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Columns September 22, 2009  RSS feed

Leon County Cooks: Honey in a hollow tree

By Sherry Matney

Standing proudly beside the tree with a huge bee hive is ( Lto R) Mike Hall, Magnolia; Kenneth Langley, Magnolia; and Leland White, Onalaska. Sherry’s Shots Standing proudly beside the tree with a huge bee hive is ( Lto R) Mike Hall, Magnolia; Kenneth Langley, Magnolia; and Leland White, Onalaska. Sherry’s Shots “Well it’s a darn good life and its kinda funny how the Lord made the bee and the bee made the honey, and the honey bee a lookin’ for a home, so they called it a honeycomb.”

If you grew up much later than the 50s and 60s it is unlikely that you ever heard that song by Jimmy Rogers. Not that it has anything to do with this week’s cook story except the story is about honey and a gigantic honeycomb.

A couple of years ago a beautiful old sweet gum tree, which stood on the dam of a stock tank on our property, began to lose its leaves and eventually died. By this summer the limbs had become brittle and it was obvious that we needed someone to take it down that knew what they were doing.

Enter Ken Langley with Langley Lawn’s and Tree service. Members of Langley’s team took down the tree in short order and ground the stump to the ground. But what was exciting to the team, in more ways than one, was the enormous bee hive inside the tree, with a huge honeycomb that ran several feet inside the hollow tree.

This part of the tree had thousands of honey bees working. Sherry’s Shots This part of the tree had thousands of honey bees working. Sherry’s Shots Langley said it is very unusual to find a honeycomb of this size inside a tree. He is the son of Patricia Allbritton and William Langley. Kenneth grew up in Buffalo and attended school there until his family moved to Centerville where he graduated in 1991. He has three sons, Logan, 11; Garrett, 10; and Kenneth Jr., 8. He also has a special friend Jana Kieschnick.

Natural honey is one of those miracle foods that is claimed to cure many ailments. A short list is: allergy, hemorrhoids, blood pressure, blood sugar, dry eye, menopause problems, fungus and insomnia. Just to name a few. And this does not take in its cosmetic value. There is a page of internet information about honey baths, honey facials, honey masks, etc. Cleopatra took regular “milk and honey baths” and look what it did for her.

Honey, of course is made by bees and comes from pollen that has been collected by the energetic creatures. Its properties are very close to processed sugar but the health benefits are believed to be much greater. Honey, if stored property, has an unknown shelf life. History knows examples of honey being preserved for decades and even centuries.

Melva Waters makes one of the best Honey Bar Cookies I have ever tasted and, of course, it has to go in this week’s recipes. My favorite way to eat honey in on hot bread, especially sophapillas, so following are a few recipes that I love.
Melva’s Honey Bars
1 cup sugar
1 tsp soda
¼ cup oil
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup honey
2 cups flour
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
14 tsp salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Mix the above ingredients well. Will be very thick. Make into a large ball and mash onto a cookie sheet. Bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes. (no longer)
Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp water

Mix thoroughly and spread while bars are still hot. (This is soooo good.)

If you like sweet cornbread this is for you.
Honey Cornbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x9 inch baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar and baking powder. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the cream, oil, honey and eggs; stir to combine. Pour batter into prepared baking pan.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of pan comes out clean.
Biscuits
2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
4 tablespoons butter or shortening

1/2 tsp. salt
about 3/4 cup milk

Sift Flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, and sift again. Cut in shortening or butter. (this is where I use my hands by rubbing the butter into the flour). Add milk gradually, stirring until soft dough is formed. Turn out on slightly floured board and lightly "knead" for 30 seconds, enough to shape. Roll 1/2 inch thick and cut with 2 inch floured biscuit cutter. If you’re really good you can pinch off a ball, roll it and make it perfect. I can’t but you might. Bake on ungreased sheet in a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Makes 12 biscuits.
Sophapillas
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup water
2 cups vegetable oil for frying

1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Using hands, mix in water to make a smooth dough. Knead lightly on a floured surface. Cut dough into 12 pieces, and shape into round balls. Cover, and set aside.

2. Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into thin circles. Cut each circle into triangles. Fry in hot oil, until golden brown, turning when dough puffs. Remove, and drain well on paper towels.


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