Monday, April 22, 2019

Bees and Birthdays

The youngerchild had a birthday, and there were many parties, as usual, as we spent time with each set of grandparents. For the one where I wasn't baking in my own home, I made red velvet cupcakes (from a MIX, what were you thinking, mom?) with chocolate cream cheese frosting. I have to say I wasn't too happy with the frosting, and we tried to find Pop Rocks to sprinkle on the top but couldn't. We resorted to Nerds, which were OK, but not Pop Rocks.
Back at home, the youngerchild specifically requested a Brazilian Carrot Smith Island cake. I guess that's my specialty now. The chocolate fudge icing was so strong I couldn't taste the cake part at all!

Now on to the bees - it's been warm but I've not had enough time to get into the healthy hive (Beeyoncé's) and move the false back to give them room. It's supposed to rain today but I jumped in quickly and did get the insulation panels off, the false back moved, the candy board taken out, and I moved over some of the empty comb left from Phoebee's hive so they wouldn't have to do any significant work. I did not inspect, given they were all in there I decided to leave them alone and pick a different, sunnier and warmer day to inspect. At least now they have more space.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Farewell, Phoebee

In the late fall, when I put the insulation panels on the hives, Phoebee's colony was a little aggressive. I had fed it as often as possible during the late summer and fall, and even put in a candy board when I sealed it up for the winter. I hoped that would be enough. Beeyoncé's hive got the same treatment. A few weeks ago I peeked in both windows and didn't see any activity in Phoebee's hive. I figured I'd lost them. Then, on a warm day, I saw bees orienting around the hive entrance so I guessed I was incorrect and maybe they were just collecting on the warmer side of the hive. Sadly, since then there has been no activity and today I confirmed that my original interpretation was correct. Phoebe's hive was gone.

In the hive I found evidence of a new brood that just never really made it out of their cells. All the bees were dead. I might have even found Phoebee; I definitely found a bee that looked more like a queen than a worker bee. And there was NOTHING in the combs. No honey, no pollen, no capped cells, no larvae. Nada. No signs of disease, either.

So now the hive is cleaned out with a lot of starter comb which I might use to replace any combs I take from Beeyoncé's hive once I harvest some honey this spring. I decided to leave them alone for a little longer, it's only been in the 60's for 2 days and I want to give them more time before I go in there, remove the insulation panels, and set them up for the spring.

It's possible Beeyoncé's hive might split again, and then I'll have a place for them. We'll see.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Chocolate-Orange Marbled Cake

Guess what! It's birthday time again. And, as usual, my husband's cake needed to be chocolate. But what else? I consulted the elderchild who suggested orange. After tossing a few ideas around (chocolate-orange mousse filling?) I settled on a marbled cake. I warned my husband I was making it up and got to work.

First I made two batters: Orange cake, from this recipe, but I scaled it down to 2/3 of the recipe. And I made half of my usual sour cream chocolate cake recipe. Then I spooned everything into two cake pans and swirled them with a knife.

Since I wasn't sure how long they'd need to bake I checked on them frequently. Ultimately they baked for 35 minutes. After they cooled, I made ganache: 10 oz of cream, 10 oz of 60% chocolate (bittersweet), 2 T. butter.

Once everything was cooled and the ganache was the correct consistency, I assembled the cake. Since the layers were very rounded on the top I cut off the excess on one layer and that became the bottom. I used ganache and orange zest between the layers and then put the intact, rounded layer on the top. Then I poured the rest of the ganache and allowed it to enrobe the cake. I topped it with more orange zest and then some orange curls - I used a peeler to get strips of zest and curled them on a chopstick before placing them on top.

One thing I should not have done - refrigerate the cake. Unfortunately, the ganache cracked slightly. But not too bad.

This experiment was a success! After a birthday outing to an escape room, we had take-out Chinese dumplings and then, cake!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

A Separate Note

So I don't lose it, I wanted to link to this very easy recipe for alfredo sauce. I made it last week and it worked out much, much better than what I've done in the past. The recipe I'd jotted down involved eggs, milk, and cheese, but this one has cream cheese instead of eggs. It's easy, and it clings to the pasta nicely. 10/10, would make this one again.... 

Pi Day

Once again, Pi Day has arrived. This morning the elderchild and I made a peach pie, using two jars of peach pie filling I made last fall. I had a little problem with the pie crust and I'm not sure why, but I ended up needing a lot more water and the crust ended up crispy rather than flaky. No matter. We had pie. We also had pizza for dinner so we had all sorts of circular foods!



Sunday, February 24, 2019

Beeswax Candles

Last year, for a project, the youngerchild and I collaborated on making a beeswax-based wood polish for one step in making a wooden box which would hold all of the other items in the project. Well, the rest of the beeswax/myrrh mixture has been sitting on the kitchen counter ever since, waiting to be made into something else. Basically, it was the same thing as lip balm (which is kind of weird, if you think about it) but it's also mostly beeswax and scent, so I thought I could make little candles instead.

I remelted the mixture and poured it into tealight molds. Voilá. Candles.

However, whatever else was in the mixture has definitely changed the melting point so they burn a little too fast. I think I should just use plain beeswax from now on. When I get more wax.

I wonder how my bees are doing?

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Golden Beets

In the farm share, we got a lot of beets. Fortunately, they last a long time in the fridge if stored properly. When I get golden beets, I make a plan to make this Golden Beet Orange Cake. Last Friday I had a friend visiting and finally made this cake. It did take several days, as I roasted the beets on Wednesday and made the cake on Thursday. On Friday, I rushed home from work and made the glaze. The previous time I made this cake I used lemons instead; I think I like the oranges better!