A few posts ago, I mentioned that we were installing bees upstate, which went totally smoothly and without a single sting (!!). After being delivered to the city by two frightened mailman, our bees spent one precarious night in our NYC apartment and then we rushed upstate the next morning to bring our bees to their new home. The bees came in a wooden box with screened sides. There is a can of corn syrup inside so that they can eat, and the queen is in her own tiny cage within the larger bee box. They smelled... musky let's call it.. sort of a combination of barnyard, B.O. and fresh outdoors, which I didn't anticipate. When installing the bees, the queen cage is placed inside the hive with a hole poked in the candy wall so that the workers can eat through the wall to release the queen. The other bees are just shaken into the hive (Warre-style, top left picture) where they remain somewhat disoriented until they can get used to their new home. One week later, they had already started to make comb, which is pure white and beautifully and perfect! We've already put the finishing touches on the other Langstroth-style hive (top right picture, disassembled) for our next bee shipment.
That same weekend, we filled the rest of the orchard area with some more trees - Apples (including several Cider varieties), Asian pears, tart cherries, and an apricot, all of which have taken to their new home happily and are already budding. We also planted a row of raspberries, which basically means that in 2-3 years, we will have more fruit than we know what to do with. Good thing my friends like pie, I guess?
Speaking of pie, I haven't made one yet this year, but I did do something incredibly lazy, which is make a compote (which is essentially pie filling) and put it on top of ice cream. Then the next day, I put it on top of french toast. The next day, yogurt. You get the idea. It's such less effort and so much reward. Do hastily make this, will you?
For the Compote (makes approximately 2 pints):
- 2 pounds hulled strawberries
- 1 pound rhubarb, chopped
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (I like mine on the tart side)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- (optional, if you want to thicken it up) 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot flour
Halve the strawberries if they are large, but for mine, I kept them mostly whole to preserve the nice big chunks of strawberries when they inevitably cook down. Place the strawberries, rhubarb, lemon, and sugar in a large saucepan with a lid. Sift the cornstarch or arrowroot flour over and give it a toss so that everything is coated. Cook it down on low heat, lid on, stirring occasionally and watching it so that it doesn't' boil over. Once the mixture starts simmering, remove the lid, and let it start to cook down. After 20 minutes or so, the fruit will look softened, but still in a distinguishable shape. There will be a good amount of liquid. Carefully strain the mixture, reserving the liquid (it would be good in a cocktail I'd imagine!) and let it cool.
I served this on top of really good vanilla ice cream for an easy springtime dessert. For added crunch, I sprinkled some Early Bird Granola over the top.