Top 10 Gifts for the Bakers in Your Life

baking powder biscuits
As anyone who has sailed with us knows, Kitchen Aides and Cuisinarts are not a part of my tool kit on the Riggin.  They require electricity, something I don’t have in my galley.  What I do have is good, old-fashioned muscle and technique.  I use very basic tools to make very special baked goods and I don’t need a lot to accomplish this.

Also, because I have limited space, the tools I do have on the boat need to be ones that I use all the time or they need to do more than one task.  Here’s my list of tools that I wouldn’t go sailing without and that might spark an idea or two for the baker in your life, whether they bake on dry land or on the water.

My three favorite stores for baking and cooking tools are: The Good Table, Now You’re Cooking, and King Arthur Flour.  All are wonderful, local stores with a well-curated supply of useful baking tools.

Sifter – While a whisk will work for this task, there’s nothing that works better for making light, fluffy cakes.

Scale – The best bakers weigh all of their ingredients.  If nothing else, sometimes a recipe calls for a weighed amount and not a measured amount.  Super helpful.

Thermometer – All baking is about details and precision.  Don’t over or under bake anything again by removing it from the heat at just the right temperature.

Parchment paper – A gift from the non-stick gods.  Lining cake pans and cookies sheets with parchment or with a silicone sheet helps with the least favorite part of baking – the clean up!

Whisk – Just don’t try a baking life without one.  Great for thin batters, egg whites, and whipped cream, but a whisk will also work as a sifter in a pinch.  Just not for those super fluffy genoise cakes and such.

Rolling pin – Wooden ones are my favorite.  With or without handles, this is an essential piece of any bakers arsenal.

Pastry bag – At some point you’ll want to try your hand at pate au choux or decorating a cake.  The professional way to go is with a pastry bag and at least a few basic pastry tips.

Cookie scoop – Bake cookies that are all the same size by scooping them with this cookie scoop.  It makes the process go so much faster too.

Pastry knife – For making biscuits and pie crust, this tool is essential.  There isn’t a day on the boat that goes by where I don’t use this handy tool.

Bench scraper – Bread bakers, pie bakers, biscuit bakers and basically anyone who gets dough on the counter for any reason will love this tool.  Again, I use it on a daily basis.

Cooling rack – While this is one tool that I don’t have space for on the Riggin, I do use them at home all the time, and there I almost never have enough. 🙂

Annie
Also, doesn’t it go without saying that every baker (and cook) should have cookbooks that they love and trust (like Sugar & Salt and At Home, At Sea)?

Cider Pressing

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.

Apples ready for the press
Hauling in the apples. Many hands…
Loading the hopper. Ear protection is key.

Bob Sewell, the man himself.

The end result.

 

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.

 

Wait, That’s Me!

AnnaAsAnnieHalloween

A number of years ago, I was impersonated for Halloween.  First and only time I became a Halloween character!  She got the hair, the t-shirt, the apron, the cargo pants, and the shoes down!   Anna Poisson, daughter to E who is our Shoreside Manager, dreamed up this costume.  Maybe I should go trick or treating as me this year, huh?

Crinner 2017

As the season comes to an end, we always find a fun way to celebrate our summer together. Often it involves a bit of food and drink and sitting leisurely around the table together. Sometimes that’s been pizza and bowling and other times it’s been ice cream for dinner followed by a movie. I’ve always wanted to do an escape room or a paint ball fight, but that will have to wait for another time.

This year’s Crinner (crew + dinner) included a wine tasting (while we all pretended to be grown ups) from the Wine Seller and eating a dinner that not one of us made, catered by Café Miranda. It was the perfect way to end a wonderful year.

A huge thanks goes out to all of the crew and volunteers who helped end our season well. Shout out to Sam and Lindsey for taking a day off of their “real jobs” to come help schlep boxes and more boxes.  Shout out to Donna Anderson, our super good friend, for her wine expertise and inspiration.  Shout out to our crew – you are forever part of the Riggin‘s history!  Thanks for taking such good care of our girl!

The array of wine. We chose approachable wines that were classics. No blends here.
The array of wine. We chose approachable wines that were classics. No blends here.  Also, they aren’t in order yet in this photo (just in case there are any of you out there who are detail driven 🙂 )
First crack at the cheese board! The cheese board master, Chives, gets to go first!
First crack at the cheese board! The cheese board master, Chives, gets to go first!
Whites first.
Whites first.  Oops, that Seghesio Zinfandel was at the very end – and AWESOME!
Reds next and port to finish.
Reds next and port to finish.
Joisting with micro-planers gifted by Betsy.
Jousting with micro-planers gifted by Betsy.
We all fit at the table!
We all fit at the table!