I commit one of the seven deadly sins every June on one of our knitting cruises. We have a wonderful guest who comes with delicious knitted shawls and every year I COVET what she’s wearing. She wraps herself in gorgeous colors and luscious yarn and I want every. single. piece she’s created.
This means I have two choices. Surreptitiously sneak a shawl here or there into my cabin. (I mean, she probably wouldn’t miss it, right?) Or get busy.
So, I did the honorable thing (humph) and got busy. My first shawl was this one, called Authenticity, by Sylvia McFadden, who, it turns out is one of my favorite designers. It’s made with Cascade 220 Superwash Yarn in Doeskin Heather, which they have at Halcyon Yarn (our schooner pop-up store partners). I started using this yarn on a sweater which, turns out, no matter what I did, I reeeally disliked. The whole thing just looked like a sack on me and even strategizing with Mim, one of our fabulous knitting cruise instructors, did nothing to improve the level of flattery. I ripped it out and set the yarn aside in the closet for the emotion of intense dislike to drift away. Time truly does do wonders because when it came time to get busy with making my own delicious shawls, enough time had lapsed, and I came to love this yarn again.
It’s a tradition in our family to pick a ton of apples in the fall and then take them to the press to be turned into cider at Sewall Organic Orchard. Every since the girls were old enough to pick up apples from the tarp on the ground, we have joined our long-time family friends in this fall ritual. They have more heirloom trees than we do, so most of the apples come from their property. Over the years, as the girls have grown, we’ve perfected our apple picking technique to the point were we’ve got it down to a science. This year, our crew was able to see the press and spend some time sipping cider. And next summer on the Riggin, we will have organic cider every week! There’s a video of the process on Instagram.
It’s also seriously at least 10 times the cooking space I have on the Riggin. Instead of standing at my stove and turning, turning, turning from stove to baking supplies to counter top, I had miles of kitchen to cover and all sorts of spaces to loose track of my knives and glasses and any number of trays of mise en place kitted up for the class. This girl is not used to being able to spread out!
I had not a clue what to expect when I arrived, as I’ve never been in the cooking school side of the campus before. As I walked around to familiarize myself with the space, I had several lovely surprises in the form of Riggin guests who kept walking through the door. As soon as I’d hugged one, the next walked in! What a treat to have the support of those who already knew me as I began the class and walked everyone through the recipes from bread to dessert.
After teaching to a full class for 90 minutes, there was time to sign books and talk with folks as they filtered out. What a lovely way for everyone to spend a long lunch and what a fun time I had sharing it with them. Many thanks to the Stonewall Kitchen crew for making my first time go so smoothly.
One of the special parts of buying locally is being able to visit all of the farms that supply us year round with well-thought and well-crafted ingredients. Thankfully, the farm purveyors come to us in the summer time when I haven’t a second to do anything but receive all of their good work at the boat. Yesterday, however, I had the special chance to visit East Forty Farm.
The farm is owned by Neal Foley and Allison Lakin who recently married and have only been on the property for a couple of years. Individually, they’ve been honing their crafts for years with Neal providing nose to tail farming and cookery of all sort of animals from duck to beef and in our case, pork. Allison is an award-winning cheese maker and supplies the Riggin with gorgeous cheese from her creamery, Lakin’s Gorges Cheese. In addition to everything else, they now offer classes and farm to table dinners to draw fans of their good work to their spot in Waldoboro, Maine.
Neal and I actually met years ago when, on his former farm, he taught comprehensive butchering classes with Kate Hill of Camont in Gascony, France. Kate lives in France and comes over at least once a year to collaborate with Neal on traditional French cooking. My love of cassoulet didn’t begin with these two, but it certainly was fostered and encouraged.
For the first time, I got to see where our cheese is made and even the cows that supply some of the milk for said cheese. And while I didn’t get to meet our actual pig (except in the form of cuts from the freezer), I did get to see where they wander and root in the wooded lots on the farm. This is the next group to come up the ranks and with a couple more to follow. In addition, the cows, milked daily were lazing in the sun when I arrived and as I approached, they roused themselves to greet me.
As I drove home through the Maine countryside on curving two-lane roads, I was surrounded by the last vestiges of fall – the colors of the leaves dimming to amber interspersed with clusters of green spruce and the splash of white bark from the birch trees. The sun dappled the fields and farmhouses as I passed and I found myself grateful to live here and to be a part of a local economy that fosters a healthy, wholesome way of life.