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.

Fun Photo Friday – Crew Prepped for Race Week 2014

Getting ready for the small boat race - Race Week 2014.

Getting ready for the small boat race – Race Week 2014.

Throwback Thursday – Andy & Chloe

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Photo courtesy of Rosa Noreen (2005)

 

All Hail Kale – Kale is King!

Maybe it’s because outside it’s white and windy.  The grey and brown skeletons of the trees rise up against clouds filled with coming snow.  The only green to be seen in our landscape is from the frost-tipped branches of evergreens.  Perhaps this is why this season brings such a strong craving for greens.  If it’s not in our landscape, we want it on our plates?

Potato, Cheddar & Kale Souffle

I don’t know.  What I do know is that I need to honor the instincts of my body and have created a number of recipes for cooking winter greens, this time for kale.  Potato, Cheddar and Kale Souffle; Thai Peanut Shrimp with Kale; and Tuscan Kale, Chickpeas and Olives are all in the Maine Ingredient column this week.

Annie
Kale is King

Thyme and Lime Potato-Crusted Salmon with Greens

Extra greens this time of year seems to be what I crave over and over again.  More kale, more spinach, more Swiss chard.  I’ve even begun eating kale for breakfast with my eggs instead of having toast.  It’s delicious and gives me one more serving of what’s good for me anyway.

This column for the Maine Ingredient, created with holiday entertaining in mind, could easily become a weekend dinner with friends.  The recipes – Thyme and Lime Potato-Crusted Salmon, Brown Butter Kale with Toasted Almonds, and Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Cranberries and Preserved Grapefruit – are all healthy, with a large dash of elegance.

Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Cranberry Preserved Grapefruit

Annie
Eating my greens

Sailing Our Tiny Schooner

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Getting ready to go. Lugsails are easy to rig.

LittleSchooner5

Chloe hanging out and manning the foresail sheet.

LittleSchooner3

Papa and Ella steering.

LittleSchooner4

Focus. Focus.

LittleSchooner2

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.

Merry Christmas to All!

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This year’s holiday card by Jon Finger and Ella Finger.

 

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

JERandTW1

Annie
Our fleet expands yet again

Iolaire – We Bought a Tiny Schooner

We’d like to introduce you to the newest boat in our fleet.  Meet Iolaire (pronounced yawl’-a-rah), which means “eagle” in Gaelic. She is a Scottish sixern, a Shetland Island fishing boat.  The sixern is descended from the Norse seksæring, meaning six-oared boat – ancestor of the schooner.

Iolaire only has four oars and is a standing lug-rigged schooner.  Her masts are nearly equal in height and both are removable for easy storage.

Built in 1984 for Dr. Kenneth Leighton, author of Oar and Sail (Creekstone Press, 1999), she was also once owned by Maynard Bray’s grandson.  We found her in Vermont and she made her way to us this fall.

Our hope is that she’ll be a more stable small boat that we can launch once the big schooner is at anchor – for those who didn’t get enough sailing during the day.

Glen - Iolaire sm

Glen - Iolaire2 smIolaire sm

photo smAnnie
Isn’t she pretty?!

Bûche de Noël – A Traditional Favorite

This recipe is a combination of both a Julia Child and Ellen Barnes recipe.  Julia Child’s cookbook “Baking with Julia” is a classic I enjoy returning to again and again.  Ellen Barnes is a former windjammer owner and one of my mentor’s.  Her cookbook is called “The Taber Cookbook” and the well worn pages of my copy were hand-sewn together once the plastic spiral binding disintegrated.  Clearly a cookbook I treasure.

Bûche de Noël

I began making Bûche de Noël for Christmas dessert over 10 years ago when the girls and I wanted a baking project that was a little less intense than making our own gingerbread house from scratch, an event that will live in infamy in our house for the overwhelm meltdowns this effort produced.  Needless to say, it takes a special 5 year old to handle the construction and then collapse of a gingerbread house.  Maybe a special adult too as ours might have ended up in the trash…

Anyway, that was a long time ago and we have held to our Bûche de Noël making with eager joy.  While it, in our household, is an easier and more welcome project than gingerbread, it is not for the faint of heart.  Also, I would say that if you don’t have all the tools – pastry bag with tips, baking sheet, pastry knife, that maybe you’d just forgo this project.  It’s rare for me to say this, but the tools make this project SO much easier.

Bûche de Noël mushrooms

Bûche de Noël

Bûche de Noël

This cake is inspired by a recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook “Baking with Julia.”

Cake:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus a little extra for the pan), melted
1 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Rum Syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons rum

Mocha Cream Frosting:
1 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
4 egg yolks
2 cups soft butter
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons espresso or strong coffee
4 tablespoons rum

Meringue Mushrooms:
4 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Decorative Frosting:
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt
1 tablespoon or more of milk

Pine sprigs
Pomegranate seeds

Cake:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Pour 1 tablespoon melted butter into a 1-quart bowl; set aside.

Put the flour, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the salt in to sifter and sift the ingredients onto a piece of waxed paper; set aside.

Put the eggs and the remaining sugar into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer.  Holding the whisk attachment from the mixer in your hand, beat the mixture to blend the ingredients.  With the bowl and whisk attachment in place, whip the mixture on medium speed until it is airy, pale, and tripled  in volume, like softly whipped cream, 4 to 5 minutes.  You’ll know that the eggs are properly whipped when you lift the whisk and the mixture falls back into the bowl in a ribbon that rests on the surface for about 10 seconds.  If the ribbon immediately sinks into the mixture, continue whipping for a few more minutes.  Pour in the vanilla extract during eh last moments of whipping.

Detach the bowl from the mixer.  Sprinkle about one third of the sifted flour mixture over the batter.  Fold in the flour with a rubber spatula, stopping as soon as the flour is incorporated.   Fold in the rest of the flour in 2 more additions.  (This is the point at which the batter is at its most fragile, so fold gingerly.)

Brush the extra butter onto a 12 by 17-inch baking sheet that has a rim.  Cover with parchment paper and scrape the batter onto the sheet, smoothing out with the spatula.  Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed in the center and the edges pull away from the sides of the pan.

Dust a large kitchen towel with powdered sugar.  Invert the baking sheet onto the towel and cool slightly.  Before it is completely cooled, roll the cake (with the towel) up into a log.

Rum Syrup:
Boil the sugar and water together until syrupy, about 3 minutes. Cool and add the rum.

Mocha Cream Frosting:
Boil the sugar and water together until 240 degree on a candy thermometer or until the soft ball stage. Beat the egg yolks until fluffy. Add the sugar and water mixture gradually while beating and continue until mixture is cool. Add the butter bit by bit until it has all been incorporated. Beat in the chocolate, coffee and rum.

Meringue Mushrooms:
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Beat egg whites until frothy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and beat well. Add the sugar gradually and add the vanilla. Continue beating until mixture is glossy and stiff but not dry. Cover a 12 by 17-inch baking sheet with waxed paper and using a pastry bag, pipe the mushrooms tops and stems onto the sheet. Bake about 1 hour or until the meringues are dry. When you are ready to work with them, gently assemble by pressing the mushroom caps onto the stems. Lightly dust the tops with cocoa powder.

Decorative Frosting:
Cream the butter and add 1/2 cup confectioners sugar and milk until fluffy. Add the salt and vanilla and then the remaining sugar and milk, alternating between the two. Beat until frosting stands in stiff peaks. Transfer to a pastry bag.

To Assemble:
Unroll the cake and peel the parchment paper off. Use half of the Mocha Cream Frosting and spread evenly over the cake. Using the towel to help you, roll the cake up snuggly without causing the frosting to squeeze out of the ends. Poke toothpicks into the final edge to keep it from unrolling. Make a diagonal cut about 1/3 of the way down and snug that cut up to the side of the log to make it look like the v in a branch. Spread the rest of the Mocha Cream Frosting on the top and sides, leaving the ends frosting free. Pipe the Decorative Frosting on all of the ends and any place you’d like to make a decoration. Add the Meringue Mushrooms to the sides in clusters. Decorate with pine sprigs and pomegranate seeds.

Annie
Post your cakes so I can see!

Photo credit: Ella Finger

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