Saturday, August 25, 2012

August So Far

August has been a busy month. And you know what? A hot one too. It really felt like summer! It's only in the last couple days that the clouds have come back and the evenings gotten a chill. Here's a rundown of what I've been doing.

- Garden Harvest: I've been eating kale for months, but finally started getting other veggies like potatoes, squash, beets, and the first few cherry tomatoes!

Then I thought, "Could I make a well-rounded meal using food entirely from the backyard?" So I put together this dinner using our chicken eggs, beets, beet greens, onions, garlic, thyme, rosemary, mixed salad greens, cherry tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and cucumber. It was the first time I had ever made or eaten such a local meal, all raised about 30 feet from where I sleep.
- I've been doing a lot of other summery cooking and eating. When blueberries came on I went U-picking because I love to freeze them. I've been throwing blueberries into smoothies (usually with yogurt, banana, and peanut butter) and also discovered this phenomenal Lemon Blueberry Buckle.

Before blueberries when there was cherry madness, I made this Cherry Salsa. It was a totally new idea to me, to add onions, cilantro, mint, jalapenos, and lime to make an actual salsa. It is delicious! I ate a bunch just with corn chips, and froze the rest to use as a sauce on pork or chicken. 

- I went to a Pie Party/Competition. It is such an epic event that the couple only holds it every two years at their house on Eastlake. The categories are for Most Delicious Pie, Prettiest Pie, and Best Art Pie.

My boyfriend, who took me to the party, said, "Amber, you're a good baker, but every one brings such amazing pies that another good pie will just get lost in the shuffle. If we want to stand out, we need to do an art pie, a conceptual piece."

His idea was to do a "honey pie" featuring live bees! I told him we could use my bees, only if they were well-treated, meaning: contained but have enough air flow, have access to eating sugar water, and be returned to the hive a couple hours later. I baked a real pie shells and the we filled it with comb from a friend's hive, honey, sugar water, and flowers, collaborating with another friend.
I took a frame out of the hive and gently brushed the bees onto the pie, then covered it with a glass lid that was slightly propped-up for air circulation. VoilĂ ! Our honey pie was complete with bees buzzing under the glass, and we very carefully drove to the party.
There were so many pies it was overwhelming. The many pies were divided up by category, and left untouched for only the judges to try while the rest of the guests ate the catered dinner and planned which ones to have for dessert.
Some of the ones that caught my eye: Rum Benedictine Blackberry Cheese Pie, Yin and Yang Peanut Butter, Smoked Salted Carmel Pecan, Kentucky Bourbon Chocolate Walnut, and a cousin of pie, a Peach Oregano Manchego Galette. One of my favorites was Bourbon Cherry Fernet Cheese Pie. What?! So good.
As if all the pie eating wasn't reward enough, our Honey Pie won first place in the Art Pie category! Apparently my bees did a great job looking all bee-ish, buzzing around in the glass cake lid, expertly clinging to the side. I'm convinced it's their performance that made us win. I got them home after their wild evening out of the hive in time to tell stories to the others and explain to the queen why they shirked their work for the day.

- Speaking of bees, I added the 4th box (or hive body) to the hive a few weeks ago. Here's what the hive looks like now.
I also took a beekeeping class on how to harvest honey and how to winterize the hive now that colder weather is just around the corner. Did I mention that I am learning everything about beekeeping as I go? I had no idea how to harvest the honey. I didn't even know how to calculate how much honey they've made! Basically, you have to figure out how much honey they've made, how much they need to survive the winter, and then you can take whatever the surplus is.

 Here's what I do know: There are some good-looking frames inside here! Here's a frame that is partially full- the covered or "capped" comb cells are full of honey, and the open ones are where the bees are still working.
Here's what a frame looks like when it is completely full of honey. It's heavy too! I have about 5 of these frames total.
Now is the ideal time to harvest honey, but I just don't have time right now. The last couple weeks have been pretty hectic getting ready for Burning Man, so I am just going to think about any honey harvest when I get home.

-Burning Man! When I decided to go in July, it pretty much changed the face of my summer. Suddenly, there was a ton to do to get ready, and I was always preparing in different ways. It's never ending. It's sort of like having a homework assignment that you feel like you are always procrastinating on, because you are never really finished until you finally go to the event.

"Why is there so much to do?" you may ask. First of all there's the packing- costumes, desert goggles, proper tent (or RV?), shade structures, mountain bike, costumes. Here's Matt's packing list (the abridged version!) which we combed through several times. Then there's the helping with your theme camp- camp work parties, meetings, emails to read and respond to, more work parties, cooking meals in advance (Matt and I made 9 gallons of chili one day that we then vacuum sealed and froze), and the final truck load for the transportation team that leaves first. Also there is figuring out all the logistics- How to get down there, how much time to take off work, and just a ton of reading online. I'm finally feeling ready, which is good because we leave tomorrow! I just have a few sewing projects to finish in the car.

1 comment:

ElizaBeth said...

That bee pie idea was incredible! So creative. The one thing I desperately missed about not spending the summer in Seattle were the cherries! I have no idea why but for some reason cherries just aren't a big thing down here. I would have given my left pinkie for some Rainiers.