t resist the pull of curiosity.

The winds have been strong and have made for exciting sailing days.  The moon has been out and peeking at me in the early morning before the sun is fully up.  The daylight hours are long and welcome us to the bay with a wide open embrace.

June, it turns out, is my favorite time to sail.  I’d forgotten just how much wildlife is active this time of year.  You should come join us!

Annie
Taking it all in

Rhubarb Champagne Jam

While there isn’t much time for anything in between trips, I do try to squeeze in a smidge to process jam that we make on the boat.  I’ll make a big batch there and then bring it home to process in a water bath.  While it’s an effort to do it, I’m always so grateful in the middle of the winter that I was able to eek out the time.

This batch came from a bunch of Champagne that was open but left behind by a family celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary.  It happened to coincide with the rhubarb coming into full swing.  The combination is a lovely one with the tang of the rhubarb softened slightly by the fruity Champagne.  In any case, I love the color of it and it’s pretty special on our biscuits.
Rhubarb Champagne Jam 3

Rhubarb Champagne Jam 2

Rhubarb Champagne Jam 1
Rhubarb Champagne Jam
4 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup champagne
1 box SureJell
1/2 teaspoon butter
6 1/2 cups sugar

Have all canning equipment and jars ready, sterilized and waiting in hot water.

In a medium stock pot bring the rhubarb and champagne to a boil.  Add SureJell and bring to a boil again.  Add the butter and the sugar and bring to a full rolling boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and transfer to the hot canning jars.  Screw the lids on hand tight and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove the jars carefully from the hot water and set on a towel spread out over the counter top.  Let cool.  Make sure the lids all ‘pop’ before storing for the winter.

Makes 7 or 8, 8-ounce jars

Annie
We be jammin’

Maine Knitting Cruises

blog

All of our trips are excellent and my favorite is always the one we are currently on.  However, our most recent knitting cruise was memorable for a number of reasons:

- The youngest knitter so far – 12 years old

- The most number of men knitting (including one who was 16 years old).  Does 16 count as ‘man’?  Not really probably, but any way he was at the knitting just like everyone else.

- The most new knitters (some came on board not planning on knitting and some were beginners who booked with the express purpose of beginning a new hobby)

- Somewhere it must be said we had the most number of “tinked” projects (things that had to be ripped out and started again), but hey, lots of beginners ups that ante and there was no shortage of laughter and camaraderie in the process.

- Maine’s fastest knitter was with us and knitting her heart out.

Thank you, as always, to the fabulous Bill Huntington for his knowledge, humor and gift of the craft of life through knitting.  We are looking forward to seeing you again in July.

BillTeachesMaggieToKnitBlog

Our next knitting cruise still has space!   Mim Bird, knitting Queen, will be on board to for the newest to the most experienced of knitters.  If you aren’t a knitter, come join us for a short sail anyway, knitters are a fun bunch to share time with.

PassengerWorkingOnOneOfBillsHatKitsBlog

New Compost Bins from Shipping Pallets

 

After coming home from a trip to witness no less than 30 seagulls feasting on our out-of-control compost pile, some fist shaking ensued and then some head scratching.  How could we compost the many and weekly 5 gallon buckets of vegetables scraps that come off the Riggin all summer long and have the compost meal du jour, enticing as it is, be less attractive or available to our critters?  The result were these shipping pallets — free from the local dump.  We started out nailing them together and then found that it was far easier to use polypropylene line to marry the unmatched ends together.  They’ll be topped with a sheet of luan plywood and all of a sudden, the seagull restaurant is closed! New Compost Bins 1

New Compost Bins 2Annie
Happy in my tidier yard

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