Monday, February 21, 2011

Beekeeping and Almond Flour in the Land of the Amish

One of our beehives in the back of a buggy
This weekend we spent time in Arthur, Illinois which is an Amish community in Central Illinois.  It's a place we go to often to either the bulk food store, the family health food store or to visit our friends the Yoders.

The beekeeping club there invited David to come and speak to the group.  While we were there, we delivered some hives a young man had purchased and I was able to take a picture of the hive in the back of his buggy.

We have seen our hives in a lot of places.  On the way to our son's house, we can see some of our hives right on the edge of the road near a conservation area.  We have seen some in a horse pasture where the horse will saunter right up and act as though he was looking in the hives with you. Our hives also grace a rather well-known-and-loved apple orchard and pumpkin patch in a community to the west of us, where they stand guard at the entrance behind a sign that says "Caution: Honeybees At Work". We've also seen customers take hives home in everything from semi trucks to the backseats of tiny little VW bugs.  But this is the first time we've seen a hive in the back of an Amish buggy. We loved it!

An Amish parking garage
While were in Arthur, I picked up several different kinds of "flour".  I have been wanting to experiment with some types of flour other than grain and found a nice selection of almond, coconut and pecan meal.  These "flours" of course can't be made into a loaf of bread as you would think of grain, but can be used instead for some other non-traditional baking.  These are pricey, but can be an option if you need to go gluten-free or low-carb in your family. 

Here is a muffin recipe using almond flour and, of course, our beloved honey. By the way, if you need honey and aren't close to us, buy it from the Amish*. Because they don't use any chemicals on their fields, the honey there is going to be naturally organic and it's less expensive than most places.(I know you might be thinking that naturally organic is kind of redundant, but it's a word I use to describe the difference between someone or some company that goes out of its way to be organic versus someone who is organic just because they live naturally.)--*note: I have had one person email me who has said that Amish do use chemicals, but I do know from repeated conversations with the Amish we deal with, that the folks here do not--in fact, they did not even know what GMOs were (and being a former teacher and mother of six, I know when someone is lying to me) :-) So, the moral here is *ask* if you don't know. 

Almond and Honey Muffins
2 c almond flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 stick melted butter
4 eggs
1/3 c water
1/3 c honey

Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients, then incorporate together.  For variation, add 1 c of any fresh or frozen berries, mashed banana or applesauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 18 min.  Remember to watch carefully because items made with honey will brown more quickly.  You could also use vanilla extract or various spices like nutmeg or cinnamon as desired.

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