Tag Archives: sailing

Spring Rolls all Summer

There are three big reasons to make spring rolls a couple times a week all summer long. Firstly, you get to enjoy the best summer ingredients in their raw glory, or alternatively, the best fresh ingredients you can get while you’re cruising really shine in a spring roll. Second, because all you do is boil a bit of water, it’s an easy cook and clean. I normally get away with a quick wipe of the bowls when I’m done. And then finally, they’re flexible. Anything goes for ingredients with these things, so like all the other recipes I like to share, here’s a roadmap rather than directions so you can make these with all your favorite stuff.

The other night, it was spring rolls for dinnah. #gf #vegetarian #boatfood

Wrappers: Choose the ones that the clerk at your Asian grocery suggests. Some brands break easily, some are too thin or thick. Ask for help. Grab lots of them and keep them in the larder on the boat or at home on land. It’s a pantry staple for me.

Noodles: Rice vermicelli. To soften the noodles, just boil up a kettle of water. In a bowl, put the amount of noodles you think you’ll need and pour over the water. Cover with a plate, they’re done in a few minutes. Water-saving boat tip: Save that hot water aside, you can use it to soften the wraps later on with a little added hot water still left in the kettle.

Fillin’s: It doesn’t take a lot of food to fill a rice wrapper and if you’re going to use noodles, it stretches the good stuff. Even if you just have a few things, I bet you can get a nice yield of spring rolls to please your crew. Last night, I piled in 8 or 10 French breakfast radishes I grew m’ self, 4 little white turnips, 2 carrots, mint leaves, and a few leaves of napa cabbage. Any cabbage will do, removing the outer leaves so the rest of your head of cabbage lasts longer (I used to just cut into the head for shreaddy cabbage- it lasts longer this way). Roll them up and chiffonade. No noodles in the pantry? Just do extra cabbage to fill up room. If you’ve got the patience, cut root veggies into match sticks for maximum pretty.

Other fillings to try: japanese pickles, sauerkraut, kim chi, thinly shaved salami, marinated tofu, grated raw beets (chioggia or golden work awesomely), peppers, chives, whole cilantro leaves, fresh green beans, scrambled egg with a little mirin in it (kind of like tamago), edible flowers that show through the wrapper, and pretty much every single green ever. Below: Pea greens, dandelion greens, radish greens, baby greens, and chives.

Early harvest: thinning peas and radishes, taming chives, oregano, and dandelions. #gardening

Assembly: The best tip I ever got from my local Asian grocer was to have a bowl of hot water (I normally use my biggest frying pan for it) and to dip the wrapper in for just a few seconds. When you put the wrapper down onto a cutting board or counter so you can fill it, by the time you’re done piling the fillin’s, it’s just perfectly gummy and ready to wrap up.

Here’s a tip from me- put all your pretty stuff down first. I do this in a little line in the middle of the wrapper, from left to right in front of me. Lay down a cilantro or mint leaf, then line up some pretty red, orange, yellow, striped, beautiful things on top, then some cabbage, and finally a little handful of noodles. I just get into the noodles with my mitts and tear a little handful. For consistent sizes, you could measure everything. Eyeballing is totally fine. I make them about the width of my hand and about an inch or so around- easy to bite.

Fold in each side toward the middle, then grab the part of the spring roll that’s closest to you and stretch it over the whole thing, forming the little packet of goodness with your hands, and roll the whole thing away from you toward the remaining tab of wrapper, the part that’s away from you, and stretching it gently around as you go to form a the last part of the envelope. Equal parts gentleness and fearlessness is how to handle these. (I’ll add a video showing this later.)

If you stacked it like I described, you’ll have a little leaf or your brightest ingredients showing through the top of the roll. Also, if you’re going to tote these to a potluck or a dinghy raft up, they might stick together. I pour a drop of olive oil in my hands, rub them together, and run my hands around each roll, refreshing the olive oil supply in my hands from time to time. They come apart like a dream later on.

Dippin’ Sauce: I guess you could buy something, but build out your pantry so you can make dressings for everything all the time, and you’ll be ready to make a top notch dipping sauce. I do bout a half cup of tamari with a couple top notch modifiers. Por ejemplo, you could do a couple tablespoons of brown mustard or wasabi if you have it, fish sauce, mirin, chopped peanuts, chopped onion or chive, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, Singha beer, a bit of honey, red pepper flake, sriracha, that sort of thing. My go-to? Tamari with the brown mustard and a bit of vinegar with floating goodness like chopped peanuts.

The only thing to do now that all this is done is to make sure it’s cool with your friends to double dip, because you’ll want that awesome sauce on there. I’m half kidding. Think ahead and have a spoon for your dipping sauce bowl though. I like to take a bite of a roll and then spoon the sauce right down into it.

Enjoy, and let me know what you come up with!

In Florida Aboard Mary T

From afar, I saw my friend Angie as tough, responsible, capable, and knowledgable. I’ve only known her online, and so I also saw her as helpful, as she’d swoop in and be able to describe just about anything mechanical to an online friend in need. I’ve been watching her progress down the eastern seaboard with some wins and some tough times alike, but making pretty good time, and having a good time doing it.

Stop #2, #logan #airport #travel

It was a no-brainer last week when she lost her crew and sent up an internet flare. I don’t know what it was, but I felt personally called to come meet Angie in Florida and help her as crew to the Bahamas. I was going to take one of her classes… someday. Save up the fair going rate (tough for a gal like me) and take all female class with her in the Chesapeake. Hell, this way, I’d get to cross the Gulf Stream with her and soak up all that info in real life! I looked up tickets. She said, “WAHOO!”

Crewing was never going to happen at a time when it was convenient for me. I’ve been reading about opportunities here and there, and all of them normally want you to arrive within a week or two. One by one they fell away, with either the expenses being too great or the timeframe being too tight.

It was a lot of hemming and hawing, really. Excuses. But this? This was too much goodness to let pass by. I arrived earlier this week, four days after seeing Angie’s virtual flare, and I’ve been able to enjoy some warm weather during the coldest days this winter.

The anchorage where we're at. Public park in the foreground, Intracoastal waterway to the left. #sailing #cruising #ICW #Florida

Lake Worth is kind of odd to me, but warm with clear, clean water. Sprawly and difficult to enjoy without a car, but there is a large, free municipal beach and a close-by grocery store.

Yes please to that jaunty little house #boat. #lakeworth #Florida #travel

I think the best part so far has been meeting Angie in person, though. You don’t really see people in three dimensions when you just know them online, with their voices and the way they move about the world. But they are three dimensional, and complicated, and whole. Things you can’t see online: her thick Tennessee accent, her hospitality, her love of chicken prepared any which way, and her special talent of making people around her feel capable and confident.

Seriously. Chickens fear her.

As we make our way through the Bahamas, or shortly thereafter, I hope to write about and share photos of our adventures.

Perfection in a front yard. #palmbeach #Florida #travel #walking

Holy Carp, I Made Something

That’s right, I made a cushion cover. Our old one was beat, but we still had the foam part which floats just fine. I picked a couple of cheerful colors and BAM! Jaunty new cushion cover. Of course, these photos are like the “magic of television” type cooking shows from the 80s that would leave out all the bad trial runs and the mistakes and give you a beautiful reveal at the end that’ll leave you thinking it was real easy. It totally wasn’t. It took me the better part of two days’ class time, which is embarrassing to say, but only a little bit.

I made a cushion cover with piping and everything! The first thing I've ever sewn. #sewing #beginner #woodenboatschool #diy

I’m really new at all this, and I’m enjoying that squirming, uncomfortable feeling that you get when you’re learning something new. There’s danger in it. There’s wasted time and wasted material. There’s seam-ripping and surprise. There are multiple attempts. There are slow starts.

Some people who really hate learning don’t relish that discomfort, and that’s probably the only thing between them and that thing they’d really like to do. But think of the stuff that could hold you up from doing! (How to speak a new language, how to play a new instrument, how to bake that complicated cake, how to navigate a new city.)

If I have only a couple of talents, they are these two things: I enjoy the discomfort of newness and I enjoy the journey as much as I enjoy the place I’m trying to get to. Are those talents or attitudes? Well, I’d hate to think that anyone would willingly adopt an attitude that would make them miserable most of the time, so let’s call them talents. Talents that could be learned.

Here are some photos of the process and our great space, but just a few.

Working on my piping.

My zipper panel and the cushion top, ready to attach.

Oh man, that thin is ready to turn right side out so I can see the magic!

James working in "the pit" with the machine named "Robin." #sailing #sailloft #diy #woodenboatschool

John at his beautiful old machine, Ann in the background working on her beautiful flowery cushions.

Oh heck, it’s Woodenboat School. One more photo. Here’s a picture of a wooden boat on campus.

ELATER out of the water for the season. #woodenboat #beetlecat #catboat #sailing

Cocktail Hour: Southerly Honeybee

Honey citrus cocktail

Here’s a drink that really takes advantage of the beautiful ingredients we got at the farmer’s market. The meyer lemon, when cut into, reminded me of the first time I traveled to San Francisco in the winter time and was offered a sample of lemon at the markets of the Embarcadero. Lemon is a fruit I would never think to just bite into except on a dare, but because it was so fresh, I could enjoy its unmitigated and full-flavored sourness, detecting a sweetness I had never experienced before in a piece of citrus. It was January, and I had summer in my mouth. THIS was the main reason I’ve had a hard time buying citrus in Maine, and THIS is what I’ve been looking forward to enjoying while visiting Georgia and Florida.

The ingredients also happened to work well with the only bottle of alcohol we had available on the boat*, a 2 oz bottle of Barenjager, a honey liqueur.

Local honey can play in important dietary role in ensuring wellness, and for travelers like us, it’s done a good job of providing us with low doses of local pollens that help us adjust to new plants as we’ve moved down the coast. It turns out that’s probably bunk, but hey, even if it is, we love supporting local beekeepers. Nothing but good.

Here we go!

1 meyer lemon

1 orange (that beautiful pink thing in the picture is an orange)

2 oz Barenjager

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup warm water

ice

This will make about two drinks, and do play with the ratios. When I do this again, I’d double the Barenjager and back off the honey a bit. This is just what I happened to have on hand and the low alcohol ratio worked well for the role the drink played, which was as an accompaniment to brunch.

Add the Barenjager to ice in a nalgene bottle or, if you’re fancy, to a cocktail pitcher. (I see you bein’ fancy.) Juice the fruit, and don’t forget the pulpy stuff- put the whole kit and kaboodle in with the ice mixture.

Make a syrup with the honey and water. You’re looking to make about as much honey syrup as you’ve got juice. Why add it to warm water? If you just add gooey honey to this drink, it will never homogenize with everything else. It’ll just sink to the bottom.

Shake all that stuff together and get it really cold. Strain off over glasses filled with ice or just pour it out into glasses if you’re at an anchorage and ice is like gold.

Variations: Try grapefruit or blood oranges. No Barenjager? Rum will be good in this, and you can get away with vodka too, obviously. Too sweet? Back off on the honey syrup. Play with all these ratios, taste this drink as you make it.

*Note: We do have a bottle of Coruba Rum, however, that is a gift that is to be opened when we get to our southernmost point in our trip this year. More on that later.

What Sailing Sounds Like: Lord Huron

Beautiful visions of wandering and wide open sounds… Lord Huron has a sound that melts me every time. “Ends of the Earth” pulls every heartstring of mine. “Out there’s a land that time don’t command, wanna be the first to arrive…”

Rolling echoes of delay pedals, light jangley guitar, a smooth croon, and airy sentiments of living forever. Lord Huron’s “Man Who Lives Forever” is a song that sounds like sailing to me. I hear it in my head sometimes when I’m at the helm.

Catch their entire NPR Tiny Desk Concert in this video. They’re great live:

Scouting by Film: Mystic Pizza

We just had a nice long stay in Mystic, Connecticut at a couple of different anchorages there. Before going, we decided to scope out the town by watching a movie that featured the area as its backdrop. We did this before when we were at Cliff Island in Casco Bay which was the setting for The Whales of August.

Mystic PIzza

Mystic Pizza was a no-brainer for checking out Mystic, CT through entertainment first. It was neat knowing what the bridge looked like before we got there and we were excited about another town that might have a large Portuguese population (we just came from Vineyard Haven)… but that’s about where similarities with the real life town ended.

According to the film, it would appear that there’d be a decent working boat population there and that there are some people still processing fish right there at the docks. Maybe it was like that in 1988 but it’s totally not like that now. I can report that the pizza place is still there and that there are, as Julia Roberts finds out, excellently rich people living there or coming there as tourists. I think at this point there are so many well-cashed folk saturating the area that it’s impossible to get a meal for under $20.

Heck, there aren’t any useful stores downtown which is always a sign of gentrification or tourist-ification gone awry. No grocery, no hardware store. There was a really neat marine consignment store that even non-boat people would find interesting and there was a top notch A&P liquor store that had an AMAZING beer section.

At the very least the film was entertaining. Lili Taylor (below, center) has to be one of my favorites. Not just in this film, but in other greats like Say Anything and High Fidelity- she slays me when she plays the train that’s barely staying on its rails.

Mystic Pizza

No one reported Mystic Pizza’s pizza actually being a slice of heaven, and so while we were in town we had pizza elsewhere. I strongly recommend Pizzetta if you’d like a pizza in Mystic. The ones we ordered (because we kept going back) were gluten free, deliciously-topped, and could have been made vegan if we wanted them. We’re talking about really homemade stuff- they smoke their own chicken and have other fantastic toppings. Super great staff and a knockout seating area outside that’s dog friendly.

NYC is next. What should we watch? I was thinking Ghostbusters, Arsenic and Old Lace, or something like that. Of course I’ve been there before, but scouting is always good.

Dear Portsmouth,

To approach you by water is to know you.

It is literally thousands of times that I’ve come and gone from Kittery and Portsmouth. Normally by car, and normally unceremoniously, the roads there are conduits that have brought me to friends’ houses, parties, work and the same old pubs I’ve been frequenting since my early 20s. By walking to the market and other places, I was able to see the town in a new light. I was also able to feel the absence of the Memorial Bridge in a big way, not just for the inconvenience of having to take a shuttle rather than walk, but literally when we were in the harbor on the boat there was a big hole in the landscape.

To enter the harbor, fearing but using its current to my advantage, seeing the Whaleback Light from the water rather than from the state park, and using navigational buoys that have been bobbing there despite my previous acknowledgement of them- these were new surprises in an old place.

Naval prison

The Naval prison.

The highlight of our week in Portsmouth was the extreme generosity of our hosts, friends who offered us a mooring, then a dock, then their amazing outdoor shower, their laundry machines, and even some harvest from their garden. For the first time ever, Mimi Rose was  using shore power, and so we were doing really nutty things like turning on two lightbulbs at the same time. POSH! This is the hospitality we’ve found an abundance of when we meet boat people. We pay it forward in kind, too.

Colin enjoying the shower:

Sweet outdoor shower

Dockside

Our great space on the dock!

Because of our time at the dock and the ease with which we could come and go from the boat, many of my friends and family were finally able to see where I live. I’ve been about 4 hours away by car for the last year or so, and while pictures of the boat on the internet are all well and good, I think everyone finally got a sense of the sort of adventure we’re embarking on when they saw Mimi Rose in person. Eight tons of reasonable comfort, enforced simplicity and beautiful woodwork. That tells you something, or at least, puts it in perspective.

Breana Making a salad

Breana making us food.

Colin and Jo

Josephine and Colin during a shindig.

Afternoon sail

Lori and Patrick on a daysail with us.

Molloy n' me

Me and my dearest Erin.

Things to Pass On to My Fellow Seacoasters

I would suggest that my friends put their shoes to pavement as soon as they can and see this joint for what it really is. I hope they walk around and take a good look at the monuments they normally fly by. I read bronze plaques that commemorated random but formative events for the seacoast. They’re fascinating. They’re treasure.

WWI memorial in Kittery

I would also suggest, after having beautiful garden-grown food, that everyone take advantage of the small pieces of land they have and share the bounty. Were I still there, I think I’d be coordinating with my neighbors to grow particular things and to pitch in on seed costs for a whole other group of crops in my neighbors’ or friends’ gardens. In other words, there are so many great people in your area who love to socialize and eat, I think all y’all should have co-ops.

Spring rolls

Things to Pass On to Visitors of Portsmouth

The currents in the Piscataqua River are intense. The fear of them is driven into the kids who grow up there, as many inexperienced boaters and unwitting swimmers have been washed out to sea or carried up the river in dangerous situations. Your awareness of it and respect for it is all you need. Your wise decisions will make your visit there pleasant. Here’s a video about tucking into the edges of the river and using eddies to your advantage:

I strongly suggest a visit to a few of my favorite places. The Black Birch in Kittery, The Portsmouth Brewery, The Press Room, and The Coat of Arms are all great places for food and drink. The staff are friendly, the atmosphere in each place is distinctively local. Tell them Anne sent you. Oh, and at The Black Birch, you should just order ALL THE DESERTS like we did.

We'll take all the deserts.

Be sure to see the cemeteries around town. There’s a lot of history to be had there, and it’s free entertainment. Consider them outdoor museums and art galleries- at their heart they’re a little of both and I’m proud to say that there are beautiful, rare examples of carvings.

I suppose I’ve missed something. Any questions about Portsmouth? Do let me know.

You could just really look at this picture of my dad mixing me a Mai Tai aboard the boat I live on, and maybe if you think of all that, the loveliness of it, then you’ll have just a taste of the great social and decisive coincidences of my life culminating into this most fantastic week. Cheers!

Dad mixing drinks aboard Mimi Rose

The Anchorage You Might Have Missed: Burnt Island, North Haven

Off of North Haven Island, on its southeastern side, Burnt Island is waiting for you. It’s sitting there quietly with its long trails and its sizeable pebble and shell beaches. There’s even a dinghy dock, well-maintained and welcoming.

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You can’t buy ice here. You can’t gas up your engine or fill your water tanks. I’m convinced, though, that this is a rare uninhabited island among the hundreds Maine has to offer. Why? It would take a couple days of your time if you wanted to adventure it completely.

The boys walking the trails of Burnt Island

Burnt Island, off North Haven

Burnt Island, off North Haven

Burnt Island, off North Haven

You’re not greeted by a laundry list of rules like the ones you’d find on Butter Island (complete with a couple of paid caretakers to be sure you’re adhering to them) or even the very polite rules you’d find on any Maine Island Trail Association island holdings. No rules. The respect for the place seems to be upheld by the beauty of the place.

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I’m very sure you’ve already got some kind of list going if you’re traveling through Penobscot Bay, and that most of them involve the 5-star Maine Cruising Guide spots and the towns where you can get dinner. This stop is a little less obvious as a must-do, as it’s a town park for the town of North Haven, and people probably blow right past it to more obvious destinations. I’d encourage you to go here, though. This is what Maine’s coastline is all about, and I’m not sure about you, but it’s why I cruise in the first place. Imagine, you’ll be adventuring on an island that probably only a couple hundred pairs of feet touch during the summer season. Magic.

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When you do stop by there, you could bring a little decorative something to add to the simply-built cabin there. A guest book will be wanting your thoughts and some evidence of your visit, even if you did forget to bring a trinket.

Burnt Island, off North Haven

Moss hangs from trees, trails bring you up and down and alongside hills, and there are plenty of picnic spots. We even harvested a few apples that we enjoyed in our oatmeal the next day. Enough said. Just get there already.

Burnt Island, off North Haven

Colin, Maye and I at Burnt Island

Our New Leash from Island Time Pets

It was a treat to receive our package from Captain Dave Bill and Island Time Pets. Maye’s new leash feels fantastic, is a great length and weight for her, and stylish to boot. But this thing isn’t just salty looking, it’s ready for rough and real adventure.

Island Time Pets Leash

I’ve been interested in what Captain Dave’s been doing for a while now. He’s down right passionate about making safe pet toys and accoutrements in a world where so much of what’s available as pet supplies come from sources more concerned about cutting corners and keeping prices low. Captain Dave knows how you feel about your pet, because he feels that way about animals, too.

You can see his care in this leash with its strong yet pliable material and the appropriately-sized hardware made to last.

Island Time Pets Leash

Here’s a mariners’ and a pet-lover’s touch: back splices are executed and then stitched in place (seized) to be sure your loved one is safe in this leash’s care.

Island Time Pets Leash

The resulting strength of this method of securing both the hardware and the handle means we’ll probably have this leash in use for the rest of Maye’s life. Right now she’s 4 years old, so this fits right in with my un-fussy way of doing things. If I buy something new, I’d like it to be the best I can get so I only have to buy one of them.

Island Time Pets 6' Leash

I highly recommend Island Time Pets toys and accessories. They’re creative, well-made, and healthy for your pet in every way. There’s something for everyone: your pullers, your power chewers, your chasers, your nibblers, and your walking buddies.

"Dot Calm" at the dinghy dock