One calm Sunday in April, the crew of the Riggin and the Timberwind moved our new pretty schooner up Penobscot Bay to her new home in Belfast, Maine. The day started calm and then picked up to a feisty 25 knots of breeze on the beam, but for a spring day in Maine, this is still a fairly low key day on the bay. As the sun was closing out the day, our crews celebrated their efforts. To top it all off, the Bangor Daily News was kind enough to highlight the Timberwind‘s new life.
Thank you, Belfast, for your welcoming ways
Many of our friends and family are off to warmer climes this week while we stay home. The wanderer in me is pining for an adventure of our own, AND I know that there are plenty of adventures to be had right here in Maine. This moment of someone leaving the state to travel and explore is always a moment when I can either choose to pine for what is not, or turn my gaze to appreciate what is.
“What is” is that the sun is bright, the sky is clear and by 10 a.m. this morning I’d already been for a long cross country ski with a friend. “What is” is that as I write, Ella is making her first cake all by herself (with dozens of questions for me filled with both uncertainty and excitement). “What is” is that last night we all easily agreed on the same movie and we found ourselves piled in the same place on the settee attempting to be under one blanket while we watched. “What is” is that even though we aren’t traveling out of the Maine this week, I know we’ll find our own adventures. “What is” is that I truly love living in this state and staying home, being cozy and relaxed, reading and sipping tea, skiing and snow shoeing has a romance all it’s own. Suddenly, I’ve talked myself into loving staying home.
As it turns out, not two minutes after typing the above about “adventures and such” the oven door slammed open and wouldn’t stay shut. The spring had broken and Jon is now, as we speak, off to the hardware store for a replacement. See? Adventure!
Or this is more like it!
Appreciating “What is”
For anyone who lives in the Rockland/Camden area, dinner delivered to your home is just an email away. You email me, I cook for you, you enjoy all the other things you love or need to do. Simple as that!
This week’s choices are:
Rosemary Chicken and Dumplings (Because after doing a former blog post on it, this is all I want for dinner.)
Cognac and Dijon Beef Stroganoff over Homemade Egg Noodles
Tri-Mushroom Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash and Crispy Greens
Bolognese Lasagna – Tuscan Style
Salmon Cakes with an Asparagus, Tomato, Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Salad
Black Bean and Beef Ancho Chili – not spicy
Bread:Cardamon Bread – perfect for toast in the morning or French toast on Sunday morning
If this is new to you, here’s the link to prices and more information. Dinner Subscriptions
Warmin’ up the stove for ya!
There are 3,000 islands off the coast of Maine, however, not all of them are suited for low tide landings. One that we love no matter what the tide, is in Merchant’s Row off of Stonington, Deer Ilse. It’s a small island, but with two beaches that allow for a leeward fire (in our fire pan) whether or not the wind is on the North or South side of the island.
Every time we explore this island, I ‘discover’ a different species of flora. Every time. This is the second year in a row that we’ve found a lone, regal Lady Slipper nestled in the woods with all of us snapping photos of it’s five blooms. One more than last year. The soft pink of the blooms are a shock amidst the green of the moss and low-lying foliage and such a delightful discovery. Thank you to every camper who spends time on this island and only observes and makes photos of her, but doesn’t pick or dig. Now, that’s good camping manners.
Happy to be out on the bay.
Sometimes, no matter how mountainous the piles, no matter how voluminous the dust bunnies, no matter how numerous the emails, when a person opens the door to personally receive the mail from the mailman and feels not a blast of icy air but gentle warmth and gets a whiff of not brisk or crisp, but soft and dirt, they need to walk awaaay from the computer and go outside to play in the garden.
Then things like peas, swiss chard, spinach, mesclun, arugula and whatever else one grabs from the seed box will, like magic, begin to appear from the dark loam of the earth and become a meal or ten for a family or a boat.
I do believe that we will have fresh greens and vegetables even for our first sail this year. In part this has to do with planning (and giving in to the impulse to get out in the garden all the while ignoring the piles that will still be there when I come back inside). In part this is due to excellent husbands who help build cold frames. Lastly, we must give a nod to Mother Nature who seems to not have any more snow in our future this spring. I may have spoken too soon and you can blame me if snow arrives, but I with cautious optimism, think we just might be done.
Here, you can see four different season extenders. In the foreground are milk jugs with the bottoms removed and then plunked in the ground over pea seeds. In the background, from left to right is the angled cold frame, a hooped bed which will receive plastic over the hoops and an a-frame cold frame. All work equally well.
Counting the days until my first garden greens of the season
Radishes, spinach and lettuce seeds are all happily sprouting on the window sill in the kitchen where I can water them, love on them, enjoy them and talk to them. The ground is still mostly covered with snow. The skies are often gray but oddly bright with frequent white fluffy flakes drifting down. And inside, green is growing.
I’ll use them as micro greens and will probably transfer many of them as starts into the mini-greenhouse out back. As often happens, you can see the spinach seedlings are reaching for more light (I understand perfectly.) All will need either to be trimmed or relocated to help them along, but for now, it’s a hopeful, happy symbol to have as I cook along in the kitchen.
The mini-greenhouse is now all set. The plastic has been laid and three bags on potting soil added. When I was out a couple of days ago to wipe snow off of the windows, the temperature was about 40 degrees under the glass. A few hours later, when I returned to collect eggs from the hens, the temperature had risen to 60 degrees, even without much sun. I’m still fascinated by how this works – simple science, I know. I’ve set the plastic up so that its both a layer on the bottom and a extra layer on the top for those colder nights that are sure to still come. Again, lettuce, spinach, radishes and the like will all go into the soil and hopefully by next week I’ll be reporting on their progress.
I pulled into my driveway to the sight of this HUGE pile of wood chips! These are for yet another garden expansion with the chips layered over newspaper or office paper to become the pathways in the free form beds. Last year, we installed about 500 square feet of free form garden space which held all of the vegetables that are less attractive to wood chucks and their many relatives, therefore squashes, basil, leeks, onions, carrots and corn (although the raccoon population was well fed on the corn, the buggers).
I’ve now enticed Rebecca , our most excellent gardener who helps me when I’m out sailing, not to fear the words “expand the garden.” She has now joined us on the dark side and is fully up for twice as much garden space as we put in last year. This may have also had something to do with her supreme frustration with the mowed grass being blown directly into the free form beds she’s just weeded (just saying). Paths joining the beds will take care of this perennial issue by only requiring mowing on the perimeter. Happy me, happy Rebecca, more veggies, more fruit trees!
The wood chips, 10 yards in all, I’m told, were recycled from Rebecca’s property to make way for fruit trees there. The wood from those Norway Maple trees, high in btu’s, will be our fire wood on the boat next summer.
The chicks are here! The chicks are here!
They came by mail, packed in a box no bigger than a shoe box. Seven downy Buff Orpington female chicks are now safely ensconced in a lobster crate in our bathroom with the door firmly shut to keep out Charlie, the cat. My initial plan, one that decidedly did NOT include having them spend any time in the house, was to sneak them under a broody hen in the middle of the night, removing the eggs she was nesting on and introducing the baby chicks. Anyone who has ever had cute, tiny baby chicks in their house who have then grown into unruly, ungainly, dust- and chicken-poop-flinging teenagers can feel my pain when I say I’m determined that the chicks will not be in the house for long.
The intsy flaw in this plan is that, for the first year ever, I don’t have a broody hen. I can’t tell you if it’s the cooler weather or the lack of a rooster (Fluffy the rooster died this winter) but none of these hens are feeling the mama urge.
I put my problem out to Twitter and a few people suggested either fake eggs or ping pong balls as an encouragement, thinking that someone is bound to think they are hers. Having one child who saves, hoards and parses her holiday candy, I had some pastel, plastic Easter eggs still in the house into which I added some flour for weight. I then taped them shut and put them in a nest. This is what they thought of that idea…
However, Plan b is now in place. I have a lobster crate, a heat light, chick starter and reams of newspaper. They will be protected from the other hens in the coop by the lobster crate while they stay warm under the heat lamp. Once they have feathers and are eating regular feed, I’ll turn them loose with the rest of the flock.
Brooding about my chicks
This recipe was inspired by Kerry Altiero, chef and co-owner of Café Miranda’s in Rockland, Maine. If you haven’t eaten there yet, it’s a palate’s delight.
This is a perfect last minute meal for greens that you might find popping up in your garden (or under the cold frame). If you don’t have time to make the pesto or the crostini, just skip it and buy both. This salad also makes a great sit down appetizer for a dinner party.
Wilted Brie Salad
8 cups mesclun mix, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
8 oz. brie cheese, cut into four wedges
Preheat broiler. Mix all ingredients except for the brie and divide evenly onto 4 plates. Place wedge of brie on top of salad. Place under broiler for 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
No longer looking for a quick dinner tonight