Friday, November 11, 2016

Lessons From The Bee Hive...

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to addend a local beekeepers association meeting and it totally got me re-energized on beekeeping.  I have dabbled in backyard beekeeping for a few years now with mixed success, but a couple years ago at the urging of my most awesome badass beekeeper mentor friend I cleanup up a long abandoned hive and added a captured swarm to it.  I have tentatively and inconsistently tended the hive since then.  I was a bit lazy, very unsure of myself, and confident the bees knew what they were doing and didn't really need much from me.  Fast forward to this meeting last month, and my confidence, energy and enthusiasm is bubbling over.  My badass mentor came over the other day to go over hive inspection with me and we found a thriving, happy and very full hive and I was encouraged to grab just a couple frames out to taste MY VERY OWN HONEY!

Can I just tell you, that it was sweet, flowery, fruity and absolutely delicious... my first honey harvest.  I have found myself more than once this past week, wandering out to the back yard to just watch these incredible creatures hard at work.  Watching them fly in, legs loaded fat and heavy with pollen in preparation for a long and dark winter.  Watching them band together to protect each other and keep the hive free of predators.   Watching the dances they do to share vital information with one another.

Feeling the hum in my chest of their hard working wings.  Smelling that lovely bees wax once you get within just a few feet of their domicile.  I can also tell you that my mind floated to all sorts of metaphors, how we really do need to look out and take care of each other, that we cannot go it alone in this world no mater how skilled or prepared we think we are there is always going to be a day we need our hive to feed us, to protect us, to nurture our littles, to share ideas and information with, and really to love us.  My children have a teacher that teaches all the children in her 8th grade class the following call and response... "What's my job?  To love us.  What's Mr _______ job?  To love us.  What's Mrs. ______ job?  To love us.  What's your parents job?  To love us.  What's your job?  To love each other."  I deeply admire folks who work with children who can impart in their unique way this notion of loving and looking out for one another.  So now, I'm going to keep a closer eye on my hive (human and bee), look out for and love on others at every opportunity, start going to beekeeper meetings, because in so many ways (literally and figuratively) the bees are our future and I want to learn and prepare as much as I can so that a sweet future it will be.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

I Can't Stop Canning...

So let me start my saying this is totally unpaid and unsolicited praises for the book that got me hooked on food preservation.  Upon discovering this website and book I have become a total food preservation addict, I'm always looking for new and interesting ways to pickle, can and preserve what's in season at any given time.  Here are a few of the things I have been busy making of late...

All this lovely winter citrus has me loving things like honey and lemon curd as well as marmalade made with Cara Cara oranges and ginger.  Though I have made enough curd over that last few years to feel pretty confident on that front, marmalade is a new one for me so there has been a bit of a learning curve.  My first batch was so very tasty but I fear I cooked it too long and it was rather stiff, I almost recalled the few jars I had given away out of sheer mortification but was quickly assured that the taste was much more memorable than the difficult spreading.  So I tried again, decreasing my cooking time and it is just on the side of too soft.  So, here's to hoping the third time is the charm!  I used a recipe from the Food In Jars (my most loved and used cookbook), it pretty much mirrors this online version with the addition of 1 cup of ginger juice and substitution of Cara Cara oranges for the citrus.  Though it took a bit of work to make the ginger juice, the addition of it in this preserve is totally worth every bit of effort!  Make the time to peal, chop and strain all that ginger for this recipe.
I have also been dabbling in pickling, ANYTHING I CAN GET MY HANDS ON...  My most recent experiment has been pickling red onions, and oh gosh I am hooked.  So far I have loved them straight from the jar, topping hearty green salads, and over eggs, but I imagine slathering these over a fancy grilled cheese sammie for a little punch of something extra would be quite fabulous.

On a side note, my thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by the explosion in North Seattle early this morning.  That this happened in the middle of the night is something many are thankful for, this is a very busy area and I don't even want to think about what the scene would have been just a few hours earlier or later in the day.  These businesses are neighborhood staples and will be dearly missed, I am sure I am not alone in the hope that rebuilding is swift and we will be popping back in for coffee and gyros very very soon!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Breakfast For Dinner Taken To A Whole New Level

It all started when I spotted this post on the Smitten Kitchen Blog for a dreamy looking yam dish with chickpeas and a limey yogurt drizzle.  We love yams in this family but i've never really fancied them up, its always straight baked yams either on their own or added to another dish like black bean and yam tacos.  Last night I was feeling so uninspired for dinner, throughout the day the thought would flash "what am I going to make for dinner tonight?", and I came up blank every time.  Then I remembered a Smitten Kitchen post recently for what promised to be a tasty twist to our standard baked yam.  And, to boot I had all ingredients on hand, it was meant to be!  Though I think we would all have been happy to just totally gorge on the yams alone, the mom in me knew I needed to round it out a bit so I scrambled up some fresh eggs with the ricotta I had just made with the weekend's goat milk and tossed together a big green salad.  This was declared by all "A KEEPER".  In fact my oldest shared that this is the meal she wants to come home to from college.  So if you are looking for inspiration, give this one a go, it is fairly quick to throw together, requires pretty basic fridge and pantry ingredients, and well worth every bit of effort.  This is a breakfast-for-dinner game changer in my mind.  Enjoy!