Saturday, December 19, 2015

Personal and Sentimental Last Minute Gift

beeswax candle in teacup

We are down to the Christmas wire and I can feel some of you panicking. It's because I'm right there with you! All of a sudden there are people oozing out of my brain that I haven't thought to buy a gift for. Luckily I had this waxy trick up my sleeve.

Make a candle in a tea cup. This works best if the cup is something treasured or simply beautiful. It would be a great use of an odd set of cups you've inherited but have no real use for. The cup I used for this candle was one my husband remembers his mother drinking out of. There is only one and no one was ever going to be drinking out of this special cup. You can also find lovely odd pieces at the thrift store. Then, unless you are a beekeeper, head to a craft store and grab some beeswax and wicks

See what the wax looks like in the hive here. 

I haven't made candles since I was about 12. Remember making them in milk cartons? Those were with paraffin wax and weren't even scented. This little project took just a few minutes. If you don't count the hundreds of hours tending bees and an hour or so rendering the wax. If you buy yours at the craft store it will be in pellets or a big block. I poured these wax discs myself.

Read about rendering beeswax here. 

You start by grating the beeswax into a bowl so that it will melt faster and more evenly.

I melt it in the microwave 30 seconds at a time. Don't forget that whatever you melt beeswax in will be unusable for anything else. Designate one bowl for this project. 

I stuck a wick in the bottom of the cup. You could glue it to keep it in place but mine seemed to stay secure. Just pour a little bit of wax in the bottom and let it set in place, then continue.

 Use a knife to keep the wick straight. When the wax is thoroughly melted quickly quickly pour it into the cup.

Allow the wax to harden. You will see that the color changes to a beautiful honey yellow.

You could add color and scent to candle in the melted stage but I thought it was lovely in its natural state.

This is a very inexpensive project and takes only minutes. If you are baking challenged this is a very sweet home made gift of a different sort. 

Merry crafty Christmas! 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Tipsy Honeybee Cocktail

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.

So on Thanksgiving Day when I wasn't exactly interested in bourbon for the medicinal value I thought I'd whip up something new. My entire Thanksgiving this year was a fly by the seat of my pants affair that involved very little planning and a lot of making it up as I went along. This is what happens when you aren't trying to impress anyone.

By the way if you ever are tying to impress someone throw a can of lump crab meat and a small can of diced jalapenos in your mac and cheese along with a healthy dose of the cheese of your choice. You'll look like a genius. I can already see that this will be a go-to dish from this day forward.

Where was I? Oh yes. The booze. 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

This time of year there are a few herbs still going strong like sage, thyme, and rosemary in the garden. But what flavor of cocktail do you think would be perfectly paired with turkey?

Yep. Sage. So 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.


Isn't that a great word?


I like that world too. 

Make up a fun name for your concoction.

Now, seriously, concoction is a really fabulous word.

bourbon and honey

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

I'll be making this again soon with lavender! I'll let you know how that turns out. Meanwhile my dinner guests raved about the unique flavor of this drink. Don't be afraid to try something new if you want a signature cocktail for a gathering you are throwing together.