In the news!
That day when it was Capt’s birthday and Justin dressed up just like him.
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
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.
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!
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!
Back to making handmade things for my girls
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
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!
We are sailing away to knit and laugh together and you should come! Heather Kinne of Highland Handmades and I already got a good start on the laughing part when we filmed The Fiberista Files podcast together recently.
The Knitting Getaway is 4 days and 4 nights of a fiber experience with Mim Bird of Over the Rainbow Yarn (Rockland Maine’s LYS), Dyan Redick of Bittersweet Heritage Farm, and Heather Monroe Kinne of Highland Handmades as we follow the start-to-finish yarn process of shearing to spinning to knitting with handspun yarn.
We begin with a sheep shearing and skirting demonstration at Bittersweet Heritage Farm and wind up back at the Riggin for dinner at anchor. Heather from Highland Handmades will also be joining the trip to lead a spinning demonstration where you’ll be able to spin your own fiber (roving and combtop provided) on a drop spindle. Mim Bird will be with us as well to help assess the yarn we’ve created and figure out how and what to knit with it.
Your yarn and your project will be individual… and as relaxing or as type-A as you’d like. This is a pretty special trip and all of the details are on the Riggin site.
Check out The Fiberista Files podcast with Heather and me! The knitting cruise part starts around 22:30.
Particulars: June 8th – June 11th, $779 per person, all inclusive, 5% discount until Jan. 31st (10% for returning guests)
Getting my needles ready
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?
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.
Thinking about greens galore and our next Maine Food Cruise, July 6 to 9!