Cooking With Honey – It’s Time For Caramel!

caramels 2

Autumn is the time for caramel, whether as candies or caramel apples.  This recipe is easy and delicious. Heck, it probably soothes a sore throat too!!

Yield:   18-24 caramels or 3-5 caramel apples

Ingredients:

1 cup Honey

¾ cups Heavy Cream

1-½ teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Tablespoons Butter

Directions:

Combine honey and cream in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally while it cooks. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches soft ball stage. The easiest way to do this is with a candy thermometer (235 to 240ºF), though you can test it with other methods.

Remove pan from the heat and immediately stir in vanilla and butter. Stir until butter is completely melted and combined. Dip apples in the caramel or pour into a generously buttered 8×8 dish or smaller if you want thick large caramels. Having your dish properly buttered is important for easy removal of the caramels once set.

Allow caramels to cool thoroughly in the refrigerator and then slice into squares.  Store in the refrigerator until serving.

The Romancing The Bee Diet – Day 3 – Breakfast Baked Apple With Honey

microwave baked apples

Day 3 and I feel great!!  I lost another half pound, making a total of 1 1/2 pounds to date!!

I had this for breakfast -every bit as good as broiled grapefruit!!

Yield:  1 serving

Ingredients:

1 large apple, cored and, if you like, peeled.  (I used Honeycrisp, unpeeled.)

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

2 pinches cinnamon

Directions:

Core apple and place in a small bowl.

Fill  hole with honey and cinnamon. Wrap the bowl tightly with good quality plastic wrap. It must be air tight or this won’t work. Microwave on high for 5 min.

The plastic wrap will make a big bubble as it cooks.  This is normal. It works like a steamer to cook the apple quickly.

When taken from the microwave (WITH POT HOLDERS) the plastic wrap will shrink wrap the apple.  Now keeping those pot holder on, carefully pull off the plastic wrap with a fork. Be careful to avoid hot steam.

Let cool (if you can…) and enjoy!

The Romancing The Bee Diet – The Essentials

Fat bee

Okay, here is the diet I made up.  I’m no expert, but I’ve been on just about every diet there is with varying levels of success. I know what works for me and what doesn’t.

All of the foods allowed on the Romancing The Bee Diet (“RTBD”) are low (below 55) on the Glycemic Index (GI).

The GI is a numerical system of measuring how much of a rise in circulating blood sugar a carbohydrate triggers–the higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response. So a low GI food will cause a small rise, while a high GI food will trigger a dramatic spike. A GI of 70 or more is high, a GI of 56 to 69 inclusive is medium, and a GI of 55 or less is low.

For me, a food with a low GI keeps me satisfied longer and naturally suppresses my appetite. The variety of foods allowed enables me to still cook creatively!

Foods allowed on the RTBD are listed below. If it’s not on the list, I’m not going to eat it!!

Lean meats such as beef, skinless chicken, lamb, pork loin and veal – 8 ounces per day, OR

Any type of seafood without breading or batter – 8 ounces per day, OR

Three eggs per day (3 ounces), OR

Any combination of the above, not to exceed a total of 8 ounces of protein per day.

One grapefruit per day

One lemon per day

Apples or pears – two per day, total.

Non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, cabbage, salad greens, winter greens, onions, and garlic. (unlimited)

1 avocado per day

2 tablespoons raw honey

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter (not light) or mayonnaise made with olive oil (not light), or a combination of these, not to exceed two tablespoons total.

2 tablespoons bleu cheese or parmesan cheese

Unlimited – Tea, diet soda, water, Vinegar, Tabasco, salt, pepper, fresh and dried spices and Dijon Mustard.

1 five ounce glass of wine per day, preferably red. (May be used in cooking)

EATING BREAKFAST IS ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED!

That’s it.  No counting of calories or carbs or points.  I’m hopeful that the small amounts of “naughty” foods will keep me from feeling deprived, while still allowing me to lose 2-3 pounds per week.

Holidays With Honey – What The H—- Is A Wassail?

wassail

Here We Come A-Wassailing

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wand’ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

We are not daily beggars
That beg from door to door,
But we are neighbors’ children
Whom you have seen before
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

Wassailing refers to the charming English custom of going from house to house singing the above song while drinking plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoying oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.  Fun!!

Probably because it is so much fun, few holiday traditions have endured as long or seen so many variations. Wassailing’s origins are unknown, but it is mentioned in texts dating as far back as the Fourteenth Century. In one such text, the leader of a group took a bowl and, raising it to the crowd, shouted “Wassail!” an Old English term meaning “to your health” in the same way one might say “Cheers!’ today.

There are three main types of Wassailing. One is the filling of a common bowl or cup often referred to as a Loving Cup and passing it around to be shared.

Another variation is when a bowl is taken around to individual houses in a village so neighbors can partake as friends.

The third is a celebration of the apple harvest and the blessing of the fruit or trees.

In the earliest known days of the practice, the Wassail was poured on to the orchards after harvest as a libation or offering to bless the fields for the coming spring and to ward off evil.

Like many practices devoted to the defense against evil, Wassailing has always been seen as a festive activity and has always been associated with partying and making merry.

In the last couple of hundred years Wassailing has been more about good cheer and well wishing than the blessing of the crops although the practice of “tree blessing’ has seen something of a revival in rural areas. These days it is sometimes accompanied by a bonfire party and the firing of guns.

The actual ingredients in a traditional Wassail bowl are widely disputed.  This could be attributed to the fact that festive bands of people who traveled from home to home would often replenish their Wassail bowl with whatever was available. While one home might offer apple cider or ale another might have mulled wine or even spirits. Needless to say, after an hour or two of enthusiastic Wassailing most Wassailers were not particularly picky!

Wassail was sometimes called “lamb’s wool” due to its frothy appearance. Pieces of toast were floated in the drink to give it extra flavor, and it was considered a sign of good luck to find one in your own cup. This is thought to explain the origins of “toasting” someone today.

Alcohol definitely played a major part in Wassailing’s history, but some argue it is not essential. They (somewhat unconvincingly) claim the continuance of the custom has little to do with the drink and is all about the good will and friendship that Wassailing generates.

While interpretations of Wassailing differ, the concept clearly lives on both in spirit and practice. As ever, the Oxford English Dictionary provides the most inclusive definition – “Make merry with much alcohol” – an activity to which a great many of us can aspire this festive season.  A tasty Wassail recipe follows (minus the toast…)

A happy Wassail to you all.

A Traditional Shropshire Wassail Recipe – for hardened Wassailers!

10 very small apples

1 large orange stuck with whole cloves

10 teaspoons honey

2 bottles dry sherry or dry Madeira

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

3 cloves

3 allspice berries

2 or 3 cinnamon sticks

2 cups castor (superfine) sugar

12 to 20 pints of cider according to the number of guests

1 cup (or as much as you like) brandy

Core the apples and fill each with a teaspoon of honey. Place in a baking pan and cover the bottom with 1/8-inch of water.

Insert cloves into the orange about 1/2″ apart.

Bake the orange with the apples in a 350° oven.

After about 30 minutes, remove the orange and puncture it in several places with a fork or an ice pick.

Combine the sherry or Madeira, cider, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice berries, cinnamon, sugar, apple and orange juice and water in a large, heavy saucepan and heat slowly without letting the mixture come to a boil.

Leave on very low heat.

Strain the wine mixture and add the brandy.

Pour into a metal punch bowl, float the apples and orange on top and ladle hot into punch cups.

Makes enough for 15-20 people

Honey Roasted Turkey

This is an English recipe that I love! The honey butter glaze gives the skin a crispy, tasty flavor. Be sure to use a smaller turkey for best results.

Ingredients

1 (10 pound) whole turkey – thawed, neck and giblets removed

1 lemon, cut in half

salt and black pepper to taste

1 small apple, peeled

1 small onion, peeled

1 small potato, peeled

3 ounces butter

6 ounces honey

1 cup chicken stock

Directions

Pat the turkey dry inside and out with paper towels. Rub the cut lemon halves lightly over the skin of the turkey. Season inside and out with salt and pepper to taste. Place the lemon halves, apple, onion, and potato into the cavity of the turkey. Place into a close-fitting roasting pan.

Stir the butter and honey together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is evenly blended. Spoon the honey mixture over the turkey, coating the entire outer surface. Allow to stand 30 minutes, reapplying the honey mixture several times.

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Bake the turkey in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, basting two or three times with the drippings and honey mixture. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and cook 30 minutes more, basting frequently. Use a cup of chicken stock to keep the pan juices from drying out.

Cover the turkey with aluminum foil, and continue roasting until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). Remove the foil during the last 15 minutes and baste one last time.

Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area 15 minutes before slicing.

Cranberry Week – Roast Duck With Honey Cranberry Glaze

Did you know that cranberries help prevent stomach ulcers?  Most peptic ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection, Helicobacter pylori. Cranberries havebeen shown to inhibit the adhesion of these bacteria to the stomach lining. With 25 million Americans suffering from peptic ulcers in their lifetime, this is a significant health problem.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 4-pound duck
  • 1 3-inch strip of orange peel
  • 1 medium onion
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper as desired
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preparation

Rinse the cranberries carefully under running water and pick them over to remove any that have spoiled.

Mix one cup of cranberries,1/2 cup of the honey and one-half cup of water in a small saucepan and cook, simmering, until the cranberries are very soft. Strain through a sieve into a small bowl. The honey liquid is the glaze for the duck.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the gizzard, heart and liver from the duck and set aside. Put the orange peel, half the onion and about half a teaspoon of salt and pepper in the cavity.

Paint the duck with a little of the cranberry glaze.Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan and roast for 45 minutes. Every 15 minutes, paint the surface with a little of the cranberry glaze.

Remove the duck from the oven and prick the skin all over with a fork to release the fat. Return to the oven and continue roasting, painting every 15 minutes with the glaze, for a total of two hours.

While the duck is roasting, make a broth with the innards: Roughly chop the remaining half onion and the duck innards. Place in a small saucepan with the wine, another half teaspoon of salt and pepper and a cup of water. Simmer gently for an hour or more, until the broth is reduced to approximately one-half cup of flavorful liquid. Strain the broth and discard the solids.

Mix the remaining half cup of cranberries with the remaining half cup of water, the remaining honey and the balsamic vinegar. Cook together for 10 minutes until the mixture is syrupy. Set aside.

When the duck has finished roasting, remove it from the oven and set aside. It should be a beautiful dark-red color.

Strain the pan juices into a glass measuring cup and carefully remove the duck fat that floats to the top. (Do not discard: duck fat is wonderful for roasting or frying potatoes.) Add the innard broth to the roasting juices and use this to deglaze the roasting pan, scraping up the roasting bits that have stuck to the pan. Strain the whole through a fine sieve and place in a small saucepan.

Add the cranberry-vinegar syrup to the pan juices and broth. If there is any glaze remaining, add that to the mixture and bring the whole to a simmer just to warm it and mix everything together.

Carve the duck if you wish, or send it whole to the table, together with the warm cranberry sauce.

YIELD

4 – 6 servings

Honey Waldorf Salad

This salad was created at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in the 1890’s not by a chef but by the maître d’hôtel Oscar Tschirky.  It was an instant success.

The original version of this salad contained only apples, celery, honey and mayonnaise. Chopped walnuts later became an integral part of the dish.

Waldorf salad is usually served on top of a bed of lettuce. This recipe is one of many variations of the original 1890’s recipe.

  • 2 cups (2 med-large) diced un-pared apples (I use Honeycrisp or Gala)
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 heaping tablespoonfuls mayonnaise, homemade or Hellmann’s
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • dash lemon juice
  • seedless grapes

Stir together the mayonnaise, honey and lemon juice.

Combine all ingredients together and chill until ice cold.

Serve on lettuce and garnish with seedless grapes.  Serves four.