Monthly Archives: May 2014

Mesquite–Ancient Food for the Future

Yes, we gotta admit it—Tucson and ALL OF BAJA ARIZONA is a FOOD-COLONY!  To feed ourselves here, we currently import over 96% of our foods from out of state or out of country. If there were to be a transportation stoppage or disaster (perish the thought), we have less than 4 days’ food supply in local groceries. (info from Fry’s managers and Pima Co Emergency Mgmt.) This is a scary and sobering reality, and we need to remedy it for the good of all.
When it comes to food security in the Desert Southwest, if we are smart we’d best turn to those whose ancestors not only survived but thrived here, before European food fads invaded, and long before bio-technology pretended to save us–Let us listen to Native People!  If we look to traditional O’odham cuisine, and to that of all low-desert Traditional People in the Southwest, we learn that one of their most important and consistent staple foods was MESQUITE. Meal ground from the whole, ripe, dry pods was prepared in diverse ways by every tribal group, and stored safely against lean times, providing them amazingly tasty nutrition.

Now….its up to “newer arrivals” to the desert to expand our cultural tastes–and enjoy lessons from local tradition….

Harvesting ripe velvet mesquite pods--an old Chuk-shon tradition (RodMondt photo)

Harvesting ripe velvet mesquite pods–an old Chuk-shon tradition (RodMondt photo)

Everyone enjoys mesquite’s shade, its smokey flavoring and fuelwood in BBQs. But what about mesquite as food and food-security? Sweet and yummy are first.  Culinary versatility is up there.  Nutrition is paramount.  Recent nutritional analyses show what Native People have ALWAYS known intuitively, that mesquite’s sweetness is healthy (complex) sugars, and that it gives sustained energy (from slow-release complex carbs.)

A major plus for arid-lands food-security is that mesquite trees grow plentifully in the desert WITHOUT ANY HELP from humans. Having evolved with large Pleistocene herbivores, mesquite’s survival strategy is to over-produce quantities of tasty pods to entice mammoths or (extinct) ungulates to eat them and spread their seeds, scarified and delivered in ready-made fertilizer packages. In more recent centuries, cattle have provided a similar service to spread mesquite.  Hungry bi-peds can benefit too from mesquite’s plentiful productivity. With global climate change and the promise of expanding deserts, mesquite offers us a healthy staple food and a fitting dry-lands crop for our stressed Planet.

Velvet mesquite pods (Prosopis velutina) in green phase (maburgess photo)

Velvet mesquite pods (Prosopis velutina) in green phase (maburgess photo)

[Mesquite pods are ripening as I write–so heads-up!]

A most timely gathering of mesquite experts—both traditional and innovative—is about to happen at  a MESQUITE CONFERENCE open to the public and not to be missed………Attention–Novice mesquite-harvesters, cooks and culinary artists, bakers and chefs, nutritionists and clinicians, ranchers, farmers, gardeners, athletes and fitness fans, survivalists, nature buffs, climate-change planners…. this conference is for you.

MESQUITE: NEW AGRICULTURAL TRADITIONS FOR AN ANCIENT FOOD  will be held in Benson, Arizona, all day Friday, June 13, 2014, at the Cochise College Campus, 8:30am-4pm.
There will be talks by leading Mesquiteros, including traditional Tohono O’odham harvester Clifford Pablo, new crops innovator Dr. Richard Felger, the one and only mesquite agronomist Mark Moody, wild-harvester Amy Valdes Schwemm, creative desert rancher Dennis Moroney, animal feed expert Dr. Howard Frederick, desert foods ethnobotanist Martha Ames Burgess, and Cooperative Extension outreach educator Mark Apel.

In addition, generously sharing their knowledge, techniques and recipes will be demonstrators, including desert foods writer Carolyn Niethammer, wild-food teacher Barbara Rose, solar cooking expert Valerie McCaffrey, mesquite millers from San Xavier Farm Coop and Tohono O’odham Community College, and children’s book author Laurie Melrood. This is the place to contact producers of mesquite meal for your home cooking, for nouvelle local-source eateries, and breweries. Get your tastebuds ready for samples of delectable new culinary mesquite delights!

Sponsored by Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture and University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, with extra support from USDA Western SARE, we have been able to keep the registration fees to a minimum– accessible to anyone. $30 covers the whole day conference including luncheon ($20 for students or members of BASA). Space is limited so register soon. Registration is online via the BASA website http://www.bajaaz.org. For further info call 520-331-9821.
Once registered, please group your travel plans in carpools. For carpooling ideas check out the Native Seeds/SEARCH or BASA facebook sites. Let’s not let anyone miss this conference who needs to be there!

 

Select sweet velvet mesquite pods dry and ready to grind (maburgess photo)

Select sweet velvet mesquite pods dry and ready to grind (maburgess photo)

 

Delicious honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) with ripening pods.

Delicious honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) with ripening pods.

ADDITIONAL MESQUITE HAPPENINGS–Plan to Harvest, Plant, and Celebrate Native Bean-Tree Abundance Before the Rains…

DESERT HARVESTERS is organizing events to help people dramatically enhance the quality of their mesquite pod harvests, what to make with them, and how to better sync with the Sonoran Desert’s seasonal cycles in a way that enhances our shared biome.
We are teaming up with local culinary businesses to increase offerings of native foods in their cuisine, and to encourage landscaping with native food plants in water-harvest earthworks beside their buildings.

Mark your calendar for Thursday June 19, 2014!

Guided Mesquite Harvests and Plantings
Hosted at the Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market
100 S. Avenida del Convento, Tucson, AZ

5pm harvest on foot, 6pm harvest by bicycle
Led by Desert Harvesters including Amy Valdés Schwemm and Brad Lancaster
$5 to $10 per person (sliding scale)

These hands-on harvest tours show you how to:
• Identify and sample the best-tasting mesquite trees
Every tree is different, but some varieties are consistently much better than others. Taste the differences. (We will also likely harvest from desert ironwood and palo verde.)
• How to harvest safely, ethically, and responsibly
Harvesting pre-rains is best practice to avoid invisible toxic mold. Harvesting from the tree avoids fecal or fungal ground contamination. Check out http://www.ediblebajaarizona.com/calling-all-mesquiteros/ for more on why pre-rain harvests are the traditional practice, and so important.
• Use cool tricks such as the harvest cane.
• How and when to plant the best bean trees
Participants are encouraged to bring sun protection, reusable water bottle, and carry-bags for harvested pods.

Iskashitaa, an organization that helps resettled refugees integrate into the Tucson community, will be offering their beautiful hand-made harvest bags and fresh-squeezed juice from fruit they’ve gleaned. Also there will be AravaipaHeirlooms’ prickly pear pops and chiltepine-infused cold brews from Exo Roast Co.

Bean-Tree Processing Demonstrations
Before and/or after the Guided Harvests and Plantings
4pm to 7pm–FREE
Taught by Barbara Rose, desert foods farmer/fermenter/cook extraordinaire of Bean Tree Farm (see their website for more awesome workshops), will show you how to turn milled or whole desert ironwood seeds, palo verde seeds, and mesquite pods into tasty dishes. Native foods such as mesquite flour, cactus fruit pops, drinks, syrup, and cholla buds will be available for sale, along with seeds and seedlings of the best-tasting native bean-trees and chiltepines.

AND THEN DON’T MISS Sunday, June 22, 2014!

Pre-Monsoon Mesquite Milling
Sunday, June 22, (alert–in the event of rain, it will be moved to Sunday, June 29)
6am to 10am
Bring Your Own Pods!
Pods for milling must be clean, dry, and free of mold/fungus, stones, leaves, bugs and other debris. Cost: $3/gallon of whole pods, with a minimum of $10.

Also at the milling event:
• A native wild foods demonstration – highlighting what’s in the wild-harvest season now
• Exo’s mesquite-, mole-, and chiltepin-infused coffees
• Mesquite baked goods and cactus fruit popsicles
• Seeds and seedlings of select native bean trees and chiltepines — so you can plant yours in time for the rains.

Our thanks to hosts Exo Roast Co. and Tap & Bottle,
403 N. 6th Ave.,Tucson, AZ
Harvesters’ Happy Hour at Tap & Bottle
Come join fellow harvesters in fermented merriment. Tap & Bottle will have local brews on-hand, some infused with local native ingredients. And they will donate a percentage of all the sales to Desert Harvesters. Learn more online at: http://www.DesertHarvesters.org

 

Mesquite can help us into a food-secure future– fittingly, sustainably, healthily, and sweetly– as we face heating and drying of our desert home.  What a gift mesquite is, as we begin to declare our independence from being a FOOD-COLONY!

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Desert Mistletoe for Food and Fun

Jacqueline Soule here today to discuss a edible “weed.”  Most people associate mistletoe it with kisses and winter holidays. Sad to say, here in the desert southwest, many homeowners think of our local mistletoe as a weed to be eliminated from their trees. In reality, they should be thinking of it as a crop to be harvested!

Phoradendron_californicum_6 by Stan Shebs

Desert mistletoe fruit is the only mistletoe fruit that is edible. Photo by S. Shebs.

 

There are many species of mistletoes around the world. The mistletoe plants themselves are all toxic. The berries of most species are toxic. The one exception is our local desert mistletoe, Phoradendron californicum, bearing not only edible but highly palatable white to reddish translucent berries. Native peoples ate only the fruits of mistletoes growing on mesquite, ironwood or catclaw acacia. Found growing on palo verdes or Condalia (desert buckthorn) the fruits are considered inedible.

 

Phoradendron_californicum_1 by Stan Shebs

Plants of desert mistletoe can become quite large and offer a bountiful harvest of berries. Photo by S. Shebs.

 

According to literature, the Seri consider mistletoe fruit ripe and harvestable once it turns translucent. Harvest is done by spreading a blanket below the plant and hitting it with sticks to release the fruit. Seri consumed the fruit raw. The Tohono O’odham also consumed the fruit raw. River Pima ate the fruit boiled and mashed, which made it the consistency of a pudding. The Cahilla gathered the fruits November through April and boiled them into a paste with a sprinkle of wood ash added to the pot.  (Bibliography at the end of this article.)

Some desert mistletoe are more red and less translucent.  This is just normal variation within the species.  Photo by S. Shebs.

Some desert mistletoe are more red and less translucent. This is just normal variation within the species. Photo by S. Shebs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the way, desert mistletoe plants (not the fruit) contain phoratoxins which can easily lead to death via slowed heart rate, increased blood pressure, convulsions, or cardiac collapse. Some of these compounds can cause hallucinations, but there is no way to judge dosage. People seeking a “high” from mistletoe still turn up in morgues each year. Native peoples used plants other than mistletoe to seek visions, and if one desires visions, one would be wise to follow their example. Although toxic, if used in a well-ventilated place, the foliage of desert mistletoe can be used in crafts and as a dye, producing a pale beige to dark sienna.

Mistletoe dye on cotton

Mistletoe dye on cotton. Photo by J. A. Soule

 

Harvesting and Use.

Mistletoe berries are ripe once they turn translucent and you can generally see the red seed inside. They also become soft and squishy, losing their hardness. Watch the phainopeplas, when they start devouring berries, then the fruit is ripe! I have only eaten the berries fresh, and find them reminiscent of elderberry in flavor. I was going to experiment with making a jelly this year, but missed my window of opportunity.

When ripe, the berries turn translucent and fall off the plant easily. Photo by S. Shebs.

When ripe, the berries turn translucent and fall off the plant easily. Photo by S. Shebs.

 

As a dye, mistletoe plants themselves are used. They can be fresh or dried. Place the herbage in the pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, strain. Add an alkalizing agent (ammonia) to intensify the color. You can dye both protein fibers (wool, silk) and plant fibers (cotton) with this solution. Ideally mordant with alum prior to dyeing, but post-mordant baths also work.

paper with desert plants 004

A blend of half paper pulp and half mistletoe plant material yields a nicely textured craft paper. Photo by J. A. Soule.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

paper with desert plants 002

All manner of desert plants can be used in papermaking. Photo by J. A. Soule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rather than discarding the spent mistletoe herbage from making dye, I have frozen it for later use in papermaking. Grind the cooked mistletoe in a blender and mix it half and half with paper pulp to create a lovely, rough-textured, craft paper with a warm brown hue.

 

 

Note: This month I have been looking at desert mistletoe in some of my other online articles.

Desert mistletoe and human use is presented here, the third in a series on the topic.
Desert mistletoe and wildlife can be read at: http://www.beautifulwildlifegarden.com/?s=mistletoe
Desert mistletoe as part of a native garden caan be read at: http://nativeplantwildlifegarden.com/?s=mistletoe

This article copyright Jacqueline A. Soule, 2014. The topic is covered more extensively in my book “Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today” (2011, Tierra del Sol Press, $15). If you live in Tucson, I hope you will consider purchasing a copy locally at Antigone Books, Arizona Experience Store, Magic Garden, Mostly Books, or Rillito Nursery.

 

For the last eight months, Savor the Southwest has been brought to you every week by four Savor Sisters, me (Jacqueline), Tia Marta, Aunt Linda and Carolyn. Look for our fifth Savor sister, Amy Valdes Schwemm will make her first appearance in June, otherwise she will return to post whenever a month has five Fridays.

 

Bibliography for this article
Felger, R. S. and M. B. Moser. 1985. People of the Desert and Sea. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.

Hodgson, W. C. 2001. Food Plants of the Sonoran Desert. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.

Kearny T. H. and Peebles R. H., et al. 1960. Arizona Flora. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Rea, A. M. 1997. At the Desert’s Green Edge. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.

Tohono O’odham Nation (s.d.). When Everything Was Real: An Introduction to Papago Desert Foods. Tohono O’odham Nation, Sells, AZ.

 

© 2014, Jacqueline Soule.  All rights reserved. I have received many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you are free to use a very short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact me if you have any questions. JAS avatar

Categories: Cooking, Dye, Sonoran Crafts, Sonoran herb, Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating la Fiesta de San Ysidro Labrador

Tia Marta here to tell you about a beautiful and legendary soul, San Ysidro Labrador, Saint Isidore the Farmer, Patron Saint of Farmers and Laborers – whose feast day is May 15. A major celebration is planned in his honor this Saturday, May 17, in Tucson.

Retablo, painting on metal of San Ysidro plowing with angel, in style of traditional New Mexico folk arts.  From Burns/Drees Collection (Photo MABurgess)

Retablo, painting on metal of San Ysidro plowing with angel, in style of traditional New Mexico folk arts. From Burns/Drees Collection (Photo MABurgess)

San Ysidro (a poor Spanish peasant farmer who lived from around AD1070 to 1130) is revered traditionally, along with his good wife Santa Maria Torribia, for generously sharing bounty from their fields and hearth to those in need—hungry animals and fellow peasants. Legend tells us that San Ysidro, at prayer every morning, was often late to labor in his master’s fields, but the angels, seeing his devotion, would already be plowing for him. Another legend records him with an angel plowing on both sides his oxen so that his labor yielded three times that of his neighbors. Yet another tells how, as he carried corn to be milled, he took pity on poor birds in the snow and gave them half his grain; when his leftover corn was ground, it yielded twice what he had brought. His generosity produced miracles.

San Ysidro retablo art, courtesy of Friends of Tucson's Birthplace

San Ysidro retablo art, courtesy of Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace

Residents of Madrid, Spain, go all out in celebrating San Ysidro’s feast day, as he is the city’s patron saint. In Tucson, it is customary in traditional Hispanic families to celebrate San Ysidro with prayers for rain as his day falls usually in our most arid fore-summer. According to Jim Griffith’s Saints of the Southwest, images of San Ysidro were taken from the church to observe the fields or even buried in the fields until rains came.  Here he has become patron of ranchers and crops–even gardeners. Dia de San Ysidro Labrador is a perfect occasion for us to become mindfully aware of where our food really comes from—the Earth, the soil—and also to fully appreciate the labor, the human care, human energy and other forms of energy that all go into bringing good food to our mouths and bodies. (I guess now we shouldn’t say “food to our tables” anymore, as that is unfortunately kinda passé. I hope some families still sit together at table to eat. We do and it is always a joy. Gosh imagine, we learn so much when we actually prepare and sit over a good meal and converse with each other!) So San Isidro Labrador reminds us of what is critically important with food—its origins in good earth and honorable labor!

NW Mexico craft-arts collector and expert Dr.Barney T.Burns with santo of SanYsidro showing the oxen and angels.

NW Mexico craft-arts collector and expert Dr.Barney T.Burns with santo of SanYsidro showing the oxen and angels. (photo MABurgess)

 

Cottonwood root carving by Mayo Indian, Sinaloa, Mexico, depicting San Ysidro with ox, plow, corn motif, and angel watching him.  From Burns...Drees Collection (photo MABurgess)

Cottonwood root carving by Mayo Indian, Sinaloa, Mexico, depicting San Ysidro with ox, plow, corn motif, and angel watching him. From Burns…Drees Collection (photo MABurgess)

This year the Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace has arranged a public celebration of San Ysidro not to be missed, where this tradition is revived in a most appropriate setting—in the new Mission Garden, a living history orchard and garden on the very site of Padre Kino’s original Mission San Augustin de Cukson, at the base of Sentinel Peak. Plan to get there early— procession starts from the Santa Cruz River at 9:00am (May 17) going west to enter the adobe-walled Mission Garden. There, near the living orchard of Mission Period fruit trees and the productive winter vegetable garden coming to fruition, will first be the blessings. A Native American spiritual guide will bless in the four directions, followed by a Christian blessing of the fields, food and animals. Heirloom White Sonora Wheat grown in this living-history vegetable garden is getting ripe and will be ceremonially harvested. There will be tastes of Pozole de San Ysidro, the traditional pozole de trigo. Mariachi music by Las Aguilitas from Davis Elementary will fill the air; the Desert Indian Dancers from San Xavier will bless the earth; and Hispanic historian Bobby Benton will sing. A highlight will be a talk by none other than “Big Jim” Griffith reminding us of our roots in Tucson traditions of San Ysidro. Info tents will have volunteers on hand to answer questions. Native Seeds/SEARCH has donated varieties of heirloom seeds known from the Mission Period and earlier, planted in vegetable and timeline gardens to demo the prehistory of plants used by ancient people of the Tucson area. NSS volunteers will provide info for contemporary gardens. Tucson Herbalist Collective shares medicinal plant knowledge for Mission Garden and will have volunteers available for herbal questions. Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture will be selling heirloom White Sonora Wheat (grown organically by BKWFarms in Marana) and demonstrating how to cook the delicious ancient grain in a modern solar oven! (Great recipes for White Sonora Wheat are available by scrolling back in this blog.) It will be hot– come prepared with hat, sun protection, and water. The celebration is over at 11:30am. What a wonderful way to rejoice in local food, local tradition, and neighbors to share it, on this little piece of floodplain where agriculture has been happening for over 4100 years!

A mosaic of 21 heirloom beans and seeds by artist MABurgess, depicting the angel plowing for San Ysidro Labrador. (photo PeterKresanPhotography.com)  Notecards available at NativeSeeds/SEARCH and www.flordemayoarts.com

A mosaic of 21 heirloom beans and seeds by artist MABurgess, depicting the angel plowing for San Ysidro Labrador. (photo PeterKresanPhotography.com) Notecards available at NativeSeeds/SEARCH and http://www.flordemayoarts.com

Inspired by San Ysidro, I spent several months composing this mosaic of heirloom seeds, depicting an exhausted San Ysidro asleep under a tree while the angel finishes his plowing. See if you can identify any varieties. You can purchase the heirloom beans–and notecards of this image now printed handsomely by Spectrum–at Native Seeds/SEARCH store or at the Flor de Mayo table at Sunday St Phiillips Farmers Market.

San Ysidro is helping us find our way back to connection with the land that can feed us again!

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Follow up photos For Housekeeping and the Hive: Removing the dead.

 

 

 

Good morning all, as promised, here are a few follow up photos of the “housekeeping” task of removing the dead from two differnt hives, taken a tad after dawn this morning. 

Hive #1, below:

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In the photo above, you can see the dead honey bee outside the hive entrance, tongue in the air.

The bee above her seems poised to carry her further away. 

 

 

 

 

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Within a few minutes, (above) she is moved to the side of the entrance, and then is removed completely.

Hive # 2 – below:

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Similarly, ( I love this hive and its gorgeous propolis entrance), the honey bee corpse is seen at the hive entrance.

awaiting further action from the hive.

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The alive bee above appears to have her eye trained upon the corpse, and is, perhaps, gathering her strength 

to carry the dead honey bee further from the hive. The photos I had of the “carrying” were blurry as the dawn light 

was dimmer than appears in these photos, and any movement captured in a photo was not at all in focus.

 

 

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Here you can see the hive entrance is cleared, and a forager bee is just returning to the hive with pollen packed

on her back legs. Removing the dead appears to be a practical matter for the honeybee, and the as we explored last post, 

is in the service of the life and health of the hive.

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Where do dead honeybees end up?  Returned to the earth, as we all shall be. But, as they are not encased and 

embalmed, they can actually nourish the ground upon which they lay. 

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Housekeeping and the Hive – – HoneyBee Ice Cream

Housekeeping in the Hive:  And Honeybee Ice Cream

Aunt Linda here:

Honeybees and Housekeeping. These may not be two words that we naturally put together. Yet, to enter the hive and meet a day-old worker bee, it is surprising to see first hand that her first tasks involve housekeeping.

Bees don’t wait for the springtime urge to purge; their system is employed year round. Genetic testing of honeybees preserved in amber reveal that bees have changed remarkably little over 60 million years. Nature selects “what works”, and hives with strong “housekeeping” and hygiene habits are more resistant to disease, and thus more able to put their energies into filling their pantries and nurseries, and do not waste precious energy battling diseases and infections.

In the brood nest of the hive, we see that immediately after a baby worker bee emerges from her cell, she grooms herself — and then feasts mightily on pollen and honey. Her very next task is to clean out the cell from which she has just emerged. In fact, between her first and third day of life, baby workers clean, and even polish, cells so that those cells are ready to receive either a new egg that the queen will lay or to store freshly gathered nectar and/or pollen. The photos below are from my hives, taken yesterday.

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Note in the photo above that the newly emerged bee is a bit lighter and fuzzier than the slightly older bees. This flat capped part of the hive is the worker nursery and the fuzzy bee has just emerged. You can see that slightly older house bees are adding nectar to the cells; which they will transform into honey.

In the bottom portion of the photo below at least three young workers are “working” in the cells, their little bee butts protruding upward, their heads tucked into the cells. In the upper left of the photo two holes (one small, one large) in the capped cells show bees which are just emerging, The open cells nearby have nectar. The open cells in the upper right of the photo look to me as if they are being readied for more eggs/brood.

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During the next few weeks of her life, (up until about her day 16 or so) she and other young workers remove dead bees. They carry the corpses as far away from the hive as is possible. Watching them efficiently struggle in this task always amazes me; I attempted to take a photo of a bee corpse being carried out of the hive, but the fates didn’t align with a wanted photo opportunity. If I come across one in the next few weeks, I will post it.

Bees use propolis ( a substance made from plant resins, which has remarkable antimicrobial/disinfectant qualities) to varnish the hives walls, reinforce and stiffen comb, to seal up holes and spaces they feel are too big. Fascinatingly, they also used it to seal up the corpses of invaders, such as mice or larger insects, that are stung to death, but are too big to remove. The propolis essentially mummifies the creature, thus reducing significantly the chances of illness or infection to the hive. A hive that is a bit hard for a beekeeper to open because it is sealed with propolis usually indicates a thriving hive.  In the photo below, the bees have created a smaller entrance for protection from marauding bees. I added this photo so you can imagine how bees might “seal” a mouse.

(The bee you see at the entrance may be a guard bee; age of bee is between 18-21 days).

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I like to take bees on their own terms, and not romanticize them, demonize them, nor to project values onto them. I will admit, however, to feeling inspired by them. Personally, I am not a very skilled housekeeper. I am, however, startled by how remarkably good it feels to remove “dead” energy, let’s call it Clutter, from the hive I call home. As I do this, I find my energy freed up. Often, after some deep culling, new ideas arise; fresh insights beckon, solutions present themselves.

Today, let’s be like that freshly emerged worker bee. After grooming ourselves, we’ll feast on honey and pollen (recipe below) to fortify ourselves for our own version of housekeeping.

Honeybee Ice Cream – (the basic) recipe:

Prep the ice cream maker of your choice; I love the old style hand crank kind, using ice and rock salt – but you may use the lighter, more user friendly ones – where you freeze the container ahead of time.

2 cups organic milk

2/3 cups honey – as local as you can get

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 large eggs

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon vanilla

Over medium to low heat, and being careful not to scald it, heat the milk in a stainless steel pan, about five minutes, whisking in the honey and salt as the milk warms.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl, and add ½ of the milky mixture above, and whisk it – slowly – into the eggs. Stir this milk/egg mixture back into the milk in the pan and heat again over the med-low heat for another 5 minutes, stirring consistently so that you don’t scorch it.

Remove from heat – pour mixture into a glass/ceramic bowl and let it cool completely. Once cooled; whisk in the heavy cream, vanilla. And process in the manner you prefer (by simply freezing it, milling it in one of those cold -ice cream machines, or the old fashioned “arm crank” method)

Beyond the basic recipe: Considering the 60 million year old dance between flowers and honeybees, why not consider adding a few of the edible flowers that Carolyn wrote about this month. Below are some Elderberry flowers (with a few scented geranium, in purple) that I added to my ice cream.

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You might also sprinkle pollen on top, or even put it into the mixture of ice cream itself. There is honey already in the this ice cream, but drizzling some on top in place of caramel or chocolate might be sweet.

Note: Conventional thinking is that raw honey may not be healthy for infants under one year, pregnant women, or breastfeeding mothers/babies. It is worth talking with your health care practitioner about. And though uncommon, some people find that they have a reaction to pollen, so start with small quantities.

 

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