Busy bees are making honey for themselves ... and our pantries
With nature coming into full bloom, it is an exhausting time for bees. That's why the worker bees, who are all female, by the way, live only about six weeks in the summer. They live between four and nine months in colder times of the year.
And there is no rest for the weary; honey bees never sleep.
This was news to me: Honey bees are not native to North America but were brought over from Europe in the 1600s. And that proved to be huge, given the fact that honeybees provide pollination to about 80 percent of fruit, veggie and seed crops in this country today.
Honey bees have more amazing stats.
They fly at a 15-mph clip.
Their wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, which accounts for the buzzing sound.
And, honeybees are the only insect that produce food for humans.
Which is why we're here today. A colleague asked for recipes of any kind that use honey in a noticeable way.
The “Food Lovers Companion” has a few sage words about honey for the kitchen. One, the darker the color, the stronger the flavor (in general). Two, it's important to know type of blossom. For example, a buckwheat honey will be a much stronger flavor than a orange blossom honey. Now, I have never seen buckwheat honey but I get the point. All honey is not the same.
Pat Jarvis of Mount Pleasant pointed to two sources for recipes.
She says the Savannah Bee Company, which has a store on King Street, has a good number of recipes on its website.
Check them out at www.savannahbee.com. (Honey Peach Pie caught my eye immediately).
Pat also likes the recipe for Honey Glazed Field Peas in the “Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook.”
“I have used Sea Island Red Peas from Anson Mills for this, and the peas were delicious,” she says.
I happen to have the cookbook in my office, so here goes:
Matt's Honey Glazed Field Peas
For 6 people
1 pound dried field peas (21/3 cups), picked over and rinsed
8 cups water
3/4 cup aromatic honey, such as palmetto, tupelo or cotton, divided for use
3/4 cup dry sherry
6 ounces country ham, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large yellow onion, trimmed, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Place the field peas and the water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover tightly (with aluminum foil if the pan doesn't have its own lid), reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the peas are just tender, about 35 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a 3-quart enameled cast-iron pot or casserole, combine the peas, 1/2 cup of the honey, the sherry, ham, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir in 21/2 cups of the reserved pea-cooking liquid. Cover and bake for about 11/2 hours, or until the peas are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Uncover, drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup of honey on top, and bake until all of liquid has been absorbed and the peas are glazed, about 45 minutes. Serve hot.
Gin Bell of Charleston writes, “I've enclosed a recipe for chicken wings that uses a lot of honey. It's adapted from Bobby Deen's TV show where he cuts back on the calories of his mother's recipes.”
Gin says they have taken them to several parties and “we never get to bring any home.”
Bobby's Chicken Wings
3 pounds chicken wings
Salt and pepper to taste (see cook's note)
1/2 cup hot sauce
1/4 cup honey
Cook's note: The Bells also suggest substituting Kirkland (Costco) brand Organic No-Salt Seasoning or Dash for the salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash and clean wings and cut into pieces. Trim away visible fat.
Season wings with salt and pepper (or a no-salt blend, if desired). Place wings on a jelly roll pan and spray lightly with canola cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the hot sauce and honey to make a sauce. Brush sauce over baked chicken wings. Return wings to oven and broil for 5 minutes.
The Greeks are well-known for their honeyed treats, and so I was not surprised to hear from Mary Larry of Charleston with recipes from the local community cookbook classic, “Popular Greek Recipes.” (The cookbook will be available at the upcoming Greek Festival, May 10-12 at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.)
Despite its name, this cake is bound to be delicious any time of the year.
Lenten Honey Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pineapple or orange juice or water
1 cup chopped nuts
1 (10-ounce) package dates, chopped
1/2 cup grated coconut, optional
1 cup raisins
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Add honey, vanilla, juice or water, nuts, dates, coconut and raisins. Mix well. Pour batter into a well-floured 10-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Who's got the recipe?
With a greater variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables becoming available, a colleague asked for good and/or creative recipes for making smoothies.
A West Ashley reader requests recipes for grits casseroles.
Looking for a recipe or have one to share? Email email@example.com or call Food and Features Editor Teresa Taylor at 937-4886.