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Annie Mahle cooking in the schooner galley

Source: Annie Mahle

When Annie Mahle graduated from college in 1989, she needed a summer job. Little did she know that the one she landed would become her life’s passion.

Annie was born and raised in Michigan but was up for an adventure so headed to Rockland, Maine to be a mess cook on a windjammer.

She loves cooking in general, but especially the challenge of galley cooking. And creating meals with fresh, local ingredients that come from her garden and local farmers and food artisans.

After her stint as a mess cook, she was quickly promoted to head cook. She went on to study baking at the Culinary Institute of America and spent three years under the tutelage of Swiss Chef Hans Bucher. She then became a private chef on a Caribbean yacht.

Schooner J. & E. Rigging

Source: Annie Mahle

Today, Annie and her husband Jon Finger (they met during that first summer job) own and operate the J. & E. Riggin, a 120-foot wooden schooner. The family, which includes their two daughters, offers a variety of windjammer cruises along the Maine coast.

While, like her husband, Annie has a captain’s license, it’s the galley where you’re most likely to find her. Preparing meals on her antique woodstove for up to 30 sailing guests. You’ll get a hearty meal no matter what cruise you’re on, but if you’d like to find out how she does it and cook alongside her, you’ll want to book a Maine Food cruise.

If you prefer to keep both feet on solid ground and in your own kitchen, Annie has written three cookbooks. At Home At Sea: Recipes from the Maine Windjammer J&E Riggin now in its second edition and Sugar & Salt: A Year at Home and At Sea (The Blue Book and The Orange Book)

And here are two recipes just for us!

Roasted butternut squash by Chef Annie Mahle

Source: Annie Mahle

Roasted Butternut Squash and Tomatoes with Farmer’s Cheese

Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks; about 4 cups
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into at least 8 wedges each; about 3 cups
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • several grinds fresh black pepper
  • 4 ounces crumbled farmer’s cheese; about 1 cup
  • 2 cups lightly packed spinach leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Toss the squash and tomatoes separately with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet with sides.
  3. Roast the tomatoes for 30 to 35 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
  4. Remove them from the pan and continue roasting the squash until it begins to brown on the edges and is completely cooked through (about another 20 to 30 minutes.)
  5. To serve, lay spinach leaves on a platter and top with the roasted tomatoes and then the squash and farmer’s cheese. Serve immediately.


If you want, you can serve the roasted butternut squash dish with this delicious risotto.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup diced onion; about 1 medium onion
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 4 to 5 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese; about 1/2 cup lightly packed


  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and sauté for 10 minutes or until translucent. If the onion begins to brown, reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. Add the rice and stir for one minute.
  4. Add the salt, pepper, wine, and 1 cup of the broth and stir.
  5. Bring to a simmer and wait until the liquid is absorbed before adding more broth.
  6. Continue to add the broth, one cup at a time, as needed, stirring frequently.
  7. The rice is done when the liquid is completely incorporated and the grains are just the tiniest bit al dente in the center. Add Parmesan cheese and serve.

Want more?

Check out J. & E. Riggin’s website and/or Annie’s blog At Home & At Sea. We’ll also be featuring more of Annie’s recipes here on Catching Health. And just maybe, we’ll go sailing for our supper this summer.