Saturday, December 7, 2013

Food Swaps: BK Swapper Event: Part 1

One of my favorite local foodie events are the food swaps hosted by BK Swappers. I've written about them before, here and here so I'm not going to get into full detail about what a food swap is. Essentially in a nutshell its where you make homemade food items to barter and swap your goods with other foodies. It's a lot of fun and a great way to try out some amazing food and meet some cool people. For this food swap, I decided to make this Indian relish and this new green hot sauce recipe I came up with recently.
I've always wanted to learn how to make Indian relish condiment that you get when you order Indian food. It's spicy and sour at the same time with a huge onion kick. So when I found this recipe, I was super excited.
It's super easy to make and looks and tastes just like the one you get from the Indian restaurant. I love the color of the Paprika.
Here are the ingredients for my Mean Mimi's Green Hot Sauce. Everything I put into this hot sauce is... you guessed it right.... GREEN.
The only thing not green in this recipe are the onions, garlic and honey. I love making this recipe because it's so easy. You roughly chop all the veggies and sauté it in a pan until soft.
Then you throw all the ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth.
Isn't this a gorgeous color? It tastes amazing too, hot, spicy and a little sweet from our local honey.
I bottled these up for the swap in these cute bottles I found from a local store.
And here are all the jars ready to go to the swap! A cute and easy way to decorate canning jars is to use cupcake liners. Easy peazy. :) Stay tuned for my next post about the actual food swap!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Your trash is my treasure!

On my way to the farmer's market today, I spotted this down the block from where I live. My eye zoned in on it. Amongst the garbage cans was this beauty! I literally almost jumped for joy. I think I actually skipped a little. I have always, always wanted one of these. Squeal!
A wooden box case for wine! I have always wanted one of these but liquor stores around here don't give them out. So when I saw this one out for the garbage, I scooped it up and brought it home. I love it! I am going to use it to hold some gardening supplies. I am so excited about this awesome free score!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Winterizing the Hive

It's mid-november, and it's time. Time to close up the hives for the winter. To winterize the hives, we exchange the screen board for a wooden bottom board. We take off the honey super. And this year, we decided to do something a little different than last year. Last year, none of our hives survived the winter. I wrote about it here.
First we put a feeder box in, and put a 5 pound bag of granulated sugar in the box. They have lots of honey in the brood boxes, but it doesn't hurt to give them some reserve food in case they need it. Afterall, it's a long winter!

This year, we really want our bees to survive the winter. So we did some research, and found that some beekeepers put in "insulation" to help the bees stay warm. We read about putting an empty honey super above the brood boxes and filling the empty super with cedar chips.
The cedar chips not only helps with windy drafts, it also wicks away any moisture. It also smells really nice! We put this box over the top board, so that no bees can get up in it.
Finally, we put in an entrance reducer and a mouse guard at the front. Then we wrap tar paper around the entire hive, and we cut out holes at the entrance and top for the bees to come and go if it's warm enough to leave the hive. The tar paper will help with resisting moisture and keep the windy drafts out. We also put a large piece of plywood above the top lid of the hive, so that rain and snow slides off the hive box. We are super prepared this year, and hope they survive the winter.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Replanting Winter Blooms: Paperwhites Round 2

Last year, I bought some paperwhite bulbs at a local florist. They bloomed so beautifully, here is my original post about it. After the bulbs bloomed, I let the green stem die away and I dug up all the bulbs. All of the bulbs split to produce babies! I love that! Isn't that cool? So 1 bulb became 3 bulbs! Love free plants!  I decided to replant the bulbs without breaking the bulbs apart. I hope that is okay. I wasn't sure if I should break the bulb into 3. Do you split them, or do you plant as is?
Here the bulbs are all packed in. There are 3 packed into this pot. They are already starting to sprout, can't wait to see them bloom again! Round 2!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Abandoned Tree

The other day, I was coming home from work and I saw this huge plant on the sidewalk with a bunch of garbage bags. The plant was healthy and beautiful. I was sooo tempted to carry this home with me, because the thought of a live plant going to the garbage dump makes me sad. But the tree was heavy, and I was 8 blocks from home. Nor do I have room for a tree so large, I live in less that 600 square feet of space. So I walked away, hoping that someone else will save it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Cool Sighting!

This weekend I was lucky to see two praying mantis. It was such a cool sighting, I don't see them very often and when I saw two in one day, it was like hitting the jackpot. They make me so happy to see them thriving! What a pretty lady!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall Honey Harvest 2013

This weekend, we had our last honey harvest of the season. We pulled 18 frames from two honey supers out of two hives. Since we had already harvested in July, this harvest was going to be smaller.
The fall harvest usually yields a darker colored honey. This one did not disappoint. The color looks like dark molasses. Really deep chocolate brown.
Here's a closer look of the frame. Isn't the color just gorgeous?
We have to take a knife and cut away the wax caps, and then they are ready to go into the extractor.
Two frames go into the extractor at once, and then each side is spun until all the honey flows out of the frames.
I particularly loved the duo-tone honey color in this frame. On the left you see light color honey, and on the right is a dark colored honey. Isn't that amazing?? You can actually see the difference in the type of flowers they are feeding from because of the color change. The type of flowers they have access to changes throughout the season as different flowers come into season.
Here we are pouring the the extracted honey out of the extractor and into a sieve to strain out all the waxy floating bits. Love, love, love the color!
I just love how different our Brooklyn honey looks and taste from each hive. To the left is our Spring harvested honey. In the middle, is our Fall honey from one hive and to the right is our Fall honey from another hive. The difference in colors is extraordinary!
And here it is bottled up and ready to be given away to friends / family and or sold. Love it! #honey!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Making Beeswax Candles

All year, I've been collecting wild beeswax from the hive. Especially when they build comb like this. Bees build wild wax like this when there is too much space between frames or open space inside the hive.
Here is an example of when bees build wild comb. This is the underside of the water sugar feeder. The bees built some wax below it.
And some wax above the frames. The water sugar feeder sits on top of the top box, and the bees built a bunch of wax to try to close up the gaps.
When we extracted honey from the frames, there is lots of wax left behind. I collected all this wax too.
Why am I collecting all this beeswax??? To make candles!!
I melted all the wax on a double boiler.
And poured them into molds to make votive candles! This was my first time making votive candles. And it's super fun! I added some vanilla scent.
Here are the candles out of the mold! The white color candles are pure beeswax from the honey extraction. The darker candles is the wax that I collected throughout the year and sometimes there are impurities in the wax, especially propolis, thus the darker color wax.
I poured some wax in metal tins as well. I love how this came out.
And here it is lit. I thought I collected a lot of wax, but it only made 7 little candles. Hahahahhaha. Guess I have to collect more wax!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Queen is Born!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how we lost our Queen in our white hive. We moved a frame of 3 day old brood from our other hive to the queenless hive in hopes of rearing a new queen. We came back 2 weeks later to find some new brood! We have successfully reared a new Queen!! The hive is aware that it is queenless so it will turn a regular brood into a queen by feeding it exclusively royal jelly. The new Queen upon being born takes a mating flight and then begins to lay eggs. We were so excited to see frames of new brood! This was our first attempt of raising a Queen and now that we know we can do it, we won't have to buy replacement queens again as long as we have one healthy queen in the other hive!
We actually had 2 things to celebrate! Not only did we find some great brood pattern, we also saw that the top honey box was almost full of Fall honey. Ooooh, this means we can harvest within the next few weeks! I am so excited that we get a second harvest out of this hive this season!
Check out the color of this honey. A deep rich chocolate brown color. So much darker than our spring honey. I can't wait to taste it! YUM!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Making homemade hot sauce! Caliente!

At the farmer's market, they had these beautiful serranos, so I bought a pound and decided to make hot sauce for the first time ever! I've always wanted to make hot sauce, so this is going to be fun!
In a saucepan, I put the following.
  • 1/2 pound of serrano peppers, without seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of our own harvested Brooklyn honey
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 3 tablespoons of white vinegar
  • 3 cloves of garlic (although, it could have used more)
  • half bunch of cilantro
  • 1 1/2 limes juiced
  • salt to taste
I used serranos in this recipe, but I bet you can use just about any hot pepper. Just remember, some peppers are hotter than others, so do your research first on how hot you like it. I roughly chopped everything and sauteed the peppers, salt and garlic in the olive oil until soft, then added the water, honey, lime juice and cilantro. Cook until the cilantro wilted then took off the flame. Poured into a blender then added the white vinegar. Puree until blended. Taste, add more salt if needed.
The hot sauce came out a gorgeous green color and was delicious! The honey flavor really shines through and this hot sauce is sooooo GOOD. It's slightly sweet and very spicy. I am going to try this on everything!

I really loved how easy it was to make hot sauce! I don't know why I was always scared of it. Do you make your own hot sauce? What do you put in yours? 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Raising a new Queen

Three weekends ago, we had a hive inspection. It was a perfect sunny clear day. A great day for an inspection. We pulled frame after frame of the top honey box and saw that they were FULL of honey. Usually, this is a happy sign for us, but we just harvested this box in July. So this was more of a warning sign for us since we knew that if the bees were this busy making honey, it's likely there was no Queen inside the hive. When the worker bees are busy making lots of honey, it's usually because they are not tending to any brood / baby bees.
We looked for the Queen in the brood boxes and frame after frame was clear of brood. Not a good sign at all. The Queen was gone.
Our other hive had success with the worker bees rearing their own Queen, so we decided to give it a try. Worker bees know right away when a hive is Queenless and naturally, they will try to raise a new one. We pulled some frames full of brood from our other hive, making sure that some of the brood was uncapped. When a hive is Queenless, the worker bees will transform a uncapped brood into a Queen cup and start feeding it royal jelly to turn her into a Queen. We placed 2 frames of brood inside the brood box and waited a week for the bees to do their job.
We came back one week later for another hive inspection and pulled the brood frames that we placed. We spotted it right away in the middle of the frame. A replacement Queen cup!  Woo hoo! It worked! We actually saw 2 Queen cups, usually a hive will produce more than one replacement Queen in case one of them doesn't hatch / survive. If both Queens hatch and survive, they will fight to the death until one survives. Only one Queen reigns a hive. We'll come back to the hive in 2 weeks to see if the new Queen has mated and started laying. Excited!! Nature rocks!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Farmer's Market Haul

Every Saturday, I drop off compost at the neighborhood farmer's market. While I'm there, I pick up a weeks of veggies. I miss my garden. I miss growing things. The farmer's market is a close second. Access to locally grown summer goodness.  I love that I can get this whole bunch of veggies for $27! My haul consists of 3 cubanelle peppers, 1 pound of serranos, 5 tomatoes, 5 ears of corn, 5 summer peaches, 1 bunch of carrots, 1 bunch each of dill, cilantro, basil and parsley. I love summer.  L O V E!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Planting Results

This past Saturday, I bought a bunch of basil from the farmer's market that still had it's roots. I posted about it here and asked all the gardeners out there if it was possible to plant it. The garden blogging community is awesome with sharing knowledge and giving planting advice. Y'all didn't fail me, and left me comments to go ahead and plant it or put the basil in water. I decided to try both to see how it goes.

Half of the bunch was planted. Here we are 4 days later, and this is what the planted basil looks like. I've been watering it a lot to make sure it drinks up as much water as possible. I pinched off some of the leaves / stems but it still looks a little droopy. After I took this photo, I pinched off more leaves. I hope it starts to recover soon.
The other half of the bunch, I stuck in a mason jar of water.  Wow, what a difference! The leaves perked up, and look great! I'll keep the basil in the water on my kitchen counter and use it in meals. I've never done this before, so this makes me super stoked! How long can it keep in water? Does anyone know?

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