Simple and delicious recipes, tales, and experiences captivate the reader to keep devouring the entire book. However, before I go on more about the book, I’d like to tell you a little more about Annie Mahle, as that will intrigue you just as much.
Mahle has honed her skills for more than 25 years. She began her windjammer career as a mess cook and developed a passion for cooking. After achieving head cook, she took the challenge to become a private chef on a Caribbean yacht. She wanted to keep learning, and learn she did. Her skills were developed further as sous chef with classically trained Swiss chef Hans Bucher, as well as attending the Culinary Institute of America.
Now, Annie Mahle hasa two kitchens—a floating restaurant that is a B&B and sails as a Maine windjammer, the Schooner J. & E. Riggin, all summer long. The other is her Maine home, where she cooks for her family of four.
Sugar & Salt: A Year at Home and at Sea, is Mahle’s latest cookbook and testament both to her adventures and expertise as a chef and owner/operator of the schooner with her husband, Captain Jon Finger. It features her off-season and in-season family-style cuisine.
“This book and my life contain both sugar and salt; which is no surprise as they are basic ingredients in cooking. But my salt isn’t only the salt at the table or on the counter. It’s the salty ocean that surrounds my family, my work and my food as I cook for my passengers and guests each summer. The food that I create there, and just as carefully at home for my family in the winter, all becomes a part of the individual, indivisible, moments of my life.”
It is always interesting to see how another author organizes a book. Sugar & Salt is organized month-by-month, from January’s Chicken and White Bean Chili to June’s Pesto Roasted Asparagus (delicious as I tried it), September’s Raspberry Cinnamon Galette and December’s Potato Cilantro. Each month is loaded with recipes that are seasonal and appropriate. The recipe layout and instructions are easy to follow—a huge bonus. Usually, a cookbook has a couple of recipes that intrigue me to make. This one has more than I can count. Consequently, I can recommend it for someone of any level.
In addition to the recipes, the stories, crafts, thoughts keep you reading.
Just so you recognize the caliber of Mahle’s talent both with knife and pen, her cookbook, At Home, At Sea, has been highlighted on the Today Show and food featured in dozens of national media outlets such as the Food Network and Traditional Home magazine.
When it is the schooner’s off-season, Mahle has a column, The Maine Ingredient, in the Portland Press Herald, as well as a recipe and lifestyle blog at www.athomeatsea.com.
The J. & E. Riggin, built in 1927 and a National Historic Landmark, has a regular sailing schedule from the end of May through early October. They are also available for charter. The Riggin was the first windjammer to be given the Environmental Leadership in Hospitality award by the State of Maine.
My rating for this book is five stars all the way, as it is well written, supplies excellent material, and just a fun read.
Sugar & Salt: A Year at Home and at Sea, is available in local Maine shops and directly online at www.athomeatsea.com for $24.95.
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