Compounding Flavor (quick recipes!)


Holidays mean food.  I can’t actually think of any exception to that rule.  And it’s a good thing.  The problem with holiday food is time – guests or not, there’s rarely enough time to make everything you might envision.  So pick what you can/want to make and what you buy.  Dress up the store-bought stuff with some creativity and you get accolades with less work.  The world’s quickest trick to perk up the Easter table and make things look fancy & well thought out is compound butter.

This idea was pointed out to me by my former-chef sister-in-law, Kathleen, who has graciously agreed to lend her culinary creativity to our products.  (More to come on her amazing recipe ideas in future posts!)

Compound butter is simple because there aren’t hard & fast rules.  Use what you have, follow some basic proportions and it’s pretty much a guaranteed win.  Sweet or savory.  Vegan and dairy-free substitutions ok!  All can & should be made ahead.  Plus they can be frozen for months of use!

Here are a few recipes to get you going:

Savory Thoughts

herbs

Mix up the herbs

Spring Herb Butter – great for rolls, vegetables (mashed potatoes!), & meat

  • 1 tablespoon each minced fresh parsley, thyme and chives
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound softened unsalted butter

Prep:  Mix herbs and salt into butter; form into log, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate.

Lemon Caper Butter -also great for rolls and veggies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons capers

Prep:  Stir butter until smooth. Add in remaining ingredients and combine.  Wrap in wax paper in log form, twisting ends to seal.  Refrigerate 2-3 hours.  Slice as use as needed.

Sweet Idea

honey collection

Use good quality honey

Cinnamon Honey Butter – use on warm rolls, biscuits, corn bread, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal….

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Prep: stir or whip butter until light and smooth.  Stir in the honey & cinnamon until combined.  Mold into log, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate a few hours to set.

Variations:

Chile Honey – Substitute Chile honey for plain honey above and omit cinnamon.  Great

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Chile honey

Other flavor ideas: cranberry orange pistachio , cilantro lime, roasted garlic, and whatever else you like to pair up!

Please feel free to post comments on other combinations you enjoy.  Happy Easter!

 

 

 

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Boxes in Trees


I did a double take driving up the driveway last week.  A strange sight caught the corner of my eye.  It looked odd even though I was the one who put it there.  Just not something you see everyday, a box in a tree.  If it had’t been so level it could have been a prop from Twister or Wizard of Oz.

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Not a swarm box

I’ve been busy putting up swarm boxes across 2 counties this year.  The general idea is that a beekeeper can entice wild bees to relocate into our equipment and save us money from buying packages of bees.  Plus, we theoretically get bees who have naturally overwintered in our area and are hardy, “survivor” bees.  (Plus we save the $125 for a package of bees.). All good stuff.

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My Box at Ninja Cow Farm

Once a colony of bees decides to split up and swarm, the reigning queen & roughly half of the colony needs to find a new home.  Out go the real estate scout bees to find a variety of suitable locations for consideration.  The swarm leaves the old hive encase and  congregates on a nearby branch, tree, mailbox and have a rousing debate of Love it or List it until one scout bee convinces the group to choose her preferred location.  And off they go.

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Camera under-representing chaos & noise of a swarm

Beekeepers usually get phonically about the congregating stage.  “There’s a ball of bees on my house!”  Beekeeper promptly shifts to high gear to catch the swarm before the location decision is cemented.  Swarm boxes are kind of the opposite.  Instead of interrupting the impending swarm – we try to lure it in.

Beekeepers disagree about the value of swarms (and every other topic related to beekeeping).  Some think we should keep bees who aren’t prone to swarming, but this is a hard-wired characteristic.  It’s possible to breed it out (a la chicken example from my last post) but I’m not so sure it’s a good idea.  So I’m trying my hand with swarms this year.  Nothing ventured, nothing up a tree.  Or something like that.

If you braved Bug Out Shelter Part I, you may recall that 1 deep hive body has become known as the preferred home size for bees. We come up with all sorts of containers to put out as swarm traps (flower pots, coolers, homemade traps, etc.). I went the simple route and just ratcheted a deep hive into a tree. If I am fortunate enough to lure a swarm, I can move the frames out or take the whole thing down as a mobile home.

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This one was fun on a ladder

The rumored key to swarm traps is old comb.  It smells like cozy bees, has already furnished living space, and maybe some food stores – no place like home!  So this year all of my swarm boxes are outfitted with some grungy, well-loved comb and lots of places for them to build new digs.  I’ll be interested to see which (if any) sites bring in swarms.  Hopefully they will indeed be wild bees (not swarms from my own hives).

So keep your eyes peeled for balls of bees on mailboxes, or boxes in trees.  And stay tuned for Bug Out Shelter – Part II (coming soon) where I talk about my spring swarm strategy for my own hives.  These boxes in trees may be my last resort to catch wayward splits if my management strategy goes south.  So, pretty much a given.

First Event of the Year!


With all the birds and plants cheerleading Spring, it’s time for us to get out.  We will be at the NC State Farmers Market Craft Fair this Saturday 3/10 from 9am-5pm.  There are lots of handmade vendors from all categories plus the usual farmers, plants, and restaurants.  I’ll have all the honeys, handmade soaps, lotion bars, chicken eggs, and the legendary granola.  Plus I’m bringing out a couple of new soapy gift products. Great stuff for teacher gifts, Mothers Day, or whatever you are celebrating.

Floral Guest Soaps

I’ve also posted our tentative schedule of events for 2018 here on the site. I’ll update this with date confirmations as I get them.  As always, Facebook and Instagram are the best way to get last minute updates on where we will be.  Once Spring arrives in earnest, the bees will join us (in their observation hive) at our events.  I hope to see you at one of our shows!