New Cookbook!

Announcing Sugar and Salt: Book Two -The Orange Book!  This collection of recipes from my galley and home kitchen will arrive at our door step (or barn step) soon!  Here’s a look at the process….

Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Over the past several months we’ve been getting serious about producing a cookbook, so we made a lot of food.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of it was chocolate! And delicious.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of it was healthy. And delicious!
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
When we couldn’t hold all of the pieces in our head any longer, we posted it all over the office walls.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
We got to knit. And made a Ball jar cozy (several actually) using Mim Bird‘s pattern.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Occasionally, we made cocktails. They were well timed.
Then Elizabeth made them look pretty in photos.
Then Elizabeth made them look pretty in photos.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
And then we drank them.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of us had lemonade instead. And also, one of us got confused.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Then we made Brussels sprouts that were so good we almost didn’t get the photo (because we ate them all while standing at the stove).
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
A lot of words got written and someone had to take a doggie break.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
And then there was more food.

Annie
Now that was fun!

Click Sugar and Salt to order.

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

Knitting a Baa-ble Hat

If you read last Friday’s post, then you know that somewhere in there, Chloe had to have a handmade knit item from me as well.  Don’t worry, fair is fair, and hers came in the middle of the two sets of socks knit for Ella.

Untitled

Chloe’s hat, called the Baa-ble Hat because it has the most adorable sheep on it, was made with Quince and Co yarn purchased at our LYS, Over the Rainbow Yarn.  Mim Bird, proprietor and knitter extraordinaire, is also the instructor of our June 8-11, Sheep to Shawl Maine Knitting Cruise, where we’ll get to see yarn from beginning to end.  Beginning at Bittersweet Heritage Farm, we’ll see sheep shorn (That was fun to write!).  We’ll then gather back at the Riggin for 4 days of spinning with Heather Kinne of Highland Handmades and knitting with Mim of the above-mentioned Over the Rainbow Yarn.

Back to the hat at hand, this super fun pattern was made with Quince and Co colors – Birds Egg; Split Pea; and Bark.  (The white we already had on hand.)  The pattern calls for the sheep feet and noses to be black, but we found that color to be way too stark with the rest of the palette.  Even though the pattern is actually, at times, a four-color pattern, I found it to be really easy and approachable.

Annie
Knitting is what Maine winters are for

Stirrup Socks – A Purl Soho Pattern

As every good mama should, I alternate between making something for one and then the other.  This project is one for Ella and one that was a joy to do – in part because she chose carefully – the pattern, the yarn, and the size – which meant that she was happy with the end result.

It’s been a while since I’ve made things for the girls as there was a long time when anything I made was too itchy, too big, too small, too something.  So there my loving, homemade, hard work would sit.  In the drawer.  Eventually to be out grown.  So I stopped making things for the girls.  Until one day last summer, Ella ASKED me to make some socks for her.  I did so with a little trepidation, but also with a good measure of letting-it-go.  I told myself that making a gift is not about how someone receives it (although it sure does help) but that instead it’s about the person doing the making.  How it’s made, the care you give it, the thoughts while you create with fiber.  This is what I told myself and mostly it worked.

KnitSocks

These are the first pair of socks after a long, gift-making hiatus.  Made with sock yarn purchased at Over the Rainbow Yarn, our LYS and also sponsor/instructor of our June 8-11, Sheep to Shawl, Maine Knitting Cruise.  Go Mim!

StirrupSocks

This next gift was made with Berroco Vintage DK, Black Current #2182.  I adjusted the Purl Soho Stirrup Sock Pattern to accommodate the yarn and Ella’s thinner-than-adult legs.  I knit really loosely, so typically I have to go down 2 needle sizes to get the correct gauge.  Knitting with size 2 needles, I cast on 68 stitches rather than the 96 the pattern calls for.  I then adjusted accordingly, wrote down what I did (key to success here, right?), and did the same on the other sock.  Just wove the ends in yesterday!  Wahoo!

Annie
Back to making handmade things for my girls

Fun Photo Friday – Pasta Party with a Valentine’s Day Theme

While Valentine’s Day can be just for lovers (xo to my husband), I also like the idea of spreading the love a little further – to friends, family, guests, and beyond.  This little photo essay is from a pasta party we hosted at the house last weekend for in-town and out-of-town guests.

Initially an auction item supporting Trekkers, an adventuring mentor group in which both girls are involved, the party became a celebration of food, friends, and Maine.  A guest of the Riggin bid on the party, Jon and I hosted, and we all ate and made merry.  What a wonderful afternoon.

20160207_123750a

20160207_124413a

12705380_1211377342225042_8179392363955639853_na

20160207_114547a

20160207_113930a

20160207_124030a

20160207_125102a

20160207_135143[1]a

Annie
Love to you all

Sesame, Ginger and Tahini Chicken and Shrimp

Today I’m thinking about healthy choices – in what I eat, how I move, the interactions I have with my family – and the balance that is required to do these things well.

Greens AND brownies, running AND couch time, speaking my mind AND holding my tongue.  I want them all, just not in the same amount and at the same time.  The trick is to navigate when a brownie is just the thing (and these King Arthur Flour brownies are totally the thing) and when greens are a better choice.  Likewise with relationships, say, just hypothetically, when you are having a conversation with your daughter about future college and life plans when you are both hormonal.  Sometimes the healthiest choice is to say what you feel.  Other times, it’s best to not share exactly what is running through your mind in that specific moment.  When I’m navigating these moments successfully, which, let me tell you, is not always the case, I’m feeling my way to the best choice.  Calmly noticing.  Aware, but not hyper sensitive.

And, not to segue too abruptly to food, but actually, the same is true when I’m making a recipe.  I sort of feel my way to the right flavors.  In the same way that you might feel your way through a delicate conversation.  In this case, it’s a conversation with food and flavors.  This meal, the creamy AND limey, the greens AND rice, the chicken AND shrimp is one with balance.  One that walks the line of not too much sharing and not too much holding back.  I could have used a little more of that last night when in conversation with my daughter.  Ah well, at least I managed it in this meal.

SeasmeTahiniChickenSesame, Ginger and Tahini Chicken and Shrimp over Rice and a Bed of Spinach
This dish is just as easily made with chicken OR shrimp, but the combination of the two is my favorite.
Basmati Rice:
2 cups basmati rice
Salt

Sauce:
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup diced onions; about 1 medium onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
8 ounces boneless chicken breast; about 1 large breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces medium (41-50 count) raw shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup water, as needed
8 ounces baby spinach leaves

Garnish:
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Wedges of lime
Cilantro leaves
Sriracha

Rice:
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. The water should be as salted as you want your rice and no more. Add the rice and stir well. When the water again comes to a boil, set the timer for 18 minutes. Pour into a strainer and let sit for 5 minutes or longer while you prepare the sauce.

Sauce:
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the pumpkin seeds. Heat, stirring often, until the seeds begin to brown. Transfer to a blender and add the chicken stock, tahini and tamari. Blend until well mixed and smooth. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the salt, garlic, ginger and chicken and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and cook until you can just see a little bit of gray remaining. Add the pumpkin seed mixture and stir well adding water as needed to loosen the sauce. Serve immediately over rice and a bed of spinach. Garnish with sesame seeds, lime, cilantro, and Sriracha.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Finding the balance where I can.

Throwback Thursday – Bees Swarming

As I write this, the bees are quiet, not truly dormant, but somnolent and sleepy.  Waiting.  The hives are draped in black insulating plastic and surrounded by feet of snow and not a flower in sight.

But last summer, when the garden was in full flush and the blooms were abundant, the hive wisdom said to swarm.  Make a second queen, split, and create another hive to add to their numbers.

To see a hive swarm is to be in the midst of what feels like a maelstrom.  In truth, bees are as calm as they ever will be when they swarm.  Topped off with honey, surrounding their new queen, and off on an adventure.

We’ve never been quick enough to rehive the swarms, but were lucky to capture this one leaving on film.

Bee Swarm Still from video
Hive swarming.

 

Annie
Thankful they didn’t all swarm!  Their honey is fantastic.

Lemon Curd Tarlets – Feeling Tart and Sunny

These little tartlets came about when working on a catering job for a winter dinner.  The whole affair was a cocktail party, so finger food was the name of the game, including the desserts.  Once topped with a berry – raspberry or blueberry – these beauties were perfect for a small bite confection.

Little lemon tarlets that will be topped with a raspberry garnish.
Little lemon tarlets that will be topped with a raspberry garnish.

Another favorite way to use lemon curd is in the Blizzard Bluberry Lemon Curd Roulade, which, as you might guess, was made on a snowy day last winter when the winds were slapping at the windows and doors.  Indoors was the only place fit for humans, except the occasional forays into the wild for a snow shoe or ski and then back inside for a warm cup around which to wrap the cold hands.

If I were to find myself with some leftover lemon curd, I might have several thoughts on what to do with it other than eat it straight from the spoon.  One, this is a perfect combination for my Nana’s Lemon Prune Cake.  Two, if you find yourself wishing for something elegant, layered in a wine glass with sliced strawberries and vanilla whipped cream would hook me right quick and in a hurry.  Three, I’ve been known to have it with some yogurt.  Hey, if Liberte brand yogurt can do it, so can I.

Lemon Curd
This recipe is inspired by “The New York Times Cookbook.”
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; juice from about 2 lemons
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind; rind from about 2 lemons

Cream the butter and gradually beat in the sugar. Beat the eggs into the creamed mixture, then add the lemon juice and grated rind.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking continuously until mixture thickens and deepens in color. This must be cooked over low heat and stirred constantly to keep it from curdling. If desired, use a double boiler.

Press through a fine sieve into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Makes about 2 cups

Tartlet Crust
This crust is extremely versatile and is one of my go-to recipes when creating tartlets or tarts that require a fairly structured crust.  It is inspired by Alice Medrich, author and pastry chef extraordinaire.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon homemade vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Press 1 tablespoon of dough into the bottom of two 12-hole muffin tins.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown and the tartlet shells release from the tins easily.  Transfer to a grate to cool.  Fill with lemon curd when the shells are fully cooled.

Makes 24

Annie
Feeling tart and sunny

 

 

Chocolate Truffles – Little Rounds of Heaven

The days around the holidays, I’m especially reminded of traditions surrounding family.  Of creating and sustaining those rhythms that our girls will look back upon and remember well.  It’s not the presents around the tree, I think, that will be held the strongest in their minds and hearts, but those less tangible moments that have nothing to do with receiving.

Instead it will be the ritual of tromping into the woods to find just the right Christmas tree.  Decorating the house with pine boughs, roping and white lights.  Lying underneath the decorated tree and looking up at all of the branches illuminated with that golden glow.  And, of course, Christmas cookie making.

Now, we’ve gotten “better” at these rituals as the years have progressed.  The tree now has ornaments from top to bottom rather than a band of decorations high enough for a young one to reach on their tip toes.  The cookie making is a more ordered affair.  In other words, I’m not scraping flour and sugar off the floor and ceiling for a month afterwards.  And even the decorating of the house happens without tears or broken ornaments.  What a blessing to be able to spend these special days together.

Hands in the cookies.
Hands in the truffles.

The girls and I made these dark, silky balls of decadence as one of our Christmas “cookies” this year and had trouble not eating them ALL.  Fine Cooking‘s recipe is perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing.  We covered them in several ways – with cocoa powder, chopped walnuts, and the classic ganache.  Some got an espresso bean inserted in the center.  Those were our favorites, but they were all out-of-the-park delicious.  They make a perfect homemade holiday gift (If you can bear to give some away!)

Truffles2
Rolling truffles in cocoa powder.
All of the varieties.
All of the varieties.

Annie
In chocolate heaven!