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

Roasted Radishes

Radishes are one of those vegetables that I’ve always wanted to like, but… never have… until recently, when I began growing them for immediate gratification.  The days to germination for radishes is 7 to 10 days, so they have my heart just for the small feeling of success that comes every time a row of baby leaves emerge.

IMG_7882-1a

But roasted — now that’s a different story.  Roasting radishes, just as with any other root vegetable, brings out all of the sugars and softens the flavors.  And they are lovely this way.  They almost taste like potatoes — not quite mind you — but enough to ease any lingering doubt that these “mini root vegetables” can be a star.

Roasted Radishes

2 bunches radishes, de-stemmed and cleaned
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the oil and then carefully add the radishes.  Sprinkle with salt and cover.  “Stir” every minute or two by holding the handle of the pan and the lid with potholder and shake the pan like your grandmother used to do for popcorn.  Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the radishes are browned on the outside and very tender on the inside.

Asparagus and Tomato Gratin

Asparagus – classy, healthy and easy.  Three of my favorite things!  One incredibly simple way I like to do asparagus at home is to roast them in a bag with lemon and thyme.  The tang of the lemon combined with the herbal flavor of the thyme is a perfect combo for a light, healthy side to almost any protein.

Other asparagus recipes detailed in the latest Maine Ingredient column are:

Asparagus and Tomato Gratina
Red Rice and Asparagus Salad
Hake with Pork and Potatoes and Asparagus

Lemon and Thyme Bag-Roasted Asparagus
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bottoms off one or more bunches of asparagus.  Place asparagus onto a large paper bag, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 1 lemon cut into 8 wedges and a generous sprig of thyme. Roll the bag closed and then place into a baking sheets with sides. Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the asparagus is just done.

Caveat:  There are some that suggest that oiling the bag before putting it into the oven is a way to keep it from burning, however, that has never made much sense to me. I’ve also never had an oven fire while making this recipe, so there.

Asparagus Tomato Gratin

Asparagus Tomato Gratin (see link above for recipe)

Annie
Sad that the asparagus will go away soon, but happy to start seeing peas and strawberries

Remember the time…

Remember the time when most of the people in this picture were NOT married?  Johnny (red shirt) and Andy (kneeling by the kettle) are both married to wonderful women and live in New York City.  Chris (blue shirt second from the left) is also in New York City.  All are working and supporting themselves in smart, creative ways!  Good work, guys.  Capt and I are proud of you.

RememberTheTime SarahBaldwin

Lobster bake with Schooner J. & E. Riggin crew.

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