Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Burns Family

From left to right: Kellie, Jesse, Jill, Sheri
Dustin, Seth, Christian, Lara, Karee
David, (Claire is hiding behind David), Jennifer, Allison, Sarah
(not shown: Nikki, David and Curt)

It is totally impossible to believe how fast this year has flown.  It seemed like only the other day when I was putting out last year's Christmas card.  We have been very blessed this year,  have all been healthy, have grown closer together and to God, have met some amazing friends and customers and now are looking to close out yet another year with all of you.

Thank you.  To our friends: thank you for your friendship, caring and support.  To our customers: thank you for doing business with us, keeping us busy and fed, and supporting us by recommending us to others or mentioning us in your bee clubs, blogs, tweets, and facebook statuses. To our family: thank you for being yourselves, helping us when we've been overloaded, giving us a hand with the work, fixing things that needed fixed, and keeping us old people company.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Honey Salad Dressings

Our girls - Nikki- our daughter-in-law, Jill, Karee,
and Jennifer

As we near the holiday season, I like to reflect on the past year.  It's been a good year.  One filled with new things.  It's been a little hard in some ways, but mostly it's been a real blessing.

One of my biggest blessings is, of course, my family. David and I have six terrific children.  What is so neat about our kids is that none of them are in anyway similar--either in looks, temperament, personality, or actions.  It's been fun seeing them grow into their own persons, and watch them choose their professions, their spouses, and take on the world.  It's been scary watching some of them--it's never easy to watch your kids fall (or even fail) and not want to rush in and pick them up.  But they all stand on their own two feet, are strong and independent, and pretty much fun too.

This past year, our oldest daughter Jennifer, along with her family moved back into the area--only about a 10 minute ride straight down our main country road.  It's been a joy seeing her more often and having the grandchildren so close by.  She invited us to come eat with them last night, and served a good honey dressing (along with a few other things as well!). 

I rarely make a salad dressing from a recipe, it's so easy.  I start off putting about 1/4  to 1/2 c of a good olive oil, and 1/4 c - 1/2 c of honey into a canning jar. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Now add an acid of some kind -- could be orange/lemon/lime juice, or a good vinegar like raspberry or apple cider--a few tablespoons should be about right. Now last, add some flavoring, such as seeds, herbs, or spices like mustard and paprika. If you are looking for a creamy dressing, add sour cream or mayo--about 1/4 cup.  Put the lid on that jar and shake away. But for those of you who like an actual recipe, here are a couple:

Honey Mustard Dressing
1/4 c mayo
1 T prepared mustard
2 T honey
1/2 t lemon juice

Honey Poppyseed
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c honey
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 T poppyseeds
1/4 t paprika
1/4 t worcestershire sauce

Honey Orange
1/4 c sour cream
2 T orange juice
2 t chopped green onion
1/4 c honey
1/4 c olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Sheri Lynn Henness
Born January 3, 1962
Today also marks 50 days until my 50th birthday.  I decided I wanted to do something very special for this very special birthday.  I thought of some of the usual things, like maybe a cruise with the kids, or jetting off to Italy with David--but mostly those were just wishes.  So I decided to do something that might make a bigger difference to someone else, so I am going to collect 50 items to take to our local Women's Care Center in Danville, and I need your help.  In my next blog I will tell you what I need to collect, and these items will represent the biggest needs the center has, and if you can, send it on to me, or bring it in to our store, and it will be included in my birthday present to the center on my birthday January 3, 2012. 

Until next time,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Do-It-Yourself-and-Save-a-Bundle Beeswax Balm

After an absolutely gorgeous week in Southern Illinois, where I finally took a fall off my motorcycle, and lived to tell about it, I found that riding made my skin very dry and sensitive.  I have made my own balms and salves before, but thought I would go online to see what products were currently out there.  I was shocked to see the prices folks were charging for balms--some as much as $12 - $13 for 2 ounces.  I have no problem with people making a product and selling it for what they want, but when I realized that I could make it for only mere pennies on the dollar, and you could too, that it was time to tell you how to do it.

Balms and salves are simply olive oil and beeswax.  The only real difference is where you decide to rub it, whether it be your lips, on your elbows, or your feet! You can add essential oils or herbs to it, choosing appropriate ones for different parts of your body (you may not wish to add menthol and peppermint to your lip balm for example, but hey, maybe you do!)

So where do you get beeswax? Know your beekeeper! Many beekeepers will keep it in stock, or you may have to call and place an order before hand so he or she can save you some next time they extract honey.  You could order it on ebay or get it from your local craft/hobby store, but you really don't know what you are getting then.  Some of the "big box" bee supply companies carry it, but it's typically been bought from big commercial beekeepers who use chemicals in their hives (and is in the wax that you would then be putting on your body).  I suggest an organic source like Glory Bee, who also is a good source for the oils and herbs (tell Kaitlyn I sent you.)  Another source I trust is Mountain Rose Herbs.

Sheri's Simple Salve
1/2 c olive oil
1 oz beeswax
10 - 15 drops of essential oil (all one kind or mix and match)

Heat olive oil and beeswax together in a double boiler until melted.  Remove from heat, adding essential oils and placing quickly into jars with caps on.

(really? $6 an ounce for that?)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Classes Galore and No Bake Honey Drops

Sheri and Jennifer teaching kids about bees and beekeeping. 
I am a teacher by profession, and a beekeeper by accident. I have always enjoyed teaching. I know it's one of those things that you either like or you hate, and I happen to like it.  I started teaching preschoolers back in the 80's, then was a librarian for awhile, and then started teaching pre-kindergarteners for a bit.  In 2000 (I remember it well because it was a president-election year and the "hanging chad" debacle) I started teaching junior high health and did that for 10 years.  I enjoyed that teaching job immensely until the next presidential election, at which time that current president decided to cut my program and I was without a job.

I began helping David teach beekeeping classes just a couple of years ago when the classes became to get really large, and I have truly enjoyed it. I also taught Sunday school, vacation bible school and bible studies for nearly 3 decades. I've led reading groups and young mothers groups,  taught childbirth classes for a short time, and even taught young teens CPR and first aid for their babysitting jobs.   I am currently homeschooling Seth, and soon Christian. 

You'd think that means I'm a really smart person, but I'm really not.  Somehow when I was in school back in the psychedelic 70's, I learned how to ace a test, but quickly forgot whatever it was we were learning in school. But one thing I learned, and the one thing I teach my kids now is HOW to look up information--where to find it, how to search for it, who to ask. 

Our classes at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms are over for the year. We taught about 15 classes and short courses here at our farm (until they got so large we had to move the classes to a bigger facility) as well as taught at other clubs and colleges.  We had about 200 people go through one of our courses at the farm this year, and numbers unknown at the college courses, clubs, and associations that we taught at (but we're guessing about another 300 - 400) and without exception, we enjoyed everyone of them. 

At last week's Natural and Sustainable course, I made Honey Drops and leave you with the recipe here:

Honey Drops
1 cup honey
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powered milk
dash vanilla
1/2 c granola
1/4 c miniature chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 - 1/2 c powdered sugar

Cream honey and peanut butter together first, then add remaining ingredients.  Shape into balls and roll in powered sugar.  Keep in refrigerator.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Autumn Time with Honey

My autumn honey display in our store
Autumn is officially here.  And it has been unofficially here for some time with the rain, wind and coolness we've had the past week or so. 

Honey lends itself so well to autumn cooking.  I can not wait to put a ham in the oven, covered with honey and orange juice (usually 1 cup of each).  Along with that ham, I'll probably make some potato salad. You may be thinking that potato salad sounds like a summer time picnic item, but this potato salad is a cooked recipe, which can be served warm. And we had some of the absolute best potatoes from our garden this year.  Yum.

Honey Dill Potato Salad
1 1/2 lb boiled small red potatoes
4 strips bacon
1 med onion, chopped
6 T honey
6 T apple cider vinegar
1/2 t cornstarch
1/2 t water
2 T fresh dill or 1 T dried

Cook bacon until crisp, remove bacon, adding onions to bacon drippings, cooking until soft.  Add honey and vinegar to pan, bring to boil.  Blend cornstarch with water, stir into honey mixture.  Cook until thick, stir in crumbled bacon and dill.  Cut cooked potatoes into bite size pieces, combine with dressing.  

Remember, adding honey to any hot drinks is great whether it be coffee, tea, or mulled ciders.

I am sad summer is gone, I had so much more to do this year, but am looking forward to the upcoming holidays and spending more time with the family. I hope your fall is "sweet" too!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Popcorn Balls and Party Mix with Honey

Christian at the Children's Garden at Morton Arboretum (Chicago)
We had the pleasure this past week of being invited to speak at the Honey Bee Festival at the Morton Arboretum in the Chicago area and while there, we passed a booth where they were selling popcorn balls.

Popcorn balls! I always think of this time of year when I think of popcorn balls because that seemed to be the one thing that as kids we hated to get when we went trick-or-treating! We always wanted some of those miniature chocolate or snickers bars or a peanut butter cup! Do you remember?  Now that I'm older I realize whoever was giving out those popcorn balls had spent a lot of time making those and thinking they were doing us a favor by giving us something a little bit healthier, and was probably being frugal in the process, something I heartily endorse.

Popcorn Balls with Honey
3/4 c sugar
1 t salt
1/2 c water
3/4 c honey
3 quarts of popcorn

Cook sugar, salt and water to very brittle candy stage of 300 degrees F.  Add the honey slowly stirring all the while until blended.  Cook again until thermometer reads 240 degrees F.  Pour mixture over popcorn and form into balls.  Add nuts, or candy bits as desired. 

We had a birthday cake and ice cream all set for Christian this week for his 4th birthday, but then he got really sick and so we had to skip it to a later time, but meanwhile my family enjoyed eating the party mix I had set out. 

Honey Party Mix (adapted from Carol Kuehl)

1/2 c butter
1/4 c brown sugar
1 c honey
1 gallon mixed cereal (such as chex, crispex)
2 c mixed nuts

Bring to boil butter, brown sugar and honey. Pour over cereal and nuts, stir.  Bake at 225 degrees until dry, about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Let sit to finish drying and break apart into bite size pieces.  Keep sealed in bowl with tight lid. 

I believe in celebrations!  Life is hard sometimes, really tough, and I think one way to get through the difficult things is to celebrate as often as possible, even if you have to make a celebration up.  One of my favorite quotes is "stop worrying about the potholes in life and just celebrate the journey!"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

MORE Canning and Preserving with Honey Part 2

I have spent the last couple of weeks working furiously to get my garden into jars. "Garden in a jar" would make a catchy name for a vegetable company, wouldn't it? With sweat dripping off my forehead in gallons, and a near heat stroke (complete with headache and nausea), I finally realized my dream of a packed pantry. 

I have also been receiving various canning recipes from gals who use honey in their recipes, so I want to reprint at least one of those here.

First, I want to give you my corn relish recipe for canning.  I was persuaded this year by a friend, who is a horticulturist at a university near-by, to try something called "kohlrabi". I can't really describe to you what this thing looks like, but it is a big green ball with numerous appendages coming out of it and tastes like cabbage/radish.  But what to do with it?  I finally decided to shred it and add it to my corn relish. I also completely substituted out the sugar in place of honey, and used up the rest of my corn, green peppers and tomatoes.

Corn Relish Canning Recipe (I remember this by adding 2 cups this, 2 cups that..)
2 c corn
2 c chopped onion
2 c chopped tomatoes
2 c cucumbers
as much kohlrabi as you can stand
1 lg green pepper
1 c honey
1  c cider vinegar
1.5 t celery seed
1.5 t mustard seed
1 t salt
1/2 t ground tumeric

Combine, bring to boil, cook 20 -30 minutes.  Put into hot, sterilized jars and follow manufacturer's instructions for canning. 

Aunt Mary's Beets
This recipe was given to me by a customer named Anita whom we met in one of our classes back in March, who is sharing her Aunt Mary Hawk's recipe here, and from Anita's description, she sounded like a wonderful lady.

2 cups white vinegar
2 cups honey
2 cups water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice

Boil beets (leave 1 inch of tops and root intact) for 20 minutes in water(fork tender but not mushy), plunge in cold water and slip the skins and trim root and tops. Pack in sterilized pint jars, leaving smaller beets whole, chunking or slicing larger ones. Bring above ingredients to a rolling boil and pour over beets, filling jars, but leaving 1/4 inch head space. Place lids on top and tighten rings. These will actually seal without water bath process, or you can water bath process for 10 minutes if desired.

How many beets, you say? Well, Aunt Mary sounds a lot like me, and that is when you go out to your garden and bring in the beets, you don't have any idea what you are going to end up with.  So bring them in--however many you have--prepare them as above, putting them in jars and pour the juice over.  When you run out of the prepared juice, you just make more until you have covered all your beets. That's farm cooking. You don't know what you're starting with or what you'll end up with, but it's usually fantastic. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Honey Baste for Pork or Chicken

Good eats tonight with the most wonderful basting sauce on our pork chops.

It is a recipe that I change up often.  The basic premise of it is fairly straight forward, but depending on what's in the fridge or cabinets, I change the ingredients.  Don't be afraid to do this, I understand it because I used to be scared, but what's the worse that can happen--you don't like it and have to start all over again?

I made the chops in Granny's electric skillet she left me and then at the very end, I basted the chops with this sauce:

Honey Blackberry Mustard Sauce (for pork or chicken)
1/4 c spicy brown mustard (use up to 1/2 c if you want a thinner sauce to go further)
1/2 c honey plus 1 T sugar (use up to 1 c honey if you want a thicker sauce)
3 T blackberry jelly plus 1 T orange marmalade
1 T mustard seed

Simply stir ingredients together and keep in a jar with lid in refrigerator.  Can also be used for a dipping sauce for pretzels or veggies, or added to potato salad or sandwiches.

How to substitute: If you would rather make your own mustard, you can use ground mustard and add vinegar.  The really fun thing would be to try different vinegar for different tastes--how about raspberry vinegar?  You can substitute any kind of jelly, jam, preserves or marmalade in this recipe--I used blackberry because it's what in season and what I just spend the last week doing.

Making blackberry jelly

And while I'm on the subject, what is the difference between preserves, jelly, jam, marmalade and conserves?

Here's the simple gist of it.  I'm sure it's more complicated than I'm about to make it, and some great chef or cook out there will want to correct me, but I'm working with a very simple mind here, so I will give you the Sheri run-down:  Preserves is a general term to describe any jelly, jam, conserve, etc.  Jelly is made with only fruit juice while jam has bits of fruit in it.  Conserves on the other hand is jelly with the whole fruit.  Marmalade is typically a tropical fruit (like oranges) and not quite so sweet. Simple enough, and all can be made with honey instead of sugar. 

Tonight's meal included freshly dug potatoes from our yard, cooked and seasoned with butter, parsley, salt and pepper along with green beans (from our yard), cooked in boiling water for a few minutes, then sauteed in olive oil with butter, salt, pepper, green onions and mustard seed. I love summer eating!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Canning And Preserving Using Honey

Canning time is upon us! My mom canned a little bit when I was a tiny lass until she had a major canner explosion and was scared ever since.  So I really didn't see anyone can or preserve food when was I was younger, and didn't know anyone who did it when I became an adult.  At least if they did, it was a well kept secret, and it wasn't until a couple of years ago that my good friend Tricia showed me how to do it.  I had always preserved simply by freezing or drying up to that point, but now I'm a canning convert.

Canning parties are gaining popularity right now, especially with folks in the city.  Canning fresh, organic foods in season is the only way to truly obtain the best foods possible for your family through the winter months. You could certainly buy foods out of season, but that also means it's been picked while green, shipped and trucked thousands of miles--using tremendous resources we can hardly afford anymore--and it's usually pretty bland in taste.( Folks who have never tasted a fresh tomatoe right out of the garden have no real idea of how a true vine ripened tomatoe tastes.) You can buy factory canned food, loaded with salt, preservatives, and other things unpronounceable, but common sense, science, and our doctors are telling us now that these processed foods are not good for us.

Before you start canning, you must know how to can.  I would recommend you get the Ball Complete Guide to Preserving. If you are getting a new canner, read the guide thoroughly.  If you are using a used canner, and it doesn't have a guide, please make sure you are either a seasoned canner, or you can call the manufacturer and ask for a book. If you don't know what your are doing, or you do some steps incorrectly, you can run the serious risk of hurting or making sick yourself or others you feed.

You can can and preserve with honey! Most canning manufacturers say you can substitute up to half the sugar called for in a canning recipe with honey.  If you were to use all honey, which some do, it will make your finished product much darker, and can cause some issues with any pectin you are using, but you be the judge.  In recipes using a commercial pectin, you can replace regular sugar with up to 1 cup of honey with good results. Otherwise, substituting honey for sugar is all a matter of taste.

Try this applesauce recipe for canning.  Follow YOUR manufacturer's directions for canning with YOUR canner.

Applesauce with Honey
16 c apples- peeled, cored, cut up
1 c water
2 t lemon juice
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
Start with 3 T honey, up to 1/4 c of honey to your taste

Put apples, lemon and water in pot, bring to boil and cook until soft.  Add the honey and spices at the end, cooking a few more minutes.  Either smash with wooden spoon if desiring chunky, or put in blender if desiring a smoother texture. Follow your manufacturer's guide to canning.  Can be frozen in containers with good results as well.

Here's a couple of recommended resources for more information: Canning and Preserving Without Sugar by Norma McRae and Putting It Up with Honey by Susan Geiskopf.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ladies in the Apiary and a Cool Honey Drink

1937 magazine picture of some gals in the apiary
American Bee Journal

What a little bit of summer nostalgia! It was fun recently to come across this old magazine picture from the 30's of some women in the bee yard at a place called the National Farm School in Pennsylvania.  The women here appeared nameless in the article however, only being referred to as the 'beekeeper's wife', a 'a clerk at the school', and the 'school librarian'.  I wasn't for sure if they were actual beekeepers themselves or not, or just sitting pretty by the beehives.

The apiary was situated in the orchard, and the records indicate that the average production was around 50 lbs of honey per hive (it's typically higher than that now, ranging from 50 - 100 lbs per hive).  Cost in 1937 for a pound of honey: .25 cents.  (It's anywhere from $2 - $8 per lb now.)

Speaking of prices, we stopped at a local fast food place recently for a strawberry-lemonade.  Not only was I shocked at the price, but also the calories in it.  A quick scouring of the internet showed me, once again, that it's hard to find good recipes--especially drinks-- with honey, so here is my adaptation:

Honey Strawberry Lemonade
5 or 6 fresh or frozen strawberries (clean and hull fresh strawberries)
1/4 to 1/2 c honey (more or less to your own liking)
1 small can frozen lemonade concentrate, made according to directions (you will only use about 1/2 of this in the recipe)
Ice cubes 

In blender, process strawberries with honey until pureed. If using frozen, no need to thaw first. Add lemonade and blend.  Use a few ice cubes if using fresh strawberries and it's not "slushy" enough for you or you can add the frozen lemonade straight into the blender without making according to directions first.   Substitute limeade concentrate for lemonade for a twist. Can use maple syrup or stevia in place of honey (but why would you want to do that?) 

Honey Strawberry Tea Cooler (Adapted from the National Honey Board)
1 pint strawberries
1/2 c honey
1 can frozen orange juice
2 cups brewed green tea

Process strawberries and honey in blender.  Add juice and stir into tea.  Serve over ice.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Yummy Honey Cookies and a Bee Birthday Party

Jennifer's Yummy Honey Cookies
Photo by Jennifer Leigh Photography

We recently celebrated our youngest granddaughter's 2nd birthday, and our daughter Jennifer made these wonderful honey cookies.  She gave me permission to reprint her recipe here.  I hope you'll enjoy them with some little ones like we did.

Yummy Honey Cookies
1/2 c shortening
1 c creamy peanut butter
1 c honey
2 eggs slightly beaten
3 c flour
1 c sugar
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

  • Directions
  1. In a mixing bowl, mix shortening, peanut butter and honey. Add eggs; mix well. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to peanut butter mixture and mix well.
  2. Roll into 1- to 1-1/2-in. balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with a fork dipped in flour. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. Squeeze chocolate icing into forked lines to represent bees.
If you want ideas on how to make a "Bee Birthday" party see Jennifer's website at

Bee Skep Hive Pinata (do not fill with bees!) :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Honey Plum Chicken

From granny's cookbook
Honey Plum Chicken - doesn't that sound like something your grandma would call you? Honey plum.  Not my grandma, she wasn't one of those sugary old grandmothers, but she is the one that taught me to cook.

I loved her fried chicken, and that's the one thing I never learned to cook.  I always felt like my crust was either too hard and crusty, or I couldn't get much of a crust at all, but instead one of those greasy, barely brown ones.  I would either not get it cooked thoroughly, or it would be so tough that no one could eat it.  I can make oven-fried chicken, but I'm not thinking she would approve of that.

So when I was putting together this recipe, I got nostalgic for my old granny and got out her cookbook, which is the where the picture above came from.  It was written before I was born, and I get a chuckle out of the pictures in it, but use it plenty still. 

For your enjoyment, I give you Honey Plum Chicken.  I doubt granny would have liked it, because she would have thought it too fancy and gourmet--something she didn't take to (and neither does her son, my dad.) But my husband loved it.

Honey Plum Chicken
1 cut up chicken (I prefer thighs)
oil for browning chicken (olive or coconut is my choice, peanut oil sparingly)
flour, salt and pepper for dredging chicken

Dredge chicken in flour mixture, and brown on both sides in pan with oil.

Meanwhile, combine the following plum sauce:
1 16 oz can plums, or 4 small plums, cut into small pieces
Several squeezes of fresh lemon
1/4 c oil
3 T honey
1 T maple syrup
1/2 t ginger
1/2 c onion
1/2 c any juice

Pour off oil from chicken and add the above sauce.  Continue cooking until chicken is thoroughly cooked ( 20 - 30 min).  Sauce will thicken as it cooks down. 

Honey Plum Chicken

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sheri's Honey Fruit Salsa

Sheri's Honey Fruit Salsa

One of the best things of summer is the cool, refreshing foods you can make that are the absolute easiest and fastest.

Yesterday, during one of the most gorgeous days we've had so far this summer, I came up with this fruit salsa made with honey, and paired it with cinnamon chips.  It could also make a great topping for salmon or other fish, added to a lettuce salad, or mixed in chicken salad on a croissant. 

As is in lots of my recipes, you can make this with whatever fruits you have on hand.  I used about 1/2 c each of apples, kiwi, plums, and peaches.  You could load it up with berries instead, or go for tropical with pineapples and oranges.  Your possibilities are only limited to your imagination.

Chop your fruit fine.

Next add up to 3 T of honey, 1 T of either maple syrup or molasses, and 3 T of a fruit jam.  I tried orange marmalade, my own blackberry jam, and something cool called bakeapple jam from our friend, Dr. Dan, who brought it to us from Newfoundland.  It's all good!

The cinnamon chips are easy.  Cut flour tortillas into wedges.  Spray on a butter flavor cooking spray, sprinkle on cinnamon, and spray again.  Put in oven for a few minutes until toasty and crunchy.

Dish up salsa and place on a serving dish, surrounded by chips. We enjoyed this dish with our meal, but it would be great for a snack with an ice tea, or taken along to a barbecue.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mint Ice Tea with Honey

People are intimidated adding anything to sweeten drinks but sugar.  But you have to get over that and learn to add honey or maple syrup to your drinks (if you need it at all!).  It is easy to use honey and I'll explain how.

Mint is an easy plant to grow.  In fact, it's too easy to grow---it can be an invasive plant if you don't use a barrier of some sort in the ground to stop the excessive growth of this plant.  We brought a small, small clipping home from some Amish friends of ours and in only two years time, it has just about overtaken our herb garden.

It is a simple process to make mint tea.  After cutting off a bunch of it, wash it thoroughly.  I know some don't think this step is necessary, but I have just enough "city" in me to know that if my lawn furniture needs a daily washing of bird poop from fly-overs, my mint probably does too.  I spin it dry in a salad spinner, or you can let it dry naturally.  The fresher your mint is, the more flavorful it is, and the darker the color becomes.

I boil  about 2 cups of water and throw the leaves right in, taking off the heat and letting it steep.  You can also pack a tea ball with the leaves or put them up in a bag that you place in the water.  In fact, you can even omit the whole boiling thing if you want.  You can place the leaves directly in tepid water, and let it sit.  Occasionally stir up the leaves, squeezing them somewhat until you get the desired color.

Mint tea can be very dark if you allow the leaves to boil in the water.  I don't, letting it steep in the water, and obtaining a more natural "minty" color. When you have the desired steep-age, I filter the leaves out of my water and pour the mint water into a gallon glass jar.

Next, I add the honey.  There is a trick to getting the honey stirred into the water.  I first make a "simple syrup" out of it by simmering about 2 cups of water on the stove and then adding anywhere from 1/2 c to 1 c of honey to it.  It will dissolve in the warm water and can now be easily mixed into the mint tea mixture. 

Add water up to a gallon, add ice, and garnish with fresh mint leaves.  Delicious!

For hot tea, put mint leaves in a tea ball, place in your mug, and pour boiling water over the top, allowing it to steep for several minutes.  Add honey directly into the hot tea in mug. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Barrel Full of Bees

A whiskey barrel full of bees
Here's an update on what's going on at the Burns farm now that summer is here.

It's been hot. And I mean hot.  Today hit at least 90 degrees, and funny enough, down south in Louisiana where David's brother lives, it was several degrees cooler than here in Illinois.

But I'm loving it, even if I won't love the electric bill when I get it next month.

A lady in the area called and said she had some bees land on a barrel in her yard, could we come and get it? David drove off, thinking that probably by the time he got there, the bees would have flown on.  But a little while later he came back with this whiskey barrel packed full of bees and comb and honey.  It makes for an interesting conversation starter, but we don't know how to get into it. We hate to destroy their home, so for now, we'll just leave it be.

My garden is up and going.  I didn't try nearly as many new things this year as I had planned, but with this time of year being our business season, I was lucky to get anything at all
planted.  We have already had salad from the garden and all
the herbs we want.

A swan family

This evening we went over to a local conservation area and took a nice walk.  Earlier in the month Christian and I had gone there and found a swan nesting on some eggs. I was figuring the little ones had to be born by now, and I was right and rewarded when they all swam right up to us on the dock--just as if they had been waiting on us to return.
A beautiful sunset

We took a few shots of the gorgeous sunset before we went for ice cream.

A summer day in the country with friends

Children and grandchildren alike have been enjoying our yard. I ended up with a little extra money I wasn't expecting, and had the option of getting new kitchen cabinets or a swing all the kiddies could enjoy, so guess which one grandma chose to get?

And finally, one last picture to sum up all our summer memories combined.  Nothing says summer more than a little boy, in only his shorts, in a playhouse, eating Doritos, watching the bubbles float by.  True bliss. Wouldn't you love to be this carefree? I hope you have a good summer too.

A lazy day in the queen yard