The Great British Baking Show – I had to try a recipe

Who has not spent an afternoon snuggled on the couch with their daughter watching The Great British Baking Show?  If you haven’t, you need to.  Especially the earlier seasons.  I’m still a little unaccepting of the recent changes to the show, but that’s just me and eventually I will move on.  However, Mary Berry is still my favorite host and will be forever and ever.

Of course after spending an afternoon watching, any self respecting foodie has to try a recipe or two.  This one is a perfect winter time cake.  We made ours and had it with tea in honor of, well, Britain, but it would be just as good served after dinner as a special dessert.

The recipe for Mary Berry’s Frosted Walnut Layer Cake is on the BBC website.

Mary Berry's Frosted Walnut Layer Cake
Mary Berry’s Frosted Walnut Layer Cake

 

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!

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.

A Toast – To those we lost and those who joined us

As I look back on our year, I find overwhelming joy for how our Riggin community has grown.  And then there is sadness and grief for those who left us this year to join others on Fiddler’s Green.  May you all be blessed as you have blessed us.

Emerson Riggin, you were born last year, but we needed to include you in this post and welcome you. Your mom, Erin, and dad, former mate John Hatcher, met on the Riggin.  We love your middle name!!
A toast and an off-color joke to you, who came to sit in our office chair more than once while you planned and gathered your family for a trip of a lifetime. You will be missed,  Russell Wolfertz.
Welcome, Luna Mae, to the growing clan of young ones being born to our extended crew family. Former mate, Andy Seestedt, and his second daughter, Luna Mae.
We raise our glass to you both. When, on the deck of the Riggin, you promised again to love each other until you were parted, you gave us all such joy as we witnessed your joy in each other.  Priscilla Keene, rest in peace.
A toast to you – who blessed us with your kind heart and gentle ways for many years. You kept Santa alive in the hearts of our girls for so long. We are better for having known you.  Bern Allanson, your spirit will be missed!.

Garlic Knots – Little Bites of Heaven

As the summer season progresses, I sometimes run out of creative ideas and begin asking the crew what they want me to make. Pretty much anything is on the table as long as I can make it on the woodstove and without electricity (meaning something with a lot of whisking is off the table). Not too many years ago, we had a crew member of Italian decent who was from New York, and he asked me to make garlic knots. I’d never heard of them, being from the Midwest and having lived in Maine the better part of my life.

He was flabbergasted. So I looked them up and fashioned my own recipe. And aren’t they just little bits of heaven?  There’s always more to learn.

Dressed and ready to pop into your mouth
Tied in a knot and proofing on a baking sheet


Garlic Knots
Dough
3/4 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Garnish
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic; about 2 cloves
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 ounce grated Romano cheese; 1/4 cup lightly packed

Dough
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. Place a pan filled with stones in the bottom of the oven or alternately, prepare a squirt bottle of water. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll the dough into 4 long logs and cut each log into 5 equal lengths, making a total of 20 small logs. Roll each piece again briefly and then tie into a loose knot. Arrange evenly on a baking sheet, cover, and allow to rise again until doubled. Place the pan in the oven, add water to the stones in the pan (or squirt the oven with water), and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 20 minutes or until an internal-read thermometer registers 190°F.

Garnish
Meanwhile, combine the butter, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Transfer the hot knots to a large bowl, toss with the butter mixture, and sprinkle with Romano. Serve warm.
Makes 20 garlic knots

Ready to eat!

 

Give Experiences, Memories, Time

Having just returned from a first-ever family vacation, I can attest with absolute certainty that there’s nothing that replaces time with family, making memories.  Presents under the tree are wonderful (and the hand-made ones are the best).  But even more, the gift of unrestricted time, to allow the day to unfold without an agenda and with each other, is truly without compare.

With that said, we now have a way to order gift certificates online.  You don’t need to purchase a whole trip, but could just contribute to a trip for someone you love.  I realize now, more poignantly, how we participate in these memories and are honored to do so.

Maine Windjammer - Schooner J. & E. Riggin
Photo credit Bob Trapani

Happy Holidays to you all!
Annie

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)?