Random bits about honey

As I mentioned last week, my last Conservation class was about honey.  Well, ostensibly, it was about sustainable agriculture.  But, it was really about honey.  Honey, I found out, is super interesting!  I cannot do the presentation justice, but here are a few interesting tidbits from Bill Crandall’s presentation.

  • Honey made from different flowers tastes different.
  • Most areas of the country like lighter honey, but our area prefers the taste of darker honey.
  • Bumble bee hives have 200 bees at their peak, and the queen overwinters in a compost pile.  She is the big bee you see in the spring.  She has to go out and gather her own food until the other bees get older.
  • A honeybee hive can be made up of 50 to 60 THOUSAND bees.
  • A bumble bee hive only has 4-5 days of honey for food; a honey bee hive can store enough honey for the whole winter.
  • If a plant suffers from a lack of pollination (which is accomplished by bees), the fruit can be lopsided, and the seeds will not be fully developed.
  • California needs 2.1 million hives for 1 month to fertilize the almond fields.  The bees get trucked in from Florida and Mexico for the month.
  • The trucks carrying the bees have to keep moving or the bees will suffocate.
  • The hives get moved 4-5 times/year to the different flowering monocultures (green deserts) around the country.  The movement is stressful on the bees.  This is ANOTHER reason why monocultures are so bad for our environment.  They are not sustainable.
  • Africanized bees have not yet figured out how to survive our winters.  They can take over a hive in the summer, however, because an africanized queen bee will emerge 4 hours earlier than a regular queen bee, and she will kill the other queen larvae.
  • The disapperance of hedge rows has been detrimental to the bee populuations.  This is where the bees used to live.
  • Honey bees are not indigenous to the US, but bumble bees are.
  • A queen lives 2-3 years, a drone lives 1.5 months, and a worker bee lives until she has 500 miles on her wings.
  • Bees stay warm in the winter by using their shiver muscles.  The move from the inside to the outstide of the hive, rotating around, so all the bees stay warm.  However, if it’s super cold, the bees will not move to a new area of the hive and can starve from lack of food.

It was a great presentation.  Bill treated us all with the cutest little bottle of honey (see pic in my Instagram feed on the right).  Very interesting stuff!

Avocado hair mask that looks like vomit

Well, I guess the title kind of says it all.  I opened an avocado today, and it didn’t look so hot.  So thrifty Hlo was all like, “Hey!  You know what??  I’ll make a hair mask out of this bad boy.”  So I googled “avocado hair masks” and found a recipe.  You add 2 T of jojoba oil to a whole avocado, whip it up, put it on your wet hair, put a shower cap over that mess, and let it sit for 20 minutes.

Well, first of all, I wasn’t very diligent about whipping up the avocado.  It was still pretty chunky after getting mixed with the oil.  This had bad consequences.  Namely, when you are putting this stuff on your hair, chucks of greenish/greyish/brownish greasiness are falling all around you – all over the sink, the mirror, your shirt, the floor, etc.

I finally got the majority of the mask on my head, put the shower cap on, and then proceeded to fight an persistent flow of greenish liquid seeping out from under the mask.  I had to wrap a towel around my head over the mask to capture the ooze.

Then, it was cleanup time.  The sink was a disaster.  It literally looked as if someone ate 1/2 a batch of guacamole and then puked it up into the sink.  I’ve puked up guacomole once, so I know.  It’s not pretty.  I figured that avocado is pretty soft, so down the sink it could go.  Not a good idea.  But I didn’t realize that until my mask time was up, and I went to hop in the shower.  Avocado bits had floated back up into the tub.  Our drainage system is from the 1940s.  It can’t handle something as new age as avocado.

I wiped out the tub with a papertowel and hopped in.  Of course, you know what happens next – avocado everywhere in the shower – wet, watered down, oily avocado.  What a mess.

Was it worth it, you ask?? Hard to say.  I used different hair stuff today, and it was rainy,  So my hair was huge and frizzy.  It’s tough to say if it was due to the mask or to the product or to the weather.  We’ll see how it all shakes out tomorrow.

Good recipes and general fitness

I tried a new recipe and rehashed an old favorite this week.

First of all, I took another go at this Quick and Easy Meatball Soup.  To make things go quicker, I made the meatballs and cut up the veggies the night before.  I also altered the meatball recipe a tad; since I was short on almond meal, I flushed out the requirement with some coconut flour.  In regards to the veggies, I had no onions, zucchini or squash, but I did have a green pepper, so I threw that in instead.  I cut up all the veggies, including the garlic, and stuffed it all in a ziploc baggie.  The next evening, I threw it all in a pot, and we had delicious soup 30 minutes later.  I don’t know if the herbs had time to soak into the meatballs or what, but the soup turned out fantastic.  The recipe also makes a ton.  We had it for supper, breakfast, lunch, breakfast, and lunch.  So good.  And yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat soup for breakfast.

I also tried a new recipe – Grain-Free Zucchini Pancakes.  Timmy Tee was sweet enough to  go to the Farmers Market for me on Saturday, so we were flush with zucchini, and I felt like trying something new for breakfast.  I have to say that I believe the name “pancakes” is a misnomer here.  These were more like omelettes than pancakes.  They were still tasty, but they were super runny.  I ended up scrambling a few of them because I tried to flip them before they truly set up.  Not sure I’ll make these again.  If I want paleo pancakes, I’ll make these Carrot Cake Pancakes again.  These are what I actually wanted to make, but we were all out of damned almond flour.  Greatest Grains was out in their bulk section, and HyVee’s was $11.99 per package, which I refused to pay.  I’ll have to get some one way or another before next weekend.

Overall, it was a good weekend, food-wise and life-wise.  I volunteered for a few hours at the Nahant Marsh Fall Festival, helping to gather seeds of the Partridge Pea and the False Aster. It was a COLD job, but at least I am 3 hours further into my 32 hour Master Conservationist volunteer commitment.  Plus, I was rewarded with hot cider and roasted chestnuts afterwards.  Well, I had to pay for them, but they were still tasty.  I had never had roasted chestnuts before.  They kind of taste like raw potatoes.  I really liked them, but Tim wasn’t a fan.  They do taste much better warm.

After that Tim and I ran 5 miles and then biked downtown to the Front Street Tasting Lounge, where we indulged in a a pint and watched the river.  Then we headed to  Great River where some Chatty Cathy talked our ears off while we had a Brown Pumpkin (Farmer Brown mixed with Pumpkin Ale) and a Pale Ale.  After supper at the real Front Street, we tackled the chilly ride home.  And here is where I get to the “general fitness” portion of my title.  It is so obvious to me biking home from downtown Davenport how much more fit I am this year than last.  Sure, the hills up the valley still tire me out, but I can OWN them.  I no longer feel like crying biking up them.  I love that feeling of strength.

It was a fun day, and it was great to be outside, but 3 pints is too much beer for 125 lb Hlo.  My throat hurt, and I slept horrible.  So, today I had to buy some whiskey so I wouldn’t be tempted to drink more harmful beer. 😉  I got Buffalo Trace whiskey.  It was only $1 more than Jack, and I thought it would be fun to try something new.  Plus, I liked the picture of a buffalo on the bottle.  Yes, I’m distracted by pretty pictures.  Anyway, it’s pretty good.  My boss picked me up some Templeton Rye from Fareway last week ($37 at Fareway – $47 at Target!!!), but I figured I should save the expensive stuff for something special.

Hope you had a great weekend!  Tim bought a duck at the Farmers Market, per my behest.  Now I need an awesome duck recipe!  The freaking bird was $25, so it better be damned delicious!!  Send me a recipe if you have a good one.

Take care! Hlo-out!

The 20% (aka Thursday, October 4th)

Whenever anyone asks me about the primal diet, I always mention and advocate the 80/20 rule – follow the primal plan 80% of the time, and you’ll be alllll right.

Well, tonight I used up all my 20% in one gluttonous evening!  It started with eating the chips and salsa at Azteca (I usually abstain), progressed to 2 whiskey and sodas and at least 2 cups of popcorn at Pints, escalated to 1/2 a pint of Late Night Snack Ben & Jerry’s, and culminated in a homemade pumpkin bar.  Wow.  Sugar overload.  Why you ask?? Well, I weighed in at 126.5 today, which is about 4 lbs less than where I want to be.  I could either eat copious amounts of sweet potatoes or a whole mess of cheat foods.  I chose the latter.  The ironic thing is that I sent my “primal success story” to Mark Sisson of MarksDailyApple.com, and he actually responded!  He might publish my story some Friday!  But, by the time it gets published, I’ll be all fat and sassy from ice cream and vegetable oil & cream-cheese laden pumpkin bars.  Oh well, it was a nice ride while it lasted…

Take care, and have a wonderful evening!  Here’s hoping that tomorrow is a more moderate day! 😉

Um…5 Day Sugar Detox?

So, I’m off the no sugar wagon.  The 77 degree sunny day on Saturday was just too much for me.  I was forced by the utter delightfulness of the day to have a couple of hard ciders with my hubby and friend Michael.  That was the beginning of the end.  I also ate corn chips with our Macho Nachos.  And I ate 2 bites of Tim’s Half Baked Ben & Jerrys.  Whoever thought of putting brownie chunks and cookie dough together in ice cream was a genius.

Why did I fall of the wagon, you ask?  Well, honestly it’s due to lack of self control.  But the excuses I tell myself are that 1) I don’t want to lose any more weight.  My teeth already look too big for my head.  I read you can lose 1-10 lbs in the 21 days.  2) It’s TOO HARD!  When we went out to eat, I had to hyper analyze everything.  It was just not fun.  3) I was planning on starting Crossfit this week, and I was concerned about my energy levels on no sugar.  But I reneged on that as well. I only slept about 4 hours last night, and I just didn’t have the energy to not only work out tonight, but to go to a new place by myself with no inkling of what to expect.  That takes a lot of emotional strength on my part, and I just didn’t have it tonight.  But now that I’ve missed this week, I can’t start up again until mid-November, due to trips and junk.  Oh well.  I think the weather will stay good enough over the next 2 months for me to exercise outside, and I can keep doing my body-weight exercises here at home.

So those are my excuses.  I did actually reap some benefits, however.  I’ve kicked my dark chocolate chip evening snack habit!  You have to celebrate the small wins, you know.

I also am lagging in posting my weekly recipes!  Here are the ones I’ve made over the past week or so.

Easy Crockpot Breakfast Pie: I baked this in our Nesco Roaster, and it turned out really tasty!!  I had the heat too high at first, so the edges got scorched, but I was able to salvage most of the insides, and it turned out quite good.  It tasted like a creamy quiche, which was odd since there was no cream or cheese in it.  We ate this for supper and then for breakfast for a couple of days.

Shakshuka (Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce):  This recipe was also super tasty.  I made it with a mix of fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes.   I used serrano peppers from the Farmers Market instead of jalapeno peppers.  They weren’t too too spicy, but when I chopped them up, they aerated the whole kitchen with their spiciness!  Tim and I almost couldn’t breathe!  We ate the leftovers with leftover pork chops.  Muy delicioso.

Garlic Pulled Pork:  I made this on Sunday, and it was super easy and super tasty.  The only thing I would change is I would not put fresh garlic into the meat.  The garlic rub is enough.  Stuffing garlic cloves into the meat just gives certain bites ultra intense garlic flavor.

Moroccan Burgers and Moraccan Beet Salad:  I was going to make this for supper Saturday night for my parents, but Tim dissuaded me.  He eyed the 2 teaspoons of cumin called for in the recipe and was wary.  He thinks cumin smells like feet.  We also noted the inclusion of 2 T of cilantro.   My dad dislikes cilantro, of all things.  He’ll eat almost anything else.  Just no cilantro.  So we made Macho Nachos instead, and they were delicious.  I made these burgers and the beet salad on Sunday night instead.  I used 1 lb of ground pork and 1 lb of ground beef.  At first, the burgers seemed a little bland, but when I ate the leftovers, I thought they were really flavorful.  Tim prefers just a regular hamburger, and I have to say, I think I do too.  Plus, these burgers are VERY, um, aromatic?  When I ate one for lunch at work, my coworker was like, “OMG.  What are you eating??”  And it wasn’t said in a good way.

We ate the beet salad tonight.  Tim liked it, but I thought it was just ok.  I have a running rivalry with beets.  They never turn out well for me.  I had to simmer these beets to cook them, and I didn’t watch the pot closely enough.  When I did chance to look at it, it had squirted blood red beet juice all over our white stove and light grey walls.  Stupid beets.  I guess I just really don’t like the flavor of beets.  I’m probably going to toss this recipe.

So there.  I’ve caught you up.  It’s now Tuesday night at 7:52PM, and I’m ready to go to bed.  Between the sleepless night last night and the shorter days, Hlo is tired and grumpy and depressed.  But tomorrow will be a better day!!  Sunny and 77.  Really can’t beat that.  Timmy Tee and I are running together after work, so that will give me something to look forward to.

Good night!