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.
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.
Knitting is what Maine winters are for
For the first time in 18 years, Jon and I took a vacation. Together. By ourselves. For the first time in 18 years I had a series of days strung together where my only thoughts were about naps, walking on the beach, or reading the third book in my stack. Days. In a row. Not being responsible for meetings, communication, the other wonderful beings in my life. All of it left behind for a while. What an absolute gift.
It got me thinking about our trips on the Riggin and how we are able to offer this same gift to those that sail with us. But really, we can only offer and provide it for those who give it to themselves – by choosing their time, by allowing their rest, by being good to themselves. We are honored to offer it, but also honored that you choose it for yourselves.
While we were in warmer climes, we also had a chance to eat out – and be inspired. One restaurant in particular had an array of menu items laden with vegetables served in all sorts of creative ways and topped or melded with a dash of carbs and a smattering of protein. I came away with food ideas overflowing in my head. Wait, does that mean I can write off that meal? In any event, I’ll be sharing some of the so-called fruits of that inspiring meal over the courseof the next few weeks. Here’s the first – tangy roasted tomatoes and creamy roasted squash combined with the acerbic bite of fresh spinach surrounded by comforting risotto and farmer’s cheese.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Tomatoes with Lemon Risotto and Farmer’s Cheese
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks; about 4 cups
2 tomatoes, cut into at least 8 wedges each; about 3 cups
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
4 ounces farmer’s cheese
2 cups lightly packed spinach leaves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash and tomatoes separately with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet with sides. Roast the tomatoes for 30 to 35 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Remove them from the pan and continue roasting the squash until it begins to brown on the edges and is completely cooked through, about another 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the risotto. When the risotto and squash are done, assemble by laying the spinach leaves on a platter and topping with risotto. Follow with the roasted tomatoes and then the squash and farmer’s cheese. Serve immediately.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup diced onion; about 1 medium onion
2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup white wine
4 to 5 cups low-salt chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of white pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest; zest from about 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice; juice from about 1/2 of a lemon
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. If the onions begin to brown, reduce heat to medium low. When the onions are translucent, add the rice and stir for one minute. Add the salt, pepper, lemon zest and 1 cup of the broth and stir. Bring to a simmer and wait until the liquid is absorbed before adding more broth. Continue to add the broth, one cup at a time, as needed, stirring frequently. The rice is done when the liquid is completely incorporated and the grains are just the tiniest bit al dente in the center. Add Parmesan cheese and lemon juice.
Serves 4 to 6
Preserved lemons are still a favorite of mine and especially this time of year when fragrant, floral Meyer lemons are available. I preserve a bunch over the winter and then use them as little bursts of flavor in salads and sauces all summer long on the Riggin. Not wanting to wait until the summer to have these beauties, this recipe with red potatoes and baby kale was born.
Preserved Meyer Lemons
The remaining oil is also be lovely in salads or for dipping bread.
5 to 6 Meyer lemons
1/2 cup coarse sea salt
4 sticks of cinnamon
8 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 quart-sized Ball jar with lid
extra virgin olive oil
Make sure the jar you are using are very clean and sterile – as you would for jams and jellies. The salt is a preservative as well, but it’s better to be safe. Cut all of the lemons into 8 wedges each or slice them cross‐wise. Toss the lemons with the salt and place them in the jar. Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves and bay leaves and cover with the lid. Shake once daily for 10 days to coat the lemons with the salt. You don’t need to refrigerate them at this point. After 10 days, cover the lemons with extra virgin olive oil and refrigerate for up to one year.
Red Potatoes, Baby Kale, and Preserved Lemons
If you don’t have preserved lemons in your pantry, salty, umami-rich black olives are a good substitute.
2 pounds small red potatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced onions; about 1 large onion
8 ounces baby kale
1/4 teaspoon salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup preserved lemons
In a large stock pot, cover the potatoes with 1-inch of salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and return the empty stock pot to the stove over medium-high heat while the potatoes remain in the strainer. Add the olive oil and onions and sauté for 12 minutes or so or until the onions begin to brown. Add the potatoes back to the pot and combine gently with a wooden spoon the rest of the ingredients. Serve immediately.
Serves 6 to 8
Have a bright, sunny day
So, Snickerdoodles, huh? Comforting, homey, simple and… swanky when made with five-spice powder instead of simple cinnamon. These are the grown up version. The have-with-Darjeeling-tea version. They are a taste of home with a party dress on. I don’t often make cookies on the boat because they are touchy to do in a wood stove with lots of turning and watching, but I could be talked into it for these pretty gems.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
2 tablespoons sugar
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the sugar and butter; then add the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt and mix with the creamed mixture. It comes together nicely with a strong mixer, but if you are mixing with a wooden spoon, you may need to work it a little with your hands as the dough is fairly stiff. Mix the sugar and five-spice in a small bowl. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the sugar and five-spice mixture to coat. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to cooling rack and store in an air-tight container.
Make 2 to 3 dozen
Often times when I make chowder, I’m standing next to my hot cast iron wood stove (on our Maine windjammer) stirring at least a couple of pots, turning bread baking in the oven and prepping yet another baked good slatted for a future meal. I think of how many pots of chowder have been made on wood stoves just like mine and the people these potages have nourished.
It’s a traditional meal that pulls musings of times past and almost demands the ritual of following in the footsteps of cooks that have gone before.
All sorts of chowder recipes abound in these parts, but most of them, while delicious, are not chowder in the book of old-time Mainers. True chowder is milky, not thick, and is slightly thickened with either day old biscuits or oyster crackers (or saltines), not a roux (a flour and butter mixture). In addition, true chowder contains salt pork, not bacon. Always. If either of these things are not in existence, then, I’ve been told, it’s not true Maine chowder, however yummy.
This recipe begins with the required salt pork, something fairly easy to come by in our local Maine butchers or even in the grocery store. This salted, but not smoked, pig belly is the backbone of flavor for every traditional chowder one might concoct. In addition, once the vegetables have sauteed and become soft, day-old biscuits are added – fairly early in the soup making process so they have ample time to soften and disintegrate, becoming indistinguishable and thickening the soup slightly.
Lastly, because I’m often making my chowder on the Riggin where I could be called away from the stove at any moment to drive the yawl boat, take the wheel, or tend to a guest, I use evaporated milk. Evaporated milk doesn’t separate nearly as easily as straight milk when the heat is on for too long. It’s a safety net for me and does add a bit of body and flavor to the soup as well.
Enjoy this nod to the food traditions of the past. Who knows, maybe one of your ancestors made chowder for their people.
Maine Seafood Chowder
6 ounces salt pork
2 cups diced celery; about 3 stalks
2 cups diced onion; about 1 large onion
6 cups potatoes, peeled if need and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 day old biscuits or 6 saltines
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups clam juice
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cans evaporated milk
1 pound haddock
1/4 pound 40-60 shrimp, shells removed and sliced in half
1 pound fresh clams, well-cleaned or 2 cups canned clams
Score the salt pork and place it scored side down in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. When the salt pork has rendered for 5 to 10 minutes, add the celery and the onions and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the potatoes and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the biscuits, salt, pepper, clam juice and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the biscuits have disintegrated and the potatoes are cooked through. Add the evaporated milk and bring to a simmer again. Lastly add the seafood and just cook through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let the haddock finish cooking.
Serves 6 to 8
Headed off to make biscuits to go with AND into the chowder!