Cooking with Annie: Episode 1 – Crusty Peasant Bread

It seems just right that my first foray into the YouTube world would be about yeast bread.  Especially at this time of uncertainty when cooking and baking at home feels and is one of the most comforting things we can do – nurturing for the maker and those on the receiving end.  There is so much right now that causes concern or worse, and yet, I find myself looking for and appreciating the little things even more than usual.  The big things are BIG!  And out of my control.  What I focus on and bring my attention to, however, is in my realm of control (to a greater or lesser extent depending on if I’ve just spent any time on the internet), and therefore, what I can do something about.

As I, like many of you, am also home with my family, I’m noticing that we are settling into a rhythm and a routine.  The first several days were a bit rough with all of us emotionally and physically bumping into each other a bit.  Now, although our house, just like the boat, is small, we seem to be finding a good balance between together and alone, even in the same space.  This piece feels familiar, as on the boat, this sort of mental distance is needed at times even when we are all in the same cabin, nearly right on top of each other.  I am also grateful for cooking and baking right now.  There’s something so primal about being able to feed your family – both the actual doing of it and the ability to have actual food on the table.  What a blessing.  Never have I loved being outside more.  In Maine right now, the wind is howling and it’s been raining off and on for two days, but I just don’t care.  I dress in my foulies (foul-weather gear that we use on the Riggin) and step out to breathe fresh air and somehow it’s never been more precious.  I’m sure many of you feel some of the same things I am.

And that gets me to, “Why a video series right now?”  Well, there’s so much I can’t do.  I’m not a medical professional.  As our business is travel, money couldn’t be tighter, so donating to one or more of the many worthy causes is not on the list.  But cooking?  That I can do.  So if there’s something you are struggling with or something that you’d love to see me make, let me know.  It’s my hope that these videos can be a way of connecting even though we aren’t together on the deck of the Riggin just yet.

I chose the Crusty Peasant Bread recipe because it’s one I use again and again on the Riggin and at home.  It’s on page 140 of At Home, At Sea: Recipes from a Maine Windjammer 2nd Edition.  All of the variations are there too.  Now, just to switch things up, as I do, I used a technique to make the bread which doesn’t involve kneading, but instead involves turning the dough several times.  Please forgive our first attempt at using the video function on the camera.  Toward the end we ran out of battery.  We’ll get better as we go along!

Crusty Peasant Bread
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons table salt
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
cornmeal for dusting

Turning Method (as shown in the video)
Combine the yeast, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup water. Mix thoroughly and add the reserved water if needed. Turn the dough 10 to 15 times, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes.  Repeat 3 to 4 more times, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled.

Kneading Method
Combine the yeast, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup water. Mix thoroughly and add the reserved water if needed. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes or until smooth. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and set aside in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, divide the dough into the number of loaves you plan to make, and shape them into French-style loaves. Dust a baking sheet with corn meal and place the loaves onto the sheet. Cover and allow to rise again. When the loaves have nearly doubled, make three diagonal slashes on each loaf with a very sharp knife. Place the pans in the oven, throw a cup of water over hot stones set in a pan in the bottom of the oven to generate steam and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until an internal-read thermometer registers 190°F.

Makes 2 large or 4 small loaves

Variations
Caramelized Onion Bread – When shaping the dough, divide and shape the dough into 4 rectangles.  Add 1 cup of caramelized onion to the surface of each rectangle and roll up into a log.  Pinch the ends and place onto a baking sheet.  Rise and bake as above.
Roasted Red Pepper and Rosemary Bread – Add 2 cups roasted red peppers and 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary to the dough.
Kalamata Olive and Roasted Garlic – Add 1 1/2 cups pitted Kalamata olives and 1/2 cup roasted garlic cloves to the dough.

Stay safe, be calm, be kind
Annie

Hot Composting Chicken Manure

This winter while the snow was 2 feet deep and the green garden was only a dream that would come eventually, I read about hot composting chicken manure.  While I’ve always composted our chicken manure, which turns into garden gold and keeps our plants super healthy, never had I used it in the same year.

Chicken manure can be extremely “hot” or nitrogen rich and, if used too soon, can burn tender leaves and even more established plants.  To protect my garden plants, I’ve always waited a full year for the manure to “mature”.  This spring, based on my research, I thought I might try a new technique to speed up the process and see what happened.

To begin with, my coop is layered all winter long with pine wood shavings.  I try to keep the bedding fluffy and never really let the manure matte into a pile, but rather continuously add more bedding.  This encourages scratching which helps reduce any matting and also allows me to occasionally go out, when temperatures are above freezing, and clean off the horizontal surfaces and nesting boxes without doing a deep clean in the middle of winter.  Instead I schedule a major clean out twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.  Continually adding bedding also warms up the coop just a tiny bit as the decomposing of the bedding continues all winter long.

I learned that hot composting requires a 30:1 ratio of shavings to manure, i.e. carbon to nitrogen.  This is, it turns out, also a healthy ratio for the hens, as breathing in the toxic ammonia from their waste is not good for them.  If the ratio is off,  the compost pile (or the coop) begins to smell of ammonia/urea.  Adding more bedding is nearly always the answer.

Once the coop was cleared of all of the winter manure and bedding, I created a compost pile 4 feet by 4 feet with wooden pallets that I just tied together.  Hot composting requires that the pile be big enough to build up heat in the center.  Each day the pile needs to be turned and then covered with a tarp to keep the nutrients from leaching out due to any rain.  Conversely, if the pile should be moist, so in the beginning it may be necessary to add water.  By the 18th to 24th day of turning, the pile should be smelling like hummus.  Once earth worms appear, it is ready to go into the garden.  They are the indicator that the pile is now safe for plants.  If it was still too hot, the worms would not find the pile hospitable.

 

backyard chickens, chicken manure in the garden, chickens in the winter time, hot composting, how to hot compost chicken manure, Maine windjammer, taking care of chickens backyard chickens, chicken manure in the garden, chickens in the winter time, hot composting, how to hot compost chicken manure, Maine windjammer, taking care of chickens
Pallets assembled and ready for chicken inspection.
backyard chickens, chicken manure in the garden, chickens in the winter time, hot composting, how to hot compost chicken manure, Maine windjammer, taking care of chickens
In the beginning, the pile was all the way to the top of the pallets.
backyard chickens, chicken manure in the garden, chickens in the winter time, hot composting, how to hot compost chicken manure, Maine windjammer, taking care of chickens
The actual work of turning the pile is a real workout. No need to go to the gym for Rebecca (last year’s outfitting crew).
backyard chickens, chicken manure in the garden, chickens in the winter time, hot composting, how to hot compost chicken manure, Maine windjammer, taking care of chickens
Turning into pretty rich looking compost.
backyard chickens, chicken manure in the garden, chickens in the winter time, hot composting, how to hot compost chicken manure, Maine windjammer, taking care of chickens
The turned pile covered with a tarp for the rainy days.

Annie
Worms arrived!

A Malou Woobie – The Coziest Scarf on the Planet

This scarf is the softest thing I own and I am, more often than not, wrapped up in it’s cozy warmth.  I made one for Chloe’s birthday a number of years ago and borrowed it so often that she decided to return the favor (or get her scarf back) and made one for me in the same yarn.  This is actually called a woobie, and the name is accurate.  Malou Woobie is made with Malou bulky alpaca from Lang Yarn in 0025 navy.

Annie
Cozy time!

 

Sailing in Maine – Life is Good!

Yup, well the photo says it all for me…

homemade chicken noodle soup, leftover ravioli, chicken soup recipe, sailing in maine, sailing on the bay, maine windjammer

Sailing.  In Maine.  On the Riggin.  Eating Chicken and Homemade Ravioli Soup.  Done.

homemade chicken noodle soup, leftover ravioli, chicken soup recipe, sailing in maine, sailing on the bay, maine windjammer

And as for the recipe…

homemade chicken noodle soup, leftover ravioli, chicken soup recipe, sailing in maine, sailing on the bay, maine windjammer

Chicken and Homemade Ravioli Soup
Make your own chicken stock
Saute diced onions, carrots, and celery in butter
Add some white wine, sea salt, and fresh black pepper
Add stock, then chicken picked from the bones
Add the fresh ravioli just before serving along with fresh herbs
Serve with grated Parmesan if you like

homemade chicken noodle soup, leftover ravioli, chicken soup recipe, sailing in maine, sailing on the bay, maine windjammer

Annie
Life IS good!

Salmon with Warm Spinach, Pomegranate, and Lime

The other day someone asked me, “What do I do to cover up the smell of fish?  I like it, but sometimes it just tastes and smells too strong.”

Pause.  Beat.  “Ahhh, okay, how ‘bout let’s talk about how to buy fresh fish first.”  Because it shouldn’t smell fishy at all.  The adjectives and phrases that should be coming to mind are something in the vicinity of briny, salty, like the sea, like an ocean breeze that travels across the water picking up moisture and the scent of it’s inhabitants.  NOT, whew!, dang, this stinks!, but maybe I’ll eat it any way.

This is as true for the taste of fish as well as the smell.  It should feel silky on your tongue and almost melt in your mouth.   It should suggest of the sea, not hit you over the head with a low-tide mouthful.

To buy fish well, you must ask to smell it before you buy it.  (See the above for what it should smell like.)  You must also look at it.  You want pieces that are full, firm, and shiny but not watery.  They shouldn’t be dry on the surface or be in anyway falling apart.  If you are buying whole fish, look at the eyes.  They should be clear, not opaque.  Don’t be afraid to offend the fish monger, the good ones understand.  Even the smell of the store is a hint.  It should be and smell clean and yes, with a hint of fish, because after all that’s what they are selling, but the scent of ocean is what you should come to mind when you walk in the door.

Be brave and ask questions.  Develop a relationship with your local fish monger.  Who knows, they might even grant you a fish story or two.

Salmon with Warm Spinach, Pomegranate, and Lime by Elizabeth Poisson

 

Salmon with Warm Spinach, Pomegranate, and Lime
2 pounds of salmon, skin removed and cut into 4 to 6 salmon fillets
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
several grinds fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh green beans, stem ends removed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons grated ginger
6 ounces spinach; about 8 cups lightly packed
zest from 1 lime
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice; about 1 lime
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
pinch of salt, if needed
wedges of lime for garnish
lime zest for garnish

In a deep dish platter, marinate the salmon with the vinegar, tamari, and pepper for 15 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Reserve the marinade.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add the salmon, top side down, cover with a lid, and pan-sear for 3 minutes. Carefully flip the salmon and sear for another 2 minutes or until the salmon is still slightly darker pink in the center. Remove the salmon from the pan to a platter and return the pan to the heat. Add the green beans, garlic, ginger, and reserved marinade and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the beans are bright green and hot all the way through.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, zest, lime juice, pomegranate seeds and hot beans. Taste for salt. Transfer the greens mixture to individual plates or to a platter and serve the salmon on top. Garnish with lime wedges and lime zest.

Serves 4 to 6

 

Sewing At Home and For Sea

Recently, we posted on the Riggin blog, yes, hey, there’s a Riggin blog!  Yes, we posted on the Riggin blog about my winter projects.  While Jon gets to work with wood and metal, I get to work with food and fabric.  Usually I vacillate between knitting and food, but this winter fabric has taken my fancy.  And then I found a new love – an industrial machine.  My goodness these things are handy!

A long time friend, who has been doing the canvas work for the Riggin since the beginning of our ownership has always offered that I use her machines to make hand bags or some other fun project.  That’s not out of the question, but we had some things around the house that were needing some attention, so I approached her about her mentoring on something a little more complicated than bags.  She’s a peach and was game.

The slipcovers for our house settee were the first project.  I loved that so much, a slipcover for a chair upstairs was next.  Then I sewed a couple of things for the boat before I got back to pillow covers.  Hopefully, I will have time to do another slipcover for the office chair before the winter is out and the garden takes all of my attention.

Here’s a look at a few of the things I’ve been working on for the house.

sewing slipcovers, make your own slipcover, industrial sewing machine, diy home projects, sewing for the home, maine windjammer
Banding for the house settee. The fabric is a linen poly blend.
sewing, crafting, diy projects for the home, sew your own slipcover, industrial machines, house decorating
The settee covers installed and being used!
Different angle, same settees.
sewing, crafting, diy projects for the home, sew your own slipcover, industrial machines, house decorating
My new second home.
Apparently, I needed the whole shop – slipcover in the front, engine cover in the back, pillows to the right.
Cutting fabric for the pillows.
Chair before and after. I’m so pleased with the new look!

 

Tips for Organizing Your Freezer – Weeknight Dinner Stash

In this series of posts on organizing the freezer, I’ve written tips on labeling, containers, and thinking about your freezer as a pantry.  This post is about how to use the freezer to be smart about the time you spend in the kitchen and how to easily get one or two weeknight meals per week out of this one kitchen apparatus.

These posts began with a commitment to reduce the food waste in our home after Chloe (our daughter studying environmental science in college) came home from school with what seemed like a staggering statistic – between 30 to 40% of all retail and consumer food becomes waste.  That means 1/3rd of the food in our homes goes into our garbage stream.  That seemed astonishing to me.  As a business person, food costs are always high on my watch list, whether it’s in our business or in our home.  But then I thought about our freezer.  And how I wasn’t using it efficiently, and I decided to make some changes.  I started labeling everything.  I began using containers that would stack.  And once these two things were in place, I just naturally started to use our freezer more as a resource rather than like a stuffed closet that one dreads to organize or even dare approach.

Once the freezer was organized, it became easier to keep a better watch on my refrigerator and what needed to be frozen before it went bad.  In my family, it usually takes a couple of days before the leftovers are either gone or no one wants to eat them any longer.  That doesn’t mean they’ve expired, it just means we got tired of them.  When I see that happening, I know it’s time to move them into the freezer.  These leftovers have since become treasures.  Perfect for when I don’t feel like cooking, someone in the house is sick, or the day just got away from us but we don’t want to order pizza.  What was a tired leftover becomes a quick weeknight meal with a few minutes on the stove.

To reheat soups and stews, I run warm water on the outside of the container for 30 seconds or so until it releases.  Carefully, I turn it into a small saucepan or stock pot, add a little water, and cover with a lid.  Turn the heat to medium-low and let come to temperature over the next 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.  Turn the heat down to low and add more water if needed while you prepare a salad or the rest of your meal.

To reheat pasta dishes or pot pies takes a little more planning.  Ideally, remove from the freezer in the morning and allow it to come to room temperature.  Then heat in a 350 degree oven until the center is hot.

In 2015 the USDA issued a Food Waste Challenge with these 3 objectives:

  1. Reduce – by all of the methods I’ve been writing about in these posts
  2. Recover – by finding secondary sources for surplus food such as food banks and pantries
  3. Recycle – by feeding animals the healthy surplus and the compost pile the spoiled food

BEFORE you toss those leftovers that no one is really interested in any longer, pop them in a container in the freezer.  These gems are weeknight emergency rations that make life super easy after a just a couple of weeks of this habit.

Annie
How do you save time and costs in your kitchen?

Tips for Organizing Your Freezer – Use it Like Another Pantry

Last year I took a good hard look at the crypt that was my freezer and determined to do better about being organized and thoughtful about using up food that we already had on hand before trucking off to the grocery store.  What I found was that a little organization and intention went a long way and that with a little labeling and a little container love I’d created a system that not only reduced our food waste, but turned my freezer into another pantry of sorts.

ways to organize your kitchen and your freezer

Before I got organized about my freezer, it was a place where all food went to die.  After a resting period in the tundra, it moved directly to the hens or the compost pile depending on what unidentifiable object I thought I was looking at.

Use Your Freezer Like a Pantry
Now, however, I use the freezer as I believe it was intended, as an extended pantry.  With labels on everything and containers that stack and easily organize, I no longer dread opening the freezer, but instead go to it on a regular basis to supplement and add to meals in the works.  When I’m doing my regular rotation of food in the fridge and clearing out little bits of this and that, the freezer is just one more place I go for inspiration.

Also, no longer is the freezer a stuffed-full, can-barely-close-the-door sort of place.  Instead, I use it often to pull weeknight soups or stews that can be ready in minutes.  Just add salad or cooked greens and presto, dinner is ready.  The freezer stock is rotating on a regular basis just like my dry pantry items.

  1. Make soup, omelet, or pizza kits with little leftover bits from the fridge – remember to label everything
  2. Think about your freezer as if it were another pantry. Use it often and regularly.

Annie
How do you organize your freezer?  What works for you?