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honey (http://www.public-domain-image.com)Because Save Our Bees is July’s featured charity, we felt we could do at least one short post on the honeybees’ best known (and loved) product, honey! (To learn more about our feature and/or this charity please visit our post: Here’s To The Honeybee.) No single article could possibly do justice to this fascinating substance! Most of us who enjoy cooking with honey, or who casually stir a spoonful into our favourite hot drink, have no idea how miraculous the sweet golden treat we are spreading on our toast really is.

“In most ancient cultures honey has been used for both nutritional and medical purposes. The belief that honey is a nutrient, a drug and an ointment has been carried into our days, and thus, an alternative medicine branch, called apitherapy, has been developed in recent years, offering treatments based on honey and other bee products against many diseases including bacterial infections.”

The above quote is taken from the article, Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity. It explores the subject of honey’s medical properties and constituents in great detail. The Small passage I quoted neatly summed up many of the things I would like to say at much greater length. But I thought it would be fairer to our readers (who may not share my profound interest in honey) to let you do your own research and allow you all to get to the mini recipe collection we have for you sooner.

My fascination with honey began long before I had an internet to consult on the topic. I believe the first time I read a reference to its usefulness in dressing wounds and burns was in a Barbara Cartland novel. Magic of Honey,bookAlthough I have never been able to obtain a copy (much as I would have liked to) Ms. Cartland did write a wonderful book titled The Magic Of Honey which discusses many of its properties and practical applications. (And this book was written and published before natural remedies were fashionable.) Reading the book’s blurb was an inspiration in and of itself. I continued to research the topic and was amazed to learn how rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients honey is. As if this isn’t enough honey is remarkable for its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.bees_knees_soaps It has many applications from beauty treatments for the skin and hair, to assisting digestive disorders. (A teaspoon of honey taken three times a day before each meal can be very helpful in correcting many digestive problems.) It can be fermented into a delicious wine (Mead)220px-Homemade_South_African_Mead ( Wikipedia) which can be further enhanced by including different herbs in the fermentation process. And of course, honey does wonders to all sorts of food recipes!

A fabulous resource for information about and wonderful recipes that use honey is The National Honey Board. Many of my favourite recipes (some of which are below) come from this source. Whether you would like to give yourself a little extra treat by giving your skin some loving attention, or are looking for a refreshing citrus drink on a hot summer day, you will find a wide variety of recipes to choose from on The National Honey Board’s website. (And that doesn’t even touch on the main course dishes, desserts and condiment recipes you’ll find when you explore their site!)

Here is a small selection of some of Isabelle’s and my favourite honey recipes!
Note: We have had some of these recipes for a long time. It isn’t always possible to remember when or how they came into our hands. whenever we can we have mentioned where we originally found them.

Honey-Lemon Breakfast Pudding (AKA Baked French Toast With Honey)
Source: The National Honey Board

– Makes 6 servings –

4 cups white sandwich bread, cubed
Unsalted butter, as needed
¾ cup honey
¾ cup fresh lemon juice
5 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
Whipped topping, as needed (optional)
3 lemon slices, cut in half (optional)

Spread bread cubes in a single layer; allow them to air dry for 3 hours. Generously butter an 8- x 8-inch pan; reserve. Beat together honey, lemon juice, eggs and salt, then beat in milk; reserve. Evenly distribute dried cubes in prepared pan. Pour reserved honey mixture over bread. Let pan sit until bread is thoroughly soaked, about 1/2 hour. Cover pan with foil; set pan on doubled baking sheets (replaces water bath.) Bake at 300°F for 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake until the top is light, golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out almost clean, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Garnish each portion with a dollop of whipped topping, then with a lemon piece.

Honey Cream Cheese Spread
Source: The National Honey Board
Preparation Time: 15 minutes

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
¼ cup honey
2 Tablespoons orange juice
½ teaspoon grated orange peel

Combine cream cheese, honey, orange juice and orange peel; beat until well blended. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Golden Celebration Cocktail

(makes 8 servings)
Source: The National Honey BoardGolden Celebration Cocktail

* 8 tsps – honey
* 1 cup – lemon juice
* 4 tsps – lemon zest
* 1 tbsp – rose water
* 8 – basil leaves
* 16 oz – soda water
* 16 oz – vodka, optional
* Ice

In a tall glass, mix 1 teaspoon of honey, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of rose water and half a teaspoon of lemon zest. Stir and add ice. Add 2 oz of vodka and stir along with the ice until all the ingredients are blended. Tap the basil leaf on the palm of your hand to accentuate its flavor and put it inside the glass. Finally, top up the glass with soda water, stir and serve.
It is advisable to prepare each cocktail separately to achieve the freshest flavor possible.
This drink is also delicious and very refreshing when prepared alcohol-free.

Honey Raspberry Citrus Slush
makes 6 six-ounce servings)
Source: The National Honey BoardHoney Raspberry Citrus Slush

* 1-1/2 cups fresh orange juice
* 1/2 cup Orange Blossom honey
* 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
* 2 Tablespoons lime juice
* 1-1/2 cups frozen raspberries
* 1 cup crushed ice

In a blender, combine orange juice, honey, lemon and lime juices until honey is dissolved. Add raspberries and ice. Puree. Serve in beverage glasses garnished with a lemon or lime wheel.

Chinese chicken
( Serves 4 )
Source Unknown. (This is a favourite dinner dish at Isabelle’s! Her family is always thrilled when it is on the menu.)

4 skinless Boneless chicken breasts
honey to taste, about a half cup total,
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon Soya sauce
butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 150°C (300 F). Put honey on each side of each piece of chicken ( about 1 tablespoonful) then place in oven safe baking dish large enough to hold the chicken comfortably in one layer. Mix lemon juice, orange and Soya sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste, pour over chicken. Cover the dish with foil, and put in the oven for about 30 minutes. Test breasts for doneness, juices should run clear without any hint of pink! Lift chicken out of dish.
To serve, place chicken on a bed of rice and spoon pan sauce over chicken and rice.

Honey Glazed Ham SteaksHoney Glazed Ham Steaks
(makes 4 servings)
Source: Unknown

* 2 (8 oz. each) ham steaks, cooked
* 1/4 cup honey
* 3 Tablespoons water
* 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Pan-fry or broil ham steaks until lightly browned and thoroughly heated.
Remove ham from skillet or broiler pan. Combine honey, water, spices; add to pan drippings and bring to a boil. Simmer 1 to 2 minutes. Brush over ham and serve with remaining sauce.

Honey Thyme Mustard
(Makes 1-1/2 cups)
Source: The National Honey Board

(Making an enlarged version of this recipe has become part of my pre-holiday preparations. It has been a popular and much requested Christmas present every year since I first discovered it.)

1 cup Dijon mustard
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon crushed dried thyme leaves

Whisk together all ingredients in small bowl until well blended. Transfer mixture to airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Serving Suggestions: Serve on sandwiches or brush over pork chops before broiling.

Baklawas (Baklavas)
Source: Unknownbaklava-cake-725x544 (  http://www.public-domain-image.com (public domain image))

About 20 phyllo pastry sheets, (They are very fragile and difficult to handle so this gives you a few extra)
200gr butter
500gr ground almonds
250gr white sugar
350gr honey
4 tablespoons Orange Blossom water
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F and butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.
In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. In a bowl, mix the almonds with the sugar, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons orange blossom water.
Cut the phyllo pastry sheets with scissors so they fit in the pan. Using a pastry brush, spread melted butter on 6 phyllo sheets( on one side only).
Layer these six sheets into your baking pan.
Next spread half of the ground almond mixture over the layered sheets of pastry.
Then spread another six sheets with butter. Layer them into the pan, and spread the remaining almond mixture over them. Lastly top with a final layer of six buttered sheets of pastry.
with a sharp knife, cut diamond shaped incisions into the top layer of phyllo pastries.
Sprits lightly with water before putting the dish into your preheated oven. (at 375°F) bake for about 30 minutes.
It is ready when the top is a golden colour.
Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat , place the honey and the remaining 2tablespoons of orange blossom water.
When your baklava is baked, remove it from the oven and immediately pour the warmed honey mixture over it. Allow the honey to completely soak through the pastry.
Baklava is wonderful served warm or at room temperature.

Honey Graham Fruit Pizza
(makes 1 pizza)
Source: The National Honey BoardHoney Graham Fruit Pizza

* 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup whole wheat or graham flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted
* 1/3 cup honey
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
* 1/4 cup nonfat milk
* 1 package (8 oz.) Neufchatel or reduced-fat cream cheese
* 1/4 cup honey
* 3 cups assorted sliced or whole fresh fruits
* Toasted coconut or granola, optional
* Honey or chocolate syrup

To make crust: In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking
soda and salt; mix well. In a small bowl, mix together melted butter,
honey and vanilla; stir into flour mixture. Stir in egg yolk and milk;
form into ball with hands. Place on a lightly greased pizza pan or
baking sheet. With floured hands, press dough to form 12-inch circle.
Bake at 375°F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from
pan; cool on wire rack. To make topping: In a small bowl, combine
Neufchatel cheese and honey; mix until well blended. To serve, spread
topping onto crust to within 1/2 inch of edge. Arrange fruit over top;
sprinkle with toasted coconut and drizzle with honey, if desired.

Sore Throat remedy
Source: Unknownsore throat remedy

Brew some green tea. Take a small (250 ml) mason jar and half fill it with sliced lemons and ginger root. Pour in green tea until the fruit is covered. Fill the rest of the jar with liquid honey. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator. A gel will form in your jar. To use, take 1tablespoon of the gel and place mug. Fill cup with boiling water and stir to dissolve gel.

What are your Favourite ways to use honey?
We’d love to read any tips or hints you may have to offer, and of course recipes are always a treat to try!

Note: The Title of this post is a quote from the song Sugartime, which was written by Charlie Phillips and Odis Echols and published in 1958.