Thursday, November 12, 2020

Kid Made Pumpkin Pie with Byrd Mill Ginger and Spice Cookie Crust.

Kid Made Pumpkin Pie with Byrd Mill Ginger and Spice Cookie Crust.
When you taste this pumpkin pie, you’ll wonder why you’ve never made it with a Byrd Mill Ginger Spice Cookie crust before. That’s exactly what happened when my son and I baked this delicious pie. It’s a perfect recipe to make with kids. Taste a cookie and then crush the rest in a plastic ziplock bag using a rolling pin. Little hands get creative as they mix melted butter into the crumbs and press the sticky delicious mix into a pie pan.
This kid-approved pumpkin pie is fun and easy-to-make. You’ll never go back to boring piecrust after you try this version. Top it off with a generous squirt of kids all-time favorite whipped cream just because, they’ll love it. 
Byrd Mill homemade mixes use locally grown and freshly-ground wheat along with simple straightforward ingredients like sugar, spices and baking powder.

Byrd Mill Ginger and Spice Cookies
1 package  Ginger and Spice Cookie Mix              
1 stick butter (softened)
1 egg
Cut Butter and egg into mix and knead until moist. Roll into 1-inch balls and bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 2 dozen cookies. *You’ll want to make these ahead and let them cool.
Ginger Spice Pie Crust:
1 ½ cups cookie crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
To make the cookie crust, crush the cookies with rolling pin (or grind up the in a food processor). In a medium bowl mix the cookie crumbs with the melted butter. Press the crumbs evenly and firmly in your pie pan. Our Pumpkin Pie Filling in and bake as directed below. 
Pumpkin Pie Filling:
½ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk (or substitute 12 ounces non-dairy milk)

Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt in a bowl. Beat eggs in separate bowl then add to sugar mix. Stir in pumpkin, vanilla extract and milk. Pour filling into your Ginger Spice Pie Crust. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 2 hours, then refrigerate or serve.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Virginia’s Vanishing Rusty Patched Bumblebee

Some more about the importance of bees,,,, as pollinators, rusty patched bumble bees contribute to our food security and the healthy functioning of our ecosystems. Bumble bees are keystone species in most ecosystems, necessary not only for native wildflower reproduction, but also for creating seeds and fruits that feed wildlife as diverse as songbirds and grizzly bears.

 Bumble bees are among the most important pollinators of crops such as blueberries, cranberries, and clover and almost the only insect pollinators of tomatoes. Bumble bees are more effective pollinators than honey bees for some crops because of their ability to “buzz pollinate.” a pollination technique where it grabs onto a plant and then vibrates its body at a high frequency to shake loose tightly packed pollen that might otherwise be difficult to access. Not all bees buzz pollinate — honeybees, for example, don’t. But buzz pollination is essential for the reproduction of a range of plants, including crops like blueberries, apples and tomatoes. 

But some 25 years ago, the rusty patched bumble bee began to disappear. Eventually the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that the species was “so imperiled that every remaining population is important for its continued existence.” It became the first bee to be included on the agency’s endangered species list in 2017. 

In Virginia, where the species once ranged widely, the bee in recent years has only been observed in four counties: Bath, Highland, Augusta and Rockingham, with the most sightings in the former two locations. 

There is little consensus among scientists about what’s causing the rusty patched bumble bee’s disappearance, but much is being done to conserve them.

Several U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs work to assess, protect, and restore pollinators and their habitats. Also, the Service works with partners to recover endangered and threatened pollinators and pollinator-dependent plants. Concern about pollinator declines prompted formation of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, a collaboration of people dedicated to pollinator conservation and education.

Trusts, conservancies, restoration groups and partnerships are supporting pollinator initiatives and incorporating native plants that support bees and other pollinators into their current activities. 

Researchers are studying and monitoring the impacts of GMO crops and certain pesticides on pollinators. Efforts by citizen scientists and researchers to determine the status of declining bee species are underway throughout the U.S.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

September is National Honey Month

Monastery Creamed Honey
Monastery Creamed Honey

National Honey Month is a celebratory and promotional event held annually during the month of September in the United States. Its purpose is to promote American beekeeping, the beekeeping industry, and honey as a natural and beneficial sweetener.
National Honey Month, initiated by the National Honey Board, marks an important time for honey producers and beekeepers across the nation. In the United States, honey collection season typically concludes in September as bees begin to secure their hives and prepare for winter.

In the spirit of celebration, try some fun flavors of Monastery Creamed Honey and here are a few fun facts you may not have known about bees, beekeeping, and honey!

There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees throughout the world; 4,000 of which are native to the United States.

A single worker honeybee produces approximately 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. That means around 22,700 bees are needed to fill a single jar of honey!

In 2012, archaeologists discovered “the world’s oldest honey”! It was found in ceramic jars in Georgia, the country – not the state, and is estimated by scientists to be about 5,500 years old!

Although Utah’s official state emblem features a beehive and enjoys the nickname “The Beehive State”, top honey producing states include North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, California, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, Louisiana, and Georgia.

Honey comes in a variety of colors and flavors – including blue or purple! States located in the southeastern region of the United States are known to produce purple honey. Purple honey is an incredibly rare harvest – some beekeepers go their entire lives without ever encountering it. There are many different hypotheses on how purple honey gets its color, but scientists still cannot reach an agreement on the cause.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Southern Peach Jam Cake with Graves Mountain Peach Preserves

On July 25, Graves Mountain Lodge had their 9th Annual Peach Day Festival. There was live music, craft vendors. Hayrides, pony rides, food and of course, Peach Ice Cream, Peach Milkshakes, Peach Preserves, Peach Cobbler and FRESH Peaches and other produce for sale. They were open with CDC advice in place plus 110 acres for social distancing. If you missed it this year, you can make plans to make it to the next one. You don’t have to miss out on those delicious Graves Mountain Peach Preserves, Just click here.
So many ways to enjoy Graves Mountain peaches and Graves Mountain Peach Preserves. We’ll be trying this Southern Peach Jam Cake with a side of fresh peaches.
Southern Peach Jam Cake                                                                 
Ingredients:       2 cups sifted cake flour                                      
                          1 tsp. baking soda
                          1 tsp. baking powder
                          1 tsp. ground cinnamon
                          1 tsp. ground nutmeg
                          1 tsp. ground allspice
                          ½ tsp. salt
                          ¾ cup butter, softened
                          1 cup sugar
                          1 cup peach preserves
                          1/2 cup sour cream
                          3 large eggs
                          ½ cup chopped pecans
Frosting:           1-8 ounce package cream cheese softened
                         ¼ cup butter softened
                         1-16 ounce package confectioner sugar
                         ½ cup peach preserves
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 9-inch cake pans with non-stick baking spray with flour.  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. 
  2.  In another large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Add preserves and sour cream beating well.  
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  4. Fold in flour mixtures and pecans.  Pour into prepared pans.  
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  
  6. Cool in pans or wire racks for 5 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool completely.
For Frosting:
  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy.  Gradually add confectioner sugar, beating until smooth.  
  2. Stir in preserves.  
  3. Spread frosting evenly between layers and on top and sides of cake.

Monday, July 6, 2020

A Very Odd Spring for Honeybees

We've been using and selling Monastery Creamed Honey from the monks of Holy Cross Abbey, Berryville, Virginia since we went online in 2005. Sadly, over the past 15 years, colonies of bees have been disappearing, and the reason remains unknown. Referred to as ‘colony collapse disorder’, billions of Honey Bees across the world are leaving their hives, never to return. In some regions, up to 90% of bees have disappeared!
Monastery Creamed Honey

This spring there has seen an uptick in the number of swarms - big groups of bees leaving a hive to look for a new home base. This happens when bees feel overcrowded in their hive. It means the colony is robust and healthy. Beekeepers must manage the issue or they can lose bees and the honey in the bees.

It is possible the explanation lies in the weather patterns this spring. Warm temperatures in the first three months of 2020 meant some things bloomed early. Then the weather cooled and later blooms slowed down. The bees were very busy reproducing and gathering pollen and nectar and hive may have gotten crowded. Bee keepers try to capture the swarming bees by gently brushing the bees into a box. A swam is pretty docile and full of honey. The key is to capture the queen in the box and the bees will follow.

The bees are much safer with a beekeeper than in the wild. The murder hornets have the ability to wipe out hives. A more serious problem is the Varroa mite, a parasite that fees on adult bees and larvae, making them vulnerable to certain viral diseases. Then there are pesticides that can be carried back to the hive. People and honeybees need each other. They pollinate our food crops, and beekeepers safeguard their colonies.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Shelter In-Place Cooking

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic sheltering in-place, we’ve found more time to cook some of our old seafood favorites using Blue Crab Bay Sting Ray® Bloody Mary Mixer. Sting Ray® is a thick and rich blend of clam and tomato juices spiced with Blue Crab Bay's Chesapeake Bay Style Seafood Seasoning and freshly grated horseradish. It not only makes an awesome mixer, but is a unique, flavorful coo
Blue Crab Bay Sting Ray® Bloody Mary Mixder
king sauce.

When it first appeared, Sting Ray® was featured on Food Network TV's Food Finds. In the New York Times, in a blind taste test of eight Bloody Mary Mixers, Sting Ray® won top honors! It was also the winner of Outstanding Beverage, 1998 at the International Fancy Food Show!

Here are two of our favorite recipes using Sting Ray®:

¼ cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can tomatoes (16 oz), chopped and drained
3-4 tbs. Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer
1 lb. scallops
1 TB. butter
¼ cup dry white wine
1 TB. lemon juice
Italian breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sauté onion, green pepper and garlic
in olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes and Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer.
Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, sauté scallops
for 2-3 minutes in butter. Add wine and lemon juice and simmer 5 minutes.
Combine all ingredients in lightly greased baking dish.
Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and bake 5-10 minutes until lightly browned.
For variation: sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese or grated Parmesan.

1 lb. fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lb. fettuccine or other pasta
1-1/2 cups Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer
2 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley
Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions, drain and keep warm. Sauté shrimp with garlic in olive oil until the flesh is opaque, usually 3-5 minutes. Add to pasta and toss with Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and grated Parmesan. Serve with a fresh garden salad and bread. Have a little extra Sting Ray Mixer in a small creamer available for guests who enjoy extra zing!

Saturday, May 2, 2020

May 20 is National Pick Strawberries Day

May is National Strawberry Month and May 20 is National Pick Strawberries Day.
The day invites you to go outside in the garden or on the field to pick fresh strawberries. There is something special about the taste of a sun-warmed strawberry picked straight off of the vine. Every year we take it for granted that in the spring we will have a chance to pick fresh strawberries. This year it will be an especially welcome outing! Strawberry picking places are open but taking the COVID-19 situation seriously and have implemented special policies for strawberry picking for the 2020 season. These policies are for the safety of their customers, their employees, and the community. Check with your picking place website or facebook page for their policies before going.

Graves Mountain Strawberry Preserves
The strawberry fruit is widely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness. It is also healthy. This fruit is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin C, folate and potassium, and a very good source of dietary fiber, and manganese. Just one serving of about eight strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange. Strawberries help can help fight bad cholesterol and may reduce inflammation. The strawberry is among the top 20 fruits in antioxidant capacity.

When we can’t get fresh strawberries, we can enjoy Graves Mountain Strawberry Preserves. Here's another idea, send Mom some Strawberry Preserves for Mother's Day!