Cook, Sip, and Sail Away on Penobscot Bay – a Maine Gourmet Feast

Join us on the Schooner J. & E. Riggin for a unique Maine Gourmet Feast! Come savor the best of Maine’s local foodways on this 4-day foodie adventure!

Maine Gourmet Cruise

Meals will feature the best of the best: oysters from Pemaquid Oyster Company, produce from acclaimed Hope’s Edge Farm, award-winning cheese from Appleton Creamery and Hahn’s End. Every night will feature a different specialty cocktail demo (be sure to bring your own vodka, gin, and whiskey!). Come join us and celebrate the outstanding local food MidCoast Maine is famed for and celebrate the release of the newest cookbook Sugar & Salt Book Two – The Orange Book.

This delectable foodie cruise will take place on our Maine Windjammer, the Schooner J. & E. Riggin from August 1st – 4th (2016)  at only $650 per person.

Annie
Cooking (and sipping) away on Penobscot Bay

Biscuit and Jam – The Biscuit Contract

I woke up this morning to my car cloaked in a glow of pink.  The sun had not yet broken the horizon and my snow-covered car received it’s kiss as it rose to greet the day.

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Fitting that today should also be Biscuit Contract Day on our office calendar.  This contract was agreed upon and signed 7 months ago to the day.  The contract follows:

July 20, 2013 – Annie returned to shore after a 4-day cruise and proceeded to heat the entire downstairs with steam as she made batches of jam in 84 degree/humid weather.  THEN she wanted to open the windows to “cool down.”   Ha.  E made Annie promise that 7 months from now, February 20th, that we would have jam & biscuits to make up for it.  Annie agreed.  Annie hereby agrees to make biscuits with Strawberry or Rhubarb Champagne Jam as she has promised.  Signed by both parties.

And here they are, E.  As promised and as delicious.

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Baking Powder Biscuits 
This is a recipe my grandma passed on to me through my mom.  Thank you, Grandma, for being so good at making both biscuits and pie dough.  I think of you every time I make either.

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4  cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  This is an important step because you want to add air to the mixture so the biscuits are as fluffy as possible.  Cut the butter in with a pastry knife until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Stir in any additional dry ingredients here.  Add milk and any additional wet ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms. Do not overmix.  This is very important; if you overmix you will probably get hard tack instead of fluffy biscuits.  Great for sailors of old, but not so delicious in present time.  Turn out onto a floured board and knead 5 to 10 times, then stop.  Roll or pat out the dough until it is 1/2-inch thick.  Cut with a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter.  Bake on ungreased cookie pan for 12 to 15 minutes.

Makes 12 biscuits

Annie
Keepin’ E happy.  It’s a good thing.

Quince and Company Yarn

I’ve fallen in love with Quince and Company Yarn, sold in their flagship store Knit Wit in Portland, Maine the Munjoy Hill neighborhood.  A friend and I were scheduled to have lunch one day at Duck Fat (just go and have the fries, oh, and a shake – heaven) and in she walks with this cowl that I HAD to own.  And what do you know?  It’s hand knit with Quince and Co. yarn.  And also what do you know?  The yarn is sold just around the corner, to which I hied myself after proper sustenance and bought my very own yarn.  When I got home, I promptly began making cowls with Quince and Co. pattern.  I was so excited about my first one that I couldn’t wait to weave the bitter ends in, I just tucked ’em up and wore it.  Oh, shhh.  I’ll weave them in eventually.

Annie
Maybe we could knit a cowl on one of our knitting cruises?  Hmm.  I need to think about this a little more….

Gifts from the Kitchen – Yummy Cookies or Granola

It’s only taken thirteen years, but I feel as if our household has finally gotten the hang of a simple Christmas, planning ahead, not taking on too much and really enjoying the days of baking and making gifts.  The girls helped me make a slew of cookie dough which we then wrapped in plastic wrap and then parchment paper, added a label and called them gifts.  The idea being that these sweet logs of butter and flour are frozen until such time that the recipients deem they need a sugar fix.  One, two or lots more slices later and freshly baked cookies emerge from their ovens – after the holidays when the baking blitz has died off.  Your favorite cookie recipes will most likely be forgiving enough to work well, as will one’s that I’ve posted before:  Annie’s Butter Cookies, Grandma’s Ginger Cookies, Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies, and the Cinnamon Pecan Oatmeal Cookies that are part of this week’s column along with Raisin, Molasses Granola and Cranberry Ginger Granola.

Annie
Happy baking!

Cook the Book – Blueberry Orange Muffins

I use this recipe as a base for many different kinds of muffins.  The recipe below is as written in the cookbook, but as I’ve proven to myself many times before, I’m not capable of following a recipe, so I mess with it.  One change that I especially like is adding 1 teaspoon orange extract, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon orange zest and substituting sour milk for the milk.  Sour milk is something that is always hanging around our fridge now that we buy unpasteurized milk.  It only lasts a week and when it goes sour, it adds a mild, rounded, tang to all baked goods.

It’s summer now and therefore easy to find fresh blueberries, but if you hang on to this recipe for the fall and winter months, frozen blueberries may be your only option.  If that’s the case, add them very last and only stir until just mixed.  This will stave off the gray, greenish color that comes from even just a few extra turns of the spoon.

Blueberry Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cups milk
1 1/3 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease (or line with muffin papers) muffin pans.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Add oil, egg, and milk. Stir until just mixed.  Gently fold in the blueberries; then fill the muffin cups two-thirds full.   Bake for 20 minutes, until the muffins spring back when lightly pressed in the center.  Makes 12 muffins

I also make pumpkin, honey and walnut muffins with this recipe.  Reduce the milk to 1/3 cup; add 2 tablespoons honey and 1 cup canned or fresh cooked pumpkin with the other liquid ingredients, then stir in ¾ cup chopped walnuts instead of the blueberries.

Other favorite variations: replace the blueberries with
Dried cranberries
Raisins
Dried apricots
Chocolate chips

Annie
And then go brush your teeth because your whole mouth will be happy, but blue!

Blueberry Muffins

I use this recipe as a base for many different kinds of muffins.  It’s very forgiving and tasty too.

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs, beaten

2/3 cups milk

1 1/3 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease (or line with muffin papers) muffin pans.

Sift together dry ingredients.

Add oil, egg, and milk. Stir until just mixed.

Gently fold in the blueberries; then fill the muffin cups two-thirds full.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the muffins spring back when lightly pressed in the center.

Makes 12 muffins

I also make pumpkin, honey and walnut muffins with this recipe.  Reduce the milk to 1/3 cup; add 2 tablespoons honey and 1 cup canned or fresh cooked pumpkin with the other liquid ingredients, then stir in ¾ cup chopped walnuts instead of the blueberries.

Other favorite variations: replace the blueberries with

Dried cranberries

Raisins

Dried apricots

Chocolate chips

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Lobster, Mushroom, Spinach Risotto

This recipe is the perfect balance of colors with the bright reds and pinks of the lobster nestled alongside the gentle white of the risotto and the brilliant green of the spinach.  The flavors also balance well.  The spinach is a slightly bitter taste that pares well with the soft, cheesy risotto and the salty, creamy sea taste of the lobster.

Me, I’ll take risotto any way you can think of making it, but this one?  Tops.

Risotto has such a reputation for taking a long time to cook while the said cook stands over the stove with limp hair and a little damp with the heat as they endlessly stir and stir.  It doesn’t have to be so serious.  Just some coming back to the stove to stir, add more liquid, move away and repeat as needed, but not continuously.

Lobster, Mushroom and Spinach Risotto

2 tablespoons olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 t. salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3oz. or 4 cups lightly packed spinach, washed, drained and deribbed
1/2 pound cooked lobster meat
2 tablespoons butter

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil and then mushrooms.  When the mushrooms begin to brown on the edges slightly, add the white wine and salt.  Bring to a boil and add the spinach and lemon juice, stirring quickly with tongs.  When the spinach has wilted, remove from heat and add the lobster meat and the butter.  Swirl the pan or stir with a wooden spoon and serve on top of risotto.

Serves 4

Risotto

4 tablespoons butter, 1/2 stick
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cups Arborio rice
4 cups low-salt chicken stock
1/8 teaspoon salt
pinch of white pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

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.  When the onions are done, add the rice and stir for one minute.  Add the salt, pepper and 1 cup of the stock and stir.  Continue to add the stock one cup at a time until it is all incorporated 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 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and reserve the second 1/2 cup for garnishing at the table.

Serves 4

Annie

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Adventures in Living Well

For those of you who are in the area, and are 55 or older (I’m sure they will be carding everyone at the door), I’ll be giving a talk on our life on the Riggin, how we’ve come to create a sustainable business within the eco-tourism sector and all of the interesting projects on which we’ve been working over the past year or two.

Oh, and by the way, we’ll eat lunch together! Yesterday I met with John Roy, the chef at Quarry Hill, the retirement community where I’ll be speaking, to talk about the menu. I’m thinking about Curried Lamb and Lentil Stew and Chicken and Pesto Soup with Handkerchief Pasta. John and I will be working together to recreate a typical lunch aboard the Riggin, complete with the baskets and bowls that I typically use.

It’s free, but you must make reservations and I understand that it’s already booking up.  Around the Table – At Home or At Sea.

Details:

  • March 24, noon to 2pm
  • Quarry Hill Retirement Community, Camden, Maine
  • To make reservations call 230-6114

Annie
Off to test a few more recipes for book and column…

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Time to Spring Clean the Freezer Challenge

Eating local during the months before the garden really gets going is the toughest. My body is craving fruit and LOTS of veggies but they all come from far, far away… except for what’s in the freezer and the pantry. Can’t get much more local than that! Not only does it feel terrific to be spending less on groceries, but the space in the freezer is making room for what’s to come this summer. Goodness all the way around.

This week’s column in the Portland Press Herald is a menu based entirely on ingredients I found in my freezer:

Beef Stroganoff
Raspberry Cinnamon Gallette

I even found a frozen pie crust hanging in the way back of a shelf!

So here’s a challenge to you… What can you make with what you find in your freezer? If you are stumped – write and I’ll help you. Maybe I’ll even have a recipe on hand to match what you’ve got.

Annie
I wonder what else I will unearth in that freezer before the month is out?

P.S.  Be sure to click on the link soon, it expires in 7 days!

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Upcycling a Sweater – Ella’s Homemade Gift

Lest you think I am not a 100% fair and equitable mom, I post here the sweater I made for Ella’s birthday. Hers started with a browse through Salvy’s. I spotted the sweater from across two isles knowing it was the perfect color for my more finicky daughter and practically lunged for it. I may have elbowed someone out of the way. I hope not, but my memory is somewhat fuzzy due to a small adrenaline rush.

I’ve knitted several sweaters and pairs of socks for both girls. Chloe wears them, Ella stores them. Hers are too itchy, too tight, too big, not the right color, too little girlish, etc. I continue to make things for her because I want her to be “wrapped in mama love,” as we call it whether she wears the clothes or not, and I’m secretly hoping to impart a little flexibility into that oh, so determined mind.  I have, however, pared down the time it takes for me to execute her projects. While I’d just found the perfect color of yarn with which to knit a sweater, I, understandably, was loathe to spend hours on something she may or may not really like in the end.

This sweater was a women’s small cardigan with the usual button up the front from bottom to top. WAY too big for Ella, but by moving the buttons and making the sweater double breasted, it worked. The back was the best place to “cinch it up,” hence the shoulder to bottom seams.  The sleeve width needed adjusting too, but that was a simple one.  I then embroidered the vertical PEACE and peace symbol. Turns out, she loves this one. Score a point or two for the mama person!

Annie
Having a good mama day

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A Weekend in Maine

My Maine weekend:

  1. tap maple trees
  2. go up and down the hill what seems like one million times for items left in one place or the other
  3. take  scenic drive
  4. go for a swim with the girls
  5. cut up tree that fell over in the last big storm
  6. cut down the rest of the tree with the help of all the neighbors’ advice and tools
  7. buck up part of the tree for fire wood
  8. save one big log to use on the schooner and drag it over to the side of the barn with a line and a truck

I told a friend of mine in New York City about my weekend and he said, “Could you be any more of a cliche?”

Annie
Ayha