Crescia: The Easter Bread From Le Marche Italy

Crescia Bread

Crescia Bread

With the celebration of Easter just around the corner, it’s time to make Crescia.  If you love cheesy egg-rich bread, I urge you to give this traditional bread a try. If you grew up eating this bread at Easter, I’m certain that the aroma of it baking will bring you back to those memories of your youth!

CLICK HERE for my easy to follow recipe.

Happy Easter

Buona Pasqua

CB

A Quarter MILLION Views and Counting!

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Wow!  250,000 + views since I started this blog a few years back.  I am happy to see that I am working towards the goal that I had hoped for in this blog’s beginning.

A few years back, I wanted to chronicle some of the “stuff” that I do in my spare time.  At first, I wanted this to be a “record” for my kids, but then I thought that other folks may also find it useful.  It turns out that there are some folks our there in “Cyber World” who think that some of this “stuff” is of interest.  It always makes me happy to receive a comment from someone who has informed me that my post helped them discover a new interest/hobby. It is great to share information, techniques and insight into many of the “things” which we choose to do in order to satisfy the cravings of our creative side.

So….with that said, I want to say thanks and share the top 5 posts that “Cyber World” continues to click on City Boy Hens.

Best Regards,

CB

1)  How To Make Salami

2)  How To Make A Beehive

3)  How To Make Italian Sausage

4) How To Make Drunken Cherries In Vodka

5)  Making A Dust Bath For Your Chickens

 

How To Make A Screened Bottom Board For Your Beehive

 

010A screened bottom board is a great addition to any beehive.  It not only provides great ventilation for the hive, but can also be used in your IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices to help determine the number of Varroa mites that are in your colony.  The premise of this theory works like this:  Count the number of mites that have fallen off the hive and have adhered to the “sticky board” over a 24 hour period.  Compare this number to the “threshold numbers” that are recommended by your local beekeeping agency.  For example: where I live, the governing agency recommends that a treatment be considered  when 9 mites are found on the sticky board in a 24 hour “drop” during the month of May.

Initially, I thought that this would be a great way to determine if I would have a future mite problem (levels above a particular threshold).  But then I came across a different theory which argued that the number of mites found on the sticky board may not be an accurate way to determine if your hive is infested with  mites.  The rational for this was that hygienic bees may be better at removing mites from each other and, therefore, you may not have an infestation, but rather, bees that are very good at removing these beasties from the hive.  GGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRR!  Beekeeping………….Nobody ever seems to be on the same page!

Anyways, the screened bottom board is still a great addition to the hive because:

A)  The mites that do drop off will fall through the mesh and (from what I’ve read) not be able to crawl back up into the hive.

B)  The sticky board will allow you to monitor how many mites will drop in a 24 hour period.

C)  The screened bottom board ( without the sticky board is place) provides great ventilation for the hive.  This will be extremely useful through the entire year to help rid the hive of excess moisture.  This is just as important in the Winter as the Summer.

So…I decided to make a screened bottom board that would have a sticky board that could easily slide within the bottom board.  The entire “unit” will be made up of 2 sections that, when combined will become the final bottom board.

 

Material List

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Section #1

Sides: 3/4″ x 1- 3/4″ x  21 -1/4″

Back:  3/4″ x 1 -3/4″ x 16- 1/4″

Front: 3/4″ x 3″ x 14- 3/4″ (This will be the “landing pad”)

Sticky Board Front: 3/4″ x 7/8″ x 14-1/2″

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Section #2

Sides: 3/4″ x 3/4″ x 21-1/4″

Back: 3/4″x 3/4″ x 16-1/4″

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Directions

Cut all pieces to the above measurements.

Using a table saw, rip a 3/16″ wide x 1/4″ deep channel through the inside of the sides, back and the sticky board front.  This channel will allow for the sticky board to be positioned in the bottom board when in use.  I set the table saw fence to 7/16″ and made sure to put the bottom of each board against the fence.

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Next, counter sink the screw locations to put this section together.  (Note: Set the sticky board front aside for now.  It’s not getting assembled with these pieces.)  I used 1-1/2″ deck screws for this job.

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Now screw these pieces together using a good exterior glue.

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I used coroplast for my sticky bottom board.  You can get it at a sign shop or, better still, re-purpose an old real estate or election sign if one is available.  I cut it to 15- 1/8″ wide x 20-7/8″ long and glued the end (using construction adhesive or silicone) to the sticky bottom board piece that you previously put aside.

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Now, fill all screw locations with wooden plugs, flush cut each plug and sand the frame.  Now is a good time to paint all the parts of the bottom board.

Cut a piece of #8 hardware cloth for the size of the bottom board.  Use must use #8 because it is small enough to prevent your bees from going through these holes.  Staple it to your frame.

 

010Next, staple a thin piece of metal or wood to the front of the screen and screw the 3 pieces of wood from section #2 to the frame.  I used a counter-sink bit to ensure that I did not split these pieces.

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And…there you have it.  A home-made screened bottom board.  Your bees will be delighted with all the ventilation for your hive.  As well, you’ll be able to begin monitoring for mite levels as well.

Please CLICK HERE if you would like to view my other posts on making your own beehive.

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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:

A) Use a scroll saw to cut out a design in the front006 - Copy

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