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The Suburbanite
  • Will Work for Food: Must learn to ‘Respect the bee’

  • Long before I performed my job as judge in a honey recipe contest, I guessed what my paycheck was going to be.



    Honey. Duh.

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  • Long before I performed my job as judge in a honey recipe contest, I guessed what my paycheck was going to be.
    Honey. Duh.
    After all, I was hired by the Tri-County Beekeepers Association, which hosted the event last weekend in Wooster as part of its 35th annual Spring Beekeeping Workshop. I figured contest coordinator Ann Griffith was going to give me a tasty collection of local honey as my pay. She did, and I was thrilled.
    But talk about a surprise bonus. I hit pay dirt when Griffith also gave me three of the winning recipes: Sesame honey candy; a salad with poppy seed honey dressing; and honey-crunch pecan pie.
    My judge job made me realize how awesome and versatile honey is, and how important it is to our local agriculture. This year’s sold-out workshop drew a staggering 1,000 attendees.
    Of course, it’s all thanks to bees.
    As Griffith put it: “It takes a lifetime for a bee to produce mere drops of honey. We get to put in our bodies what it takes them a lifetime to do. Makes you stop and think, ‘Respect the bee.’”
    With these recipes in hand, bee-lieve me, I do.
    The honey-crunch pecan pie recipe won Best of Show, and it’s killer. My favorite pie is pecan, and this variation just might be the best pecan pie I’ve ever eaten. The filling is the exact consistency between gooey and dense, and luscious flavor comes from the blend of honey, corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and bourbon. This is now my go-to pecan pie recipe, and I will eternally be grateful to grand-prize winner Cheryl Meggyesy.
    I also adored the spinach salad with poppy seed honey dressing. This version by Dian Myers is exceptional due to her additions of asparagus and Swiss cheese in the salad, and dry mustard and grated onion in the dressing. I’m putting it on my personal Top 10 Salads list, and I can’t wait to make it for spring entertaining.
    Sesame honey candy is a traditional Greek confection, and for some, it’s an acquired taste. I love it, and this version from Debbie Mraz is worthy of a candy shop.
    The recipes alone were worth getting up early Saturday morning, driving 50 miles one-way to Wooster and tasting almost 40 different foods and desserts made with honey as an ingredient. She could have kept the jars of honey.
    However, I’m glad she didn’t.
    HONEY-CRUNCH PECAN PIE
    4 eggs, lightly beaten
    1 cup light corn syrup
    1⁄4 cup sugar
    1⁄4 cup brown sugar, packed
    2 tablespoons butter, melted
    1 tablespoon bourbon
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Page 2 of 2 - 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup chopped pecans
    1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
    1⁄4 cup plus 3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
    1⁄4 cup butter
    1⁄3 cup honey
    2 cups pecan halves
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first 8 ingredients in large bowl; stir well with wire whisk until blended. Stir in chopped pecans. Spoon pecan mixture into pie crust. Bake for 35 minutes, covering with aluminum foil after 25 minutes to prevent excessive browning, if necessary.
    Meanwhile, combine remaining brown sugar, butter and honey in a medium saucepan; cook over medium heat for two minutes or until sugar dissolves and butter melts, stirring often. Add pecan halves and stir gently until coated. Spoon pecan mixture evenly over pie. Bake 10 more minutes or until topping is bubbly. Cool completely on wire rack. Serves 10.
    — Tri-County Beekeepers Association Honey Cooking Contest
    SPINACH SALAD WITH POPPY SEED HONEY DRESSING
    1 pound fresh asparagus spears, cooked, drained and cooled
    8 cups torn fresh spinach (or baby leaves)
    2 cups fresh, sliced strawberries
    3⁄4 pound smoked turkey breast, cubed*
    1⁄4 cup pecan halves, roasted and broken into pieces
    8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
    1 small red onion, sliced thin
    1⁄2 pound cubed Swiss cheese
    Dressing:
    1⁄2 cup honey
    1 teaspoon dry mustard
    1⁄2 teaspoon salt
    11⁄2 teaspoons paprika
    1⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar
    11⁄2 cups vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon grated onion
    1 tablespoon poppy seeds
    Toss salad ingredients together. Mix dressing ingredients together in a jar or bowl. Toss salad with dressing, refrigerating remaining dressing.
    *This salad would be just as great with chicken, or leave the meat out altogether.
    — Tri-County Beekeepers Association Honey Cooking Contest.
    SESAME HONEY CANDY
    Olive oil
    3 cups hulled sesame seeds
    1 cup honey
    Unrefined sea salt, to taste
    Generously grease baking sheet with olive oil. Set aside. Heat skillet over medium heat until hot. Add sesame seeds and stir continually with wooden spoon until toasted to golden brown, about 4-6 minutes. Stir in honey and dash of sea salt until seeds are coated and mixture stiffens.
    Pour candy mixture on to baking sheet. Spread flat with wooden spoon. Score candy into pieces 1⁄4 x 1-inch, and set aside until mixture is no longer hot, but warm to touch. Grease fingers with olive oil and roll pieces into small, round logs.
    — Tri-County Beekeepers Association Honey Cooking Contest.