Spring-Dug Leeks

There’s nothing like going out to the garden after a serious winter when the only thing to harvest from the garden is dreams of vegetables yet-to-be-grown and pulling leeks long buried in a mountain of straw.  Satisfaction supreme.SpringDugLeeks3

These sweet babies just had to become soup.  Adding the last of the sweet potatoes from the root cellar, a few white beans leftover from another meal and dinner was born.SpringDugLeeks2Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup with Leeks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups leeks, diced and washed; about 2 leeks
4 cups sweet potatoes, diced; about 2 sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons garlic, minced; about 3 cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2, 15-ounce cans cannellini beans
1 pork hock
1/2 cup sherry (or more to taste at the end)
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 head escarole, chopped into bite-sized pieces and washed
2 tablespoons tamari (or more)

Heat a medium stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the oil and leeks and sauté until the leeks are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, salt and pepper and sauté for another 5 minutes. Make a small space for the garlic and add it to the pan, sauteing for only 30 seconds to one minute. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the escarole, tamari and extra sherry. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the white beans are soft. Add escarole and tamari and sherry to taste and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8

Annie
Garden satisfied

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

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

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