Saturday, October 16, 2010

More Fall Cooking with Honey Recipes

Of all my cooking, everyone loves the farm eggs and toast with honey the best.

Back by popular demand! More fall cooking with honey ideas from yours truly.

I love cooking.  My grandma is actually the one who taught me to cook.  She was a grade school cafeteria cook, and this was back in the day when the lunches coming out of the cafeteria were really homemade, unlike the meals now that come already processed, frozen in large bags, and then just heated up when they hit the school. I remember begging my grandma to teach me how to make a chocolate cake when I was maybe 8 years old, and she did.  I can not make fried chicken like she did though.

 My waist doesn't love it or need it, but there are just some foods you can not live without in the fall.  I love mulled apple cider with honey added to it, or have you tried hot cocoa with honey stirred into it? Pumpkin pie made with honey instead of sugar is delicious.  We got the most wonderful peaches from Georgia this year and here is the simplest peach pie:

Pie shell in dish, extra for top
4 - 6 c sliced peaches (it's up to you to peel or not peel)
5 tsp quick cooking tapioca (remember, it's the quick kind, the old fashioned kind takes forever and a day to make)
1/2 c honey
Mix peaches with tapioca and put into pie shell.  Pour honey over top.  Cover decoratively with additional crust for top.  Can be brushed with 1 egg which has been beaten and then brushed over crust.  Optional is to sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 425 degrees for 35 minutes.

How simple was that?

Honey glazed vegetables are wonderful.  You get to eat the vegetables, which you all need, but you can smother them with butter and honey.  I think the butter and honey actually cancels out anything good you get from the vegetables, but that's all right.

1 pkg or unit of any cooked vegetable (such as 4 c of carrots, 2 c of peas, several ears of corn cut from the cob)
1/4 c butter
1/4 honey
Whip the honey and butter together until light and fluffy. Serve over the hot vegetables.

It's almost Thanksgiving, and it wouldn't be the same without a honey glaze for your ham:
1 c honey
2 c brown sugar
1 c pineapple juice
Bake a clove studded ham in slow oven at 300 degrees, 20 min per pound. Baste ham frequently with the above mixture.  Serve ham with pineapple slices.

Check back again and I'll list more recipes as time goes on.  Meanwhile, enjoy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We're On Fire!!!

We have about a zillion things we need to do in the next couple of days.  Just a few of them include a trip to the printing company, some sort of brakes on the trailer, supplies for our manufacturer, new lights in the store, new tables for our classroom, groceries, get the tax papers from the state, etc. etc. 

So, it was one of those kinds of weeks when we set ourselves on fire.

One of the big things that we had to accomplish was clearing out the storage shed from in town.  When we made our classroom/store/bee lab, we had to get all the stuff out of the building to start the renovation. Even though we live on several acres, we had no more storage space.  It is true that no matter how large, or how small a place you live in, you will find ways to fill it up.  So, we took all the stuff out of that building and put it in a storage shed uptown.

Christian running across the deck of our store without benefit of clothes.
The contract was now up and since we had not even looked in that storage unit for a year, we knew we just needed to get rid of the stuff.  I just read a statistic the other day saying that Americans spend something like 1.1 billion dollars a year on storage units.  That's remarkable.

So, we loaded up the trailer
and brought home all the junk from the storage shed.

We spent a few minutes deciding what needed to go on the burn pile.  Seth went off with the trash, stacked it high, lit a match to it, and voila~~we lit the field on fire.  Thank goodness the farmer had just gotten the beans out yesterday or it would have been tragic.

So there's me, Seth, and David with buckets of water and 3 fire extinguishers battling a fire on a 1,000 acres of bean stubble. 

But we did it! And now that we  accomplished that task, it's on to the other zillion tasks still left for this week.

The field out my window still is a wonderful site despite us setting it on fire.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hurdles

At nearly 49 years of age, I thought most of my hurdles would be behind me. Maybe even retirement could be looming.  At least maybe a more care-free life full of parties, summers on the beach, and traveling to foreign countries. I know the world thinks I'm getting old.  Just in the past few months we've received AARP notices, advertisement from the wheelchair people, and invites to come see three nursing/retirement homes. (I want to call up the nursing homes and ask them if they have cribs in their rooms for my 3 year old.) :-)

 I always assumed that things got easier for you as you got older.  And the things that don't necessarily get easier, you learn to deal with them more gracefully and with more confidence. And there are always those things that as you get older you realize were never very big deals to begin with and are able to laugh about. (That reminds me of that saying "don't sweat the small stuff." And then lower it says "It's all small stuff".)

But I have at least three hurdles right now to overcome.  And I'm clueless as to how to do it.  I've read books, searched the internet, talked to people--even specialists and authorities.  But zilcho.  Nada.  I haven't resolved the issues and see no way to do it. And none of these issues are that big of deal, but I still lay awake at night trying to come up with solutions.

There are a few things about hurdles that I have learned:

1) We all have them.  I know you and I both have friends that are always so cool and laid back and never seem to have any problems.  Or other friends that when they do have problems, they are easily solved and a celebration breaks out.  But believe me, everyone has problems or hurdles--some of us just show it easier than others.
2) Our hurdles are for a reason and have a purpose.  I can only say this because I believe that God has a purpose for us all.  It's okay if you don't believe it (doesn't make it true however) but I do believe that my hurdles teach me something, show me a better way, makes me a better person, and helps ease the way for others. I've got to believe this, otherwise there is so much that is pointless in our world.
3) If you stick it out long enough, there will be an answer. The thing is, just don't give up.  Even if it takes your entire life, there will be an answer~a solution. Sometimes the issue simply goes away, we find a solution, someone helps us through it, or heaven answers it for us.
4) There will always be more hurdles.  Even if you think, finally~it's solved, everything's okay~there will be a new issue for you tomorrow.  Always see them as "challenges" instead of "problems", put a smile on your face and say "I will have a good day, I will not let this ruin the day for me". And remember our life is one big quest~a test~a puzzle to solve and we can enjoy the ride while we're jumping the hurdles.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Teaching and Coaching and Mentoring, Oh My!

I am a teacher by trade.  I prefer preschoolers, but unfortunately, many of them come with parents.  I used to think it was the kids that threw the tantrums, but have come to realize it's actually the parents that do.

So I started teaching teenagers in junior high.  Better, but junior highers can act a lot like preschoolers.  As in,  they like to be entertained, they like music, and would rather draw pictures than do actual work.

It was around this time we began homeschooling.  And so I have been teaching my own children for about ten years. The problem with teaching your own kids is that they seem to think that homeschooling means sleeping in, lazing around in pajamas, and still try to use the excuse that the dog ate their homework. But the best thing is I can actually check the dog!

I teach adults now.  It can be great fun, or like pulling teeth.  When we teach beekeeping courses out here at our farm, usually we get adults that are fun-loving, love to be outdoors, not afraid to try new things, and are generally happy folks.  We've met some great people, and some have become good friends who return time and time again.   And just like in grade school, we get the occasional know-it-all, the grump, and the class clown, but it's all in good fun.

David loves the mentoring and coaching part of the business.  He likes nothing better than to take the phone call of a first time beekeeper who has some worrying questions and help put them at ease about their problems. We get phone calls from people who are crying, people who are very shaken up over their losses,  those who are mad that the neighbors across the street just got bees, or are scared silly that bees have taken up residence in their chimneys.  I just never knew bugs were that big of deal, but they are! Any entomologist can vouch for that.

This weekend's class will be the last for 2010, which means winter is setting in, the holidays are upon us and soon we'll be seeing snow. It's kind of a bittersweet feeling, but 2011 is coming!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How I Met Your Father

30 Years Ago


I met my husband 34 years ago when I was barely a teenager.  At the age of 14, the young man across the street from my aunt's house came over to where I was babysitting my little cousin and asked to use the hoop on our garage to play a little basketball.  I said yes and innocently wandered down the path of a whirlwind affair of wedding bliss to a man that never ceases to amaze me and amuse me.

I have now, in 2010, been married to him for 30 years.  I constantly shake my head and wonder "where the time has flown".  How could it possibly be that long ago that I marched with my high school band in the 1976 bicentennial parade and saw him on the sidewalk on his 10-speed bike? Or gotten on the back of his motorcycle right after a rainstorm and put my arms around his waist and held on while we sped through town, ruining my brand new shirt with the sprayed on mud kicked up by his motorcycle tires? Or the time he held me in his arms, running with me through the park near the beach, and because of the gravitational pull caused by the momentum of me swinging in his arms, threw me where I landed with a huge thud on the ground?

Unlike lots of writers wearing rose colored glasses, I can assure you it wasn't all fun and games.  There were hard times, money problems, personality issues, differing opinions, dreams that didn't quite meld.  But like all long time marriages, we realized that we were more important than anything else to each other and we would overcome those problems, and we did.

David taught me a lot about having fun,something that I always felt short of in my life. He can have fun doing just about anything.  He taught me a lot about talking --again something I never knew how to do with a house full of brothers who could only discuss one thing: sports. It always amazed me when I would go over to his house and he and his mom and dad would sit for hours after dinner doing nothing but talking.  And then I look around our table, sometimes, and see him and me, and our two teenagers still sitting there talking and realize we are doing the same thing.

We've lived in a lot of different places, traveled to a lot of different places, graduated from college (he in 1985 after 5 years of marriage; me in 2004 after 24 years of marriage), raised lots of children (six of them), lost parents, dealt with health problems, and started a big business. It's been a blast.

And I'm glad I got to do it with my best friend.

30 years later

Monday, October 4, 2010

How To Eat A Chicken

I know what you are thinking.  You are looking at this picture of the chicken, going "how could you?" :-)  And to be honest, the first chicken we butchered and ate, I couldn't hardly eat it.  But after that I was okay.  Now I just bask in the joy of getting good, fresh, homegrown chicken to eat without worrying about all the modern-day problems that arise with chickens being raised in those big factory processing plants.

Here's how I see it.  That chicken could be raised in a big factory barn with no exercise because they are packed in there so tight there's no room to do anything but stand around in their poo all day, no sunshine, no fresh grass and a very short life span.  Or that chicken could be in the wild, roaming free, yes, but living very little life because the coyote ate it within a few days of it's first breath.  Or it could live at my house where it can wander through the grass or fields, roost in the trees, eat bugs out of my garden (along with an unnecessary amount of garden produce), enjoy all the sunshine it could possibly want and live a much longer life span than it would in either the factory or the wild.  I figure I am doing it a huge favor by raising it and eating it! :-)

There's lots of ways to eat a chicken.  You can get layers and then have gorgeous, big, brown eggs with the orange-est yolks you have seen.  These things are so good.  I didn't know for a long time how good they were until I was at a church potluck and had some regular store bought deviled eggs and those eggs were tasteless.  One of my customers told me that she had had to resort to store bought eggs one day when I was too short to get her any and her husband immediately said to her at the breakfast table, "what is wrong with these eggs? They taste funny." So I know my opinion is not just in my head. Layers are only good for about 2 years when they slow down too much in laying to make it worthwhile to keep buying feed.  At that time you have several options: keep them as pets, sell them to someone else, or slaughter for "stewing hens" (good, but necessary to slow cook for the best eat).

Or you can get meat birds, which typically are the white cornish commercial strains.  You could buy heritage breeds, which many prefer, but for me, they grow too slowly and don't covert feed well enough to make it cost effective. You grow these babies for about 8 weeks tops and then slaughter them.  I have found that you need to age the meat, which is either 24-48 hours in the frig, or about 1 month in the freezer.

If you can't do these yourself, there are many people who sell eggs and will sell you fresh birds they slaughter themselves.  There are folks who do totally "organic" (a word that I don't put much stock into, especially with big time producers) and those who do "humanely raised" chickens (typically meaning their birds can free range, be outside, etc., but eat the cheaper store bought grain instead of organic grain.) You can do an internet search for those farms close to you.  I, personally, wouldn't do this for anyone else--way too much work, but there are many dedicated farmers who will.

And the absolute best thing to do with chicken is chicken and noodles!!

Noodle recipe:
2 eggs
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
Mix ingredients and knead.  If dough is too stiff, add more egg. Roll out and either put through noodle machine or cut long strips with a pizza wheel cutter.  Let dry if not using right away, but if you are using immediately, you can throw them right in your chicken broth.
Chicken broth for noodles:
Boil one whole chicken in water (usually takes an easy hour).  Take out chicken and after cooling, pull meat from bones.  Add chicken meat back into broth, adding salt and pepper to taste.  If necessary, add chicken cube, or tablespoon of chicken paste.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Liquid Gold

It's honey harvest time!!!

Each year, about this time, we get to harvest our honey.  Since  we raise and breed queens, we don't have as much honey as other beekeepers (you'll have to read "The Master's" blog to find out why: http://www.basicbeekeeping.blogspot.com/) so we get excited at even the littlest bit we get.

We started out with a huge problem this year though.  Someone earlier in the week had used the extracting equipment a few days prior, and made the honest, but crucial mistake of keeping doors open, and having dripped honey everywhere so that a bazillion bees got into the honey extracting room.  It took days to get the bees out of the honey room so that we could get in there and extract for ourselves. (Note to all beekeepers getting ready to extract: keep lids on your supers, keep lids on your buckets, get in and out quick, and keep windows and doors shut behind you.) It was one hilarious mess.

But we finally extracted our own liquid gold.  I love to see it in the bottles, all lined up on the shelves.  It sells itself.  When people look at it, they start drooling and will pay (almost) any amount of money for the stuff.

Here's but a few of the 100's of my favorite things to do with honey:
Wheat Bread
1 egg ( of course, mine from my own chickens)
1/4 c honey
1 cup milk
1/2 stick butter
1/2 tsp salt
into the bottom of the bread machine ~
then add:
2 cups wheat flour (freshly ground)
2 cups white flour
2 tsp yeast

Steak marinade:
1 cup honey
1 juice of lemon
1/2 cup each of vinegar, oil or bottled dressing
1/2 cup ketchup
Mix in baggie, add meat and let marinade up to 24 hours  before grilling

Chicken Seasoning:
Take chicken breast and dredge in honey (instead of traditional egg/milk)
Then roll in breading mixture (boxed or homemade).
Fry or bake as usual