Hives and Honey

The bees have been very busy in my backyard this year. Last year, my beekeeper friend Debbie Lewis put two beehives in my backyard. She reported that my bees were her happiest bees but it was the first year for the hives and there wasn’t honey for us. The bees survived the winter but after their first spring feeding one of the colonies collapsed. Debbie wasn’t worried and soon replaced the collapsed colony and added a third beehive. We were thrilled.

To make sure the bees continued to be happy we planted sunflowers and borage in addition to the perennial, vegetable and herb gardens we already have. Then we sat back and watched the bees. The bees leave the hive by flying up about 10 feet straight into the air before heading off. It is very relaxing to watch them come and go. On hot days they mass on the outside of their hives and vibrate their wings to cool off the hive. They cover every flower in my garden but could care less that I am working side by side with them. Know why? They are as busy as bees! They have one mission in life and unless you threaten them with physical harm they don’t even notice you.

Debbie came by to collect the honeycomb and assured me we will have honey for the winter. I am so excited to find out what honey from my own back and neighboring yards tastes like! This honey will be saved for special and be used to drizzle over manchego cheese, for honey butter, in honey ice cream and any other use I can think up. I’ll keep you posted!

Dog Days

The dog days of August are my favorite time of year. As a Southern gal transplanted to New England I find the heat exhilarating. As a cook and gardener I love being able to walk out into my back yard and pick my meal. Lunch might be cucumber and and tomato salad with feta cheese and fresh oregano. Dinner will include either green beans, broccoli or zucchini grilled with olive oil and fresh herbs. A new favorite is grilled corn and tomato salad with garlic scape and basil vinaigrette. Last night we had day boat cod with borage chimichurri sauce. The possibilities are limited only by my imagination!

That being said, the ultimate summer nosh for me is the lowly tomato sandwich. My summertime childhood memories swirl around this simple pleasure. My favorite way to compose this sandwich is with white bread (I know, I know), mayonnaise, ripe tomato and plenty of salt and pepper. If I am feeling fancy I might add some basil leaves or goat cheese or bacon. I have eaten tomato sandwiches nearly every day for the last two weeks and I am still insatiable. I intend to eat as many tomatoes as I can between now and the first frost because the winter in Boston is long and definitely does not include tomatoes!

Enjoy these warm days while you can. As for me, I am heading out walk in my garden.



Tackling Monkfish

Those of you who know me know that I’m a sucker for local foods– in the summer most of my family’s food comes from our own backyard. But as a locavore I do more than just plant tomatoes. I’m also a supporter of local farmers and fishers. A few years ago, I joined a Cape Ann Fresh Catch that allows me to get 2 pounds of fresh fish every Tuesday during the summer.

Though I can’t ever choose what type of fish I will get, I know that it was caught fresh that day and that the boats I support are using sustainable fishing practices. Plus, I kind of enjoy the challenge of pulling a meal together with a mystery ingredient.

Last night’s catch was monkfish– a fish I had never cooked before. I invited a few friends over for dinner and baked the monkfish with The Supper Shop’s Charmoula Sauce. I accented the main dish with an heirloom tomato salad and wax beans baked with garlic and rosemary. The whole meal was delicious. But the best part of the evening was seeing a friend’s photos from a recent trip to Spain. Now I want to get on the next plane across the Atlantic and stroll through the countryside!