Knitting Project – Authenticity Shawl

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.

Annie
It’s my first, but not my last

East Forty Farm Visit

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 cheesemaker herself

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.

Deliciousness on a platter
Heaven

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.

Neal the farmer with maybe one of our pigs afoot.  Photo courtesy of East Forty Farm

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.

Isn’t’ her face pretty?

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.

Maybe there names are Pork and Bacon? Photo courtesy of East Forty Farm
Babies and their mama in the woods
Cute, huh?

Annie
Got my fill of farm goodness

Stonewall Kitchen Cooking Class

Stonewall Kitchen cooking class with Annie Mahle of the Schooner J. & E. Riggin

If any of you happen to be or live in the area, I’ll be doing a cooking class at Stonewall Kitchen this Friday, October 26th.  We’ll be making recipes from my newest cookbook, At Home. At Sea – The Red Book, 2nd Edition.  On the menu for the learning luncheon:

Stonewall Kitchen Menu

Poached Garlic Soup with Thyme and Red Pepper Cream
Cornish Game Hens with Smoked Shrimp and Brandy Stuffing over Greens
Leek and Carrot Parmesan Gratin
No-Knead Stirato Bread

Butterscotch-Topped Gingerbread with Sautéed Apples

Stonewall Kitchen cooking class with Annie Mahle of the Schooner J. & E. Riggin

Stonewall Kitchen cooking class with Annie Mahle of the Schooner J. & E. Riggin

As you might expect the kitchen is well-appointed and kitted with beautiful equipment.  I can’t wait to share some stories, some recipes, and lots of laughter with you all!
Details:  Friday, October 26th, from 11:30 to 1 p.m. at the York, Maine flagship store.
See you there!
Annie

Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash with Poached Eggs and Steamed Asparagus

Because we have a thriving bed of asparagus, it’s on the menu much of the time right now – chilled with a shallot and lemon vinaigrette when it’s warm outside and served bright green and piping hot when it’s chilly. Snapping the fat tops off the green and purple-hued stalks was one of the daily “chores” for the girls, although they fought over who got to do it, rather than the more usual, “It’s not MY turn!”

Turkey Hash Photo Rocky Coast Photography

An asparagus bed is fairly maintenance free once the roots are in and settled. Just keeping it fed and weed-free is all it takes to produce enough sweet, grassy fronds until you almost tire of them and are looking forward to another vegetable to become your fascination. It takes three years before the plants are strong enough to handle a harvest. One can’t be greedy with an asparagus bed – clear cutting is a sure way to weaken a bed quickly. Some must always be left. These stalks then grow tall and fern like, with red berries dotting their fronds and are cut down in the fall.

When the bed first sprouts, the stalks are thick, the width of a strong man’s thumb and then, as the energy diminishes, they become thinner and easier to overcook. If there ever was a case to be made for al dente vegetables, asparagus is it. Err on the side of undercooked, if they are even a little over done they become unpleasantly mushy.

Enjoy the gray, chilly days of warm soups and bread, the days of hot kitchens will be here soon enough.

Turkey Hash Photo Rocky Coast Photography

Pork, Potato and Parsnip Hash with Poached Eggs and Asparagus
Hash is usually made with leftover meat or fish from a previous meal.  Feel free to substitute beef, pollock, or other flavorful fish in place of the pork.  This recipe was originally published in my cookbook, Sugar & Salt: The Orange Book.

1 1/2 cups diced parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch dice; about 2 parsnips
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onions; about 1 small onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic; about 1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
1 pound cooked pork shoulder or other tender pork meat, pulled apart with a fork into bite sized pieces
1 pound asparagus, ends cut or snapped off; about 1 bunch
8 large eggs
Herbed Salt (below)

Place the parsnips and potatoes in a wide saucepan and cover with salted water.  Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork.  Remove from water with a basket strainer or slotted spoon and set aside.  Keep the water hot for the asparagus.  In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and onions.  Sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Add the potatoes, parsnips, salt, and pepper and cook until the potatoes begin to brown.  Add the pork and sauté until the pork is warm.  Remove from heat and cover.

Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute or until the asparagus is tender.  Timing will vary with the thickness of the stalks.  Remove from water with tongs, transfer to a platter and cover.   To the same pot of water, add the vinegar and poach the eggs ever so gently.  Plate the hash, asparagus, and poached eggs and sprinkle the eggs with a pinch of Herbed Salt.

Serves 4

Herbed Salt
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients and set aside.

Makes about 2 tablespoons

 

Baked Brie – Holiday Appetizers for a Crowd

Entertaining equals stress in many home kitchens, but fear not. It needn’t be this way! The trick is to choose wisely and plan ahead. Even if you like to fly by the seat of your pants and let the choices reveal themselves to you. Even if you aren’t a planner. Now is the time to step out of your usual pattern and be kind to yourself by spending a little time thinking and organizing. Then let the rest go.

Clean ahead, set the table ahead, shop ahead, bake ahead. Choose simple but elegant menus. And then enjoy your guests, your clean house and your delicious food.

The appetizers offered here are ones in just this category. Because you’ll be adding lots of flavor to the brie, choose brands that are on the lower end of the price spectrum – ones that you might not choose for a cheese platter, but that will be perfect for the addition of a funky or traditional topping.

Wishing you calm, serene moments with your family and friends.

Crushed Pretzel and Garlic-Crusted Baked Brie

1 8-ounce wheel of brie
1/2 cup crushed pretzels; about 3 pretzel rods
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese, about 1/3 cup lightly packed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic, about 1 clove garlic
Several grinds fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the wheel of brie on an oven proof serving platter or a pie tin. To crush the pretzel rods, place them on a cutting board and roll over them with a rolling pin. The pieces want to be the size of peas, not pulverized into crumbs. In a small bowl, combine the pretzels, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic and pepper. Mix well and mound the mixture on top of the brie wheel. Some will fall off; this is fine. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is beginning to brown and get crispy and the brie has softened and is pliable but the surface is still unbroken.

Serves 8 to 12 as an appetizer.

VARIATIONS on the above recipe:

Almond, Cranberry, and Brown Sugar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine in a small bowl and mound over brie as in above recipe and bake.

Walnuts and Lemon Marmalade
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons lemon marmalade
Pinch of salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine in a small bowl and mound over brie as in above recipe and bake.

Herb and Sun-Dried Tomato
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until completely combined. Top brie as in above recipe and bake.

Black Olive Tapenade
You can make the tapenade up to two weeks in advance, as it gets better with time. This spread is great as an appetizer with goat cheese as well.

1 cup dried Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons capers
2 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup packed fresh Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Because the capers are so salty, soak them in fresh water for a few minutes to release some of the salt. Drain them after soaking. Puree all the ingredients in a food processor. Refrigerate until ready to serve if making ahead or top brie as in above recipe.

Makes 1 cup

We Got Some Good Karma In Our Lives

Horses and boats. I’m not sure why this is a common combination, but it seems to be rampant.  No less in our household than in any other, it seems. It’s like we have an addiction to really fun hobbies into which you pour money or something.  I don’t talk about my love of horses much and I’ve never shared my horse journeys here, but this one is special. Both the horse and the journey, and one worth telling.

My trainer, Jess, texted this summer from a horse auction while we were on an island for our lobster bake. When she texted, Jon and I were walking in the middle of a pine stand surrounded by granite, the sound of the ocean touching the beach, and the light casting late afternoon shadows through a fern stand up the path a bit. When shore side life inserts itself into boat life, even though we’ve been doing it for years, there’s this moment of focus required to bring attention to a part of our life we aren’t living at the moment. Our life on the boat is so rhythmic, tied to the weather, and the now that thoughts of winter and planning are sometimes surreal. Such was the case with our conversation.

Let me be clear, I was not in the market for a horse after having sold an older rescue horse last year.  While I ride all winter long and often more than one horse per day, I was perfectly happy riding other people’s horses. I’d been saying out loud that I wouldn’t be buying my own horse again until both girls were out of school. Sure.

Then Jess texted. A horse had just been bought by a “kill buyer”, so her future was as either meat or glue. She had a soft eye, a nice way of moving, wasn’t lame, and was super skinny. One, of course I’m a sucker, so saving a good horse from death, well, please. Two, the idea of training my own horse with only Jess or me to ride and work with her was undeniably enticing.

So in the middle of lobster bake island, surrounded by pines and granite and ocean, (and with Jon’s blessing I must add) I bought my next horse! She’s 5 years old, an off the track Thoroughbred. She was in a sketchy lesson program where she developed a “bucking problem”. Which to me means something hurt or she was really done with being treated poorly and had some things to say, i.e. bucked.

These are the first photos I got of her before we met.  Her nickname was Skinny Legs or Annie’s Mare until I was able to spend some time with her and get to know her.  I’ll be posting once a month about my journey with her. Oh, and her name is Good Karma, her show name is Gilkey’s Harbor, and she is a super sweet soul.

Annie
Winter projects!

Calm and settled on one of her first days at the barn.
A couple of days after she arrived in a paddock by herself to begin with. She needs about 300 pounds on her. That round belly is actually not great = worms, sand, and/or malnourished.
There’s that soft eye and head low even though she’s in a new home.
Those shoulder bones, though!
Eating was hard for her in the beginning until we could get her teeth power floated.
The dentist power floating Karma’s teeth. The horse needs to be sedated for this process, and you can see why. If this isn’t done, they develop burrs or horns on their teeth which make eating very painful.
Head in a grain bucket shortly after the dentist was done!
Getting plump! Photo by Amy Miller.

 

Wellness Tea

Echinacea is a beautiful flower in the herb or perennial garden.  We are lucky enough to have the purple cone flowers dotting several of our beds.  Not only is it a lovely friend to enjoy in the garden, when dried, the flowers and roots have healing and immune boosting properties.

The girls and I dig Echinacea root with our friends every fall so both families have a winter’s supply of dried flowers and roots for tea and tincture.

If you don’t have Echinacea in your garden, no worries, it’s easily found in natural food stores. When anyone feels the first sign of a cold coming on, this is the first things that goes on the stove.

Wellness Tea
2 quarts water
2/3 cup lemon juice from organic lemons; about 3 lemons
9 slices ginger root, 1/8-inch thick
2/3 cup local honey
5 or 6 pieces dried Echinacea root and flowers (use several drops of tincture per mug as a substitute)

Bring the water, ginger root, and Echinacea root to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. If you are using Echinacea tincture reserve this until you pour your steaming mug of tea. Reduce the heat to barely a simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice and honey. Sip all day long as desired, heating up each time. Strain any tea you don’t drink over the day into a glass jar and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Makes 2 quarts