Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Taste of Honey

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the June 22, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

From the Library - A Taste of Honey by Charlotte Canelli

My husband, Gerry, has a bucket list just like the rest of us. It isn’t a formal bucket list, of course, because most of us keep the list in our heads, checking off and adding on as the years pass and add up.

He confessed several years ago that he had long had a desire to try beekeeping, I was, at first, skeptical. I wasn’t a honey lover, after all, and I most certainly didn’t have any affection for bees. The honeys my family had always purchased at the grocery store didn’t excite me much.

And yet, as spouses do, I encouraged him and was excited for his new venture. We started trying honeys from around the country and the world. I fell particularly in love with some wonderful honeys from Hawaii. I brought home butterbean honey from an Amish farm stand in Philadelphia. We tried buckwheat, blueberry, raspberry, woods, acacia, black locust, basswood, clover, huckleberry, lavender, orange blossom, Tupelo and Manuka honeys. Our children started bringing home honeys from around the world – Australia, New Zealand and Samoa. We brought Italian and Spanish honey home ourselves. Surprisingly, I was hooked on honey.

However, I confess that there was nothing like our first honey harvest last summer in Norfolk. As soon as Gerry scraped the wax away from the comb, the honey flowed like syrup into the sieve. Honey quickly covered our kitchen and no one seemed to mind, not even the dog. We bottled jar after jar of the liquid gold and it was delicious.

This past year we have given away a good deal of our harvest to our family and friends. It was never our intention to sell our honey for a profit and I can’t imagine we ever will. It has been an exciting venture in which our family has been awarded the spoils. Last weekend we again harvested the honey from our hives and glowing golden jars lined our counters. We have once again been sweetly blessed.

In the past year we have used honey in new recipes for cool summer drinks, dressings and desserts. It’s difficult to find recipes or books specifically for honey because it is used just like sugar in many recipes.

Cookbooks for healthy eating often include lots of honey. In “Have Your Cake: No Butter, No White Flour, No Added Sugar – A Healthy and Simple Way of Baking” (2011), author Emily Rose writes: “Sweetening food with honey is a better option. It is much sweeter than sugar so you don’t need as much. The glycemic index of honey is also lower than that of sugar, which means that honey is absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly than sugar, having a more gradual and controlled impact on the body.”

Peanut Butter Honey Protein Balls with oats and wheat germ is one of the many great recipes in “Healthy Home Cooking for Kids: No Butter, No White Flour, No Added Sugar” (2011) also by Emily Rose. Honey is one of the 20 ingredients on the pantry list for cooking healthy. Other recipes are for mango sorbet and any number of muffins and bars. “Allergy-Friendly Food for Families: 120 Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Egg-Free and Soy-Free Recipes Everyone Will Love” is from the editors of Kiwi Magazine (2012). Any all-natural, allergy-free pantry includes honey. Honey can be substituted for sugar with lowered baking temperatures. It’s becoming well-known that consuming local honey can help reduce allergy symptoms for those who have allergies to plants, trees and vegetation.

Of course desserts can be naturally-healthy when using honey. “CakeLove in the Morning” by Warren Brown (2012) includes Apple-Carrot Bread and Banana Bread and three wonderful honey butters including Jalapeno Honey Butter. “Not-So-Humble Pies: An Iconic Dessert, All Dressed Up” (2012) by Kelly Jaggers features at least three recipes using honey: Honey Cardamom Banana Nut Pie, Honey Lavender Apple Pie and Honey Tarragon Peach Tart. Some books feature honey as the main ingredient like “Honey Greats” (2012) by Jo Franks Every one of the more than 100 recipes from Graham Cracker Honey Ice Cream to Sangria Fruit Soup include honey as an ingredient. Another is “Farmstand Favorites: Honey – Over 75 Farm Fresh Recipes” (2012) by Hatherleigh Press. In addition to an entire chapter on the benefits of honey there are recipes like Honey-Roasted Parsnips with Sweet Potatoes and Apples.

“The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food” (2012) by Ian Knauer includes recipes for Peaches in Honey Syrup. Author Ian Knauer showed up with honey from his own hives when he worked in Gourmet Magazine’s test kitchen. “Salt to Honey: Recipes for Great Gatherings” (2012) by the Junior League of Salt Lake City, Inc. uses four local ingredients such as salt, honey, chocolate and specialty vinegars throughout their book. “Grilling Gone Wild: Zesty Recipes for Meats, Mains, Marinades and More!!” (2012) by Fox Chapel Publishing includes 10 sauces using honey. Two delicious suggestions are Honey-Cinnamon Glaze and Honey-Margarita Marinade.

Of course honey isn’t only for eating. It has been used in wines and liquors and is often used in brewing beer. “Home Brewing: A Practical Guide to Crafting Your Own Beer, Wine and Cider” by Kevin Forbes uses honey in his Dandelion and Honey beers. “How to Brew Your Own Beer: Over 600 Beer Recipes” by Annie Davis (2012) includes instructions for making Honey Basil Beer, Marigold Honey Beer and Honey Porter.

There are many things your dog should not eat (caffeine, chocolate, raisins, etc.) but honey isn’t one of them. I confess that, while we make our own dog food in our household, we aren’t exactly sharing much of that precious liquid with our four-legged friend. However, the “Smiling Dog Bakery: All Natural Dog Bakery Recipes, Volume Two” (2012) by Patricia Griecci includes honey in many recipes for dogs.

If you would like to reserve any of these titles featuring honey in recipes, please call the Reference or Information desks of the library, 781-769-0200, or reserve them in the Minuteman Library catalog.