Buttercups Are Up!

Yesterday was a lovely day to wander around some of the parks in Louisville. We’re lucky in that we have several extremely large parks in this town, most of which were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the man who practically invented landscape architecture in America. The Pastry family went on a short hike through Cherokee Park, the closest of the major parks to our house, and were pleased to find all the usual early spring suspects in bloom: violets, Dutchman’s britches, bloody nose, trout lilies, mayapples and field upon field of buttercups. And where you find spring flowers, you find bees. …

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Home Gear, Pro Gear

Some interesting discussion in the comment fields on the subject of “home” mixers versus “pro” mixers. My previous mixer was a Viking and it’s true that people tend to associate that name with professional equipment manufacturing. The company definitely started out doing exclusively that. However a general rule of thumb when it comes to determining whether this-or-that piece of equipment is “home” gear or “pro” gear is this: if you can buy it in a shop it’s home kitchen gear, if you buy it through a commercial dealer or restaurant supply house, it’s professional. …

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Thank You

Last night I put up a post telling everyone that my old Viking mixer died, and requested contributions to the tip jar to help defray the cost of a new one. I woke up this morning to find the jar overflowing. By 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time a new mixer was half paid for, and now at 11:00 I have enough to replace my old Viking or buy a comparable model. I don’t know what to say, my friends, it’s overwhelming. I’m the luckiest blogger in the world. …

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Whipping Cream

This post is the sequel to the number one runaway smash hit: Whipping Egg Whites which appeared in this space a couple of weeks ago. I meant to respond to all the requests earlier but I didn’t have any cream and was too lazy to go get some. Also Mrs. Pastry was put out enough as it was. Ever efficient, she deplores waste in all its forms. Which makes me wonder why she keeps me around at all. But that’s a post for another day. …

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When Bees Fly the, Er…Coop

What do I know about colony collapse disorder (CCD)? Not that much, reader Kelly, but then none of the beekeepers I know have a very good handle on it either. Experts are sharply divided over the causes since a single “smoking gun” has yet to be found. The latest thinking is that colony collapse disorder — in which hive populations simply vanish leaving all their honey and unhatched brood behind — is a result of a combination of causes, possibly pesticides, maybe some natural and/or invasive parasites, maybe changes in habitat. …

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They Call it “Honey Laundering”

Several readers have mentioned the Chinese honey flap from a few years ago, specifically the allegations that Chinese producers ultra-filter their honey to remove any traces of pollen, thus making it easier for them to sneak their ultra-cheap product onto global markets, as there is no longer any micro-evidence of its origin. The process was said to remove anything that’s unique or beneficial in the honey, leaving nothing but the sugars. “Honey that isn’t worthy of the name ‘honey’” was the line you heard a lot in those days, or something close to it. The story was initially spread by an American attorney who owns a website called Food Safety News and who frequently represents plaintiffs in cases against large food interests. …

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HFBS

Ever heard Van Morrison sing the lyric “she’s as sweet as tupelo honey”? Well it turns out that the reason tupelo honey is so sweet is because tupelo nectar is mostly fructose, which, as longtime readers of joepastry.com know, has no more calories than sucrose, but tastes about 20% sweeter on the tongue. That means that tupelo honey is technically a high fructose bee syrup…clearly a plot by unscrupulous southern bees to addict our children to junky, nutritionally vacant foods. Will this sort of shameless profiteering ever stop?

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Is honey and invert sugar?

…asks reader Ed. The answer is that while some people commonly refer to honey as an invert sugar, it’s more accurate to say that honey contains invert sugar. Though it looks like a homogenous liquid, honey is really a hodgepodge of all sorts of stuff: sugars (some invert, some not), proteins, bits of wax, pollens of all sorts, the list goes on. That only makes sense. Bees forage so widely, they harvest nectar from all sorts of sources, and that introduces quite a bit of random…stuff…into honey….

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In Praise of City Honey

I’ll say unreservedly that the honey that Mrs. Pastry and I harvested from our Chicago rooftop hives was the best I’d ever tasted. Not because it was fresh, not because it was ours, but because it had a character unlike any honey I’d eaten before. No, that’s not because it was made from sugars collected from street corner trash cans or city dumpsters (though that’s been known to happen), it’s because it was made from an extremely wide variety of flower nectars. Allow me to explain….

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Kindly place the money in the bag.

The nuns at my Catholic grade school were always fond of saying that there’s no such thing as a circumstance in which good grammar isn’t appreciated. This new story is the perfect illustration of the point. Evidently there’s a bank robber in Colorado who grasps that just because you happen to be pointing a gun at someone and demanding all their money, it doesn’t mean you were brought up in a barn. There’s always a place for the little niceties like good punctuation and proper verb use. It may be armed robbery, but it can also be civilized, yes?…

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