Lemon & Honey Barley Water for What Ails You

When a cold or flu sets in, time and traditions have taught me several remedies. I boil water. I juice lemons. Most recently, I add a dash of turmeric to everything, perhaps a swig of apple cider vinegar and a sweet spoonful of honey to help nature’s medicine go down in the most delightful way. However, when it comes to mending the pangs of a wounded heart, the prescriptions are not so tried and true.

Lemon & Honey Barley Water // www.WithTheGrains.com

I’ve mended the shattered pieces of my broken heart before. In a manner that often surprised me, I dug deep, surfacing a resolve I sometimes forget I have. I sought reinvention and reacquainted myself with my individualism. I sought solid ground and forged forward. I turned to yoga, cleansing foods or new projects to carry me through the murky waters of the wrong relationships. Yet for some reason, when it came to a failed friendship, I allowed myself to be kicked while I was down and to stay down.

Lemon & Honey Barley Water // www.WithTheGrains.com

Contrary to the guillotine-like finality of an amorous breakup, the conclusion of the wrong friendship can feel like cutting fabric with dull scissors. As my own threads frayed, I allowed little jabs to continue to hurt me, questioning how such a divide could form where a solid weave had been. Subconsciously, I assumed this form of heartbreak to be different, granting it more time, more generosity of spirit, more of my mind space. Then I had a divine intervention in the form of a dance floor and Destiny’s Child.

Now that you’re out of my life, I’m so much better
You thought that I’d be weak without you, but I’m stronger
You thought that I’d be broke without you, but I’m richer
You thought that I’d be sad without you, I laugh harder
Thought I wouldn’t grow without you, now I’m wiser
Thought that I’d be helpless without you, but I’m smarter

…Wishing you the best
Pray that you are blessed
Bring much success, no stress, and lots of happiness
(I’m better than that)

Lemon & Honey Barley Water // www.WithTheGrains.com

The pop divas were presumably singing to ex-lovers, but it made me realize my failed friendship was really no different. Strung together in a sentence, that idea seems so simple, but discovering it felt like a grand epiphany! A friendship breakup is still a breakup. Whether your heart aches with failed love or failed friendship (or both), I challenge you to blare that song, dance as if a crowd of one million adoring fans is watching, and not feel more empowered. Impossible!

Lemon & Honey Barley Water // www.WithTheGrains.com

Even as those scantily clad, jungle-surviving, good “Christian” girls wield their independence in the form of handmade spears, they remind us to wish the best to those who hurt us. They also remind us to fill our proverbial dance floors with only the best of backups- “After of all of the darkness and sadness, soon comes happiness. If I surround my self with positive things, I’ll gain prosperity.” When it comes to mending your heart, you owe yourself this 2000s throwback. When it comes to mending your physical health, you owe yourself this sweet, tart, nourishing barley water.

Single-Grain

Keep on survivin’!
-Quelcy

Lemon & Honey Barley Water

About This Recipe: I discovered this traditional healing drink after the side effects of an antibiotic sent a family member to the hospital, and she needed natural relief for her symptoms. Barley is a whole grain rich in vitamin B-complex, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, zinc, copper, protein, amino acids, dietary fiber, beta-glucans and various antioxidants. You can reap the health benefits of this versatile grain not just by including it in your diet, but also by preparing this sweet and citrusy tea-like beverage. It’s an especially refreshing way to start the morning!

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Brown Butter Apple Cake with Scotch Caramel

Before Siri, before GPS, before smart phones and even before flip phones, our adventure began with an idea and a map. Yet, like so many adventures with my oldest sister, these adventures often went awry.  Our idea had been to picnic at a nearby lake, flanked by fiery trees blazing with autumn’s robust palette. There was one snag- our horrible sense of direction.

Brown Butter Apple Cake with Scotch Caramel // www.WithTheGrains.com

Yet, like so many routed plans gone awry, our failure to navigate led to something far more endearing- the discovery of an old church/schoolhouse and a playground covered in fall’s leaves. It wasn’t the new sort of playground, with bright, shiny plastics and padding at every possible fall. It was the death-trap sort with metal, concrete and chain links, a remnant of the old schoolhouse. I was still a child at the time, and the monkey bars made me forget the abandoned lake goals.

Brown Butter Apple Cake with Scotch Caramel // www.WithTheGrains.com

The ground was a lake of its own- with thick piles of fallen leaves. Every footstep was accompanied by a swooshing noise and a feeling reminiscent of walking through sand. These leaves swirled and gathered by the graves of the church’s old cemetery. The neat rows were now wonky, and time had chipped away at the crisp stone. We were surrounded by stories, and in the absence of other human beings, the whole place seemed to exist just for us.

Brown Butter Apple Cake with Scotch Caramel // www.WithTheGrains.com

We eventually discovered the lake, with its blue waters and sailboats gently floating on the horizon, but by then, our interest had shifted. We returned again and again to the schoolhouse. It became our “secret place.” Our other sisters pestered and pried, trying to disclose the location, but my lips were sealed, as if protecting a key to a magical kingdom.

Brown Butter Apple Cake with Scotch Caramel // www.WithTheGrains.com

The serendipity of the discovery of our secret place made it all the more special. The quiet of that park and the way the leaves would blanket the earth came to epitomize fall. Even though distance and the years now separate me from that secret place, I still travel back there in my mind with each autumn’s passing. This cake, like my secret place, is an ode to embracing fall.

Single-Grain

Happy Autumn!
-Quelcy

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Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart with Fruit Sweetened Whipped Cream

Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart // www.WithTheGrains.com

There are nights when the pending evening pushes bursts of fire just beyond the city and its sky-carving lines. On these nights, the steeples, the songs and even the speed bumps are complicit in the sky’s vanity. Sentences digress and escape, knowing they’re not needed. The radio participates, playing something slower, a more mesmerizing tune, and words find their role in melody and song.

Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart // www.WithTheGrains.com

Where chaos and ruptured infrastructure reigned by day, a shadow creeps in, vignetting the mundane frustrations and focusing the eye on the exquisite, the heavenly, the celestial painting the tortured artist will erase and recreate. Our praise and appreciation will never be enough, never satiate the infinite ego above. The meter slows, and at best, we mere mortals below ty to soak it in. Like a bite meant to be eaten immediately, the camera would never do the moment justice, and the intensity of the flavor would be lost in the attempt to preserve.

Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart // www.WithTheGrains.com

These fiery skies seem to pull and absorb summer’s last bursts- the tomatoes’ sweetness, the wispy blades of bright green grass, the heat swirling on the horizon, the cooling blue waters, the bronze of bare shoulders and the freedom of exposed toes. Combined, they will form the matted earth tones that will blanket us and prepare us for the quiet winter months.

Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart // www.WithTheGrains.com

Before the blanket is fully drawn, pay one more ode to the summer, to the peaches whose color feeds the sunset’s fiery palette, and then we shall be ready, to fully bask in the warmth of the earthen tones. This crumble tart was a celebration of the nectar flows. It was the very first time the Urban Farmer’s honey and my baking combined their sweet powers – a last summer embrace like a vibrant golden hour on the cusp of a new season!

Single-Grain

Bon Appétit!
-Quelcy

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Extracting Honey + Pancakes w/ Honey Roasted Bananas & Cinnamon Whipped Cream

“My goal in life is to walk around like Pooh Bear, with my ‘paw’ deep in a large crock of honey, savoring the sweetness all day long.”

Extracting Honey + Pancakes w/ Honey Roasted Bananas & Cinnamon Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

In addition to honey’s sweet appeal, the Urban Farmer’s deeper motives for becoming a beekeeper stem from his passion for the environment. When I first introduced him as a beekeeper in the  Meet a Beekeeper post, he explained his desire to defend the honey bee:

“I started to read more about the negative effects of GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) and monocultures (growing a single crop, for a long time in vast areas, which prevents a diverse, year-round diet for bees and simultaneously depletes soil nutrients). The link between bee colony collapse [bees disappearing] and GMO’s seemed so obvious. Bees are dying, and people act as if it’s a big mystery, but if you look at the flaws of the industrial agricultural system, there’s an easy solution: support local honeybees. I chose to dive in completely and become a beekeeper.”

Extracting Honey + Pancakes w/ Honey Roasted Bananas & Cinnamon Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Throughout his fledgling beekeeping efforts, the honey was always off limits for us. He had to reserve the liquid gold for the bees, especially as the colder months approached. However, this year his hives have been flourishing, which meant there was sweetness to be shared. This also meant he was one step closer to his Pooh Bear aspirations! The honey extraction process merited a spotlight! I still have much to learn about bees, so who better to explain this exciting process than the Urban Farmer/the Urban Beekeeper himself!

Extracting Honey + Pancakes w/ Honey Roasted Bananas & Cinnamon Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

How do you know when it’s time to extract honey?

In our climate in Pennsylvania, we have two major “nectar flows.” This refers to mass blooms of a variety of vegetation. The first nectar flow takes place in early summer, followed by a dearth (a drop in the nectar flow), then again in the early fall when knotweed and golden rod become the major food source for our bees. Generally, beekeepers harvest any excess honey after these flows, making sure to reserve enough honey for the bees to get through the summer dearth and the long winter. During the winter, honey is their only major food source.

Extracting Honey + Pancakes w/ Honey Roasted Bananas & Cinnamon Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com
The metal bristles help remove wax and release more honey.

How is the honey extracted from the hive? 

The extraction process starts by removing the honey supers from the hive. Supers are smaller hive bodies that are placed on the top of the hive (see diagram). The bees naturally use the larger bottom hive bodies, called brood chambers, to raise their young and store pollen (and some honey too). Instinctually, bees store the honey on top of their young. When the hive has enough honey stores built in the brood chamber, they will start to store honey in the upper supers. At that point, the beekeeper can easily remove the frame of honey with out disturbing hatching eggs.

Extracting Honey + Pancakes w/ Honey Roasted Bananas & Cinnamon Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com
A stowaway!

This, however, does not make it easy to remove bees from the honey supers to transport them for extraction. Some beekeepers use a leaf blower to persuade the bees from the frames or a tried-and-true process of shaking the bees off the frames and securing them in a box as fast as possible, before the bees rush back to their frames. Either way, it’s not an easy or full-proof procedure, and you might discover some stowaways!

Extracting Honey + Pancakes w/ Honey Roasted Bananas & Cinnamon Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

 What happens to your hives as the weather becomes colder? 

The bees slow down in the cooler weather. They forage less and then not at all in the dead of winter. The queen slows down egg laying, and the bees go into a mode of trying to heat the hive. They detach their wings and vibrate at such a frequency that they can heat the hive through the negative degrees of winter.

Extracting Honey + Pancakes w/ Honey Roasted Bananas & Cinnamon Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Extracting Honey + Pancakes w/ Honey Roasted Bananas & Cinnamon Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

When is the best time to start beekeeping? How does one start beekeeping? 

The best time to start a new hive is in early Spring – March or April. Bees are becoming active at that time of year, and they begin the process of regrowing their numbers. Bee packages are available for purchase at this time. This is also the time of year when beekeepers make “splits” (splitting a bee hive into two hives), so it’s a good time to find local bees for sale. If you are interested in starting a bee hive, I highly recommend reaching out to Burgh Bees for information on where to find bees, as well as a listing of courses available through the organization. [Burgh Bees has a lot of helpful resources for non-locals too!]

Extracting Honey + Pancakes w/ Honey Roasted Bananas & Cinnamon Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

If there’s anything I’ve learned in observing and discussing bees with the Urban Farmer, it’s that beekeeping is a fickle trade. A beekeeper can do everything right, only to discover his bees have fled the hive. Then, sadly, it’s back to the beginning. So when he discovered he could harvest honey from his hives, it was a celebratory moment with an especially sweet reward!

Extracting Honey + Pancakes w/ Honey Roasted Bananas & Cinnamon Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Extracting honey made me appreciate the beekeepers who harvest, store and sell large quantities of the honey. It’s sticky work for sure, and as we cranked the machine beekeepers have surely been using for centuries, we had our doubts. Were three frames worth this rigamarole? Would we salvage any honey, or would it all be stuck to the guts of the apparatus? We of little faith! When we turned the release nozzle, the honey flowed and flowed and flowed!

Extracting Honey + Pancakes w/ Honey Roasted Bananas & Cinnamon Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Sometimes my words and my emotions fail to convey my excitement and pride in the moment, so instead, I use my kitchen and my table. I’ve seen up close the ups and downs of tending to the little black and golden creatures. I’ve seen the stings, the swelling and the defeats. However, this pancake brunch was to celebrate the Urban Farmer’s determination, his dedication and nature’s dessert.

Whole Wheat Honey Banana Pancakes with Honey Cinnamon Whipped Cream & Roasted Bananas // www.WithTheGrains.com

Honey sweetened, whole-wheat pancakes with honey & cinnamon whipped cream and topped with honey roasted bananas – this was a pancake brunch ode to honey!

Whole Wheat Honey Banana Pancakes with Honey Cinnamon Whipped Cream & Roasted Bananas // www.WithTheGrains.com

Hopefully the bees’ remaining honey will carry them boldly through winter. Hopefully, the following spring will entice them with its nectar flow, and hopefully, this honey harvesting will become a tradition. For now though, we celebrate each spoonful we have and the progress the Urban Farmer is making on the bee front!

Single-Grain

Sweetly,
Quelcy

Whole Wheat Honey Banana Pancakes
w/ Honey Cinnamon Whipped Cream & Honey Roasted Bananas

Note: Pancakes are a great way to use local milk that has just turned, as well as bananas that are over ripened. I used a soured milk for this pancake recipe, and it yielded an extra fluffy pancake and less waste! As always though, exercise caution when using an ingredient past its peak. Alternately, you can use buttermilk. 

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