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?

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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!

 

Knitting Vacation – Dyeing to Knit

On a sunny day in June, our Maine Knitting Cruise crowd took to the island armed with indigo dye and yarn.  The process was magical, beautiful, creative, and a complete blast.

Below is the best of the process start to finish.  Ending with the yarn hanging over the wood stove for a final dry.  Of course the day wouldn’t have been complete without an all you can eat Maine lobster bake too!

Lobster time!  Photo by: Margie Ariano
Lobster time! Photo by: Margie Ariano
A happy camper who's had her fill. Photo by: Margie Ariano
A happy camper who’s had her fill.  You go, Nancy! Photo by: Margie Ariano

But before lobster’s were had in plenty…

The kettles of water coming up to temperature over the fire. Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
The kettles of water coming up to temperature over the fire. Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
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Jackie passing out yarn for dyeing.
Checking for temperature.
Checking for temperature.
Happy knitters taking a break while the water heats up.
Happy knitters taking a break while the water heats up.
Yarn twisted, tied and loose, ready for dyeing. Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
Yarn twisted, tied and loose, ready for dyeing. Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
At first it's green! Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
At first it’s green! Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
Then it oxidizes and turns blue.  Magic right before our eyes! Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
Then it oxidizes and turns blue. Magic right before our eyes! Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
Hanging to let the dye oxidize and set. Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
Hanging to let the dye oxidize and set. Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
A rinse in the ocean to remove excess (organic) dye.  (No oceans were harmed in this process - promise.) Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
A rinse in the ocean to remove excess (organic) dye. (No oceans were harmed in this process – promise.) Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
Before and after our island time... Photo by: Margie Ariano
Before and after our island time… Photo by: Margie Ariano

Annie
Can’t wait to do this again

P.S.  Our next knitting cruise is August 31 to September 5. If knitting is not your thing, try out the Maine Food Cruise – Cooking with Annie, July 6 to 9.

A Knitting Retreat to Dye For

The first of our Maine knitting cruises has come and gone with great success and many highlights to share!

The trip began with a visit to the Swan’s Island Company north of where the Riggin is docked.  Jackie Ottino Graf, the resident dye-master and social media maven of the company, took us through the dyeing process, handed out complementary patterns with yarn, and shared her extensive knowledge.

Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Damp, undyed yarn waiting for the dye vat. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Indigo-dyed yarn hanging to dry.  Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Indigo-dyed yarn hanging to dry. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Jackie displaying limited edition, indigo-dyed throw, "Whitecaps". Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Jackie displaying a limited edition, indigo-dyed throw, “Whitecaps”. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Each blanket is created by hand, each “whitecap” is added by hand. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Swan’s Island Blankets hanging in the show room. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Gorgeousness! Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Our hosts!  Thank you Jackie, Bill and Swan's Island Company.  Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Our hosts! Thank you Jackie, Bill and Swan’s Island Company. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
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Mim instructing on the first day.
Hanging out in the galley, knitting away.

The next day found us in the Rockland yarn shop, Over the Rainbow Yarn, owned by Mim Bird, resident knitting instructor extraordinaire, for last minute items and extra yarn (because who doesn’t need EXTRA yarn)?  We left the dock shortly after for our 4-day adventure armed with more yarn than we could possible knit in as many days.

Our first day had us romping across the bay to feisty winds and feistier seas with a promise of sunnier days to come.  Mim started everyone off with information on how to knit with multi-colored yarn, the difference between a tonal yarn and variegated yarn, plus many more tidbits and facts.

As with any knitting retreat, some dug right in to their project and managed to knit furiously, finishing on the last night.  Others meandered their way through the day, working on the official project some and their pet projects as well.

I’ll post photos of the actual dyeing process next, because that cool event deserves it’s own post.

Annie
My hands are blue (from indigo), but my spirit is sunny

P.S. When you go to the Swan’s Island Company website, check out what schooner is the setting for some of the photos!  And,yes, the model and the yarn are pretty too.

P.P.S.  Our next two knitting cruises are June 19 to 22 and August 31 to September 5.  You should come!

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

Maine – A Place to Stop and Smell the Sea Air

The state of Maine is a place of unrivaled beauty in so many ways, but none more eye-popping than the day when, after a hard spring rain, the sun emerges and suddenly, the grass turns a shocking green and the flowers all open to show off their finery.

Such was the day I drove back from Portland after doing a 207 shoot.  I had Sugar & Salt books to sell and ended up winding my way down and around the peninsulas around Boothbay Harbor.  It’s so rare for me to be exploring our state this time of year what with a schooner to get ready to sail, a household to pack up, girls to organize and crew to train.  However, the day was just too much of a gift to not enjoy.  And so I stopped, several times, to enjoy and to sell a lot of books too!

Thanks to Southport General Store and Gift Barn (Janet, De and Maria you made my day!  I hope we end up getting to enjoy each other more on one of our knitting cruises.), Oak Street Provisions, The Village Store, Sherman’s Books and Stationary and Maine Coast Book Shop for your purchases.

Other than the fantastic stores that I visited, some all ready for the summer season, and some with shelves just being dusted and stocked as I walked in the door, this is what I saw that day:

Cozy Harbor, Maine
Cozy Harbor, Maine
Cozy Harbor, Maine
Lobster buoys in Cozy Harbor, Maine
Nature path – Boothbay Harbor, Maine
SAMSUNG
Sun on bright green moss
SAMSUNG
More sun on more bright green moss
SAMSUNG
Southport, Maine

SAMSUNG

Sherman Zwicker in Boothbay, Maine
Sherman Zwicker in Boothbay, Maine

Annie
Lovin’ my state

Pies On Parade

Both a benefit for the local food pantry, Area Interfaith Outreach (AIO), and a festive mid-winter party, Pies on Parade has grown into a major event over the past several years.  Sold out a week ago at 600 tickets, it proves to be the event of the month for at least AIO if not Midcoast Maine.

This year, Rheal Day Spa (my favorite place ever) and I are partnering to make both Lemon Lavender Honey and Yogurt Pie and Cinnamon Raspberry Gallette from my cookbook Sugar and Salt.  Rhonda Nordstrom, spa owner extraordinaire, and I have shared tea a time or two as we plot and plan our menu and the details of cooking pies for 600 people out of a kitchen almost as small as the galley on the Riggin.

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Kids Travel – Its Not Just for the Grownups!

KidsTrip

As many of you already know, we typically have an age range of around 12 and up on our regular sailing cruises.  That said, we also make space in the schedule for families who want to travel with their kids and have other families on board at the same time.  This article is written by a guest and mom who traveled with her family on the Riggin a few summers ago.  Michelle and her family had a great time and she was generous enough to share her experience for the benefit of new families coming to us.  Thank you MiniTime for the shout out on traveling with kids on a Maine Windjammer.

Our next scheduled Kids & Family cruise is July 8th – 11th and we are offering for kids to sail at half off. That’s right kids (18 and under) sail at a 50% discount! If you’re looking for a unique fun family adventure – we’ve got you covered.

Annie
Family Fun

Happy Halfway Day!

Isn’t it awesome when you figure out what makes you more efficient, life run smarter, processes cleaner, efforts smoother?  We just had one of those moments here in the office and as of today, Maine Sails Blog will be folded into the At Home, At Sea blog.  Only one blog instead of two.  One blog that integrates the ‘at home’ part with the ‘at sea’ part.  Of course that’s always happened here anyway, I’ll just end up sharing a little more about life as an owner of a Maine Windjammer.

Out on a beautiful Penobscot Bay day... Coming soon!
Out on a beautiful Penobscot Bay day… Coming soon!

With that, a letter from a dear friend and guest, Pinky R., came by email to remind me and now you that we are officially at the halfway mark between the end of last sailing season and the beginning of this one.  And so begins what always feels like a fast and slippery down hill sled ride to the opening day of our season.

I should also remind everyone that there are only three more days before the early booking discount ends.  February 1st is the last day!

Thanks, Pinky!

Greetings Fellow Sailors,

Periodically throughout the off-season, I find myself counting the months, then weeks, until we sail again. The sailing season always seems too short to me, even though each individual day is blissfully slow. That’s Maine for you! As one of my favorite t-shirts says, “If you can’t take winter, you don’t deserve summer.”

As we came ashore on the final day of the final cruise, counting ahead to when we will once again be out on Penobscot Bay, I was somewhat sad. Eight months!

Then there has been this particular winter. There has been more sickness in our house in the last month than in the last 5 years! In terms of activity, shoveling snow has its place, but hauling lines holds more appeal right now. And then the Patriots. . .

So, I started counting the days until sailing season, and there is good news. (Well, for those of us who are not busily working and wondering if she’ll be ready to go in time, it’s good news.) Tuesday, January 29, is the half-way point between the last day of sailing of 2012 and the first day of sailing of 2013. Yeah! Now it will be less time ahead than behind. When you’re looking forward to something, like a kid waiting for their birthday, that’s an important distinction.

So, Happy Halfway Day! Looking forward to seeing you out on the water soon!

Annie
Happy to have a Halfway Day to celebrate and one fewer thing to do.