Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta

Kale, a humble vegetable, was all but unnoticed ten years ago except for by the most savvy of gourmands or those diehard back-to-the-landers. Those in the know were aware of what many have just recently discovered – that kale is not only super easy to grow, but it‘s also as delicious and versatile a vegetable as anyone might find.

Purple or green in color, Russian or Italian in variety, kale has become the academy award winner of vegetables – a virtual unknown thrown into the limelight by both it’s talent and the audience’s’ appetite for greens.

Because kale has so much “tooth,” meaning it has a hearty and chewy mouth feel, it can take center stage in place of meat. Only the staunchest of meat-eaters will be the wiser. As a green it is also what could be called an entry-level green – not so bitter or peppery for first-timers or kids with more sensitive palates.

We used to be more accepting of all things bitter, but as salt and sugar have become more prevalent in the American diet, our tolerance for the bitter flavors has waned.

Enter kale. Roast it with a little oil, puree it in pesto, whizz it in a smoothie and in general boost your iron; vitamins A, C and D; anti-oxidants and fiber. Go green!

kale, garbanzo bean, and polenta recipe

Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced red onion; about 1 large onion
2 cups carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch by 1/2-inch sticks; about 2 carrots
1 cup pitted Kalamata or other black olive
1 tablespoon minced garlic; about 1 large clove
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans, juice included
8 ounces kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped; about 8 cups
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese; about 1/2 cup lightly packed, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or stock pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrots and olives and sauté until the onions begin to brown on the edges, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until heated through but the kale is still bright and chewy. Serve over polenta with grated Parmesan cheese. Use your favorite polenta recipe or find mine here.

Serves 4 to 6

Tips for Organizing Your Freezer – Label Everything

Organize.  Budget.  Plan.  Diet.  What a perfect time of year to focus on getting organized and tidy in one or more areas, such as, ahem, my closets.  But closets are for another day.  Today is about the freezer.  I’m not really a New Year’s resolution sort of gal, but I do like this time of year for checking in about my habits and making sure that I’ve got a good handle on the life I’m choosing by the choices I’m making.  And while the garden is asleep and the winds whip and roar outside, it feels satisfying to turn my attention toward the house and our inside life.

labels for organizing the freezer

One of the things I focused on last year around this time was our food waste.  And while the compost pile is always ready and willing to receive any and all organic matter, I wanted to get even better at consuming our food before it headed to the big pile out back.  I already had a handle on rotating stock in the fridge, using up pantry items, and having a pretty good plan for leftovers and little bits.  I’ve written about good strategies for leftovers before and will be sharing more as we go along this winter.

The freezer, however, was another story. You know, that place that we relegate unused food, wait until it has freezer burn, and then a year later throw the unlabled and unknown mystery items into the compost pile?  Might as well be Siberia.   Yup.  That’s the thing I wanted to be better at.  So I’ve come up with a couple of strategies – all of which I knew and none of which I did much of until last year.

Label Everything
All of the changes I made were fairly small and didn’t take much doing, but the biggest of all was labeling everything that went into the freezer.

Basically, if I don’t label, I may as well just skip the freezer and toss everything in to the compost bucket straight off.  Once something goes into the freezer without a label, it’s never coming out as something useful.  Why not?  Because I NEVER remember what the thing is.  I always tell myself I will.  But I don’t.  Because it get moved around.  Because once it’s frozen it doesn’t look exactly as it did when I first put it in there.  Because I can’t smell it to figure out what it is.  Because I can’t taste it to figure out what it is.  Because.  Just.  Label.

Once I gave in to the idea that my intellectual prowess was not strong enough to overcome the freezer vortex, I started to love opening the freezer.  A year later it’s even more organized than it was initially and it’s something I use all the time, not a place to relegate unmentionables.

To make things easy, because who has time for anything else, here are a few tips:

  1. Make up labels ahead of time, so all you need to do is write and slap
  2. Store the labels and pen in the kitchen somewhere close
  3. Use a waterproof pen or marker, not a gel pen that will smear if it gets wet
  4. Label the top of the lids for a bottom or chest freezer and the side of the containers for a top freezer so you can see the label easily
  5. Date everything

Annie
More to come in this series – stay tuned!

Make Memories – Enjoy Experiences

In the end, is it stuff or experiences that create a sense of fun, satisfaction, or contentment?  When I read this article about Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things, it caused me to ponder for a minute some of the choices we’ve made as a family and why. While I will admit, a new car or pair of jeans is fun for a while, the lasting moments in my life come from time spent with friends and family, learning something new, or exploring a new place.

We live in a small house and while there are times when I’m riffling through a magazine, that I covet large living areas, personal crafting studios, and spacious kitchens, in the end I’d rather live in a small space and have fewer things so that I can ride horses or travel.  I’d rather learn something new than have something new.  I’d rather buy time rather than buy things.

making memories through adventure travel
Photo by Ben Krebs

And that’s good news, if we liked buying things our little house would be busting at the seams.  As it is, we still find ourselves needing to be intentional about anything new that comes in to our house.  As if when one thing comes in, another thing must go out.

Even more so when we are sailing on the Riggin for the summer.  If we think our house is small, our cabin is a fraction of that size.  And as it turns out, we find that all four of us can live for 4 days or a week out of one or two tote bags without any feeling of deprivation or lack.

All this to say that I’m not sure our stuff defines us, but I am sure our experiences do.  There is some serious satisfaction that comes from knowing that we provide an experience for our guests that they can carry with them forever.  You make it what it needs to be for you, but we provide the opportunity.

So create experiences for yourself and your family.  We’ve got the perfect idea for you – on the Riggin.  And, just saying, tomorrow is the last day to take advantage of our Early Booking Special.

Annie
Come make some memories with us!

Easy and Healthy Appetizers for Super Bowl Sunday

Sunday will surely see me on the couch with a wide perimeter given by my family (football viewing is an active sport for some).  Before the big day, though, I’ll do some prep work so that we can all snack and graze while I watch.  May the best team win!

Appetizer Menu for Super Bowl Sunday
Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves
Baked Brie variations
Homemade Crackers
Tomato, Dill, and Fontina Tartlet
Potato Skins with Artichokes and Fontina
Steamed Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
Endive with Green Pea Hummus

healthy appetizers by Elizabeth Poisson

Steamed Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
When you trim artichokes immediately rubbing them with lemon juice can help keep them from turning brown.For those new to artichoke eating, break the leaves off of the artichoke and use your teeth to gently scrape the meat on the inside of the leaf. Discard the leaf. Once the leaves are gone, use a spoon to remove the choke (the fuzzy part) and enjoy the artichoke bottom.

2 artichokes, leaves and stems trimmed
1/2 lemon (plus extra for rubbing)
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Cover 2 artichokes with water in a small saucepan or stockpot large enough to accommodate. Add the lemon and salt. Bring the water to a boil with the cover on and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain upside down. Serve warm or chilled with the Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip.

Serves 4

Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
The curry flavor will increase the longer you let it sit.

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
4 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (or less)
several pinches of kosher salt

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Makes 1 cup

Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip by Elizabeth Poisson

Annie
Let’s have some fun rooting for our teams!  Go Pats!

Endive with Green Pea Hummus

Here’s a healthy appetizer for Super Bowl Sunday or a snack for any day that doesn’t have football in it.  Recently posted on Diane Atwood’s blog, Catching Health, this simple recipe for green pea hummus is packed with healthy vitamins.  Serve with endive, as in the recipe, or with all sorts of cut veggies to add color to your appetizer spread.

endive with green pea hummus by Elizabeth Poisson

Annie
Just remember, it’s only a game…

Music and Dancing with Edith & Bennett and The Gawler Family Band – It’s a Trip of a Lifetime!

Introducing our newest specialty trip – Music and Dancing with Edith & Bennett and The Gawler Family Band!  This trip is the first of its kind and we are excited to break the Maine windjamming mold just ever so slightly.  The deck of the Riggin will be filled with music and song and our evenings ashore will be packed with concerts and contra dancing.  Performed by Edith Gawler, our own former crew member, Bennett Konesni, and The Gawler Family Band, this trip will be filled with music from these diverse, talented musicians.  Who knows, maybe we’ll even have a few special guests as well.

maine windjammer music and dancing cruise with Edith Gawler and Bennett Konesni

Our 4-day/4-night adventure will take us to Belfast and Rockport and an uninhabited island where we’ll feast on lobster and dance on the beach to tunes from fiddle, drum, flute and who knows what else!?  (Here’s a sneak peek of fiddle tunes on the beach.)  What better way to launch a summer than with the happiness of harmony and the delight of dancing?  Here’s a link to a short and sweet video of Edith and Bennett playing in the galley together.

The Gawler Family Band

Remember to book your trip before February 1st to take advantage of our Early Bird special.  We are so looking forward to singing and dancing with you!

maine windjammer music and dancing cruise with Edith Gawler and Bennett Konesni

For more information about Edith & Bennett, the Gawler Family Band, or specific details about this special music and dancing cruise, go to the Riggin site.  We are happy to answer any questions you might have over the phone or by email. Or if you know what an amazing trip this will be and want to book your space now, here is the link!

Annie
Kinda dancing in my seat right now!

Thai Peanut Shrimp and Kale over Basmati Rice

Thump, thump, thump, clang, clatter annnnd done.  That’s the sound of me racing to the kitchen to make dinner at halftime last night.  Yes, the Patriots played and I was glued to my seat the entire game save a hurried trip to the kitchen.  Even though I grocery shopped last week, this weekend’s snow storm left us a little light on ingredients.  Rather than brave the roads and the storm (or leave the game for any reason), I rummaged in the pantry and dug into the freezer to find a group of ingredients that could make a quick dinner.

Halftimes and football games not withstanding, rummaging and digging for ingredients which then become a delicious meal is, without question, one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen.  It’s actually also a little calming.  Rather than having so many options with a wealth of ingredients, the restriction of “what’s on hand” actually makes the creation process easier, with only a few choices rather than unlimited options.

It’s also, for many, a different way to think about cooking.  Rather than planning a menu and shopping to that plan, which I also highly recommend, the rummage and dig method, or “freezer diving” as I like to call it, is a perfect way to reduce waste, use up what’s on hand, and spend a little less at the grocery store.

Hope you like this quick, healthy meal!

thai peanut shrimp and kale over basmati rice

Thai Peanut Shrimp and Baby Kale over Basmati Rice
Rice
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Shrimp and Kale
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup sliced onion; about 1 small onion
1/2 tablespoon minced lemon grass
1/2 Thai chili, seeds removed and julienned
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger: about 1/2 ginger root
1 tablespoon minced garlic; about 3 cloves
4 cups light packed baby kale
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp (16 to 20 count)
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, for garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Rice
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Meanwhile, rinse the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Add to the boiling water, cover and remove from heat after 15 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.  Meanwhile, prepare the shrimp and kale.

Shrimp and Kale
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil and then the onion and sauté until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the lemon grass, chili, ginger and garlic and sauté for another 1 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the kale and the rest of the ingredients except the shrimp. When everything is well incorporated and at a simmer, add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 4 minutes watching closely until the shrimp just turns pink all the way through. Serve over basmati rice with garnishes.

Serves 4 to 6

Maine Sailing Magic and Double Rainbows

January is typically a very busy month for bookings in the Riggin office with people getting their vacations times in order and planning their summers.  Really, what this means is if you are planning on sailing with us, now is the time.  Many of our trips are already full.  Take advantage of our Early Bird 5% discount (10% for repeats) if you book before Feb. 1st.  We’ll be so happy to welcome you aboard!

maine sailing double rainbow Photo by Ben Krebs
Beautiful double rainbow as we lay at rest in the harbor.