The Birds and the Bees

First, a disclaimer: I don’t want you to be disappointed.  This blog has nothing to do with (wink wink) “THE birds and the bees” but it has lots to do with birds and bees.

We collect bird art – and we didn’t even know that we collected bird art until spending the last 3 months isolating in-house because of the coronavirus.  A quick survey indicates that about half of our art work focuses on a bird of some kind or another.  Mind you, we’re not collectors of fine pieces by well-known artists, but we do love the funky/fun pieces of art we pick up here and there.  We have some abstract pieces, a few landscapes, numerous depictions of couples…and birds.

We’ve been thinking about birds because one bird in the hood is about to drive us both bat-shit crazy – or crazier than we already are after months of singular togetherness.  Andy reveals all in today’s Andy’s Corner.

Even if we’re not enamored with every bird “song,” there’s something very soothing about having the time to just sit and appreciate birds – especially as they enjoy a bird bath. Jennifer Ackerman, author of The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think wrote a nice piece for the NY Times about bird-watching during COVID-19.

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Am I a bad person for having a favorite bird? 🙂  Acorn Woodpeckers at our birdbath.

While bumble bees and honey bees may not be quite as vocal or colorful or as amusing as birds, it’s fun to spot them in our flower gardens, knowing how badly we need to be encouraging and helping them.  While native bloomers are better than hybridized plants for attracting bees (here’s a great article with more suggestions), we’ve had an amazing number of bees AND hummingbirds on this ‘Kudo’s Gold’ agastache.   Note – you shouldn’t just plant one or two bloomers and be done with it; you need a lot, blooming at various times, to do your best for these little pollinators.

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A bee on our agastache ‘Kudos Gold’

There are about 4000 bee species just in North America, but only a few species make honey.  And don’t we love them for it?  To honor those bees, we’ve got three sweet little recipes to share: a Bee’s Knees Honey Cocktail, Honey Challah, and Honey Brownies.  Then continue your love affair with honey by trying our previously-posted 20 Minute Honey Garlic Shrimp, Deb’s Granola, and Pork and Brussels Sprouts with Chile Lime Sauce.

While you cook up a honey-heavy storm, I recommend listening to Judy Collins’ 1973 “Cook with Honey.” And enjoy the amazing Sweet Honey in the Rock.  I’ve loved that group ever since 1988 when I got their album Breaths.  A song from that album, “Ella’s Song” could have been written about today’s world.   This isn’t the original rendition, but it’s lovely.  Be sure to read the all-too-relevant lyrics, too.

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Bee’s Knees Honey Cocktail

Bee's Knees Honey Cocktail

This is a great, simple, summery drink.  Have it out on the patio watching the birds and the bees cause it’s the bee’s knees!

  • 2 T honey syrup (for honey syrup combine 1 T honey and 1 T water and warm in a microwave for about 15 sec.; make more than you need; it will keep, refrigerated, for at least a week)
  • 1 T lemon juice (or substitute lime juice…our favorite)
  • 2 oz gin
  • a lemon twist for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice; pour in the cooled honey syrup, the lemon juice, and gin. Put the lid on and shake well (about 30 seconds).

Pour the drink into a coupe or martini glass.  Add the lemon twist.  Serve.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

 

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Honey Challah – made by our 15-year-old grandson, Moss

Honey Challah

Our grandson Moss – of Japanese Cheesecake fame – recommended this recipe.  FYI – leftover challah makes great French Toast.  Just slice and let it dry a bit before the day you want to make it.  Adapted from AfterSchoolBakery.com

  • 1 1/4 c warm water, divided
  • 1 T sugar
  • 3 1/4 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/3 c canola oil or olive oil
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c honey (depends on level of sweetness you’re after)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 T Diamond kosher salt
  • 5-6 c bread flour (all-purpose flour will work too)

For topping

  • 1 egg, beaten well with 1 tsp cold water
  • Poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional – for sprinkling)

Add the yeast and sugar to 1/4 c of warm water; stir to dissolve and then let sit for a few minutes – or until the yeast bubbles.

In a medium bowl whisk the oil and honey together with the remaining 1 c water.  Add the eggs and beat well.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or a large mixing bowl to make by hand), add 5 cups of the bread flour and the salt. Mix to distribute the salt.  Add the water/egg/honey/oil mixture and mix; then add the yeast mixture.

If using a mixer, let knead on medium low speed for about 10 minutes, adding about 1/2 cup more flour as necessary if the mixture looks really wet (or knead manually for 5-10 minutes). Once the dough mostly releases from the sides of the bowl, forming one mass, turn off the mixer. It should be a little tacky and very elastic. Err on the side of adding less flour; after the first rising, the stickiness will subside.

Take the dough out, place on a lightly floured surface. Clean the mixer bowl, then coat with a little oil. Return the dough to the bowl, and cover with greased aluminum foil. At this point you can place the bowl in the fridge to use the next day or let rise for 1-2 hours in a warm place.

Turn dough onto a clean work surface and divide into 6 equal pieces. Roll and stretch each piece into a rope about 16 inches long. Arrange ropes side by side on the work surface. Starting at the far end, braid the ropes. When the braid is finished, tuck both ends under and pinch to seal. Place each loaf on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Let the loaves rise, covered, until almost doubled – between 1–2 hours.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Brush the egg wash onto the loaves. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.

Put the loaves in the oven.  Bake for 35 minutes, turning the pans 180 degrees half way through.

Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.
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Honey Blondies

Honey Blondies

  • Servings: makes 16 squares
  • Print

Our neighbor Deb says of these, “With each bite you note the complexity, the honey and chocolate coming through and the moistness. Rich and delicious!” Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1 stick butter (8 T or 4 oz)
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1/3 c honey
  • 3/4 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp Diamond kosher salt
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks (or chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan.

Melt butter and honey in a saucepan. Stir in brown sugar, then transfer to a bowl and let cool. Stir in egg and vanilla, then flour and salt until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chunks (Note: when I made these, the butter/honey mixture was still a little warm and some of the teeny bits of chopped up chocolate melted.  It made a lovely swirly batter, so don’t worry about waiting until the batter is totally cool.); spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake until browned on edges and set, 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan set on a wire rack,  Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or frozen.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

2 Comments

  1. David Ewing says:

    So, is that grid one of those “which two are the same” puzzles? You can’t fool me. If you can’t find them, let me know and I’ll tell you.

    Like

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