Sunday, January 17, 2016

Baking and cooking and yummies for/from the bees

The weather has decided to become decidedly winter-in-Wisconsin-like this weekend, and I did manage to get outside for a while- that will be forthcoming.  Anyway, after spending an outrageous amount at the grocery store- I fired up the stove and the oven for the afternoon.  Really people, all I wanted to do was binge-watch Breaking Bad, but I opted to wait until evening to do that so I could manage to get something else done.  Because if I had less will-power than I do, I'd have finished that show sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

Anyway, my dear friend Jane had given me a little bowl of a yummy roasted carrot soup and the recipe to go with it, so that was what precipitated the whole cooking frenzy of the afternoon.  I was going to be roasting veggies anyway, so I decided to make a veggie soup as well.  

roasted carrots 

sauteed celery and onion

Finished, blended soup
Roasted  Butter Carrot Soup
Basically roast 2 lb of carrots that are peeled, cut up into chunks and tossed in 4 tablespoons of melted butter in a flat pan.  375-400 for about 25 min.

In a large pan saute 1/2 cup celery and 1/4 cup onion in oil until translucent.  Add in 2 cloves of minced garlic.  Toss in the carrots, add 4 cups veggie broth and cook until everything is soft.  Blend with an immersion blender and then add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 2 tsp. dill.  Simmer for another 10 min, serve with a little swirl of honey.  It is so much better the next day!!

I discovered that roasting the vegetables is really the key to a good tasting soup.  And I totally made up the recipe as I went, so I will recount it the best that I can. And seriously- put some sweet potato in this if you have it- it really adds so much goodness.

Root vegetables roasting along side the baking pie

Finished soup without the added vegetarian meatballs that I added later
Roasted Vegetable Soup, with greens and other good stuff in it

In large pan roast assorted veggies that are cut up to the same size- I used carrots, onion, parsnips, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes.  I roasted them in oil with salt and pepper until they are partially caramelized.  I also wrapped up a few garlic cloves in foil and threw them in with the veg.

In large stock pot, saute some celery and mushrooms- of course all of this depends on what you have, or how much you bought at the grocery store..... then put in the roasted veggies, 4 cups of broth, a can of diced tomatoes,  a small can of tomato sauce,  a can of northern white beans- rinsed and drained, a tsp of basil, seasoned salt....  squeeze the garlic out of their skins, too.  Then when it has cooked a bit, I put in a half bag of a baby kale mix..... This was so tasty!!  I realized that I had a bag of vegetarian meatballs that I threw in after the photos were taken.  Good idea!!  I finish this off with a sprinkle of  parmesan.....  

As long as the oven was on, I made the MA a peach and blueberry pie.  So that was yummy!  It is a great idea to get those peaches and blueberries in July.  :)  

Meanwhile, because I apparently have no other life, I cooked up some sugar water into sugar candy for bees.  It is incredible how much sugar can dissolve into a mere 2 cups of water.  5 lbs is 10 cups! It is really easy to do this for the little dudes, so when the weather warms up again, they will be getting what is basically a giant sucker.

Boil this stuff until it gets up to 250* on the candy thermometer

Finished candy in their molds
2 cups of water
5 lb of sugar (10 cups)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Stir sugar and lemon juice  into simmering water in large pan, stirring constantly until all the sugar crystals are gone.  If they do not disappear, add a little water at a time in until they dissolve.  Turn up heat so it will boil and attach candy thermometer.  Boil until it reaches 250.  Pour sugar water into greased paper plates. let firm up before you unmold and feed to bees. :)  Actually if you do this, be sure it cools a bit so it doesn't hurt the bees. 

 I've had another thing buzzing around in my head (hehehe) and that is making some creamed honey.  I love creamed honey, it is really yummy and well..... creamy.  It turns out it is just crystallized honey with really small crystals.  Most recipes tell you to use creamed honey that you buy as "seed", but apparently you can also grind your own in the food processor or blender.  This I did today, not Saturday, but it goes well with this post!  :)
Putting the crystallized honey into the food processor

crystallized honey
whirl the honey in the food processor until pieces are small

Add a few tablespoons of the creamed honey to a jar of liquid
So this is a fairly simple process.  Use the food processor to break the crystals down to a very fine particle.  Stir a couple tablespoons into a jar of regular honey and let it sit for a week or so while the honey crystallized to the size of the "seed" crystals that you mixed into the liquid honey....   I will be interested to see how this goes!

Anyway, I have discovered it is difficult to quickly pound out a blog post when one is watching Breaking Bad, and I snickered more than once when I wrote the word cooked.  Lol.
Tomorrow is Monday and I am thrilled that I will have a nice lunch for the next several days.  And in a week I should have some honey that won't leak out of my peanut butter and honey bagel that I eat for breakfast every day at school.  Ahhh it is the little things, right?  They bring us so much joy.

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