As I sit in the warm house looking at new fallen snow in Central Illinois, the topic of beekeeping is still ever present. What does a beekeeper do in the winter?
Read everything you can find about bees and beekeeping. This is the time to learn. Research pests. Explore strains of honeybees and their characteristics. Learn techniques for re-queening a hive. There are many good books available as well as trade magazines. The Beekeeper's Bible is a must have in my opinion and readily available through online bookstores.
Honey, that is. I have found myself loathe to eat honey sourced from anywhere other than Five Feline Farm. Once you have tasted honey produced by bees you have a relationship with, it is hard to think about consuming any other honey.
So while the snow piles up outside my door in addition to studying about beekeeping, I work on finding ways to utilize honey in recipes. Sometimes I develop my own recipes and sometimes I tweak others to use some of that sweet honey goodness.
The following two recipes feature honey as a subtle yet distinctive component.
Too often I find honey butter to be overpowered by one flavor or the other. This proportion has a nice balance of sweet honey and rich butter.
1 stick butter, softened
2 tbsp local honey
Drizzle the honey over the butter. Using a butter knife or spreader, mix well until honey is fully incorporated into the butter. Spread on hot rolls, toast or biscuits. The picture shows honey butter molded into a honeycomb design.
8 ounce wheel of Brie
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup snipped dried cherries
1/4 cup walnut pieces
2 tbsp honey
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim off the top rind of the Brie and set into a Brie baker or small oven proof baking dish. Snip dried cherries with scissors into small pieces. Melt butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat until foaming. Add dried cherries and walnut pieces. Saute for about 2 minutes until fragrant.
Add honey and cinnamon. Continue to cook, stirring gently until the honey is melted and the mixture thickens slightly. Pour cherry and honey mixture over Brie. Bake covered for 15 minutes.
Spread on slices of crusty Italian bread or crackers.
Unbelievably delicious, this makes a perfect light snack or appetizer.
As you savor honey recipes and study about beekeeping, don't forget to check on your hives. In Central Illinois, the weather tends to warm enough to get a quick peek in the hives. Do they have enough food? Have mice moved into the bottom? If the weather does not cooperate in your area, at a minimum wipe the snow off the roof of the hive. Then place your ear against the side of the hive and thump the hive. You should hear the buzz of the colony stirring and be reassured that your colony is still alive.
For more information about other activities and progress at Five Feline Farm, pop over to our website: www.FiveFelineFarm.com.
Happy Holidays everyone.
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