Eco-Saturday: Beekeeping

Hive inspection.

Assuming you don’t have anaphylactic allergies, beekeeping is pretty much the greatest hobby ever. Given the role of honeybees in the ecosystem, it’s also one of the best things you can do for the environment.

Rescuing a swarm. And baby-talking them, because OMGfuzzybees!

We started keeping bees when we lived in Belleville, Ill. I was having trouble finding cut comb to use as a treatment for hay fever, and I liked the idea of having pollinators living in my garden, so Ron’s parents gave us some old beekeeping equipment, and we ordered our first package of bees.

Mites killed them before the season was out. That could have been the end of the story, but then I interviewed a pair of beeks in Tulsa a couple of years later, and the next thing I knew, I was giving my credit card a workout on the Dadant website.

The first time I went out to inspect a hive myself, I was terrified, but I sucked it up, suited up and opened the cover.

(More after the jump, along with umpteen photos that will terrify my friend Marilyn if I post them without warning.)
Continue reading Eco-Saturday: Beekeeping

Vegan Friday: Philly cheezshroom sandwiches

This doesn’t really turn out green. My iPhone camera just hates my dining room, and no amount of Photoshopping will fix it. Grrr.

Here is the latest entry in my increasingly inaccurately named “Vegan Friday” feature. I really am going to get it together one of these days and start posting stuff on the right day. In the meantime, enjoy the belated recipe.

One of the few vegan "cheeses" I consider worth eating.
A rarity: decent vegan “cheese.”

I came up with the basis for this vegetarian variant on Philly cheesesteaks one week when I was broke and went shopping at ALDI, where they happened to have a sale going on portabellas, ciabatta rolls and bell peppers. You probably won’t find a vegan cheese substitute at a bring-your-own-bag store, but you can get by without it.

If your local grocery store happens to carry Daiya shreds, the mozzarella version is on the veeeeeeery short list of fake cheeses I consider convincing enough to be worth using. (I can’t say the same for the cheddar, however. That one’s still a work in progress.) My local Schnucks has them, so I’m guessing they’re available at most of your bigger grocery chains at this point. Alternately, if you prefer your cheesesteaks with the Cheez Whiz type sauce in place of regular cheese, you can mix up a batch of nooch sauce — leaving out the Ro-Tel, of course — and get a similar effect.

Philly Cheezshroom Sandwiches

1 carton sliced portabellas
1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 small onion, sliced thinly
Margarine and/or olive oil
Hoagie buns or ciabatta rolls
Daiya mozzarella-style shreds (optional)


You cannot go wrong with sauteed mushrooms. Ever.


Saute the pepper in olive oil, margarine or some combination thereof while you slice the onions. (Be generous with the fat; this is a vegan recipe, so you can afford to splurge and still have a reasonably low-calorie meal.) Add the onions and keep cooking until they start to become translucent. Add mushrooms and a little more fat if needed and cook until mushrooms release water and shrink a bit.

Scoop the mixture onto hoagie buns or ciabatta rolls. If desired, top with Daiya mozzarella shreds and microwave about 30 seconds to melt the cheese. Makes three to four sandwiches.