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.

Thanksgiving Leftovers – Take Two

So many leftovers, so little space in the belly.  This is day two of Thanksgiving leftover ideas and turkey hash is one of my favorites.  Especially so when combined with greens – a much needed addition after a bit of fat and carb overload.

I’ve pared this hash with Brussels sprouts greens after discovering that they are just as delicious as any kale or broccoli leaves.  I’m lucky enough to still have some in the garden and will need to cull the rest shortly before it succumbs to a really sustained frost.

Turkey Hash Photo Rocky Coast Photography

Turkey Hash
Cut turkey and roasted potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces.  Sauté onions and celery in a large skillet and add the turkey, potatoes and any vegetables or squash that you like.  Add salt, pepper, Dijon mustard and maybe some horseradish to the pan.  Sauté until the ingredients are warmed through and are beginning to brown on the bottom.  Serve with poached eggs and roasted Brussels sprout leaves (or kale or broccoli leaves).

Turkey Hash Photo Rocky Coast PhotographyAnnie
Using up what we’ve got… and what we’ve got it pretty great.

Homemade Backyard Apple Crisp from Super Scratch

Making Apple Crisp

Inspired by a guest who posted about making apple crisp from my first cookbook, now affectionately called “The Red Book,” it didn’t take long for me to decide to do the same. We do, however, need to back up a bit to start from super scratch.

Step one, plant the apple trees. Step two, wait five years. Step three, make apple crisp. That’s all. No worries, right? No one will think worse of you if you buy your apples at the store like most normal people.

Homemade From Scratch Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp
As it was cooling on the counter, Ella came into the house after school with the phrase of the day, “Okay!  What is it.  Where is it.  And can I have some.”

Filling
12 tart apples
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Topping
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter (2 1/4 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/4-inch wedges.  Toss them with the rest of the filling ingredients in a large bowl and transfer to an ungreased 9 x 13-inch pan. In the same bowl, combine the topping ingredients.  Cut the butter in with a pastry knife until the mixture is coarsely blended; mixture should be crumbly. Transfer the topping over the apple mixture and bake for 45 minutes or until lightly browned and the liquid in the apples is dark and bubbly.

Makes 12 servings

Annie
Houses that smell like baked apples and cinnamon are the best!

 

Maine Food Cruises – Veggies and Greens, Oh My!

One of the many questions I get from folks in the cooking realm is what to do with all the veggies that come for their CSAs.  Now that Community Supported Agriculture has taken parts of our country by storm, the questions keep coming.  Among them are… What else can I do with my kale?  How do I use up that ugly kohlrabi that keeps turning up in my box?  Is there a way to combine all of these veggies in a meal or dish?

Veggies1blog

On our Maine Gourmet Food Cruises we talk about how to combine veggies, what to do to make them interesting, and how to preserve them if you just have too darn much to use in a week’s time.

Vegetable Tip:  To keep lettuce and greens longer in the refrigerator, wash the lettuce and remove every bit of water that you can and then layer the leaves with a dish towel or paper towel.  Store in a large tub with a lid or in a resealable plastic bag.  I’ve used this technique on long, at sea adventures, on the Riggin and in my home kitchen to great effect.  Another way to preserve hearty greens is to clean and dry them, ribs removed.  Once they are dry, coat them in a thin layer of olive oil.  They will last for at least a week and a half in the refrigerator.

Annie
Thinking about greens galore and our next Maine Food Cruise, July 6 to 9!

 

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.”

HomegrownPears1

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.

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

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’

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.

Eating Spring Dug Root Vegetables – Parsnip Latkes

How fun to have both harvested the last of the parsnips on the same day that I planted next spring’s crop.  In playing around with these ivory beauties, I created a couple of new recipes for a column:  Parsnip Latkes, Root Vegetable Soup, Roasted Parsnips and Collard Greens.

Parsnip Latkes

Annie
Gone Digging