Our First Honey Harvest

honey in a pint jarWhen my boys approached me about beekeeping in the spring, I was dubious. Eventually, I agreed with the caveat that I couldn’t help (since I’m blind) and Dad probably wasn’t helping either (because he’s uncomfortable around the bees.) With that understanding, my sons still wanted to proceed into the world of beekeeping, and three months later, we experienced our first honey harvest.

There are so many things to learn when you’re a new beekeeper, but perhaps the most fascinating aspect of it all is the fact that honey from different bee colonies in the same town or county can taste very different. We’re very blessed to have some amazing bee mentors, and one of them helped us with our first honey harvest. Another one of the mentors had told us that our honey would likely taste like blackberries because of the sheer number of blackberries on the property, but I wasn’t prepared for how true that guess turned out to be.

My son and one of our bee mentors from Liberty Honey Products pulled frames in mid August. Our bees had packed one “super” (a medium box meant for honey), so we ended up with about 32lb of the most amazing blackberry honey I’ve ever tasted! It really tasted like the bees had made the honey from wild blackberry juice!

We still have another super that is yet to be harvested. It’s completely packed with honey but it hasn’t been capped yet. I’m not sure how long capping will take. I’ll have to ask my bee mentors, but all things considered, we’re incredibly excited about the endeavor that we weren’t certain we were undertaking back in April!

Introducing My Cinnamon Rolls

caramel cinnamon rollsOver the years, my cinnamon rolls have been called everything from “amazing” to “legendary”. I have given them as gifts, I’ve donated them to various events over the years, and I’ve even bartered with them. They’re not inexpensive to make, and they’re a lot of work, but baking these cinnamon rolls has always been an act of love for me.
While my friends and family understand the awesomeness of these cinnamon rolls, I thought I’d publish a blog post for folks who’re wondering if they’re really worth it.

I’ve put a lot of thought and care into my ingredients. The dough for these cinnamon rolls contains real, rich ingredients like eggs, butter, and heavy cream. The filling and the caramel topping also help to set my rolls apart. A lot of cinnamon roll recipes call for white sugar and a touch of cinnamon in the filling, but my recipe uses brown sugar and enough cinnamon to assure you that you’re not just eating “sugar rolls”. The caramel used for the topping makes the most delicious caramels you’ve ever had, and unlike most caramel recipes, this recipe uses brown sugar and honey instead of white sugar and corn syrup. I also use sea salt to give it that perfect blend of sweet and salty.

And when it comes to the size of these rolls, everyone who’s tried them has been thoroughly impressed. When I first started making them, I quickly discovered that I needed a very large pan for each batch. The ingredients alone weigh over 90 ounces! I bake each 15-roll batch in a full size steam table pan which is about 12”x20”, so these bad boys are much larger than anything you’d typically see in the store.

They’re perfect for an occasional treat or special occasion. If you like caramel and you like cinnamon rolls, I’m certain that you won’t be disappointed!

Preparing for Our First Farmers’ Market

Since discovering that Indiana allowed Hoosiers to sell certain homemade baked goods at farmers’ markets, I was determined to make a go of it. In the beginning though, I suffered some serious analysis paralysis. How could I see my amazing cinnamon rolls while still following the rules? Would people pay what I’d have to charge for my homemade goods? And the most important question — would it be worth my time and money?

For at least three years now, I’ve tossed around the idea of selling at farmers’ markets and a roadside stand, but because I’m blind, there were a myriad of logistical issues that I had to address. There were obstacles that I had trouble navigating, so I just kept saying, “I’ll do it eventually.” When my mom started talking to me about starting a farmers’ market in my home town though, I gave the matter serious thought, and after talking with my family, I decided to go for it!

I am both excited and terrified, but I’ve reasoned things out like this. If I participate in the Middletown farmers’ market, I’ll have the benefit of being able to network with friends and family who have lots of market experience. Also, by committing to figure it out for the market, I’m opening myself to other opportunities like selling from a roadside stand and later participating in other local markets.

At first, I hadn’t realized how much I’d have to pull together in such a short period of time. It isn’t as simple as baking some stuff and showing up hoping that people will buy your wares. There are business and marketing aspects, there are planning and logistics issues that have to be managed, and of course, there’s the production.

This has been a family affair. My husband calls this endeavor “mine”, but I wouldn’t be able to do this without all of my family members. Everyone has contributed in valuable ways, and I couldn’t be more proud and grateful.

On Friday afternoon, I’ll be starting slow. I’ll be offering my “famous” caramel cinnamon rolls, and expect that those’ll go really well once people actually try them. And since my diabetes is a thing of the past thanks to a ketogenic diet, I’ll also be selling some dark chocolate chip brownies. I’ve never seen any keto baked goods at a farmers’ market, so I’m hoping to fill a niche that has room to grow. I just can’t wait for the opportunity to learn, thrive, and succeed!