Cooking With Honey – BLT And Blue Salad

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I made this salad on Christmas Eve and will make it again on New Year’s Eve.  It’s best if you make the dressing well in advance so the flavors have time to blend. My family tells me that the leftovers  are even good the next day!

Yield:  4 – 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Dash of Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce

1/2 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

6 ounces blue cheese, preferably Maytag, crumbled fine

6 cups hearts of Romaine lettuce (about three heads) You may substitute iceberg lettuce

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts (For how to toast, see below) You may substitute pine nuts

6 ounces crispy bacon

3 Roma tomatoes, finely diced

2 scallions, chopped

Directions:

Whisk together the first 10 ingredients except for the blue cheese. Once mixed, stir in 4 ounces of the crumbled blue cheese; cover and refrigerate until service. Overnight is even better. Taste for and adjust seasoning with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Tear or slice the lettuce into chunks. In a mixing bowl, toss the lettuce with as much dressing as desired as well as half the bacon, tomatoes and toasted nuts.

Place the salad mixture into individual bowls or on plates, pour on dressing as desired,  and sprinkle with remaining blue cheese, bacon, tomatoes and nuts. Garnish with chopped scallions. Enjoy!

How to toast Hazelnuts:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a baking pan toast hazelnuts in one layer in middle of oven 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly colored and skins are blistered. Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and let steam 1 minute. Rub nuts in towel to remove loose skins (don’t worry about skins that don’t come off) and cool completely.

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Cooking With Honey – Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

mushroom lasagna

I love this recipe for this time of year! Nothing out of season and intensely fulfilling, both in taste and texture. Perfect to have on hand for lunches or late night snacking. Enjoy!

Yield:  6 servings

Ingredients:

Kosher salt

Good olive oil

3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles

4 cups whole milk

12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon honey

1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms

1 cup freshly ground Parmesan

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt and a splash of oil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.

For the white sauce, bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, the pepper, and nutmeg, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring first with the wooden spoon and then with a whisk, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick. Add honey and set aside off heat

Separate the mushroom stems from the caps and discard the stems. Slice the caps 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan. When the butter melts, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and they release some of their juices. If they become too dry, add a little more oil. Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set all the mushrooms aside.

To assemble the lasagna, spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce, then 1/3 of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan. Repeat 2 more times, layering noodles, sauce, mushrooms, and Parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot.

Salted Honey and Chocolate Bark

Awesome Recipe!!

Seattle Foodshed

We love the complex flavors of this bark recipe from Bon Appetit: the earthiness of the cacao nibs and coffee + the sweetness of the cherries and chocolate + the saltiness of the crumbled saltines and sea salt flakes. The flavors may be complex, but making these cookies is easy.

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The Winter Solstice And The Bees

Winter cluster!!

Romancing the Bee

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The Winter Solstice is the real beginning of the cycle of the New Year.

It marks the shortest day and longest night of the year, when the sun’s daily maximum elevation in the sky is the lowest.

The Solstice officially arrived at the same instant for all of us on Earth – 11:12 UTC – but our clocks say different times due to varying time zones.

This year the Winter Solstice in Cincinnati happened this morning at 6:12 a.m. EST.

hive in winter

After the Winter Solstice the days gradually get longer until spring season arrives. It’s  important to honey bees and how they manage their hive throughout the winter.

Within the darkness of the hive, unable to see that the light lasts a bit longer each day, the Queen Bee senses that the Solstice has arrived. The Winter Solstice is one of the first signs to her that it is time to take up…

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Holidays With Honey – The Winter Solstice Cocktail

Celebrate!

Romancing the Bee

winter-solstice

The pomegranate has been used throughout history and in almost every religion as a symbol of humanity’s most fundamental beliefs and desires, including life and death, rebirth and eternal life, fertility and marriage, abundance and prosperity. Almost every aspect of the pomegranate has come to symbolize something . . . its shape, color, seeds, juice.

It’s very fitting that the Winter Solstice cocktail should feature pomegranate juice.

Ingredients

2 oz vodka

3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

1/2 oz pomegranate juice

1 oz honey

Orange wedge

Directions

Add vodka, lemon juice, pomegranate juice, and honey to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a short or highball glass with ice. Garnish with an orange wedge. Drink up and repeat!

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Welcome The Winter Solstice

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Today is the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the shortest daylight period and longest night of the year.

At 12:11 p.m. EST on December 21, the sun appears directly overhead along the Tropic of Capricorn, at 23.5 degrees south latitude. With the Earth’s north pole at its maximum tilt from the sun, locations north of the equator see the sun follow its lowest and shortest arc across the southern sky. For the next six months, the days again grow longer as the sun spends more time above the horizon.

solstice

The December solstice has influenced the lives of many people over the centuries, particularly through art, literature, mythology and religion. 

In the northern hemisphere, the December solstice occurs during the coldest season of the year. Although winter was regarded as the season of dormancy, darkness and cold, the coming of lighter days after the winter solstice brought on a more festive mood. To many people, this return of the light was a reason to celebrate that nature’s cycle was continuing.

In modern times Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas, which falls on December 25. However, it is believed that this date was chosen to offset pagan celebrations of Saturnalia and Natalis Invicti. Some believe that celebrating the birth of the “true light of the world” was set in synchronization with the December solstice because from that point onwards, the days began to have more daylight in the northern hemisphere.

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Christmas is also referred to as Yule, which may have derived from the Norse word jól, referring to the pre-Christian winter solstice festival. Yule is also known as Alban Arthan and was one of the “Lesser Sabbats” of the Wiccan year in a time when ancient believers celebrated the rebirth of the Sun God and days with more light. This took place annually around the time of the December solstice and lasted for 12 days. The Lesser Sabbats fall on the solstices and equinoxes.

The Feast of Juul was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the December solstice. Fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. A Yule or Juul log was brought in and burned on the hearth in honor of the Scandinavian god Thor.

yule log

A piece of the log was kept as both a token of good luck and as kindling for the following year’s log. In England, Germany, France and other European countries, the Yule log was burned until nothing but ash remained. The ashes were then collected and either strewn on the fields as fertilizer every night until Twelfth Night or kept as a charm and or as medicine.

French peasants believed that if the ashes were kept under the bed, they would protect the house against thunder and lightning. The present-day custom of lighting a Yule log at Christmas is believed to have originated in the bonfires associated with the feast of Juul.

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In Ancient Rome the winter (December) solstice festival Saturnalia began on December 17 and lasted for seven days. It was held to honor Saturn, the father of the gods and was characterized by the suspension of discipline and reversal of the usual order. Grudges and quarrels were forgotten while businesses, courts and schools were closed. Wars were interrupted or postponed and slaves were served by their masters. Masquerades often occurred during this time.

It was traditional to offer gifts of imitation fruit (a symbol of fertility), dolls (symbolic of the custom of human sacrifice), and candles (reminiscent of the bonfires traditionally associated with pagan solstice celebrations). A mock king was chosen, usually from a group of slaves or criminals, and although he was permitted to behave in an unrestrained manner for seven days of the festival, he was usually killed at the end. The Saturnalia eventually degenerated into a week-long spree of debauchery and crime – giving rise to the modern use of the tern saturnalia, meaning a period of unrestrained license and revelry.

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In Poland the ancient December solstice observance prior to Christianity involved people showing forgiveness and sharing food. It was a tradition that can still be seen in what is known as Gody. In the northwestern corner of Pakistan, a festival called Chaomos, takes place among the Kalasha or Kalash Kafir people. It lasts for at least seven days, including the day of the December solstice. It involves ritual baths as part of a purification process, as well as singing and chanting, a torchlight procession, dancing, bonfires and festive eating.

Many Christians celebrate St Thomas’ Day in honor of St Thomas the Apostle on December 21. In Guatemala on this day, Mayan Indians honor the sun god they worshipped long before they became Christians with a dangerous ritual known as the polo voladore, or “flying pole dance”. Three men climb on top of a 50-foot pole. As one of them beats a drum and plays a flute, the other two men wind a rope attached to the pole around one foot and jump. If they land on their feet, it is believed that the sun god will be pleased and that the days will start getting longer. Some churches celebrate St Thomas’ Day on other days in the year.

The ancient Incas celebrated a special festival to honor the sun god at the time of the December solstice. In the 16th century ceremonies were banned by the Roman Catholics in their bid to convert the Inca people to Christianity. A local group of Quecia Indians in Cusco, Peru, revived the festival in the 1950s. It is now a major festival that begins in Cusco and proceeds to an ancient amphitheater a few miles away.

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Ghost Stories For Christmas, Part III

I love this series…

Romancing the Bee

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Prior to the 19th century, the telling of ghost stories at Yuletide was largely an oral tradition. However, the Victorian Era brought industrial advances that made printing cheaper than ever before,  and the pastime of reading, once the preserve of the monied classes, boomed across all sectors of society. The Victorians were obsessed with ghosts and spiritualism, and there was a huge flowering of supernatural fiction during that era.

Periodicals, magazines, penny-dreadfuls and annuals published ghost stories throughout the year, but the form reached its peak at Christmastime.  Holiday gatherings provided the perfect audience at such a special time, plus supernatural tales appealed to both the young and the old.

Most of the famous literary names from the period produced such stories in addition to those they’re better known for – writers such as Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Elizabeth Gaskell (

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