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
Today I’m thinking about healthy choices – in what I eat, how I move, the interactions I have with my family – and the balance that is required to do these things well.
Greens AND brownies, running AND couch time, speaking my mind AND holding my tongue. I want them all, just not in the same amount and at the same time. The trick is to navigate when a brownie is just the thing (and these King Arthur Flour brownies are totally the thing) and when greens are a better choice. Likewise with relationships, say, just hypothetically, when you are having a conversation with your daughter about future college and life plans when you are both hormonal. Sometimes the healthiest choice is to say what you feel. Other times, it’s best to not share exactly what is running through your mind in that specific moment. When I’m navigating these moments successfully, which, let me tell you, is not always the case, I’m feeling my way to the best choice. Calmly noticing. Aware, but not hyper sensitive.
And, not to segue too abruptly to food, but actually, the same is true when I’m making a recipe. I sort of feel my way to the right flavors. In the same way that you might feel your way through a delicate conversation. In this case, it’s a conversation with food and flavors. This meal, the creamy AND limey, the greens AND rice, the chicken AND shrimp is one with balance. One that walks the line of not too much sharing and not too much holding back. I could have used a little more of that last night when in conversation with my daughter. Ah well, at least I managed it in this meal.
Sesame, Ginger and Tahini Chicken and Shrimp over Rice and a Bed of Spinach
This dish is just as easily made with chicken OR shrimp, but the combination of the two is my favorite.
2 cups basmati rice
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup diced onions; about 1 medium onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
8 ounces boneless chicken breast; about 1 large breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces medium (41-50 count) raw shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup water, as needed
8 ounces baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Wedges of lime
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. The water should be as salted as you want your rice and no more. Add the rice and stir well. When the water again comes to a boil, set the timer for 18 minutes. Pour into a strainer and let sit for 5 minutes or longer while you prepare the sauce.
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the pumpkin seeds. Heat, stirring often, until the seeds begin to brown. Transfer to a blender and add the chicken stock, tahini and tamari. Blend until well mixed and smooth. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the salt, garlic, ginger and chicken and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and cook until you can just see a little bit of gray remaining. Add the pumpkin seed mixture and stir well adding water as needed to loosen the sauce. Serve immediately over rice and a bed of spinach. Garnish with sesame seeds, lime, cilantro, and Sriracha.
Serves 4 to 6
Finding the balance where I can.
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!
As I write this, the bees are quiet, not truly dormant, but somnolent and sleepy. Waiting. The hives are draped in black insulating plastic and surrounded by feet of snow and not a flower in sight.
But last summer, when the garden was in full flush and the blooms were abundant, the hive wisdom said to swarm. Make a second queen, split, and create another hive to add to their numbers.
To see a hive swarm is to be in the midst of what feels like a maelstrom. In truth, bees are as calm as they ever will be when they swarm. Topped off with honey, surrounding their new queen, and off on an adventure.
We’ve never been quick enough to rehive the swarms, but were lucky to capture this one leaving on film.
Thankful they didn’t all swarm! Their honey is fantastic.