Saturday, December 5, 2015

Honey Cookbooks: Great Gifts for Beekeepers and Honey Lovers!

'Tis now officially "the season,"  and I thought I'd post some gift ideas for the beekeepers, honey lovers and bee boosters on your lists this year: 

Honey Flavor & Aroma Wheel
This makes a unique gift (and, at $10 each, an inexpensive one, too!).  The folks at the Honey & Pollination Center at the University of California at Davis developed the flavor and aroma wheel to help honey tasters identify the many nuances of different types of honey.  It includes suggestions for how to hold a honey tasting.  Orders can take some time to fill, so don't delay if you want it by the 25th! Click on the link above for more information

Honey Cookbooks
Way back in 2011 when I started this blog, I did a series of honey cookbook reviews for beekeepers looking for honey recipe inspirations.  Most of the honey cookbooks then were, alas, not very inspiring.  I'm happy to report that a spate of new cookbooks have since been published that I'm happy to recommend:

Sue Doeden (2015). Homemade with Honey. (St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press). $17.95 paperback.
Sue Doeden hosts a cooking show on Lakeland Public Television and is a beekeeper.  This is a nice little cookbook with black and white photos.  Recipes range from "sips, starters and snacks" to breads, salads, savory entrees and sweets.  It includes a nice recipe for honey simple syrup for cocktails, a stir-fry brown sauce that she uses in many dishes, and a recipe for hot and sweet roasted broccoli that looks like a winner (I'll let you know). 

Hattie Ellis. (2014). Honey:  A Selection of  More than 80 Delicious Savory & Sweet Recipes. (New York: Sterling Epicure). 191 pages.  $19.95 hardback.
Hattie Ellis is the author of Sweetness & Light:  The Mysterious History of the Honeybee (2004) --which would also make a great gift for a beekeeper or bee-lover!  Her cookbook is gorgeously illustrated with color photos and includes guidelines for tasting honey as well as list of 90 different honey varietals.  Her descriptions of the recipes give the impression she's cooked them herself, which is helpful and reassuring.  We tried out her "Honey-Lime Salmon with Noodles" (look for the recipe in a future post!) and it got rave reviews.There's also a recipe for Drambuie fruit cake that I'm hoping to test out for Christmas (I'll report back!).

Laurey Masterson. (2013).  The Fresh Honey Cookbook:  84 Recipes from a Beekeeper's Kitchen. (North Adams, MA:  Storey Publishing). 208 pages.  $14.95 paperback.
Laurey Masterson founded Laurey's Cafe in Asheville, NC and served as a spokesperson for the National Honey Board.  The book is organized by month and identifies a different honey variety for each month, including information about how to get those special varieties (like sourwood, eucalyptus, or avocado honey).  Many--but not all--of the recipes use honey, which was a bit disappointing to learn and makes it my least favorite of this batch of books. The color photos are lovely, she offers a nice guide for how to taste honey, and provides a list of foods pollinated by honeybees.  Her recipe for Russian tea, which is alternative to chai, looks like it will be a cozy drink on a cold afternoon.

Beeswax and Honey Craft Book: Last, but not at all least, here's a great book to help you make your own gifts from beeswax and honey. It's not too late to start!
Leeann Coleman and Jayne Barnes. (2013). Honey Crafting: Projects for Your Home Straight from the Hive. (Avon, MA:  Adams Media). 160 pages. $17.95 paperback
This is a great little book with clear instructions and color photos for a range of projects: making poured, dipped or rolled beeswax candles; a "beeswax lantern," which are impressive and smell great (see photos and shameless bragging of some I made below); castile soaps, a variety of lip balms, hand creams, bath scrubs, vapor salve and cold syrup.  It also has some wonderful recipes that would make nice honey gifts, like cinnamon-, chili-, ginger- or garlic-infused honey.   Leeann Coleman operates Lee's Bees and Silverspring Farm in New Jersey. Jayne Barnes runs Honeyrun Farm in Williamsport, Ohio. 


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