Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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FOOD & NUTRITION

A taste of honey

Sweet recipes to help you savor this natural treat

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    Honey made by local producers Magyar Gardin, Dee's Bees, Bench's Bees and Honey, Dee's Bees, and Toledo GROWS.

    THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY
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    Apple, Ricotta, and Honey Muffins with Sesame Seed Crunch

    THE BLADE/LORI KING
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  • FEA-honey27-nut-and-pomegranate

    Honeyed nut and pomegranate pots.

    THE BLADE/LORI KING
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  • FEA-honey27-salmon

    Chipotle honey glazed salmon.

    THE BLADE/LORI KING
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  • FEA-honey27-cookies

    Almond and honey butter cookies.

    THE BLADE/LORI KING
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As Winnie the Pooh once said after falling out of a tree while trying to reach a bee hive: “It all comes of liking honey so much.”

Bears aren’t the only ones who love it, though. Humans have been enjoying honey — which the National Honey Board describes succinctly as “the sweet fluid produced by honeybees from the nectar of flowers” — for millennia. “There are depictions of honeybees being managed by the ancient Egyptians,” said James Case of the Maumee Valley Bee Keepers Association.

And “according to some sources,” Mr. Case said, “it has an indefinite shelf life.”

Mr. Case cautions buyers to be careful of counterfeit honey, which is not an artificial product but rather one that’s been diluted, usually by “adding corn syrup to the honey” after it’s been extracted.

The cheaper substance is “thick, it’s sticky, it’s sweet,” he said, and easy to mix in. “Unscrupulous people” will seek to profit from unsuspecting customers, Mr. Case said.

It’s good to know and trust your local beekeepers, then.

Karen Wood, beekeeper for the Magyar Gardin in the Birmingham District, is “a big believer in native plants and no chemicals.” The bees in the garden’s two hives enjoy nearby apple trees, dandelions, and clover that aren’t sprayed.

Tom Facey, assistant volunteer beekeeper at Toledo GROWs, the Toledo Botanical Garden’s community gardening outreach program, said the organization’s bees have access to vegetables, clover, and maple trees “which are a big source of pollen.”

David Herzog can be found selling honey at the Toledo Farmers’ Market for Dee’s Bees, which is owned by his uncle, Demetrius Anagnostu.

In the summer, he said, the bees collect pollen from peach and apple trees, as well as clover; in fall, they gather from buckwheat, Queen Anne’s lace, and goldenrod. This leads to distinctive variations in the honey, with the former lighter in color and flavor and the latter deep and dark, reminiscent of molasses.

Experts say bee populations have declined dramatically in the last decade. One threat is Colony Collapse Disorder, in which bees abruptly abandon their hives. Recently, millions of honeybees were killed as a side-effect of spraying pesticides to combat the spread of Zika virus in South Carolina.

These pollinators, who are essential to agriculture, need to have their numbers built back up, said Arik Bench of Bench’s Bees and Honey, who comes from an extended family of farmers. “People don’t realize how much our food supplies depend upon it.” While some plants can self-pollinate, the majority need assistance in transferring pollen to help with reproduction.

According to the San Francisco-based nonprofit Pollinator Partnership, pollinators help to produce one of every three bites of our food. One of the important ways consumers can help the bee population to thrive, the group says, is to support area beekeepers by purchasing local honey for eating, cooking, and baking. 

On that note, here are four recipes you’ll want to add to your family cook’s “honey do” list.

Chipotle Honey Glazed Salmon is a simple entrée that seems very sophisticated. It’s short and sweet with a bit of heat and takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish.

Honeyed Nut and Pomegranate Pots are small parfaits with a base of wheat cereal and chopped pistachios that’s like a simplified version of beloved Greek pastries (but without all the work). This layer is topped with a cloud of whipped cream, for a dessert that’s sweet but not heavy.

Apple, Ricotta, and Honey Muffins with Sesame Seed Crunch are tender and moist, slightly sticky, and finger-licking good.

SHOP LOCAL

• Toledo GROWS’ honey is available at its market stand, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Thursday at 900 Oneida St., and at the Toledo Botanical Garden’s gift shop, 5403 Elmer Drive, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. It costs $14 per pound.

• Bench’s Bees and Honey sells its jars at Bench Farms, 9151 Jerusalem Rd., Curtice; Miller’s Market, 22361 W. Holt Harrigan Rd., Genoa; Smokey’s BBQ Roadhouse, 2080 Woodville Rd., Oregon; Fowl and Fodder, 7408 Central Ave.; and the Perrysburg Farmers’ Market, Indiana Ave. at Louisiana Ave., from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 13. A one-pound jar costs $7; a two-pound jar is $12.

• Dee’s Bees’ honey is sold at the Toledo Farmers’ Market, 525 Market St., on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. through November and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. December through April. It costs $10 for a half-pint jar.

• The Magyar Gardin’s honey is sold out for this year. It is available at the Birmingham Ethnic Festival every August.

• The Maumee Valley Bee Keepers Association meets at 7:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at Wildwood Academy, 1546 Dartford Rd., Maumee. A beginners’ forum meets at 6:30 p.m., ahead of the meeting. For more information, go to the group’s Facebook page.

Almond and Honey Butter Cookies are shortbread tidbits with a drop of honey in the center. Vary the flavor, from mild to robust, to suit your own tastes by choosing a light or dark variety.

FEA-honey27-salmon

Chipotle honey glazed salmon.

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Chipotle Honey Glazed Salmon

4 4-ounce salmon fillets with skin

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/​4 cup honey

2 tablespoons chipotle sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

Rice, for serving

Guacamole, for serving

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Whisk together the honey and chipotle sauce.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the salmon skin side up for 2 minutes, then carefully flip it over and cook for another 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium and brush the salmon with the honey glaze. Continue to cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, brushing with more glaze, until salmon is just cooked through.

Serve salmon over rice, topped with a dollop of guacamole.

Yield: 4 servings

Source: Adapted from Marnely Murray, cookingwithbooks.net

FEA-honey27-nut-and-pomegranate

Honeyed nut and pomegranate pots.

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Honeyed Nut and Pomegranate Pots

1/​3 cup crushed mini shredded wheat biscuits

1 cup shelled roasted pistachios plus extra for garnish, chopped

1/​3 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

Juice of 1/​2 orange

1 cup whipping cream

1 5.3-ounce container vanilla Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pomegranate seeds, for garnish

In a bowl, mix the shredded wheat with 1 cup pistachios, 1/​3 cup honey, and the orange juice; divide between 8 dessert glasses.

Whip the cream until very softly whipped, then fold in the yogurt, remaining honey, and vanilla. 

Divide this between the glasses, too. Chill for at least 2 hours, up to 24 hours.

Before serving, top with pomegranate seeds and more pistachios.

Yield: 8 servings

Source: Adapted from Cassie Best, bbcgoodfood.com

FEA-honey27

Apple, Ricotta, and Honey Muffins with Sesame Seed Crunch

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Apple, Ricotta, and Honey Muffins with Sesame Seed Crunch

Muffins:

4 1/​2 ounces flour

4 1/​2 ounces white whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 eggs

2 medium-size crisp apples, peeled, cored, grated

5 1/​2 ounces ricotta cheese

1/​4 cup raisins, light or dark

3 tablespoons honey

4 1/​2 tablespoons butter, melted

3 1/​2 ounces apple juice

Sesame crunch:

4 tablespoons honey

1 1/​2 ounces sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Put the flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into a mixing bowl and combine. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, apples, ricotta, raisins, and 3 tablespoons honey. Add the wet mix to the dry mix; stir in the butter and juice.

Mix the remaining honey and the sesame seeds together.

Spoon the muffin batter into the prepared tin, then spoon about a teaspoon of the sesame crunch over the center of each muffin (it will spread a bit). Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the tin.

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: Adapted from Dan Doherty, Toast Hash Roast Mash

FEA-honey27-cookies

Almond and honey butter cookies.

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Almond and Honey Butter Cookies

1 cup whole almonds

2 1/​4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/​2 teaspoon salt

2/​3 cup plus 1/​4 cup honey, divided

1/​3 cup oil

4 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature, divided

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Finely grind the almonds in a food processor or blender. Transfer to a large bowl and add flour, baking powder, and salt; stir until just combined. Beat 2/​3 cup honey, oil, and 3 tablespoons butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Add egg and vanilla; beat until blended. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; stir to combine. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place onto the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Press the tip of your index finger in the center of each cookie to make a deep indentation. Bake the cookies until they are set and golden on the bottom, 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 30 minutes.

Whisk together the remaining 1/​4 cup honey, 1 tablespoon butter, and powdered sugar in a small bowl until smooth. Dollop about 1/​4 teaspoon into the indentation in each cookie; let set for one hour. Store in a single layer.

Yield: About 6 1/​2 dozen cookies

Source: Adapted from eatingwell.com

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