books

QUENCH

 

HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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  • My friends write books, too! New post up over on small measure about four cookbooks recently published by friends of mine (tap the screen for tags of authors, photographers, and affiliates). These are mighty tasty reads, friends!!!
  • What you call pancakes, I call research and development. Work today included creating, and then inhaling with abandon, these Buttermilk Cornmeal Pancakes (served alongside sorghum-maple syrup). #wwllt #pancakes #f52grams #food52grams #southernfood #comfortfood
  • #tbt to what might possibly be my favorite photo of Huxley ever. This was from 1 1/2 years ago, when @glennbenglish posed our little honey bear (then 3 years old) with a bit of honey from our hives.
  • The fact that this vista can be accessed simply by walking out our back door, heading into the woods surrounding our home, and heading to the top of a mountain range is something I don't take for granted. The underlying reason for all of the work I do is to inspire myself and others to better steward this verdant planet. That's my drive, my cause, my mission, my mantra.
  • The long and winding road, that leads to my door. || So much green and blue in the cove today!
  • There was a time I used to say we should rename our property
  • Our house, in the middle of the woods.
  • The fried bologna sandwich, elevated. This version, which @glennbenglish and I made for yesterday's picnic, had fried beef bologna, Mahon cheese, pickled okra, and a homemade/home-foraged ramp aioli on grilled sourdough. There was also pixie dust (Kidding! Maybe....?).
  • Our sweet boy officially turned 4 1/2 today, so we've been celebrating that milestone in ways both large and small all day. Life is so, so much more splendid with this little elf in it! || Image from yesterday's hike and picnic up to what we've dubbed the
  • Discussing the bigger, more important things in life (or, quite possibly, Batman and his prowess) today on our hike and picnic. Being Huxley's mom is my favorite thing to do, of all the things I do.
  • After a picnic lunch and hike in the forests around our home, Huxley and I kissed @glennbenglish goodbye and wished him good luck as he set out on a hunt for the ever elusive morel. He texted to say the magic mushrooms weren't showing themselves, but that he did make it up to the mountain bald that rests on the ridge line behind our property. Love his panoramic video!
  • Hello, gorgeous fog. Happy Monday, friends!

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honey

Wild Mountain Bees

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Do you have a beekeeper in your life? Or maybe someone that loves beeswax candles? Or soap? Or lip balm? See that-I just covered all of humanity there! Here’s the thing-my friend Jon Christie has got you (and ALL OF HUMANITY!-in my head, James Earl Jones is saying this) covered!

His wonderful store, Wild Mountain Bees, housed in a home in North Asheville (take Merrimon Ave. north, until it begins turning into Weaverville Hwy. in Woodfin), covers the range of apiarty-based goods (and services-look for upcoming classes or order nucs for spring now). Jon has long been a supporter of my book, and I’ve long been a supporter of all he does (he’s profiled in that book, too!).

Now that he has a brick-and-mortar store that’s much closer to my home (formerly, I either drove the steep driveway out to his mountain home in Madison County or rendezvoused around town in various locations to purchase his wares), I wanted to stop in and pick up a few items for holiday gifting. Whether you’re looking to pick up a smoker or bee suit for the budding apiary enthusiast in your life, or some locally made beeswax tea lights or Jon’s own propolis tincture (!!!) to fill stockings, Wild Mountain Bees has just what you need. He’s only open today until 5:30, and then from 10-5:30 Friday and Saturday, December 20th and 21st, before closing up for a bit over the winter.

If you stop in, tell him I sent you. Beekeepers, and small business owners, like the winged creatures we love so much, thrive by supporting each other!

On Honey, Friendship, and the Art of Being Human

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Today was just the sort of day I like. It was, for the most part, quiet, and easy, yet full. It involved things like making applesauce, a slow, laborious, but totally worth it in the end kind of food-making endeavor. It involved gathering tomatillos from the garden with Huxley, and discovering a toad in the process, and watching him turn the spent plants I’d pulled from the soil into “rocket ships, mama!”, zooming around the garden on their gangly stems. It involved tidying, and sweeping, and making simple meals, and otherwise what I sometimes call (in my mind, at least), the “gentle stuff of life.” Nothing colossal, or particularly significant, or even all that noteworthy, just good, and calm, and straightforward, and yet, somehow, completely satisfying.

Which is kind of how I feel about harvesting honey. Sure, it’s got its own definite reward. And I absolutely applaud the bees for their tireless devotion to their task, and for being able to reap some of that labor myself. The thing about harvesting honey, though, is that doing so really is about much more than the sum of its parts. It so far surpasses the act of simply collecting ambrosial jars of viscous nectar. It considerably exceeds the end product. So very much.

Each year, I gather honey just once, in autumn. Historically, I’ve done this on Labor Day weekend, with the same group of bee-loving friends. This year, the holiday weekend came and went in a flurry of activity, none of it bee-related. I knew I’d get around to it, but the whole of September passed before I was able to carve out time to rent the extracting equipment (Natalie at Villagers has all you need to get your honey off your hives, and very affordably at that!) and gather up my crew.

Last Tuesday, I removed the supers (boxes holding frames, for the uninitiated), sticking with two mediums (for now, at least; I may remove another in the next few weeks). Wednesday, my friends Jenny and Kristina came over and we assumed our stations of removing frames from the supers (me), uncapping the beeswax (Jenny), and cranking the extractor (Kristina, and all of us, in the end). While we pried and scraped and cranked, we talked. We caught up on each other’s lives. We shared our concerns, our triumphs, our travails. We laughed, we encouraged each other, we talked some smack.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the sweet reward that comes from both the bee’s labor and that of myself and my friends in getting it off the frames and into glass jars. I really do. What I love more, though, truth be told, are the human connections the entire process engenders. I think that something really magical happens when people come together to collectively process, prepare, sow, glean, harvest, or otherwise work with food.

All of us have to eat. All of us need our physical needs to be met, and we can do that on our own, sure. But when we come together and commune with others, we’re tending to our souls, too. We’re taking care of our emotional needs. We’re recognizing that we’re much more than skin and bones, we’re thinking, feeling creatures, too, and, we’re social beings, as well.

It’s so very easy to disconnect ourselves from others, ironically at a time in the history of humanity that involves more immediate, direct contact than ever. Most of it occurs digitally, though. When you’re in front of someone, and you’re making eye contact, and you’re laying a hand on their forearm to show concern or giving them a hug when they enter or depart, or otherwise completely being human in front of each other, invisible yet highly significant connections are formed. We need each other, on so very many levels. The bees themselves bear silent testament to that. Sure, I got some honey (right around 5 gallons!), but I gained a good deal more. Life certainly is sweet.

Hive Talkin’

Sincere apologies to any of you trying to connect here over the past day and a half that haven’t been able to do so. I myself have been in that same boat! Some hardware of the server I use died, and lots of blogs were in limbo for awhile, small measure amongst them. All seems to be well again, though!

 

It’s almost time for a honey extraction. Typically, I only extract once a year, around Labor Day. That was the case last year, and that’ll be the case again this year. I’ve been checking the hives and watching the bees while working in the garden and it’s clearly time for busting out the extractor, uncapping the wax on the frames, and gathering some Chez English  liquid gold!

The bees have been insanely busy lately, bringing in neon yellow baskets full of pollen in on their hairy legs. It’s such a glorious sight to behold, all that planning and industry and, well, work. There’s a very sound reason the expression busy as a bee exists!

What about you? Have any of you extracted yet, or plan to do so soon? While straight-up honey is exquisite, I love infusing small jars of it with fresh herbs, too (you can find my instructions for doing so in Keeping Bees). Small sprigs of lavender, rosemary, mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, or thyme infused with the honey make for perfect gifts come the holidays.

Thank you, sweet bees, for all you do. Without you, the world would be a lot less flavorful, a good bit more difficult for us to navigate through, and not nearly as sweet.

 

*Back in my other world, of all things pie, several great giveaways are currently being hosted for copies of A Year of Pies. Check out these sites and enter for a chance to win a copy of your own, to have, hold, and splatter butter and fruit juices all over!
1) The Non-Consumer Advocate
2) Lark Crafts
3) Cold Antler Farm