Wich, Please is De-Wich-ious

There’s a new sandwich gig in Rocklandtown and it’s delightful.  Malcom and Jillian Bedell, of From Away fame, have joined the corps of high-caliber restaurants in town with their food truck, Wich, Please.  This tiny kitchen, serving breakfast and lunch sandwiches such as a swanky BLT built on sourdough bread, with frisee, confited tomatoes and crispy bacon, began with a Kickstarter campaign and the faith of several hundred fans and supporters.

Tomato Confit BLT at Wich Please
Tomato Confit BLT

That belief has paid off and the food truck is open for business beginning this week.  Set up to handle two cooks max, Malcom and his assistant have very little room to maneuver in this small food truck.  Actually, the space looks pretty familiar – a lot like my galley.  No jumping jacks for those two, just the dance of two chefs moving from one place to the next weaving in and around each other to reach for the next ingredient. Cassie, my assistant cook, and I get this all too well.

Malcom Bedell
Malcom Bedell

My Rubenesque, a vegetarian Ruben made with roasted beets and Morse’s sauerkraut, was a well-balanced blend of texture and flavor.  The crispy bread off-set the crunch of the kraut and the easy bite of the beets – the flavors all complimenting one another.

The Reubenesque and The O.D.B. Grilled Cheese
The Reubenesque and The O.D.B. Grilled Cheese
De-Wich-ious sandwiches from ‘Wich, Please

Located on the edges of Rockland Harbor with the tang of the sea greeting the outdoor park seating, there’s no doubt that these two have a formula for success.  Oh, and try the grilled cheese too – ours was with caramelized onions, pickled jalapenos, and chips.

The Spring menu at 'Wich, Please in Rockland's Buoy Park
The Spring menu at ‘Wich, Please in Rockland’s Buoy Park

Good luck to you both!  Today is taco Friday, friends, from 4-7pm.

Annie
P.S. My galley is still smaller.

Clementine and Grand Marnier Chocolate Cake

Elizabeth’s favorite flavors are chocolate and orange and so for her birthday in late March, can you guess what sort of cake she asked for?  Knowing that Easter was on it’s way, and also knowing that while SHE got her cake, WE didn’t get our cake, I decided to make it again and this time for our Easter dinner crowd.

This cake is lovely for a couple of reasons.  The oil and sour cream make it a forgiving batter that once baked into a cake, stays forever moist.   The clementine zest, orange extract and Grand Marnier ensure that the cake is infused with orange flavor at several different levels.  Lastly, the bright orange garnish of the clementine lends an eye-catching splash of happy color and tang.

IMG_9815-001aClementine and Grand Marnier Chocolate Cake
Cake:
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons clementine zest; about 3 clementines
2 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
2 teaspoons orange extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Glaze:
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
8 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
2 clementines, sliced thinly and halved for garnish

Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and set aside.

Using the paddle attachment and a large mixing bowl combine sugar, zest, eggs and canola oil on low speed.  Measure out the rest of the wet ingredients in one liquid measuring container and measure all of the dry ingredients into a sifter.  Alternate adding the wet and dry ingredients to the mixing bowl ending with wet.

Divide batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the edges of the cake have pulled away from the sides of the pan a little and a toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely.

Glaze:
Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat.  When the butter is melted, remove the pan from the heat and let the chocolate continue to melt.  When the chocolate is fully melted, add the sour cream and the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

To Assemble:
To assemble the cake, remove the cooled cakes from their pans and transfer one to a serving platter.  Spread 1/2 of the glaze onto the top of the cake and rim with clementines so that you will be able to see the rinds.  Repeat the process with the second cake.  The glaze is a little easier to deal with if it has cooled somewhat, but don’t wait until it has cooled completely as it will set up.  Garnish with clementine halves and serve.

Serves 12 to 16

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Annie
Gonna get me that last slice…

Easter Celebration – Complete with Bunny Cake

Every celebration comes with traditions that we build around food.  In our extended family here in Maine, where very few of us are actually related, but most of us celebrate our holidays together, we have several traditions.  The first of which is that the Finger/Mahle house hosts the Easter meal.

Followed by… there are little girls running around collecting Easter eggs in the yard – usually hundreds of them – hundreds of what seems like little girls and, in fact, hundreds of eggs.  Before the actual hunt there is the boiling, dying, painting, and coloring of eggs in preparation for the hunt – an afternoon of spring color applied to eggs in all manner of ways.

But wait a minute.  This year, for the first time, we don’t have little ones running around at our knees (ours or anyone else’s) and our girls are old enough that dying eggs doesn’t hold the magic that it used to.  Neither does the hunting of them.  Our girls are firmly in teenager-land and while they weren’t quite ready to give up on the gift of candy, they were ready to let go of the traditional Easter Egg Hunt.  I, on the other hand, might have had to rally a bit to the new order of things and, in secret, wistfully respected the wishes and interests of the budding adults in our household.

Another tradition that we moms pensively released was the annual Easter Cake.  Long celebrated in our household with the usual argument of how the cake is actually constructed, neither the cake, nor the argument would be produced this year.  Until… Maggie, our newest crew member, walked in with a Bunny Cake – decorated in nearly the same way as the Easter Egg cake and a perfect serendipitous addition to our Easter table.

While our family traditions are changing, what matters the most – that we gather together to eat and laugh – will firmly and forever be a part of how we celebrate together – teenagers or not, Easter Egg Hunt or not, Easter Cake or not.

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Annie
Adjusting to change and grateful for the people around our table

Easy Cowl – Upcycled Turtleneck

Recycling used clothing has to be among one of the most satisfying ways to spend a cold Sunday afternoon (other than watching the Patriots win the Super Bowl – GO Pats!)  Easy, frugal, fun and useful all at the same time, this sweater became a pair of hand warmers for Ella, a mini-skirt for Chloe and a cowl for me.  Now the rule is that no one can wear their item on the same day.  Fair enough.

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Lay the sweater out on a cutting board.
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Cut straight across the top from sleeve seam to sleeve seam.
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Cut off the sleeves. They will need to be edged in some way. Create a thumb hole with a button hole attachment on your sewing machine.
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Trim the neck seam. Embellish with a blanket stitch in a complementary-colored yarn.
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Wear on the days that your daughters are not wearing their items!

Annie
New clothes!

Cocktails Anyone? – Let the Testing Begin

Those of you who know me well, may find this next announcement a little incongruous…  I’ve begun to write two columns on cocktails for the State of Maine’s publication, Maine Spirits.  While at first blush, my low alcohol consumption may seem a bit odd for the writer of such a pursuit.  On the other hand, cocktail creation is just another form of gastronomy and it’s in that vein that I approach this new project.

Last night the journey began.  I started with a trusted source, Jamie Oliver, and made an Elderflower Tom Collins (watch the video).  I must say, it was a good start.  This morning, I then went out to restock our liquor cabinet and am now ready to roll.  First on the list is a Blood Orange Margarita.  I’ll letcha know how it goes. IMG_8875

Annie
Cocktail recipes coming to a blog near you!

Happy Chinese New Year – The Year of the Ram and, well, Fiber

We are feeling sheepish – but not in the bashful sense, rather in the fiber way.  In celebration of the wonderful sheep that give us fiber for all of our knitting projects, the Schooner J. & E. Riggin launches a year-long giveaway of gorgeous yarn.  It’s the year of the ram (or the goat or the sheep depending on who you are talking to) and in honor of the Chinese zodiac (yang) and it’s Lunar New Year, 52 Skeins and our Maine Knitting Cruises will be giving away one skein of yarn from small, hand-crafted vendors.  Some are our favorites and some are new to us, but no less lovely.

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Each week, the yarn will be featured on our Maine Knitting Cruise page, on Facebook, and all the other social media places you might expect (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest).  To enter to win head on over to the Maine Knitting Cruises Facebook page and do the following – a) leave a comment, b) tag a friend (for an extra entry) and/or c) share the post (for an extra entry). Enter each week.  At the end of the year, we will draw one name from all 52 weekly winners. This lucky person will win a 52 skein stash of yarn (valued at over $1,300).

As it turns out, the hardest part of this giveaway might be on our wallets here at home.  All of this yarn is so gorgeous, that we will not be able to resist making purchases of our own.

Good luck to you all.  And may the best sharer win!

Annie
We believe in ewe.

We kick off Week 1 of 52 Skeins with locally (to MidCoast Maine) spun and dyed ontheround yarn! To know more about ontheround and where to find her fabulous yarn and details on the whole 52 Skeins giveaway visit the Maine Knitting Cruises page on our website.

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Canning Pear Nectar

This fall, I was the surprised recipient of a beautiful bushel of pears from what we think is a Seckle Pear tree. That gift, however, did not come co-bundled with an abundance of time. I was determined that this gift would not sit too long while I put it off until the pears were passed perfectly ripe and had moved into “uh oh.”

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To hustle along, I decided to not can them as whole pears, but as nectar. Making nectar is a much easier process than canning whole fruit, as it does not require peeling. It begins with making a loose pear sauce much the same way one would apple sauce by bringing to a simmer pear quarters and water and cooking until the pears are either tender or falling apart. Pear varieties will differ in whether they stay together once they are fully cooked or fall apart – just like apples.

With the addition of lemon juice and sugar plus a hot pack canning process, pear nectar emerges. I’ll use it all winter long in smoothies instead of honey, as a juice for brunch, a foundation for mixed drinks, combined with ginger ale for a special drink for the girls and, well, I let you know what else I come up with!

Annie
Thank you, friend Glen. I’m glad we are both good at sharing.

Sailing Our Tiny Schooner

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Getting ready to go. Lugsails are easy to rig.
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Chloe hanging out and manning the foresail sheet.
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Papa and Ella steering.
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Focus. Focus.
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Happy sailing campers!

Because our fall was so incredibly warm, we were able to take Iolaire, our cute new schooner, out for a test drive before we put her away for the winter.  The day was our last gorgeous, warm, fall day.  At first when she heeled, I had this instinctive reaction of a little clench in my gut, thinking what’s on the stove, what’s on the tables, where are the flowers? And then? I REMEMBERED, I’m not on the big schooner and nothing is on the tables because there are no tables. I enjoyed the sailing just for the sailing. I watched the day go by and it was blissful.

It was the first time in 24 years that I’ve been on a sail boat without the responsibility of cooking a single thing. Not coffee. Not muffins. Not dinner. Nothing. I gotta tell ya, it’s different. Now I know why so many of you like sailing with us so much! It’s FUN!

Perhaps this sounds odd coming from someone who sails all summer long, but as one of our apprentices this summer put it, “It’s such a bummer that what makes [working on] deck awesome is the same thing that makes [working in the] galley insane.” Imagine the schooner heeling over as she catches a southwest summer breeze to windward – the wind in your face and the sound of the hull as she powers through the water. Then imagine the galley, nothing on the tables or counters and everything completely stowed (because if it’s not, it will launch itself onto the sole). Imagine trying to bake a cake or pie when the boat is heeled that much, or cook a stew when it’s sliding across the top of the stove. Yup, you get why great sailing days are not always the greatest galley days.  And even with all of that, any day on a boat, whether it’s in the galley or not, is a good day.

However, a small boat with no galley? Pretty fun!

Annie
I fell in love with sailing all over again.

Welcome to Our Fleet, Schooner Timberwind!

Merry Christmas to us!

All summer long Jon and I could see the Schooner Timberwind from the deck of the Riggin.  We would say to each other that someone should buy that boat.  She’s so pretty.  She deserves a new life.  But when we said “someone” we were NOT meaning us.

However, life had other plans and within a short time after our season ended, we found ourselves on another schooner adventure as the owner of not one, but two Maine windjammers!   We are the proud owners of the Schooner Timberwind.

There is still a lot to figure out, but we do know that she’ll be run as a daysailer from a Midcoast town by our former Mate, Lance Meadows.  The rest is yet to be confirmed and we’ll look forward to sharing more, when we, ourselves, discover it!

Schooner Timberwind by Rocky Coast Photograhy

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Annie
Our fleet expands yet again