Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm just a little black rain cloud, hovering over the honey tree...

The other day I noticed the clump of bees hanging on the outside of the hive.  Today my Mister finally had some time to go investigate.  He opened the thing up and decided that the crooked combs had been rebuilt crookedly again really needed to be cleared out.  

He cut quite a bit out and spaced the now-empty bars in between straight comb so that they hopefully rebuild straight this time.  This is the picture where I got a little too close and got chased away by a couple of angry bees.  They don't like people stealing their honey.  After getting the combs cleared up, the bees were too riled up for him to do anything with the bees on the outside of the hive, so we're hoping it's not a major problem.  We'll let them calm down for a few days and take a closer look then.  I'm hoping they were just running out of space inside, and had started building comb on the outside- and not that they are getting ready to swarm...  With how much honey we had to cut out, we're a little worried about winter anyway.  We'll see how much they have left and how much more they can produce between now and winter.  

Just a couple of fatalities.

We tried some of the honey comb.  The kids were not a fan of the wax.  The honey was so sweet that I had a hard time eating my spoonful.  It needed a good biscuit or fresh bread or something.

With top bar hives, you don't use an extractor, you mash all the comb up in a big pot.

Scoop it into jars.

Cover the jar with a mesh-material.  We used cheesecloth, but I think tulle would work a lot better.  (UPDATE: the morning after setting the jars up, very little honey had dripped into the bottom jars, so I stopped by the fabric store and bought 1/2 yard of tulle- it should last for quite awhile- the difference was amazing, at this rate they might be done in a few hours!)

Place an empty jar (with ring) on top of the jar with mashed honeycomb.

Tape them together really well.


It's supposed to be done by tomorrow morning, but I think the cheesecloth is slowing things down.  If it doesn't look like there's been much progress by morning, I'll go by the fabric store to get some tulle to try again.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


When I was younger, I used to climb this doorway just like CP is doing in the picture (A taught him how).  I'd get to the top and my siblings would say, "RAAAASSSBERRRIIIIEEEESSSS".  If you've seen Thoroughly Modern Millie you'll know why that was funny enough to make me fall.  That's not what this post is really about, but that's how my brain works..

Thursday, some friends from my former neighborhood posted on facebook that they were getting a really great deal on cases of raspberries from their produce coop, I ordered three cases.  We ate a lot (it was nice to have enough that I could just let the boys eat away without feeling like the fruit scrooge), we gave some away, I froze a gallon bag full for use in smoothies, and made a batch of jam.  We debated making more jam, or freezing more, but thought we'd try something different. 

A couple of weeks ago I took the boys to the county fair, when we walked through the 4H building, I noticed there were several entries for canned raspberries.  I thought about some of the things we'd use frozen raspberries for- cooked for a topping on ice cream or cheese cake especially- and thought that would work with canned ones, minus the risk freezing seems to carry around here (we haven't had the greatest luck with freezers, combined with children who like to leave freezer doors slightly ajar for some reason).  Canned raspberries are beautiful.  I wish I had bought several more cases (assuming they taste okay in whatever I use them in- I don't plan on eating them plain).  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ratatouille (AKA More Things to do with Zucchini)

My sister gave me an eggplant, and some unusual-type tomatoes, so I thought I'd try making ratatouille.  Turns out it's pretty similar to my italian summer stew.  I've just never added eggplant before, because I think it's disgusting, and don't ever buy/grow it.

Turns out it was pretty good.  The kids even sort of ate it.  Baby E LOVED it, and I had a hard time scooping it onto his tray fast enough.  I started out just giving him slices of zucchini, since he's had that before, but before too long, I was just scooping piles of everything and letting him have at it.

I sort of got my recipe from the Joy of Cooking and a recipe a friend posted on facebook awhile back, but I don't follow recipes very well, and also thought that instead of chopping the veggies, everything should be sliced thin like in the movie.


Thinly slice onions, and sautee them in a pan with lots of olive oil and garlic until they're almost carmelized.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Layer thinly sliced eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes (tomatoes don't really slice thinly, but do what you can), and some of the onions, some chopped bell pepper (red would be pretty, I only had green anaheims, so I used those), and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Repeat until your pan is full or you've run out of veggies.  Top with a liberal splash of olive oil.  Cover and cook on very low heat for 20-30 minutes.  Add a little water if necessary- if things dry out, the bottom will burn...  Remove lid and simmer for 10 more minutes if there's a lot of liquid in it still.

I served mine over pasta (with parmesan cheese, of course), because I knew the kids wouldn't eat it as the only thing for dinner.  It worked out great.  The best thing is that a large portion of dinner came out of the garden right before I cooked it.

(I'm thinking I should relabel my blog, "things to do with zucchini".  We tend to eat it just about every night at this time of year...)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Another thing to do with zucchini

Slice it thin, and lay it on top of a pizza.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top (because zucchini is so good with parmesan).  This pizza was about my favorite one we've ever made (My Mister made it- he's getting to be quite the pizza chef).  It had sauce, mozzarella cheese, bacon, green peppers, zucchini and parmesan cheese.  The other pizza (the one that the kids ate) had bacon and pineapple.  (Obviously this is not a vegetarian dinner like the label says, but leave the bacon off and you're good (maybe slightly less good)).