Archives for posts with tag: honey

What would you do if, as you sat down with six months of bank statements, a cup of tea and a huge dose of determination, you received this message:

‘Hi Trish, we’re going to be harvesting a small batch of honey in about an hour. If you’re in Braunston you’re welcome to come up and see how it’s done.’

This was a message from beekeeper Neil Bannister owner of the gorgeous Southfield Cottage that Richard and I stayed in at the beginning of our trip. Guests at Southfield find a jar of honey in the cottage when they arrive. I had a lot of fun using it.

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I shook my head over Neil’s message. I was in the middle of a chore I’d put off for weeks, involving all those bank statements and a complicated analysis of who’d paid what for what. I contemplated texting, ‘So sorry, I’m right in the middle of something really important, can’t make it. Maybe next time.’

But was I mad? There was no way I could say no.

The view from Southfield cottage is lovely. In the foreground is a lovely meadow, cropped short by cows and sheep.

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Then there’s the canal, separating us from Braunston Marina. And then, beyond that, a vista of distant hills. But perhaps the most distinctive part of that landscape is something so close to the cottage   you’re apt to miss it altogether: a higgledy-piggledy row of beehives.

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I just had to go and see how the honey gets from those hives into a jar.

‘Richard, I’m just going to run up the hill to the village for a while.’

He looked up with surprise. ‘What did you say?’

I had not ten minutes before given Richard a very stern lecture on how I was going to be working all evening, that he was going to be cooking supper and that there was no way we were going to binge-watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix.

‘I’m going up the hill to watch Neil and Kim harvesting honey.’

‘And your grand plans?’

‘Shelved. See you later.’ And with that I jumped out the boat onto the jetty and set off up the hill.

A couple of hours later I was back on the boat with a little jar of the freshest honey I’d ever possessed plus some thyme and sage. Kim, with great foresight suggested I pick some herbs from the planter outside Southfield Cottage. These ingredients would turn into a perfect breakfast.

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But what could I do with the honey that would do justice to it? What would show it off to its best advantage?

It would of course be perfect with toast and lightly salted butter. The bread would have to be the best. Sourdough would be perfect. Well, I wasn’t going to be able to make that and there was no way I’d find it in the village shop, I was sure. I’d have to think of something else. Scones, nope. Crumpets, nope. I needed to use some of the herbs too. Thyme goes so perfectly with honey.

What about oat and thyme pancakes?

After a quick google search I found this recipe for oat pancakes by Rosie Sykes on the Guardian. It was perfect. You mix the oats and milk and leave the mixture to stand overnight. In the morning you beat in a couple of eggs and some bicarb and cook. I did make a couple of changes. I used baking powder instead of bicarb and added a very generous pile of fresh thyme leaves.

I served the oat pancakes warm with butter and honey on some and crème fraîche and honey on others.DSCF1855

The oat pancakes were the absolutely perfect platform for the honey.DSCF1838

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There is very little more comforting on a cold rainy day than sitting in front of a fire in a cosy cottage looking out over the countryside drinking a steaming mug of tea and eating a slice of hot toast slathered with melting butter and sticky honey.

This week I did find myself on a cold rainy day sitting in front of a fire in a cosy cottage, looking out over a field filled with sheep, rabbits, beehives and birds, drinking a steaming mug of tea. In front of me was a gorgeous jar of golden honey from the bees in the hives but I had no bread to turn into toast.

Southfield Cottage, is in the village of Braunston where our narrowboat Patience is moored. Patience is currently undergoing an overdue and much needed lick of paint and so because we were keen to document her change from rust-bucket to sleek shiny narrowboat we decided to spend a couple of days at the start of the painting process in Braunston.

Southfield Cottage not only overlooks the picturesque field described above but provides a vantage point from which to survey both the hills in the distance and the marina below. You can in fact see our mooring from the front door of the cottage.

Looking from Southfield cottage to Braunston marina

We were thrilled to find Southfield on the internet, even more thrilled when we walked into the cottage and found one of the most beautiful and stylish cottages imaginable and delighted by the jar of Southfield honey we found waiting for us on the kitchen counter.

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Since I couldn’t indulge in honey on hot buttered toast I set my mind to thinking about what else I could do with it. We could of course have it for breakfast with Greek yoghurt and chopped almonds  – and we did the next day – but what could I do with it immediately?

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Supper was coming up and we were planning a sort of a breadless ‘ploughman’s’  supper using bits and pieces in the fridge – cheese, pickled peppers, cucumber, a sausage, green beans and an onion.

How could honey fit in with that?

It was in fact exactly what I needed to transform the raw onion into something a lot more palatable.  And with the addition of herbs growing in an old porcelain basin outside the cottage door I made a pan of slow cooked onions with sage, rosemary, lavender and thyme.

A perfect accompaniment to our breadless ploughman’s.

And then the next night, sticking with the traditional theme, I made a honey and lemon posset.

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I naturally got very sidetracked by the delights of what my friend Google threw at me when writing this blog. Check out some of the joys to be found out there:

Slow cooked onion with honey and herbs

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • A handful of herbs – I used thyme, sage, rosemary and a little lavender
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

Very slowly fry the onions in butter on a low heat until they are soft, adding more butter if necessary. Add the herbs, honey, salt and pepper and continue frying very slowly until golden brown and starting to crisp on the edges.

Serve with warm or at room temperature with:

  • Cheese
  • Sausages
  • Lettuce and tuna
  • Roasted vegetables

Lemon Posset

Ingredients

  • 850 ml double cream
  • Juice of 2 to 3 lemons ( should have measured this – I used 2 1/2 lemons)
  • Zest of two lemons, very finely grated
  • 60 ml honey
  • 4 tablespoons sugar

Method

Mix the cream, sugar, honey and lemon zest together. Bring slowly to the boil stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for three minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and mix in the lemon juice. Divide between six ramekins. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Garnish with a few berries and  serve with honey flavored biscuits.