Buzzing Around Brunswick County – Local Beekeepers and Their Efforts to Save the Bees

“We would like you to write an article on local beekeepers” my editor said to me earlier this summer. “Sure thing” I say.  Oh no, what did I get myself into, I ask?  I know nothing about bees other than they produce honey and bee stings.  Well, I was going to find out all I ever wanted to know about beekeeping, and then some.  My journey started by attending a local beekeepers meeting, and then scheduling interviews.

For the next several weeks, I visited farm after farm learning all about bee hives and the countless hours these beekeepers devote to protecting these tiny creatures.  Most beekeepers have the same thoughts about their bees. “They are like my children, they need nurturing, food and shelter.”

My story, and photographs, was just published in the South Brunswick Magazine, Summer 2017 issue.  To read about my journey into beekeeping, click on the link below.

Click here to read story:  2017 Summer SBM-Buzzing Around Brunswick County

Many thanks to all the beekeepers who gave up their time to school me in the “sweeter” side. And thanks for the honey!  Be sure to check out my recipe for Honey Thyme Shortbread which is included in the article.

Maybe I’ll see you around the bee hives! ~ Barbara

Fresh Pears are In Season … How About This Pear Tart?

Pears are starting to ripen here in North Carolina and what could be better than a Pear Tart?  This recipe calls for canned pears, just to make it a quick bake.  I used home canned pears in a light syrup, drained well.  The crust is light and crunchy with finely chopped walnuts, a slightly sweet layer of cream cheese and then topped with these glorious pears.  A sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar top this off for a truly delectable dessert. To keep the sugar content to a minimum, I used Splenda for Baking instead of regular sugar. In place of the recommended tart pan, I used a 9-inch springform pan and it worked just fine.

Thanks to Taste of Home for this recipe.  It’s a keeper for me and one that I will make again.  Recipe is below photo.  Hope you’ll give it a try for your next get-together.

Click here for recipe:  https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pear-tart

See ya around the kitchen ~ Barbara

Figs are in Season! Try these Glazed Warm Fig Bars for a Tasty Treat.

In my younger days, one of my favorite cookies was Fig Newtons, and they still are a favorite today.  I wanted to try my hand at making my own, but I didn’t want the heavy texture of the original cookie.  Thanks to Pepperidge Farms and their Puff Pastry, I have found a way to get the taste of Fig Newtons, but with a flaky crust.  The recipe calls for dried figs, but since fresh figs are now in season, I cooked a batch of fresh figs and then drained them.  I did add some dried figs to tighten up the filling.  If you don’t have fresh figs, just follow the recipe (a link to the recipe is at the end of this post.)

Be sure to use local honey for this recipe for that taste of sweetness.  I will definitely make these again.

Homemade Fig Bars with Puff Pastry

 

Homemade Fig Bars fresh from the oven

Puff Pastry is my go-to pastry for these tasty treats.  If you do not like figs, try substituting any dried fruit; just follow the recipe on the initial cooking of the fruit.

Many thanks to Pepperidge Farms for their delicious recipes.

Recipe courtesy of Pepperidge Farms; click here:  https://www.puffpastry.com/recipe/glazed-warm-fig-bars/

Maybe I’ll see you in the kitchen! ~ Barbara

Need an idea for Breakfast? Try these Mini Ham ‘n’ Cheese Frittatas and Chocolate Delight Banana Muffins

Breakfast has to be my favorite meal of the day. It just gets my day going, especially after a couple of cups of coffee.  I’m always searching for new and simple ideas to add variety to my meals. This delightful combination of mini frittatas and muffins fits the bill for easy breakfast eats.  If you don’t want to bake early in the morning, make these the day before and then warm them up and serve with fresh fruit and coffee.  Both of these recipes are perfect if you are baking for a diabetic; food exchanges are included.

Chocolate Delight Banana Muffins (left) and Mini Ham ‘n’ Cheese Frittatas (right)

The muffins are made with reduced fat-biscuit baking mix, Splenda and a touch of sour cream, along with bananas, cocoa powder, chocolate chips and walnuts.  Light and moist, these are just perfect hot out of the oven.  For the frittatas, I made the recipe exactly as stated except I used about one tablespoon dried onions instead of the chives.  I only used the chives as a garnish.  A great combination of flavors all wrapped up in a small bundle.  Next time I may substitute turkey sausage and use fat-free mozzarella cheese for a different flavor combination.

Thanks to Taste of Home for the frittata recipe.  Click here for recipe:  Mini Ham ‘n’ Cheese Frittatas

Click here for recipe:  Chocolate Delight Banana Muffins

Both of these recipes are definite keepers.  I hope you give them a try and add them to your cookbook.  See ya around the kitchen ~ Barbara

Blueberry Surprise … what could be the surprise?

Looking for a good summer read?  Check out Blueberry Surprise by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  A light, summer romance just perfect for those days on the beach or the front porch.  But what is the Blueberry Surprise?

The Blueberry Surprise is a light, moist tea bread made with honey, bananas and fresh blueberries.  You will have to read the book to see how this tea bread ties into the story, but what I can share is the recipe from the book.  Try to use local honey for a real taste treat and fresh blueberries.  Fresh from the farm ingredients can’t be beat for this tasty eats. Serve for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.

Maybe I’ll see ya around the farm ~ Barbara

Recipe for Blueberry Surprise

Makes 1 loaf

1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup honey
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and honey until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add bananas and mix well.  Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture, mixing thoroughly.  Gently fold in blueberries. Pour into 9×5-inch loaf pan lined with waxed paper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool, remove from pan, and gently pull away waxed paper.

Recipe from Blueberry Surprise by Wanda E. Brunstetter.

 

 

Farm to Table … Delicious Transparent Apples and Local Honey

It’s summertime, the bees are working the buckwheat fields and the apple trees are loaded with green transparent apples.  Guess it’s time to bake some tasty eats.

Transparent apples ripen in late June and early July here in the South (North Carolina.)  The fruit is medium in size and best picked when they are pale green.  They will ripen to bright yellow, however they will not be crisp, so pick when light green. The flesh is white, tender, and a bit tart; perfect for cooked apples or in one of these desserts.

Apple Strudel with Honey, Raisins and Walnuts

Apple Strudel with Honey, Raisins and Walnuts

The strudel is made with phyllo dough sheets, each sheet brushed with a mixture of honey and warm water instead of butter.  Of course, your local honey is the best for this recipe.  If you can’t find transparent apples, use a good baking apple, i.e., Granny Smith.  Gather your friends and enjoy this summer dessert hot from the oven.

For recipe, click here: Apple Strudel with Honey Raisins and Walnuts

Apple Phyllo Pie

Another way to use these summertime apples and local honey is to make this Apple Phyllo Pie.  Like the strudel, this pie uses phyllo dough sheets instead of pie crust.  The sheets are also brushed with a mixture of honey and warm water.  Edges of the phyllo dough are gathered and layered over top of the apples, very similar to a galette.

Apple Phyllo Pie

Apple Phyllo Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream

And, it doesn’t get any better unless served warm with vanilla ice cream.

For recipe, click here:  Apple Phyllo Pie

Transparent Apples – Ripens late June to early July in the Southern states

Be sure to stop by your local farmer and support their efforts to bring fresh produce to your table.  Look for unusual ingredients and step out of your box to create tasty eats.  These apple dishes didn’t stay around our house very long as they were baked to be enjoyed at the moment.

Hope you will try one or both of these recipes.  See ya around the farm. ~ Barbara

Roasted Tomato and Onion Tart – Perfect for Sunday Brunch

Ah, it must be summertime when I see homegrown tomatoes appear on my door step.  One of my favorite ways to use these red jewels is in a tart with sweet Vidalia onions.  Roasting both the onions and tomatoes adds a different level of sweetness to this tasty treat.

Be watchful of the onions so they do not burn.  The tomatoes take a bit longer.

Puff pastry is my go-to dough for these tarts.  Let thaw, roll out and top with Mozzarella cheese, a Ricotta cheese mixture, the tomatoes and onions.

Slice the tart into six pieces and you have a nice addition to a Sunday Brunch.

Many thanks to my neighbor, Ray, for supplying me with these picks from his garden.  For the complete recipe, click on the link below.

Click here:  Roasted Tomato and Onion Tart

What’s your favorite recipe for summertime tomatoes?  See ya around the tomato patch. ~ Barbara

It’s Almost Summer … Bring On The Salads!

With summer almost upon us, it’s time to start thinking of cool, fresh salads.  When I was living in Nashville, Tennessee, a favorite place for lunch served these cold sesame noodles, loaded with fresh vegetables.  It was always a highlight of the summer to grab a bowl and sit in the beautiful courtyard of the Nashville Public Library.

While browsing some magazines, I came across this recipe for Cold Sesame Noodles with Extra Veggies and decided to see if it mirrored the noodles I remember.  Yes, it did, and I was thrilled, but I did make a few changes along the way.

To make the recipe healthier, I omitted the salt in the water for cooking the noodles.  I also used Smart Balance Peanut Butter, low sodium soy sauce and less sesame oil.  The original recipe did not call for zucchini.  Zucchini is a staple in our refrigerator so I added two to the mixture.  Our spiral slicer did not cooperate so I used the food processor and shredded the carrots, zucchini and the cucumbers.  Feel free to make any changes to the recipe to suit your healthy diet.  The recipe states it makes four servings, however I stretched it to six servings and served it over shredded lettuce.  Full of veggies and taste, this will be a repeat for our summer menu.  Enjoy!

Cold Sesame Noodles Loaded with Veggies
Serves 4

1 teaspoon coarse salt
8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
1 cup edible pea pods (or sugar snap peas), trimmed
5 tablespoons smooth (or chunky) peanut butter (no sugar added)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar (not seasoned)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 large carrots, peeled and cut with a spiral slicer into “noodles” (or shredded or cut into matchsticks)
2 medium zucchini, cut with a spiral slicer into “noodles” (or shredded or cut into matchsticks)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and shredded (or cut into matchsticks)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Directions
Bring a large pot of water with 1 teaspoon coarse salt to a boil. Boil pasta, stirring occasionally, until al dente; during last 2 minutes add pea pods, and cook until crisp-tender. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup liquid. Rinse pasta and peas under cold water to cool.

Whisk peanut butter with reserved cooking liquid, vinegar, soy sauce, and oil in a large bowl. Add pasta, peas, carrots, zucchini and cucumber and toss to combine. Top with sesame seeds.

NOTE: For a healthier version, omit the salt, use Smart Balance Peanut Butter and low-sodium soy sauce.