Honey: Hive Got A Secret

Honey is one of humankind's oldest foods - archaeologists have found ancient cave drawings of men collecting honey from wild hives. Hat's off to the brave Stone Age soul who first thought to plunge a hand into a nest of bees to extract the sticky stuff the stinging insects store as food.

These days, collecting honey doesn't require raiding wild nests. Bees are cultivated, and their hives are made with convenient removable panels that allow apiarists (that's the fancy word for beekeepers) to harvest honey with a minimum of fuss.

Gathering honey is often a sideline for beekeepers - a lot of them are really in the pollinating business. Farmers hire them to bring their bees to the farm to pollinate their crops. And the plants that the bees pollinate - or the wild ones they forage from - determine what kind of honey they produce.

Different types of honey do have taste variations (lighter is milder; darker is stronger), but they're subtle, and unlikely to be noticed when honey is added to other food.

Honey has an indefinite shelf life and doesn't need to be refrigerated. If it crystallizes, just warm it up in the microwave or place the jar in a pan of hot water and it will return to its original state. Then:

  • Marinate chicken in a mixture of honey, mustard, white wine, and a little olive oil.
  • Try honey instead of sugar or syrup in a smoothie - especially if it's banana.
  • Mix goat cheese with honey and some coarsely cracked pepper, and serve as an appetizer with crackers or toasted baguette slices.
  • Poach pears in red wine with honey, cloves, and lemon zest.
  • Add honey and a splash of fruit liqueur to fruit salad.
  • Mix a little honey into whipped butter for pancakes, waffles, or French toast.
  • Brush salmon or swordfish with a mixture of honey, soy sauce, ginger, and chili paste, and broil or grill it.
  • Make dessert out of your favorite vanilla yogurt topped with honey and toasted walnuts.
  • Add honey and buttermilk to a salad vinaigrette.

And you thought that spout-headed bear was just for tea.

Orange & Fennel Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette

This sweet and tangy salad is fat free and is perfect as a side for lean chicken or turkey.

10 cups salad greens, roughly chopped
1 medium fennel bulb
2 navel oranges or seedless tangerines

Dressing:

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
pinch of salt

1. In a large bowl, place the salad greens, fennel; cored and sliced paper thin, and segmented orange pieces.

2. In small bowl, with wire whisk or fork, mix together lime juice, oil, honey, vinegar and salt. Drizzle over the salad and lightly toss to coat.

You can makes this dish up to 4 hours ahead of time. Cover the dressing and salad separately; whisk the dressing just prior to serving.

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