February 01, 3000

My Colorado Beekeeping Calendar: A sticky post

A Phenological Calendar for Colorado Beekeepers



By undergoing VIT, I successfully reduced my sensitivity to honeybee venom to safe levels! After taking several years off, my interest in beekeeping has not waned, and I'm anxious to restock our hives. I'm just not sure how to proceed since we're still planning to move out of Colorado. Should I restock and run the hives but then give them to someone if we move? Would someone buy fully stocked hives? What about the fact that one's a Top Bar Hive and one's a Warré? Should I run just one, with plans to leave it behind and take the other with? Which one to run? Which one to take? Should I run the one I prefer or the one I won't mind leaving behind? Which one do I prefer?! The mind wobbles.

What about you? What are your plans for this season? If you're in the Denver metro, maybe my bloom calendar will help you think them through. Just keep in mind that the dates can shift a couple of weeks in either direction depending on weather conditions. For example, the excessively warm 2017/2018 winter had elm trees blooming well before Valentine's Day. The snow storm on President's Day, though, cut short its blooming period. You can click on any of the events for more details and additional reading. I hope you find it useful.

Blue = honeybee, yellow = mason bee, green = what's blooming. And don't forget, Marty Hardison's booklet, "The Appropriate Beehive" is available at right. If you like The List he wrote for when to do what for one's bees, please consider making a donation. It'll ensure "The Appropriate Beehive" remains available through this website. I'm working with Marty on an update. I'm challenged by the limits of Google Docs because I can't afford Microsoft Word, but I'm trying to find a solution so we can post it for you ASAP. Until then, may your hives be humming. — BB & HB





Blogger Tip: create a "pinned" or "sticky post" by publishing it with a date in the future, like in the year 3000. It'll stay at the top of your page as long as the date hasn't passed.

January 23, 2020

Vanilla Honey Fudge

Alternate post title: Me vs. the Everlasting Can of Milk.

It's two days before Thanksgiving, and I am at the supermarket stocking up for the impending snow storm. There's a display with everything you need to bake a pumpkin pie. Hmmm, which to buy… Libby's canned pie filling or canned pumpkin? I read the labels. I don't want to pay to have a bunch of sugar premixed in, so I go with the straight pumpkin. I read the recipe on the can, because I know it's a common mistake to buy the wrong kind of canned milk. Recipe read. ✅ I grab a can of milk from the display. From the refrigerated section nearby, I grab four bricks of cream cheese. I'd been waiting months for it to go on sale, and 99¢ each is as good as it gets these days.

Next day. The dilemma. Do I make pumpkin pie or cheesecake? It's just the two of us, and I don't want to have too much dessert. Plus there's the, "How am I going to fit it all in the storm-ready, very full fridge?" problem. It's Thanksgiving, so I opt for pie. It's traditional.

The recipe's pretty standard. Stir together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. In other words, add the 3/4 cup sugar first, and the milk last. As the thick, thick milk is going in, I realize… I bought the wrong kind of canned milk. Dang my feeble brain! Dang the person who stocked sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk! Evaporated is milk that had most of the water cooked out of it. Sweetened condensed is chock full of sugar… the primary reason it's so thick… so I stop adding it immediately.

New dilemma. I have a very sweet pie custard that doesn't have enough liquid in it. If I add the rest of the can, it'll have enough sugar in it for the pie PLUS a 10" cheesecake. Do I just bake it as is? What if it's nasty? Then I'll have ruined my pie crust, too. I decide to bake off a small amount of just batter in jars. It worked out! 👇
Reconstructed pumpkin pie-in-a-jar. Now you have a legitimate excuse for saving all those Oui™ by Yoplait® yogurt jars.
I didn't feel like baking off a whole bunch of jars so the remaining 3 cups of pumpkin pie filling became a 7-inch pumpkin-cheesecake. Pie batter taken care of, I turned my attention back to the can of sweetened condensed milk. I still had the majority of the can left, so I found a cheesecake recipe that called for sweetened condensed milk instead of sugar. A no-bake recipe! But, dang it Martha Stewart, your recipe failed. After sitting overnight, the custard was gelatinous but not set. I scooped it out of the crust, added an egg (1 per brick of cream cheese is the standard ratio) and back in the crust it went. A short 30 minute bake and yay! Cheesecake with the texture of a Sara Lee's! 😋 
Classic Cheesecake — Smooth and Creamy
Being more sugar than milk, a single 14-ounce can goes a ridiculously long way so I still had some condensed milk left. And, I confess, more in my freezer from a previous goof. (The stuff freezes extraordinarily well.) On a day when there was 11 inches of snow to shovel, I made No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream. It was also just 24°F that day, so into the freezer the ice cream went to ripen and be forgotten about for a while. Most people don't need a warm day to eat ice cream, I know, but winter started in October and we feel chilled to our very soul. We didn't actually eat the ice cream until Christmas dessert, and boy was it good.
Peanut Butter Brownies à la mode.
Here it is January and, being ever so frugal, I just couldn't bring myself to throw out the last remaining tablespoons of condensed milk. So when this month's Food and Tools ingredient challenge was presented, I was thrilled to find a recipe calling for condensed milk.

Every month, Moya throws down a challenge to follow a recipe that uses a specific ingredient, using only the cookbooks you own. January's ingredient is honey. I had to do mind-bending math to scale the recipe down to use the finally small amount of sweetened condensed milk left, but here it is. I present to you Vanilla Honey Fudge.

Vanilla Honey Fudge
The original recipe gives metric/Imperial and weight/volume options but the conversions were all sorts of wrong. I'm giving you the safe bet of metric only. You will need a scale to make this recipe (and I happen to be selling one on eBay!).

Vanilla Honey Fudge recipe from HONEY by Jenni Fleetwood
Makes approximately 60 pieces.

In a heavy sided pot (at least 3qt size), melt together:
150ml water (I used water left over from rinsing honey cappings.)
175g butter

Add and stir 'til dissolved, over low heat:
675g light brown sugar (I used dark; it was all I had.)
STOP STIRRING, increase the heat and boil until the mixture reaches hard crack.

Off-heat, add:
400g sweetened condensed milk
60ml honey
2.5ml vanilla extract (I used a mix with less expensive almond extract.)

Beat with a wooden spoon until glossy, then pour into a prepared pan. That could be a buttered or Silpat-lined shallow pan. Leave until completely cooled before cutting into bite-sized pieces or turning out of your mold. Alternately, you can use a silicone honeycomb and bee-themed one from Amazon like I did. It's just the thing, don't you think?