Joy the Baker

Maple Pecan Granola and a trip to Maine

September 6, 2012

IMG_3674

I fell in love.

I fell in love with the state of Maine.

Last week I lovingly, though hapazardly thrust tofu lemon cremes your way.  I did so from my phone on a bus driving through Maine.

See… I went on a vacation and for a work-brain maniac like mine, it seemed… hard.  Which (I know I know I know) sounds bonkers dumb.

I went to a place that solved many, if not all, of my work-brain maniac problems.  Maine Maine the state of Maine!  Maine doesn’t glorify work-brain-busy.  Maine glorifies big blue skies, small farms, chicken coops, bee-keeping, and the connection of people over, well… my connection to the internet.  It was just what I needed and I’m absolutely smitten.

Today I want to show you a particular part of my trip to Maine.  It involved big sails, gusting winds, sailors, lobster, and big hearts.  This leg of my Maine journey left me craving the comfort of Maple Granola… and that’s what bring us to this here point.

To follow:  gratituous pictures of boats and lobster.

maine is awesome!

IMG_3531

This is the J & E Riggin.  It’s a national historic landmark… which is pretty incredible considering that I slept inside of her.  The J & E Riggin was built in 1927 as an oyster dredger.  Back in the day it was manned by seven big ol’ sailor dudes who worked this schooner up and down the coast of Maine collecting massive amounts of oysters.  The schooner was transformed into a passenger boat in 1977.

These days the J & E Riggin is run and loved by Captain Jon Finger and Captain Annie Mahle.  Each summer John, Annie, their daughters and sea family welcome people onto the schooner for 4 or 6 day adventures.  When I say adventure… I do mean it!  Cabins on the boat are small,cozy and are equip with a small cold water sink.  Ok… I had one mild cabin freak-out because I’m a touch bit claustrophobic.  Nothing a little red wine can’t solve.  Besides, not much time is spent down in the cabins…

maine is awesome!

… not when view like this exist up on deck.

This is a neighboring boat.  I’m pretty sure we’re racing.

maine is awesome!

Schooners like the Riggin are no joke.  They take knowledgable people and strong hands to run.  The guests help to raise sails, fold sails, do their dishes and pull in the anchor.  It takes a village… and we’re not even raising a child.

Here, First Mate Scott is doing some sort of something to the sail.  Porting?  Starboarding?  Hulling?  Shucking?

Ok… to be fair, I helped to raise some sails, but I didn’t really do a good job of learning boat language.

IMG_3455

We dropped anchor and explored a few tiny islands.

This is me not at all missing Breaking Bad or The Real Housewives of Awfultown.  This is me just taking it all in.

IMG_3437

Some of us went for a swim.  When I say ‘us’… I mean that one dude went in the chilly Maine waters to lobster gawk.

IMG_3460

We gathered on tiny Russ Island with one purpose… to put lobsters and corn in a kettle and eat them with too much butter.

This open fire kettle situation is my idea of romance.

IMG_3468

Welcome to lobster-town.

This doesn’t happen in California.

Can I tell you what I learned about these darlings?  In Maine we ate soft-shell lobster.  These are the lobster that molt their hard shells and are in the process of building back their shells when they wander into a lobster trap.  The shells are softer so they don’t really hold up to continental shipping.  They also hold a bit more water than regular lobster… so they’re best eaten standing up, outdoors, with new people that you love.

IMG_3473

Atop the lobster go the corn.

In the foil covered pitcher?  BUTTER!

IMG_3476

Atop the lobsters, atop the corn, beside the butter… piles of seaweed.

Seaweed sealer!

IMG_3482

Grill some sausages next to the kettle… like it’s no big deal or whatever.

If we could just figure out how to make a chocolate cake in this kettle at the same time, my dreams would be complete.

IMG_3499

Lobsters take about 30 minutes to bake.  The perfect amount of time for Captain Annie and Captain Jon to read a story with their daughter Ella.

Time.  Love.  Tenderness.  It’s not just an awesome Michael Bolton song anymore.

IMG_3517

I don’t think my eyes have ever seen a finer moment…

maine is awesome!

Especially when an island beach lobster bake exists in this reality.

IMG_3547

Captain Annie is the chef on the Riggin.  When I say chef… I mean cheffy chef for real.  She’s classically trained and her appreciation for Maine summer produce just shines.  Food is fresh, thoughtful, and actually tastes like the place it comes from.

I’ve been to great restaurants and foodie (I hate that word) cities, but I’ve never had food so naturally considered and humbly appreciated.

maine is awesome!

Fresh oysters on an oyster dredging boat?

So many blessings abound.

maine is awesome!

Head on a schooner aka day something-or-other without a shower.

maine is awesome!

Feet on a schooner.

I just really like thinking about how old this wood is, and the different kinds of people who have trod across it.

IMG_3557

Captain Jon and his maps.

Some vacations just happen to you, but other vacations really fill you up.  My four days on the J & E Riggin with Jon, Annie, their daughter Ella, and the amazingly hardworking crew really blew me away.  It was so special.  It wasn’t about going to the right restaurants, rushing first thing to the best doughnut shop, or finding the best cocktail… it was about being a part of something much bigger and much older than us.  There’s history, respect, reverence, and learning… and we got to take it all in (without instantly tweeting about it).  It’s feels like what it might be like to ride a whale… with new friends and really good food.

Captain Annie along with her kitchen partner / fellow mastermind Toni coaxed some really amazing food out of the tiny galley kitchen.  Her granola was my favorite thing (besides the view) to wake up to every morning.  It was simple, studded with big coconut flakes and had a hint of bourbon vanilla.  I flipped through her cookbook when I returned home to find her recipe.

IMG_3601

It all starts with oats, ground cinnamon, a big pinch of salt, and unsweetened shredded coconut.

I am addicted to this big flake coconut that I often find at Whole Foods.

IMG_3616

Granola needs a lubricant.  In this case we’re working with olive oil, maple syrup, honey, and pure vanilla extract.

Let the good times roll.  …that was a joke about oats.

IMG_3599

This is the part where things get selfish.  The best part of making your own granola is choosing exactly what makes you happy in it.

I love plump dried apricots, goji berries, toasted pecans, and big flaked coconut.

IMG_3626

The toss.  It’s easy!

IMG_3635

So this weird thing happened in my house.  It’s about me and my mixing bowl situation… namely that I don’t really have one.  My largest mixing bowl is actually my big ol’ soup pot.

IMG_3648

This granola recipe is inspired by Captain Annie’s cookbook Sugar & Salt.  It’s just one of many totally comforting recipes.  Plus, there’s all kinds of information about schooner living, which I’m now totally smitten with.

IMG_3653

Warm and toasted.  Suited and booted.

IMG_3659

I adapted the granola just a bit by adding maple syrup and dried fruit.  It tastes of comfort and love and is most fitting to gift by the jarful.

Maple Pecan Granola

makes about 12 cups

adapted from Sugar and Salt

Print this Recipe!

1 to 1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

8 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoons salt

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/3 cup honey

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 heaping cup coarsely chopped dried apricots

1/2 cup gogi berries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together coconut, pecans, rolled oats, cinnamon, and salt.

 In a medium suacepan over low heat, stir together the oil, maple syrup, and honey.  Stir until melted together.  Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.  Stir together.

Add the wet ingredients, all at once, to the rolled oat mixture.  Toss to coat, insuring that all of the dry ingredients are coated in the maple syrup mixture.  Divide the mixture between the two prepared baking pans.  Spread into an even layer.

Bake granola for 45 minutes to 1 hour, removing the pans from the oven twice during baking to toss and stir.  Once mixture is evenly browned and toasted, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Add dried fruit and stire granola in an airtight container at room temperature.

Granola will last for several weeks.  


190 Comments Add A Comment

  • Oh my gosh, I love Maine! My husband and I went to college there and got married there this summer! It is so great to see all of your pictures!

    Incidentally, it is so funny that you should write a post about Maine and granola. When I first moved there, I thought to myself that Mainers remind me of granola (and oatmeal).

    I love me some Maine, and some granola!

  • Patty Tomaskovic September 7, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Wow….what an amazing trip, Joy! Being an avid sailor, I can really appreciate and warm up to your photos and narrative about your trip. I’m so glad you got to experience it all. Thanks for the education on lobsters shedding their shells. I didn’t know they did that. I always seem to learn something new on your wonderful site, and it’s not always just granola ;) Thanks again! XO

  • Joy, it sounds like you had a spectacular trip. Maine is my happy place. I’ve spent summer’s there my entire life, on the rocky shores of Kennebunkport. It’s a wonderfully peaceful place, that helps yous forget the world around you and get lost in the moment. Lovely granola too!!

  • You got to see MAINE!! That’s my Maine! (Well, not quite. I moved here three years ago, but it didn’t take me long to call it home!) I get annoyed when all people think about Maine is Portland. Sure, it’s great, but get up the coast a bit and it gets SO MUCH BETTER.

    Mad props for unplugging a bit and taking it all in.

  • Joy! As one of your avid followers, I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this post as Camden,ME is my hometown:) I live in Boston now but spend as many weekends on penobscott bay duing the summer as possible. The j&e riggin is such a beautiful and. Lassie schooner-you picked a good one! Friends of mine own the schooner that lives next door, the Nathaniel Bowditch. Pretended I was a tourist and took a weekend trip on it with my dad and boyfriend last month…a truly indescribable weekend. Ah I miss the Sunsets on the Maine coast! Glad you enjoyed your time. Don’t they have the most delicious food on board?! Howwww do they do it in those tiny galleys?! There’s one particular restaurant in Camden that is scrumptious and dear to my heart-if you go back check out Francine’s! Sorry I just wrote you a novel haha

  • Perfection. All of it.

  • Loved the pictures, and I loved my trip to Maine as well. It was wonderful, and I can’t wait to get back.

  • It’s entirely possible that I’m just feeling a bit sappy or overly emotional this morning, but this post was just so dang thoughtful and lovely and for whatever reason really tugged at my heart strings! Beautiful vacation, beautiful people, beautiful photos, and beautiful words. Thank you.

    Also I’m making this granola as soon as I finish this cup of coffee.

  • I too fell in love with Miane my first visit some 25+ years.
    so much so with every visit and every time I heard Maine I needed to come home. !9 months ago , my husband and I made Maine our home. Feels so good to finally know where I belong.

  • Joy,
    This is my first time commenting on your blog, though I’ve been a fan and reader for months and love listening to your podcast. I’m a native Rhode Islander (who spent some time in Queens and now lives in Western Massachusetts), but a tried and true New Englander. I’ve been to Maine twice and definitely experienced a vibe similar to yours. While some of my time was spent in Portland, I did manage to spend some time on Peak’s Island. Did you get to go there? Truly amazing.

    Peace and Love.

  • We live part time in Downeast Maine and we love it more than any place in the world. You have done a fabulous job of capturing the magic; hope you come back soon! Fiddleheads in May, blueberries in August and cranberries and apples this month :-)

  • I fell in love with Maine on a trip with a friend, so much so that I moved here from the west coast 8 years ago. I wasn’t planning to stay more than a year or two, but I met my husband, and now we are raising our two boys here. This really is a beautiful state, and so full of history. (There are not many places in this country where you can find liveable, workable buildings that date back to the 1700s)

    As long as I have lived here, as many lobsters as I have eaten, this summer was the first that we had a real on-the-beach lobster bake (we were also on a small island in Penobscot Bay, very close to your Russ Island!). That weekend, rowing to the island, camping under the stars, wading into the chilly Maine waters with my little guys, gathered around a beach-side campfire with some old friends and some new, I sort of fell in love with Maine again.

    I’m so glad you got to enjoy the beauty and the wonder, and thank you for sharing your experience with us all!

    xo

  • Just found your blog via Pintrest. It took me exactly 30 seconds to fall in love with it. The pictures and your writing, SWOON. Can’t wait to explore some more!!!! Will follow on Twitter & FB too!

  • So nice and calming to start a day and read this… you are so talented Joy. Thanks for all you do for us.

  • I am also a granola addict and have been making my own for years! I once had the most amazing granola at a hotel in Napa and I asked the chef if I could have the recipe… which as you can imagine didn’t happen but he did share some tips. Roast the nuts separately and add them in at the end and use a bit of melted butter after you’ve mixed the oats, oils and sweeteners. Makes it yummier and crispier. Delish! My favorite combo is toasted pecans toasted pumpkin seeds and that same fat coconut that you used. Loved your trip! Completely! Cheers!

Leave a Reply

27 trackbacks

Pre-Order!

homemade decadence

The Web Series

bonkers_sidebar

Homefries

Brown Butter Banana Bread with Rum and Coconut
Sweet Corn Pancakes
Roasted Apricot Breakfast
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie
Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry Pie
Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars
Homemade Hot Dog Buns
The Ultimate Club Sandwich
Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich

Joy, Recently

Extra-Special Deviled Eggs
Let It Be Sunday
One-Pot French Onion Pasta
Raspberry and Pomegranate Smoothie with Green Tea Ice Cubes
Oh Hey, Homefries!
The Way We Summer
Peach Cobbler Cinnamon Rolls
Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
The Chocolate-Dipped Potato Chip