It’s hot. All kitchens are hot. August is hot. I’m hot. The wood stove on our Maine windjammer, the Schooner J. & E. Riggin, has been running all day and I’ve been standing next to it baking, stirring or otherwise cooking the meals for our 24 guests and six crew since 5:30 in the morning.

Today, even at sea the air is still, so we are feeling exactly what those on shore are feeling – for some it’s the wonderful warmth of summer soaking into their pores as they turn their faces to the sky. For others, me for one, it’s sticky, humid and uncomfortable. To say the least.

My assistant cook, Cassie, and I make a pact. As soon as we ring the polished brass dinner bell on deck and announce the poached chicken with grilled corn, green beans and avocado that is tonight’s meal, we will jump in the 60-degree water together.

Dinner plated, garnished and looking pretty on deck where there is (mercifully) a slight breeze and the sun is beginning to lower in the sky, the dinner bell rings. “Ladies and gentlemen of the J. & E. Riggin,” I say, “Tonight we have for you …”

Then I turn to Cassie. Impatient now to (finally!) be cool, I tear off my shoes, take my cellphone out of my pocket and climb the rail. Cassie takes off her apron and joins me. We jump in. Clothes and all. We are too hot and uncomfortable to even bother with our bathing suits; we refuse to wait another second. I think I hear the water sizzle when we break the surface.

All kitchens are hot. Ask any chef in any part of the country if he or she doesn’t sweat while working. It’s just part of the job. The chef’s coat, long pants, clogs and apron are the gear that keeps a chef safe and clean, whatever the temperature. The ovens and stovetops on which we cook produce heat. Whether the heat comes from a wood stove like the one we’ve got on the boat or a gas stove, hot is hot.

So we swim. We wrap our heads in wet bandannas. We adjust the menu where we can and, well, we sweat. When you are a professional, there aren’t a huge number of things you can do to alleviate the heat, some, but not many. Air conditioning cools down any plated food, so the heat is in service to the food and the guests who will eat it. It’s about the food, not the comfort of those making it.

At home, you have a few more choices: Outdoor grilling, cold meals, a new cooking schedule (cook early in the day or late in the evening when it’s cooler). If none of these options work for you, just hang on. The heat lasts only a few short weeks in Maine; before you know it, we’ll be reaching for our sweaters.


For me, the galley and my wood stove have only two kinds of weather – hot and hotter. This recipe is one that I make in the middle of August, right now in other words, when the days tend toward “hotter.” You can prepare the entire dish outside on the grill (still in a skillet).

Serves 4


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound green beans, stem ends removed

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Several grinds of freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 clove)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


1 pound scallops

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Several pinches of salt

Several grinds of fresh black pepper

3 tablespoons salted butter

4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

To make the beans, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and when it’s warm, carefully add the beans. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, turning with tongs to fully coat with the oil.

Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, occasionally turning the beans with the tongs. Remove the beans from the skillet to a serving platter (no need to wash the pan). Combine the garlic and the lemon juice, then drizzle over the beans.

To make the scallops, remove the small muscle from the side of the scallops. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel.

Heat the large now-empty skillet you used for the beans over medium-high heat and add the olive oil to the pan. Once it’s warm, place the scallops in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sear for 2 minutes on one side and turn with tongs. Sear for another 2 minutes.

Transfer the scallops to the serving platter with the green beans and add the butter to the pan. Melt the butter until it begins to brown and smell a little nutty (but watch carefully or it can burn). Turn the heat off and add the lemon juice to the pan. Swirl and taste for salt. Drizzle the sauce over the scallops and serve immediately.

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “Sugar and Salt: A Year at Home and at Sea.” She blogs at and can be reached at:

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