Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Winter Reading and Gift Ideas for the Beekeeper


Winter is the off season for beekeepers in most of the world. It makes a book the perfect gift for the beekeeper. Here are some of my favorites if you still need a little something for your beekeeping friend or family member.

1. The Beekeeper's Bible. This is a gorgeous book that is packed full of useful information and photographs. Any beekeeper would be thrilled to open this on Christmas morning!


2. The Backyard Beekeeper.   A great book for the beginner beekeeper or a gardener who is thinking about adding beehives to their garden space.



3. The Bee Book. An excellent addition to the gardener's library as well as the beekeeper's.




4. Bees: A Honeyed History. A fascinating look at how bees have impacted history and interesting facts and trivia along with fun illustrations. If you want a book with a BIG impact this over sized child and adult friendly volume will be a hit!

Product Details

5. The Hive and the Honeybee. A classic. This is a hefty tome for the serious beekeeper and anyone else who is interested in an in-depth discussion of the keeping of bees.


The book at the top of the page would be fun for your favorite beekeeper who loves all things vintage. Full of classic diagrams and old school charm it's a favorite of mine for reading by the fire on cold winter nights. By renowned scholar and apiculturist, E.F. Phillips, it can be difficult to find but is worth the hunt. 

Anyone who is interested in bees would love to find any of these books under the tree. Happy Holidays and merry beekeeping! 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tipsy Honeybee Cocktail Recipe

jim beam

I'm always looking around for ways to use honey and one of the classics is to mix it with bourbon and lemon. Even your teetotalling gramdmother likely mixed up the classic hot toddy when someone around the house was under the weather.

And while I was getting over a cold I had last week, I thought I'd share this little gem for soothing whatever ails you. I used sage because I created it for a Thanksgiving dinner a couple of years ago but you could also use thyme or rosemary which are both still to be found in southern winter gardens. 

I had some simple syrup I'd purchased last year and hadn't used. It found its way to the back of the pantry where it had the nerve to grow something icky in the bottom of the bottle. Which led me to searching online for how to make a simple syrup. You know how it goes...I ended up finding 7,280,000 results and about half of them were infused with something. Anything really. Herbs, flowers, spices, more alcohol. You get the picture.

jim beam bourbon

I mixed water and sugar and boiled it together then added the sage and let it cook for a while. Did you want exact measurements and times?

You're new here, aren't you?

jim beam bourbon

Okay, since you asked:

2 parts sugar to one part water. Make whatever amount you want.

Bring water to a boil and add sugar slowly stirring until sugar is dissolved. Don't boil too long just until sugar is dissolved. Add a tablespoon or so of vodka to prolong shelf life but if you are using it immediately like I did there's no need. Add whatever you want in the way of flavor or nothing at all. If you have added something to make an infusion, strain it out. Let cool. Store any leftovers in the fridge.


raw honeycomb in a jar

Some recipes called for cooking the honey (if you are using it) with the sugar, water, and herbs. As a beekeeper I just don't like heating the honey. My rule of thumb is that if you can avoid it never heat your honey. It destroys some of the magical properties. (I assume you are not here for the science.) Add the honey at the last possible moment when things have cooled down. Then pour the bourbon and (no longer simple) syrup over ice straining out any bits of herbs or beeswax.

 Muddle.

Isn't that a great word?

Garnish.

I like that world too. 

Make up a fun name for your concoction.

Now, seriously, concoction is a truly fabulous word.

bourbon and honey

This is a first cousin to an Old Fashioned or a Mint Julep. The differences are slight but mighty.

Don't be afraid to try something new if you want a signature cocktail for a gathering you are throwing together.

Cheers! 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Honey and Turmeric: Cold Remedy in a Cup


Honey and turmeric coconut milk is my favorite first line cold remedy.  In 2011 I wrote about using turmeric and honey to ward off a cold when taken at the first sign of feeling run down. Suddenly 6 years later everyone seems to be "discovering" this so I thought my version was due for a repost and an update.

Here's the background story:  Right before my daughter's wedding she came down with a dreadful cold. My friend, and fellow blogger The Food Maven sent me a recipe for a cure. It seems her mother was traveling in Ireland and was in a pub with a cold (her, not the pub). The owner, a man from India, suggested a spoonful of turmeric and honey. Mommy Maven followed the advice and was all better the next day!

Western medicine sends us off to the cold/flu aisle at the drugstore for something full of ingredients we can't pronounce when we don't feel well. Eastern tradition tells us we might be better off in the spice aisle at the grocery. 


I decided the remedy might be more palatable in some kind of drink instead of just choking down the spice and honey mixture from a spoon. A little online research proved me right and I came upon a few recipes (6 years later there are a gazillion of them!) for a version of this golden milk.

I came across many variations on several websites, they all seem to differ slightly. I liked one posted by blogger Arun Shanbhag, who remembers his grandmother making this for him.

I really need to update this post with better pics! 


Here is the link to his blog post: Turmeric Milk: Soothing Elixir, in which he explains the history and science behind this potion.

I changed a couple of things. I'm a firm believer in the power of green tea (Read about the health benefits here) so I made power packed infusion (1 family size tea bag to 1/4 C. water) to mix the turmeric in instead of water. I didn't have fresh ginger on hand but I did have some of the dried/candied sort, and I used coconut milk because dairy products are known to increase mucus production, something we are trying to lessen, and have other negative side effects for many.

In an update on his site Arun added this comment: "Scientists have demonstrated that when curcumin is ingested along with a peppercorn extract, the ability of our body to absorb and utilize curcumin increases dramatically, up to 2000%. "


I made a cup complete with peppercorns and took it at bedtime. I woke up feeling much better, and yes--energized! So I'm a convert. The dried ingredients premixed would make a great gift for a friend who's suffering from a cold. The fact that it's home made and wasn't concocted by a pharmaceutical company is comforting in its own way. Here's my version but the internet is full of ways to tweak it; find one that you like. Six years after my online search you can even buy premixed powders!

Pen & Hive's Recipe: This is where I pretend like I measure...


Power it up with peppercorns! Delicious!








1/4 C of very strong green tea (optional)
1/2  ts turmeric
1 ts ginger (use fresh if possible)
1 ts honey
a few peppercorns, whole or ground
a mug of coconut milk

Dissolve turmeric in hot green tea, add to milk with ginger, honey, and peppercorns and stir over medium heat until hot. Let sit for 5 minutes before drinking.

There is something magical about drinking this before bedtime. I do it not only when I feel a scratchy throat but also just anytime I feel exhausted and overly tired. There is something exotic and comforting about it that lifts my spirits as well. 

Cheers to your health!

*Of course if you have a fever or cough that doesn't go away you should see a doctor.