Kanchani Milk

Golden Goddess Milk

Turmeric is a root, like ginger, but with a bright and glorious, rich golden hue. It’s hard to find in stores in its most natural root form, but you’ll find it easily in the spice aisle of any market. Turmeric is an old (4,000 year old) Ayurvedic and Tradition Chinese Medicine remedy for many ailments. In Sanskrit, turmeric’s name is “Kanchani” which means Golden Goddess. Turmeric truly is a goddess of healing. It is anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory. And, if all that wasn’t enough to get turmeric in your diet right NOW, there’s research on turmeric’s ability to fight cancer. HERE’s a link to a brief, but full-of-information article on circumin, the main healing ingredient in turmeric. If you are using turmeric for an acute health condition, I recommend sourcing ALL organic ingredients to lessen your toxic load while trying to heal.

You may wonder why there’s black pepper added to the recipe. The black pepper works as a catalyst with the turmeric to make the healing properties available to the body. Just a little pepper is enough to release the circumin.

Kanchani Milk

Makes 2 – 8oz. servings

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. raw whole milk (or almond milk)
  • 4T raw local honey or to taste
  • 1T coconut butter or coconut cream, melted and warm, not hot
  • 1t dried turmeric
  • 1t chia seeds
  • 1t real vanilla extract
  • 1t local bee pollen
  • ¼t dried ginger
  • ¼t cardamom
  • ⅛t freshly fine-ground black pepper
  • a couple shakes of cinnamon

Directions: Put all ingredients in a large mason jar, cover, and shake until all ingredients combine. If you find that some of the dried spices are clumping you can use a blender or a stick blender to incorporate the ingredients. Let the milk sit for an hour or so for the chia seeds to expand before drinking.

Drink as is, refrigerated, or slightly warmed.

 

 

Pumpkin Coconut Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

PUmpkinBread

This is so perfect for fall. That’s all I can say about my recipe.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Coconut Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients:

3C all-purpose flour (I used Cup4Cup gluten-free flour)

2C organic natural sugar

2C organic canned pumpkin

1½C semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (soy-free)

1C melted organic cultured unsalted butter, allowed to cool a bit

½C melted organic, extra virgin coconut oil, allowed to cool a bit

¼C organic shredded coconut

4 large eggs (I used 5 small-medium eggs from my chickens)

2t cinnamon

1t sea salt

1t baking soda

1t vanilla

Directions: Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare the loaf pans by greasing with butter or using a Coconut Spray oil. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cinnamon, sea salt, baking soda, and chocolate chips. Give it a quick stir

In a small bowl combine the wet ingredients: pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to combine and then add the warm, but not hot, butter and coconut oil. Stir until all ingredients are combined.

Slowly add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir gently and only to combine; do not over-mix or you will create gluten and it will make your bread tough. We’re going for a tender loaf.

Pour batter evenly between the two prepared loaf pans. Tamp on the counter to get the batter to settle and use spoon to even out the top. Sprinkle both loaves with the shredded coconut.

Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for 10-15 minutes. Remove from loaf pan to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Enjoy. It’s so good.

Note: I use organic ingredients as much as possible and do not always write ‘organic’ into my recipes. All my organic ingredients are found at local farm stands,  farmer’s markets, Market Basket, Whole Foods, Vitacost.com, or Amazon.com.

Wildflower Honey Liqueur

HoneyLiqueurBottle

This honey liqueur is simply delicious. It is an adaptation I made from Jane Lawson’s Snowflakes and Schnapps cookbook. It’s a beautifully done cookbook, rich with food photos and simple, wholesome (and gourmet) recipes. I highly recommend getting yourself a copy, not just for the visual feast, but the way she takes you on a culinary tour of Europe with her recipes.

There’s something about this liqueur that says sweet comfort. It’s full of flavor, and if you’re sipping it neat you can really taste the subtle flavors. Before you make this decide on what kind of honey to use. If you want a more robust, earthy flavor (my favorite) use the darker fall harvest honey. If you would prefer a lighter, more delicate flavor that will highlight the infusion, choose the lighter, spring harvest honey.

HoneyLiqueurInPan

Honey and Saffron Liqueur, adapted from Jane Lawson

Makes 1 Litre

Ingredients:

  • 750ml bottle of good vodka
  • ½C water
  • 1C dark, fall honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise, and finely chopped
  • 10 white peppercorns
  • ¼t freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 pinches of saffron threads
  • 3 strips of lemon zest, white pith removed

Directions:

Put the honey, water, cinnamon stick, chopped vanilla bean, peppercorns, nutmeg, and saffron in a saucepan and bring just to boil. Quickly reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest and set aside to infuse for 20 minutes.

Reheat until simmering, then remove from the heat and cool completely. Once cooled, strain through a fine mesh sieve, and add the vodka. Carefully pour into a sterilized airtight bottle and allow to the flavors to infuse at room temperature for a week before drinking.

Serving Suggestions:

  1. Neat (my favorite way) or On The Rocks.
  2. Martini: 2 parts vodka or gin, 1 part honey liqueur. Add a lemon twist.
  3. Whiskey/Scotch/Bourbon: equal parts honey liqueur and spirits, iced or neat.

Cassoulet

Cassoulet on Plate closeup

I didn’t set out to create my own cassoulet recipe, but when I started to prep for the recipe I pulled off the internet I soon realized how off the recipe was. I knew it wouldn’t turn out right – the recipe quantities just didn’t add up. It was then that I decided that I would make my own cassoulet. I chucked the internet recipe in the trash, got out my notepad, and started working my recipe.

The star of a cassoulet is the duck leg confit. I couldn’t find fresh, local duck legs to make my own duck confit. D’Artagnan sells their packaged duck breasts at small markets and at Whole Foods, but not fresh duck legs. Fresh are nearly impossible to find. And so, after some frustrated sighs, I decided that I would put my duck leg search on hold and start searching for an online source. I quickly found THE duck website: D’Artagnan. They sell hard-to-find game meats, source organic and natural, and they deliver quickly and inexpensively. Perfect. I ordered their duck confit, garlic pork sausage, duck sausage, and duck fat. Shipping only cost $8.95 for my entire order and it arrived packed on ice in only two days.

My family loved this dish and I think you will too. I served it with a side of braised kale with garlic.

CassouletIn Oven

Cassoulet

Ingredients:

  • 4 duck legs confit
  • 1# Great Northern white beans
  • ½# duck sausage, sliced into 1” pieces
  • ½# pork garlic sausage, sliced into 1” pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 3/4” pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 3C chicken stock
  • ¼C duck fat
  • 1t dried thyme
  • sea salt to taste
  • fresh parsley to garnish

Crumb crust: 1C fresh breadcrumbs (I made mine with crackers) + 1T melted duck fat. Do NOT use store-bought breadcrumbs here.

Directions: Soak the Great Northern beans overnight. After 24 hours put the beans in a large stockpot and cover with water at least 3” above the beans. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to medium-high to keep them on a low boil for about 45 minutes. The beans should be tender, but still a bit firm; they will continue to cook in the cassoulet and you don’t want them to fall apart because they were overcooked. Drain the beans, and pour into your cassoulet pan or large Dutch oven.

In a large, cast iron skillet, brown the duck and pork sausages in half of the duck fat. Remove the sausage from the pan and add it to the beans. Make sure you scrape off all the burnt sausage bits from the bottom of your skillet – that’s where all the flavor is. Add the grease drippings, too. It will keep your cassoulet moist. Add the diced onion, minced garlic, chopped carrots, diced tomatoes, thyme, chicken stock, and all but 1T of duck fat to the beans and sausage. Place the 4 duck confit legs into the mixture. If the mixture isn’t covered by the chicken stock, add just enough to cover.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the duck legs and place them on a cutting board to cool down. Keep the cassoulet on simmer while you pick the duck meat off the bone. Return the duck meat to the cassoulet, discard the bones, and continue simmering on low heat, covered, for another 1.5 hours. If the cassoulet looks too soupy, take the cover off while it simmers. The stock will cook down and the flavors will become more concentrated, but be watchful so you don’t let it get dry.

Preheat oven to 375°.

After simmering on low heat for two hours on the stovetop, place the cassoulet into the oven with the cover off. Check periodically to see if the cassoulet is getting too dry. If it is too dry, add a bit more chicken stock.

Bake the cassoulet for an hour at 375 degrees. While the cassoulet is baking, prepare the crust, and have a well-deserved glass of wine.

To make the crumbs, place 2 cups of saltines or chowder crackers in a baggie. Roll over the baggie with a rolling pin until the crumbs are coarse. Pour the crumbs into a small bowl and stir in the leftover tablespoon of melted duck fat. After the cassoulet has baked for an hour, remove it from the oven and top with the crumbs.

Bake for another 30-45 minutes or until the crust is a nice, golden brown.

Bon Appetit!

Cassoulet on Plate

Honey Crêpes

Crepe

Cooking breakfast is my least favorite meal to prepare. I love going out for breakfast. There’s something just so perfect about waking up and having someone else make the first meal of the day for you. We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not make it special and start your day off great? A sit-down-at-the-table breakfast is the best way to start the day. Weekends are when I really look forward to a nice breakfast. Here is my recipe for crêpes filled with honey-walnut cream cheese. They are light, loaded with flavor and a bit of crunch, then finished with a sweet drizzle of raw honey. Serve with sliced fresh fruit. Add some jazz music, a pot of French press coffee, a newspaper, and your weekend has begun.

Honey Crêpes

Makes about 16 medium or 8 large crêpes

Batter ingredients:

  • ⅔C unbleached pastry flour or Cup4Cup gluten-free flour
  • ½C whole milk
  • 2 farm fresh eggs, room temperature
  • 2T liquid raw honey
  • butter

eggbatter

Filling ingredients:

  • 8oz. cream cheese (one brick), room temperature
  • ½C chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 3T liquid raw honey

Creamcheese filling

Directions:

In a small bowl, using a fork, mash together the cream cheese, honey, and walnuts. Keep stirring until all ingredients are combined. Set aside. In a larger bowl, whisk the flour, milk, eggs, and honey until you have a smooth batter.

Heat a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat, then dot with butter. Drop a dollop of batter onto the pan, rotating it to slide the batter around the pan. You will have to decide how large you want your crêpe and adjust the amount your pour into your pan accordingly. Cook on one side for about 1 minute, then carefully flip over and cook the other side an addition 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat until your batter is gone.

Fill the crepe with 1 large tablespoon of the cream cheese filling, spread it on the crêpe to even it out, then fold or roll your crêpe.

Drizzle with honey before serving.

 

 

Honeybees and Me

From 2011 when I first became a beekeeper, reposted here and taken from my previous blog on iWeb. BEFORE I LOST MY TWO HIVES FROM MOSQUITO SPRAYING IN MY TOWN. See addendum at bottom.

Apis mellifera

I had been thinking about keeping honey bees for some time now, and this winter I decided to go for it. What was I waiting for? (I’m not good at waiting anyway) Because of CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder, mosquito spraying, and increased consumer pesticide use the honey bees need our help. Since 2006, honey bees have been mysteriously disappearing. There are many theories out there, mostly related to heavy pesticide use on big, monoculture farms but no one is completely sure what the cause is. However, scientists agree that something has to be done to save the honey bee. One-third of the food we eat is pollinated by the honey bee. One-third! It’s very alarming to think what would happen to our food supply if we didn’t have the honey bee. I also learned that almond growers in California utilize migratory beekeepers to pollinate, using 1.3 million colonies of bees (HALF of all honey bees in the US) that are shipped there every year.

Queen Bee in her cage
Queen Bee in her cage

“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.”  ~ Albert Einstein

I recently watched a new documentary, narrated by Ellen Page, titled Vanishing of The Bees. I highly recommend you get your hands on this or find a local screening and see what is happening all over the world. It’s heartbreaking. And scary! One hopeful part of the movie is learning that Germany and France banned the use of the pesticide Clothianidin (a neonicotinoid) and within a year the honeybee colonies began to come back. Not so in the United States.

I always thought I needed acreage and farmland to keep bees, but I was wrong. There are many backyard and city beekeepers. Most are self-proclaimed “closet” beekeepers. And since lifting the ban on beekeeping, New York now has a high, and growing, number of roof-top beehives. At a recent Essex County Beekeepers Association (ECBA for short) meeting I was told that there were 1,000 new beekeepers last year in Massachusetts. Impressive and hopeful numbers for sure. You probably have beekeepers in your neighborhood and don’t know it. Beekeepers usually don’t advertise their hives because neighbors are misinformed and can get anxious. But there’s no need to be anxious. Be thankful. We need the bees. Your trees, flowers, and vegetable garden need them. They selflessly work themselves to death tending to the needs of the colony. And aren’t we lucky to get our plants and trees pollinated and receive health-giving honey and beeswax in return?

installing two packages of bees into my new hives
installing two packages of bees into my new hives

Honey bees are often lumped into the same category as wasps and hornets. Yellowjackets, Bald-faced hornets, and other species of bees do not have barbs on their stingers and can, and will, sting you repeatedly if you get too close to them or their nest. My husband was a target of nasty Bald-face hornets last year when he accidentally disturbed their basketball-sized paper nest in one of our bushes. Wasps and hornets are more aggressive than honey bees and they are omnivores, too. Wasps and hornets are the unwanted visitors that join your backyard barbecue and eat your grilled food and sip your sweet tea. A honey bee will NOT do that. They’re too busy finding nectar.

note the differences
note the differences

“That which we experience within ourselves only at a time when our hearts develop love is actually the very same thing that is present as a substance in the entire beehive. The whole beehive is permeated with life based on love. In many ways the bees renounce love, and thereby this love develops within the entire beehive.” ~ Rudolph Steiner

packages installed
packages installed

Some interesting and little-known facts about honeybees:

  • A honey bee will only sting to defend the hive or itself.
  • A honey bee will die after stinging because their stinger has barbs. Their insides will come out as they try to fly away because the barbed stinger is stuck in your skin.
  • Only the worker bee (a daughter of the queen) will sting. Queens don’t leave the hive to defend it. Drones don’t have stingers.
  • A hive consists of a Queen, female worker bees, and a few drones.
  • Drones don’t work, they have to be fed by the worker bees, and their only job in life is to mate with a Queen (if they’re lucky enough to find one). If a drone does mates he quickly dies because his mating parts get stuck in the Queen.
  • A swarm of honey bees is docile. They are surrounding and protecting the queen while the scout bees look for a good home.
  • The temperature inside a hive, around the cluster, is a constant 93°.
  • On a hot day, worker bees will position themselves just inside and right outside the entrance and fan their wings to create airflow, much like a fan.
  • Honey bees come out of the hive about 8-10′ and then they fly up, up, up over an area of up to 5 miles to find the best nectar and pollen sources.
  • Honey bees return home in the evening.
  • Honey bees have species fidelity – they find one type of flower and will stick with it. Other types of wasps and bumblebees will fly from flower to flower no matter what the source.
  • A worker honey bee produced a few droplets of honey in her short six-week lifetime.
  • A Queen honey bee can live up to 5 years and lays about 1,500 eggs a day during the warmer months.
  • People have been collecting honey for 10,000 years. Cave paintings from Spain depict ancient beekeepers climbing to get to the hive.
  • The word “honeymoon” comes from medieval Europe when a traditional gift of honey mead, enough to last one moon cycle (a month), was given as a gift to newly married couples. It literally was a moon of honey.
  • Honey was once used as currency.
  • Honey is used on burns for its healing qualities.
  • Honey is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and full of antioxidants. Honey contains enzymes, minerals, and vitamins.
  • Diabetics can enjoy honey.
  • Honey is hygroscopic. It attracts moisture, making it great for your skin.
one of my girls getting water with her long proboscis
one of my girls getting water with her long proboscis

For more information click on the links below:

Nature Documentary Silence of the Bees

Vanishing of the Bees DVD

Queen of the Sun DVD

Associations:

Essex County Beekeepers Association

Massachusetts Beekeepers Association

Eastern Apicultural Society

American Beekeepers Federation

American Apitherapy Society

Recommended reading:

The Backyard Beekeeper – Revised and Updated: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden, by Kim Flottum

The Backyard Beekeeper’s Honey Handbook, by Kim Flottum

Honey Bee Hobbyist, by Norman Gary, Ph.D.

The Beekeeper’s Handbook, by Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile

Beekeeping for Dummies, 2nd Edition, by Howland Blackiston

Bees, by Rudolph Steiner

Wisdom of the Bees, by Erik Berrevoets (biodynamic beekeeping)

Addendum – 2014

** Watch Harvard Professor Dr. Lu discuss CCD and pesticide use in MA with Essex County Beekeepers HERE, courtesy of Marty Jessel, Essex County beekeeper.  PS: Essex County has the highest level of neonicotinoids, the systemic and cumulative pesticides that are known to kill honey bees and other pollinators.

** Hear Dr. Lu on The Neonicotinoid View: Harvard’s Dr Lu Discusses Pesticide Exposure & Health Risk HERE.

** GARDENER’S BEWARE! Friends of the Earth sampled plants from box stores. Your bee-friendly garden may not be so friendly after all. Please watch HERE

** HERE is a list from the Center For Food Safety of common products that consumers can purchase that contain bee-killing neonicotinoids. You may not even be aware that what you’re putting on your trees, roses, lawn or garden is creating a toxic wasteland for pollinators.

There is growing group of beekeepers and concerned citizens working for change at the city, state, and country level. Things will change if we work together. If you are interested and willing to join in efforts to protect pollinators, please contact me.