Sue Doeden is as busy as a bee with a wide variety of culinary-related endeavors. She teaches cooking classes, writes food stories, develops recipes for food companies, conducts workplace wellness education, appears on a weekly television news segment called Good Food, Good Life, 365, and is a hobbyist beekeeper. Her new book, Homemade with Honey—the sixth book in the Northern Plate series, celebrating the bounty of the Upper Midwest—brings together all these activities.
In today’s post, Sue describes how she got her start in beekeeping.
“A beekeeper friend of mine invited me to watch as he introduced a wooden box of at least 30,000 bees and one queen to their new home–a hive positioned on a grassy space near basswood trees across the road from his house. Wearing a baggy white jumpsuit and a headpiece with a screen covering my face for protection, I cautiously looked on as the beekeeper expertly went through the annual spring process of getting a buzzing batch of bees into the hive.
“Before I headed home that evening, I dipped my finger into a frame of thick, sticky golden honey. Sweet and delicate, the natural substance produced by honey bees melted on my tongue. It was that one ambrosial taste of local honey that began my obsession with what honey lovers refer to as ‘liquid gold.’
“A couple of years after that first introduction to beekeeping, I had my own hives–and my own honey.”
Sue shares her tips on keeping bees happy and healthy as well as 75 recipes to entice all cooks, from beginners through the well seasoned, to spend time in their kitchen with honey. Recipes in the book range from savory starters to dreamy desserts and from quick and easy ways to enjoy honey to impressive gourmet delights. Check out her recipe for a salsa that’s excellent with grilled chicken or beef.
Honey Balsamic Black Bean and Mango Salsa
My younger son brought this salsa recipe home from college. Over the years, I’ve added some ingredients and taken away others to create a salsa that has just the right amount of heat, fresh crunch, color, and balance of sweet and tart. And you can do the same. Feel free to customize the salsa to suit your own taste buds. Just don’t leave out the honey.
Makes 3 1/2–4 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 chubby clove garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeño, minced (you decide whether or not to remove the seeds)
1 firm, ripe mango, peeled and diced
1/2 cup finely chopped orange bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1–2 plum tomatoes, seeds removed, diced
1 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, honey, and garlic. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine black beans, jalapeño, mango, orange and yellow peppers, red onion, and tomatoes. Stir in oil and vinegar mixture. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. At serving time, add avocado. Sprinkle with cilantro or offer cilantro on the side. Serve with tortilla chips.