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!

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?

Tips for Organizing Your Freezer – Use Matching Containers

Last year in the interest of getting more organized in the kitchen and reducing the amount of our food that went to the chickens or into the compost pile, I started to focus on how to use our freezer better.  Having worked in the restaurant industry for years before running the galley on the Riggin for the past 20 plus years, I already had a good process around rotating refrigerator stock, shopping to a list, and using up leftovers.  But the freezer, on the other hand, was a place where perfectly good food went only to emerge some months (years?) later as unidentified mystery items destined for the compost pile.

organizing the freezer and the kitchen

Like most habits that end up sticking, it’s the simple things that matter.  Simple changes.  Simple processes.

Use Matching Containers
What I found was the simple process of labeling made a huge difference.  The next thing I discovered, and I know this might begin to sound like a Marie Kondo ad, but using containers that matched and could rest on top of each other really worked.

The ability to stack the smaller containers on top of each other is key.  Also, with the containers the same size, everything just fits nicely and just naturally organizes better.  I have a bottom freezer, so labeling the tops of the containers makes it so I can see all of the labels at a glance without moving things around much.   If you have a top freezer, then the labels should go on the side of the container for the same reason – you can see them at a glance.

As for the storage containers themselves, I bought a sleeve of pint and quart-sized freezer containers and another sleeve of interchangeable lids.   Normally, I am not a fan of buying plastic.  Period.  But after trying to use recycled yogurt containers with the lids popping off on a regular basis (yes, that would be the lids with the labels on them) I gave up and switched.  And I gotta say, it worked.

Here are a couple of tips that I found helpful:

  1. Use pint- and quart-sized freezer containers that match
  2. If freezing a pasta dish or pot pie, use an oven proof container so you can reheat in the oven
  3. Use interchangeable lids
  4. Label the top of the lids for a bottom or chest freezer and the side of the containers for a top freezer
  5. Store the containers, labels, and permanent marker together
  6. Use freezer bags for irregular shaped items or what won’t fit into a quart-sized container

Annie
Organized and loving it!  Stay tuned for more posts in this series.

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!

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!

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.

Knitting Project – Silverleaf

Silverleaf knitted shawl by Lisa Hannes Each day I like to wear something hand made. Most of the time it’s something knitted, but every once in a while a sewn item creeps in to my wardrobe as well. There’s something deeply satisfying about moving through the day with something created by and/or for yourself.  Something primal?  Perhaps.  Or maybe I don’t need to wax on about it, but instead need to say that I just truly enjoy it.  You get it, right?

After coveting a guest’s shawls for several years, I began to make my own luscious knitwear to envelop myself on those brisk sailing days (or really any evening on the Maine coast). My first was Authenticity by Sylvia McFadden and from that moment I fell head over heels in love with shawls.

My second shawl was Silverleaf by Lisa Hannes made with Madelinetosh Pashmina in Glazed Pecan. It’s yummy. I need not say more.  The yarn color is actually discontinued, I’m told, and it came to me by way of a fortuitous trade with a guest (on a knitting cruise of course) who knew my color wheel exactly.

Silverleaf knitted shawl by Lisa Hannes

Silverleaf knitted shawl by Lisa Hannes

Annie
Catching up to Patty