Liquefying Granulated Honey

I love honey!  I love it sooooooo much that I can easily consume a couple of pounds each month just in my tea.  I not only love it, but I’ve begun to acquire a taste for different flavors.  Whether it is buckwheat, blueberry blossom, linden, clover or wildflower…….I love them all!  The only trouble is some granulate a lot faster than others. 002 Granulating is no big deal.  In fact, there’s too many folks who think that granulated honey is honey gone bad.  There’s nothing bad about it.  In fact, granulating is a good indication that your honey is pure and minimally filtered because it is those minute bits of propolis, pollen and wax (the good stuff) which act as bonding agents for this crystallization to begin .  It’s this “stuff” that you want in your honey as opposed to the pasteurized honey  which kills a lot of the enzymes with high temperature and takes out so much of the good stuff with over-filtration.

But, if you’re like me, and want your honey to remain in its liquid state then you’ll need to warm it back up to around the same temperature that it was when it was still in the hive.    Believe it or not, the optimum temperature in a beehive is around 95 F (35 C).  The key to properly liquefying honey is a balance between warm and slow.  Too hot or too fast and you’ll kill all the “good stuff” in your unpasteurized honey.  That’s why I am not a fan of using the microwave for this process.

Instead, fill a sauce pan with warm water and place it on your stove burner.  Turn your burner on low and put your jar of crystalized honey into the sauce pan.  Monitor the temperature of the water with a thermometer and adjust accordingly in order to keep the temperature below 100 F. 005 With the honey partially dissolved (15-20 minutes), stir the contents with a knife in order to allow the heat to work its way up to the upper portion of the jar. Before you know it, your honey will be completely liquified and   you’ll be spilling it once again on the table or  counter as you race with that spoon from the honey jar to your mug of tea.KODAK Digital Still Camera Regards, CB

How To Make Italian Sausage

 

Hot & Sweet sausage.

Hot & Sweet sausage.

Yesterday afternoon I had a hankering for chicken & sausage cacciatorie.  My vitamin E deprived body was growing tired of sparring with Old Man winter and some good ol’ comfort food was gonna’ be the trick to fix those winter blahs.  The only trouble was……..I was out of homemade Italian sausage.

Making sausage is easy.  The financial investment is minimal, the cost is way cheaper than those store-bought links, but best of all……….THEY TASTE GREAT!  I need to give my good friend Mike a call and get busy making some homemade Italian sausage.

You should give it a try.  I promise you’ll never go back to those store-bought links once you & your family feast on this delicious treat!

CLICK HERE for an easy lesson on sausage making.

Regards,

CB

Making Salami

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With the Holiday Season now in the past and Winter boredom  beginning to grow, I think it’s time to get off the couch and make some salami.  If you love the taste of salami and are always looking to try your hand at a new food adventure, then I urge you to give this a try.  It’s really not that complicated.  I’ve taken a lot of the “guess-work” out in the link below.  If you want to give it a try CLICK HERE.

Regards,

CB

 

“I Love…. I Love…My Calendar Girls…”

In 1960, Neil Sedaka released Calendar Girl.  The song was about the love for his girlfriend and corresponding events each month which illustrated this love.  Though I am no Neil Sedaka, I must confess that there were a few Charlie’s Angels posters which hung in my room as a teen.  But,  I am here to tell you that this City Boy has cleaned up his act.

“Ladies and gentlemen……….It gives me great pleasure to inform you of a three-way tie for Miss January 2015…………  Drum roll please………….  All the way from Ontario, Canada, please give a big round of applause for this year’s winner of the prestigious title for Miss January 2015.  Ladies and Gentlemen, please give it up for…….. Honda, Swifer & Rosie”.  

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That’s right folks.  Your eyes and ears have not deceived you.  My three chickens were selected to be the January “girls” for Backyard Poultry Magazine’s 2015 calendar.   I am  proud to say that the calendar is proudly displayed in our kitchen, and my prestigious honor” has sure given my friends a hearty laugh! “Hey Ted, ……you pulled yourself together yet?”

Happy New Year to All.  I hope your 2015 will be filled with many new discoveries and lots and lots of laughs!!

Regards,

CB

How To Make Panettone: The Italian Christmas Bread

 

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Well….with only 5 more sleeps till that Jolly Old Elf makes his appearance once again, I think it is time to make a panettone.  If you are a fan of candied citrus peel, raisins and yeasty egg rich bread, than I urge you to give this bread a try.  Oh…..and don’t get caught up in the fact that it has to rise a few times.  It’s really no big deal.  If this City Boy can bake it, than so can you!

If you want to give it a try, Click Here

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Warm Regards,

CB

 

How To Make Christmas Fruit Cake

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It has definitely been a while since I have hit “publish”.  To my blogging friends, I say “hello again”.  To those that are “new followers”, I say “welcome”.  The blog has definitely been on the “back-burner” for the last 7 months and I have not given it the attention that I set out with a few years back.

Anyways, last weekend I decided to make Christmas fruit cake for the second year, but this Christmas I wanted to make some smaller cakes as gifts for family and friends who enjoy this yuletide treat.  So I tripled the recipe in the link below and adjusted the bake time for the smaller cakes.

If you like Christmas cake, I urge you to give this one a try.  It’s really easy and tastes just like those childhood memories.

Click here

Warm regards,

CB

Making A Water Source For Your Honeybees

020 - CopyOver the last few months, I’ve spent a fair bit of time reading about making a water source for my bees.  I’ve read about folks using bird baths, slow dripping faucets and garden ponds.  I’ve also learnt that bees have an uncanny ability to find water and once they “lock” onto a source, it’s pretty hard (if not impossible) to make them change their pattern.

Being a consciences urban homeowner, I do my best to respect the rights of my neighbors and fully understand that my bees will not be a welcomed addition to anyone’s backyard space.  For those beekeepers that have neighbors with pools, the  aforementioned is even more apparent, considering that bees really like chlorine and salt.

So…….I began to think about how to make a water source for my bees.  I had 5 criteria that had to be met:

1)  It had to look good.  I’ll be looking at my apiary most days and I want it to tie in with the appearance of my backyard.

2)  I don’t want to replenish the water source every day.  If I decide to go on  vacation, I don’t want to rely on a neighbor to “top up” my water source during my absence.

3)  I don’t want my chickens to be able to get into the water source while they are free ranging.

4)  I don’t want my bees to drown while they are using the source.

5)  I don’t want my water source to become a breeding ground for mosquitos.

So………I constructed a tall box that would not have a top or bottom.  Inside the box will be a 16″ cinderblock (standing on its end) and a 5 gallon (food grade) plastic pail resting on the block. Floating at the top of the water will be a landing pad for the bees to safely access the water.

The  front & back of the box are  3/4″ thick x 15″ wide x 30″ high.  The sides are 3/4″ thick x 13 1/2″ wide x 30″ high.  All material is pine and assembled with a simple butt joint and glued and screwed together.  If you  want to get a bit more fancy, you can:

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B) Counter-sink the screw hole locations and (once assembled) fill the hole with a wood plug which will be trimmed off and sanded.003

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C)  Add some mitered trim to the top of the box.014 - Copy

 

In order to make the “landing pad”, I cut a circle out of some 1/2″ thick cedar and drilled lots of 1/4″ holes in the circle.  Because the bucket has a slight taper, I made the circumference of the landing pad to be the same as the bottom of the pail.  This will allow for the “landing pad”  to descend as the volume diminishes in the bucket.  I didn’t have a wide enough board to make the entire circle, so I screwed (not glued) two pieces together with a few  cleats.

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This landing pad will work well because  the cedar floats and the water wicks up from the holes making for safe and easy access for the bees.

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After a quick search, I discovered that a mosquito takes around 7-10 days to develop from egg to adult.  By replacing the water every week, I will not be “helping” mosquitos to further populate in this water.

So….there you have it……….my water source for my bees.  I just hope it works and my neighbor Vito doesn’t come traipsing over to my house in July dressed only in his 1978 Speedo bathing suite complaining about some bees in his pool!!!!!!!!!!!!!026 - Copy

 

Spring Spa Day At City Boy Hens

Well…Spring has FINALLY sprung at City Boy Hens.  After almost 6 months of Old Man Winter’s wrath, we are finally being treated to some warmer temps and with that comes……….some major free ranging for the “girls”.  Having 2 women in our house, I do my best to remember to “pamper” them from time to time and occasionally remember to bring home flowers or gift certificates for manicures, pedicures or foot messages.  So glad I am a guy!  What a lunch bag let down those would be to get as  gifts!

Anyways, as the chickens free ranged in the backyard last week, it kinda’ reminded me of a “pampered day” for Endearing Daughter and Beloved Wife.  And………no……… I’M NOT COMPARING MY DAUGHTER & WIFE TO CHICKENS!

So….with that said……here’s a Spring Spa Day at City Boy Hens:

First:  A Glorious Dust Bath In CB’s Garden!

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Second:  A Light Lunch Of Delicious Mixed Greens!

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Third: Soakin’ Up Some Rays On The Deck!

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Fourth:  Work In A Relaxing Neck Massage!

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Fifth:  Catch An Afternoon Nap!

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Welcome Spring.  I hope you’re here to stay!   You have surely been missed.  We’re all glad to have you back!

 

The Best Backyard Chicken Dog EVER!

003Man oh man…….I had The Best EVER Backyard Chicken Dog.  How can I safely say that he was the best?  Simply because he did his job with excellence.  Never once did he take a run at the hens.  Never once did he shirk his responsibility as protector of the backyard.  Never once did a raccoon, fox, hawk or anything enter the backyard when Stanley was out on patrol.  Never once!

Many a night, he exhausted himself running along the backyard perimeter making sure that those raccoons stayed high up in the trees on the other side of the fence.  Many a day, he sun bathed on the grass or patrolled along worn down snowy paths; always surveying the landscape with eyes and ears on full alert.  Through it all, he was my champ.009

In the beginning, it was a challenge to train this retriever to accept these new “additions” to our “urban farm”, but after one weekend of intensive backyard schooling, this “bird dog” recognized his role as protector and did it with excellence.  Through it all, he always did his job.  But, best of all, he gave us more laughs than I  could have ever imagined.  I never dreamt that a dog could be so funny!  Whether it was his howling accompaniment when Endearing Daughter played the harmonica, or his desperate cries for rescue from the cottage swim raft when  Dutiful Son had to “paddle” him back in the canoe, Stanley kept us all in “stitches”.

This past week, we said so long to our champion protector.  Stanley was the best!  Man’s best friend?  That title is just not fitting enough.  He was more than our “best friend”.  He was, and will always remain an integral member of our wonderful family.  I hope that you, the reader, are just as fortunate as we have been to have an incredible dog like Stanley.  He was the best!

So………so long my good friend.  Long may you run.  Welcome to your new role as the backyard chicken protector in the sky!  You, my champ, are terribly missed.  Thank you for doing your job so well, but more importantly, thanks for making us laugh!

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If you need to brighten your day or just get a “chuckle”, I encourage you to CLICK HERE and read some of our great “laughs” with Stanley.

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Crescia: The Easter Bread From Le Marche, Italy

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My Family came to Canada in 1913 from the town of Pesaro in the Province of Le Marche, Italy. Over the years, traditions were lost or no longer practiced as my ancestors blended more into the Canadian fabric. But, Crescia has always survive the test of time and it has now been alive and well for 4 generations in our Canadian family. I’m sure it’s not the same as the one my great-grandmother (Bisnonna Laura) made, but I hope it’s a close second.

Crescia is a vastly different bread, depending on the region of its origins. It can be as thin as focaccia or as high as the crescia that originated in Pesaro. The later is the one that my Family has made for generations, though it was denser and did not rise as high as the one that I make. But, it is similar in its signature ingredients of eggs, black pepper and cheese.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Easter breads are so laden with eggs. As you backyard chicken owners know, heritage breed hens take a break from laying eggs during the Winter and resume their production in the Spring which happens to coincide with Easter. As well, eggs, cheese, meat and olive oil were historically omitted from the diet in Italy during the period of Lent so everyone must have been “chompin’ at the bit” to return to these foods after those 40 extremely bland days!

As I write this post, the scent of baking crescia fills the air! It reminds me of my ancestors who came to this great country over 100 years ago. Times were a lot harden then, but they were also flavoured with great traditions which always revolved around food. Unfortunately, a lot of those great traditions have been lost or misplaced in our progression to a busier life.

I’m not sure if we have made a good trade. Perhaps, it’s worth “stepping back” now and then and carrying on some of those great traditions that remind us of our roots and the journey that has brought us to this today!

I hope I “did you proud” Bisnonna Laura!

If you would like to make crescia, please CLICK HERE for my family’s recipe.

Happy Easter / Buona Pasqua to all!

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