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Maple Syrup demonstrations will be announced seasonally.
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Just BEE-ing.........Some Happy Little Thoughts This Day
2018 March Covert Ops Training Report (or How the Maple Sap Run is Going)
Never did I realize how much work went into processing sap into the deliciousness of syrup! I may be repeating myself from my earlier entry, but it most certainly is true and worthy of details.
Another aspect of the entire operation is how John finds the time and energy for this rewarding hobby. I do not even come close to doing the work John does in order for us to release a sap run into a strainer! He on the other hand stays as night approaches, keeping watch over the pans, holding tanks, gauges. while together with the intense fire dying down, does he finally call it a day. Mind you, he most likely cut or built an entire kitchen during the earlier part of the day and unloaded a truck full of plywood as most of you know, as part of his daily routine in his 36 year cabinet business.
For me, I made snowshoe trails in 40+ inches of fresh snow for accessibility around the homestead, filled our firewood box for a 2 day supply, and cleared off 2 decks. I walk two large dogs 3 times a day as I am a pet sitting Grandma. So the trails are needed for Norm, Carl, and to enable me to reach our bee hives. As the heavy wet snow accumulations nearly buried them, I make sure they are cleared from snow as ventilation is critical. Plus, some bees are assigned to remove waste together with bees which have died, so I am happy to lend a hand.
Walking the 3 1/2 acres through the tractor path leading to our sap house, I see John carrying filled sap buckets through the deep snow to the holding tanks. Although most of our trees have a sap line connection, some remain with buckets attached. We then begin sawing fallen trees and loading the tractor for the never ending wood supply needed to boil down the sap.
As I write, I hear the tractor approaching from the woods below. John enters with a large stock pot filled with Grade A Rich Amber and begins bottling it into 2 gallons worth of jugs. I think the SEALS would be proud of our efforts. We will have no trouble sleeping well. No gym membership needed this season. I have great appreciation for Special OPS and for Maple Syrup Farmers.
Sweet maple sap dreams my friends!
Lava Mug Cake and A March Snow
(Recipe By: Nutella Mug Cakes & More by Keda Black, Hardie Grant Books)
Rather than picking up a shovel or brushing off my early Spring silk flower decorations from the daily snowfalls, I decided to check out my baking supplies. Part of the joy of making these lovelies is you most likely have the ingredients, and since they take only a couple of minutes to make.....well, hold onto your chocolate chips and get to it!
It’s funny how things come into life. I know these quick, easy recipes have been around for some time, but trying them today while being snowed in was my first try. I’m finding recipes for these mug cakes just about anywhere, from the internet to magazines. (I have recently seen them ready to go into the microwave in a packaged version in the grocery stores, complete with a microwavable paper cup!). (I may need to get out more I think). What really enticed me however was seeing a beautiful picture in a magazine, complete with a simple recipe. So I share this now with you in hopes it will bring as much delicious ease and convenience to your home and guests.
Note: I used a large soup mug type above. This recipe made a single serving in each, but as this is so rich and decadent, it was perfect!
Ingredients & Instructions
2 tblsp. Butter, 6 tblsp. Chocolate chips, 4 tblsp. Sugar, 1 egg, 2 tblsp. Flour, 2 tblsp. Nutella, 1 tsp. Chopped nuts of your choice.
Microwave 1 tblsp. Butter & 3 tblsp. Chocolate chips into 2 large mugs.
In a bowl, beat egg and add half the beaten egg into each mug.
Mix in 1 tblsp. Flour into each mug.
Add 1 tblsp.Nutella to the center of each mug.
Cook each cake in the microwave one at a time for 1 min., until tops of cake turn opaque.
Cool for 1 min. Top with whipped cream and nuts if desired. I used a garnish of my fresh lavender shown here).....and a drizzle of our delicious honey!
Some happy little things this day
A Fresh New Season
Here in the Northeast, we experienced the Arctic Blasts of January and currently Spring-like temperatures in February. The cold at night together with warm temperatures during the days have created perfect maple syrup runs. John first began trying out the art in the ‘90’s, but I on the other hand have never known about the process, other than picking up a cute little jug from a country roadside shop.
I appreciate John’s accomplishments while having the luxury of sitting on benches in a 10’x20’ sweet little wood structure John made. After learning how he first began boiling down sap, I am not so sure I am as hardy a soul. Compared to his early days of sitting in an open field with just the protection of an umbrella against the Winter elements, the sap house is pretty close to Heaven! And we are already planning big changes for 2019, with hopes of having a public viewing area of the process!
I cherish our evening hours as we babysit the sap intake into the holding tanks, while keeping a close eye on levels of sap being boiled down, and not to mention regularly loading wood into a roaring fire. I watch, listen and learn intently from John’s wisdom. Although he humbly insists he is just a hobbyist, he never ceases to amaze me with the equipment malfunctions and obstacles he has overcome in order to keep his hobby going through life’s ups and downs. Two days ago for instance one of the syrup tank seams came apart and we lost a fair amount of sap. Somehow through the thick walls of steam, he heard a sizzle and smelled sap burning which caused him to act! In an instant he removed burning logs from the massive fire into our nearby pond. He monitored each gauge, attempting to prevent any further loss of the precious liquid.
Unless you have experienced tapping hundreds of Maple trees and connecting miles of hosing in knee deep snow together with very cold temperatures will you know how we felt watching sap wasted from our tank malfunction. But do not take this as a cry for sympathy. Maple syrup processing is an art for certain. An art like all others full of much passion and commitment. For me, it is a beautiful work we continue as did indigenous people of long ago. From early tribes placing heated stones into logs carved to hold and boil sap, to John and I reminiscing in our little sap house.....we can easily make case of maple syrup processing as indeed an art form.
And this my friends leads to more future writings as after 3 weeks of preparing and working, we still have not been able to bottle one jug!
Wait.....Until just now......
It’s a Pickled Eggs and Pumpkin Bran Muffins Kind of Day
February 26, 2018
I started out today thinking of putting together an interesting breakfast. I think I nailed it, don’t you? Here’s a nice twist on Sweet ‘n Salty and it’s a not-so-bad-for-you excursion too. For some reason I thought pickling anything was a bit intimidating, but not so! Just hard boil and peel some eggs, mix up some spices into vinegar and water, then pack it all into some clean jars! We tried them after 3 days and, they tasted like pickled eggs! So go ahead. Enjoy....even for breakfast!
* 12 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cooled
* 1 tsp. Dill (or use fresh herbs if you have them).
* 1 clove garlic or 1 tsp. crushed in the jar
* 3 cups white vinegar
* 1 cup water
* 1 teaspoon coarse salt
* 1 large onion, thinly sliced
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/3 cup sugar (give or take)
* 4 teaspoons pickling spices
* Clean glass jars with twist on lids
(Note: if you use pickling spice without cloves, the brine will not turn brown).
Mix ingredients together while dissolving sugar. Place your eggs in glass
Jars together with the mixture and refrigerate. Don’t be afraid to push the eggs in nice and cozy. I kept flipping the jars so the onions and spices moved around the eggs. We sampled our first on the third day and enjoyed them very much!
Pumpkin Bran Muffins
1 1/2 cups Oat Bran
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 cu brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup pumpkin
4 tbsp. Oil
Options: walnuts, diced apples, raisins, dates or chocolate chips are great additions.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line or grease 12 muffin cups. Stir dry ingredients together, then add remaining. Mix well with spoon. Batter will be heavy and dense, (even after baking). Bake for 15 minutes. Options: Serve warm with butter, drizzle with honey or powdered sugar for an extra little something. Whip up some softened cream cheese and add honey, Cayenne Pepper and a sprig of fresh parsley to taste. Ooo la la!