Thursday, October 14, 2010

NOPE, THOSE AREN'T POTATOS

I've been wanting to make this apple butter for a while now but I tend to avoid things if I sense I may be risking failure, especially when it comes to food :( Well, I went apple picking with the intention of using some of the apples for this very purpose and it had already been over a week since we went apple picking so I figured it was time to give this yummy sounding recipe a try.

I chose the title for this post after my kids kept asking me why I had so many potatos in the slow cooker. LOL!



I'm sharing the recipe here because it turned out wonderful with very little effort. Just threw all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and although it said it would be done 10 hours later it was done inv7 hours. (my apples were small, not medium).

We blend ours with cream cheese and put it on a toasted english muffin in the morning. Yum! Yum! Yum!

12 medium cooking apples
1 1/2 cups packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves

1. Mix all ingredients in 5-6 qt slow cooker
2. Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 - 10 hrs or until apples are very tender (in my case it was 7 hours)
3. Mash apples with potato masher or large fork.
4. Cook uncovered on low heat setting 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is very thick. Cool about 2 hours.
5. Spoon apple butter into container. Cover and store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.

Thank you Betty Crocker :)

CORPORATE INTERESTS = VOMIT IN MY MOUTH

I read this today and I must admit, I'm less and less surprised by this garbage. When is there going to be a turning point? Like I've said a million times before, always read behind the research. Just because it says "scientist so and so said" doesn't make it valid.

According to an article in the New York Times, the mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder has been solved! The part that bothers me the most about this is how many people will actually believe it. When people believes lies they behave accordingly. This article puts honeybees at more risk.


The New York Times recently declared the case of Colony Collapse Disorder, the great bee die-off, "solved." But the reporting hyped the science and left out important conflicts involving the lead scientist.



many scientists believe that a novel class of pesticides called neonicotinoids -- which are insect neurotoxins -- has played a major role in CCD worldwide. An Italian entomologist at the University of Padua, Vincenzo Girolami, has research currently undergoing peer review showing that bees can be exposed to lethal levels of these pesticides through the use of seeding machines that sow neonicotinoid-coated seeds. These devices throw up a toxic cloud of pesticide as they work: bees fly through the cloud and either die or take the pesticide back to the hive. Once inside, even at low doses, it can cause disorientation or, as Girolami calls it, "intoxication" of whole hives.

The maker of this pesticide is Bayer CropScience. What does a corporation do when it discovers it may have developed and marketed a dangerous and potentially devastating product? Here in America, you confuse, you obfuscate, and you buy off scientists.


READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NATURAL COLORANT FOLLOW UP

Now that I'm back to blogging I will also be back to posting about natural colorants in soapmaking. To start off I wanted to do a follow up on the natural colorants I already covered. I didn't think this was very important but recently I discovered that some soapmakers are actually claiming to have used natural colorants and are saying they don't work well or if they do work, they don't last. Since I've been using the natural colorants for years (some longer than others and some not at all) I thought a follow up on their success or lack there of as a natural colorant in soap was in order.

Alkanet Root: Ambra asked me how this colorant aged and so this picture is for her :) I blogged about this colorant in July. It ages well! The picture is from today. BTW/I hated this soap. The colorant was great but the EO combo I used ended up making the soap smell like coca cola. I had several people sniff it and all had the same response... "COKE."

Yuck! Who would want to use a bar of soap that smells like coke? :(



Honey: this bar of soap is more than a year old. It was a honey oatmeal soap. Honey holds as a colorant. I think it faded slightly but only SLIGHTLY! I do think you have less control with honey as a tan color than you do with hibiscus.



Parsley: I do not have this soap to reference but I will say this...I find parsley to be kind of tricky. I've had it last a long time to not lasting at all. I'm thinking it definitely depends on the fragrance used. I've used parsley in recipes that were the exact same aside from the fragrance. It seems recipes with EO faded the fastest and recipes with synthetic fragrances lasted the longest.

Hibsicus: You get various shades of tan depending on how much hibiscus you use so I've used two soaps here for reference. The round soap is the darkest because I used twice as much hibiscus. This soap was made back in May 2010 and the picture is from today. The lighter tan soap was made in early spring 2010 and as you can see, the color is still holding very well, hardly any fading. I used only half as much hibiscus in the lighter soap as I did in the darker soap. This colorant does very well over time!



I apologize for picture quality. I took these with my cell phone. That is my new thing, to blog with the cell phone. LOL!

Jennifer Young from Jenora Soaps was very generous to share some of her own natural colorant experiments with me. Here are her comments:

Can I add from my experimenting - Annatto lasts. Nettle seems to be lasting. Goat milk tan lasts. Alkanet lasts (I agree with you). Coffee, cocoa & cinnamon last. Pink Clay and Green Clay last. Carrot Tissue Oil produced the most beautiful yellow for me that DID NOT last - it turned very faint. Spirulina does not last. So far that is about it! Glad you are back! xo Jen

Saturday, October 9, 2010

GIFT BAGS ARE READY... HOLIDAY ORDERS ALREADY COMING!

The soap pixie is now offering handmade burlap gift bags (made by me of course). The bags contain an aromatherapy soy candle with matching scented soap. I finished up a bulk order of 20 gift bags recently and they all went over very well. The holiday orders are pouring in already and I'm very excited. Lots of bags, soap and candles to make.

Here is the small pic I took of my large order, as I was putting it together.



I apologize to those who keep looking at the website and seeing nothing. I must admit, I haven't devoted the time to the site like I should have but I am working on it. If you want to order anything just shoot me an email :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A BOOK SUGGESTION FOR THE EMOTIONAL BEEKEEPER



In my opinion, and this will probably rub some beeks the wrong way, I believe there are two kinds of beekeepers; those that have an emotional connection with their honeybees and those that don't. I'm not using this post to judge, I'm just stating what I believe is the obvious.

I was reading then participating in a discussion on the beesource forum where the topic posted was "kill off your bees/colony" and the poster wanted to know how to kill off their hive instead of trying to overwinter them. The discussion that resulted came down to those who are against killing off bees and those who are either proponents of killing or don't find anything wrong with it. I think anyone who reads my blog would know where I stand on the subject of killing ones own bees.

So... I am reading this book written by William Longgood and I happen to come upon the chapter in which he talks about this type of beekeeping just days after debating the kill or not kill topic on the beesource. At one point he is quoted saying "I faced a dilemma common to people who try to manage nature, when human values conflict with nature's unsentimental imperatives. That is the part of beekeeping that I dislike and often it gets in the way. Is it more merciful to kill outright or to let creatures perish slowly and possibly painfully through want of their own kind and their own elementary biological needs? The manager becomes an arbiter of life and death. I was forced to confront a decision that was distasteful to me." As I suspected. the author doesn't disappoint, he chooses the emotional over the logical.

I use the word "logical" loosely. Killing off your own bees can be logical if you see beekeeping as pure business and nothing else but if you have any emotional connection to your bees at all you wouldn't think of killing them as logical at all. Logic isn't something an emotional beekeeper can make peace with, at least not right away. People keep bees for various reasons, some do it for the honey, others for the beeswax, and quite a few people do it out of pure fascination with bees. If you are fascinated at all by the life cycle of bees and you derive more pleasure from watching them work together as a colony than you would from extracting honey, then you would never take the "logical" approach of killing them off because it doesn't make for good nighttime sleeping.

There is an intolerance amongst beekeepers as there is with people in most aspects of life. I'll be the first to admit, I don't want to make nice with the commercial beekeeper who lit his hive on fire just because they didn't give him any honey, actually, I'd prefer never to meet such a person and I'm sure the feeling would be mutual... he wouldn't want to make nice with someone who mourns the death of a single bee. But... the point of this post isn't to slag off those who have a different beekeeping style than I do, it is purely a book review and plug.

The "Queen Must Die" is the best beekeeping book I've read thus far. William Longgood has taken the logical parts of beekeeping and exposed its emotional side. He has dissected every aspect of the hobby/business and his heart is open in every word he uses to describe these beautiful insects. As an emotional beekeeper, it is nice to see someone put into words what is so hard to convey to those who don't keep bees or those who don't care if they live or die. Plus the fact that you walk away from this book with the sense that humans could learn a thing or two from bees in how we function as a society. Longgood covers a lot of ground in this book so I recommend putting it on your reading list if you aren't the one burning your hives in the fall ;)

Bees are more than a hobby; they are a life study, in many respects a mirror of our own society." ~William Longgood

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I WISH I HAD THE PATIENCE...

OF A CARNIOLAN.

After Gary Reuter from the University told me it was definitely time to remove the honey super that I eagerly waited to be filled with honey (but it wasn't), I headed out to the hive. The bees have been doing their own thing for quite a while now and so I wasn't sure what type of attitude I was going to find them in when they saw me. Afterall, it is September and the nectar flow is done. Hearing that lack of nectar makes for an angry bee made me nervous but I've since determined that is only when you are taking their honey, not when you are opening the hive.

Since Gary told me the honey super had to come off now I figured I'd remove it, prop it up next to the hive and let the bees find their way home. Funny thing happened... THEY DIDN'T GO HOME! They were happy on those frames and from what I could tell, by all the huddling together, they seemed cold. I waited and waited but they just kept huddling. Since I worry too much I figured I'd better get in there and help them find their way back into the hive. I removed all the frames and propped them up next to the hive but... that didn't work so I started banging frames one by one on the ground, watching hundreds of bees fall. Initially, they didn't seem to mind. It wasn't until the last three frames that a few of them had enough. I was being head butted left and right, driven far from the hive.







I must say... my bees have a lot of patience. I certainly would have lost my temper much sooner. One bee died when it came after me and hit the smoker (yup, it was hot). Another died when I banged one of the frames. So I counted two casualties. Even so, the loudest buzzers with the tenacity for head butting never once exposed a stinger, they just wanted to make a statement which was "WE'VE BEEN PATIENT ENOUGH NOW GET THE HELL AWAY FROM OUR HIVE BEFORE YOU REALLY PISS US OFF!"

I've realized that there is much more to learn from these little creatures then just how they make honey and beeswax. They certainly taught me a lesson in patience. They had every right to sting me, I was even prepared for it, but they weren't interested in all that hoopla. Deep down I think they know I'm a wimpy beekeeper and so they take pitty on me.

Now, the sun is shining and the temps have bumped up to a little over 60 degrees so they are out flying about. I went over to the hive in my shorts and flip flops and the had no interest in revenge... so in my world that means all is good :)

Now the trick is... getting these little girls through the winter. *sigh