To help you become better acquainted with the Beehive Craft Collective, over the next few weeks we will be telling you our story - starting with some of the common interests and activities that first drew us together. Many of us Bees share an interest in food - eating, cooking, baking, and waxing poetic over it. This includes finding enjoyment in growing the food ourselves. Some of us, like me, were born in the vegetable patch, and grew up close to our food. For others, local food has become an important part of our lives, and who can imagine a source nearer than the bean you pick with your own hands? For the last couple of years, through the generosity our friend Gary Buttrum and his family, some of us have been lucky enough to have the chance to grown our own. You will no doubt hear more about the farm as you get to know us, but to read more about it, please see Hollie and Jane's reports of farming adventures. This last summer, we found ourselves with an over-abundance of beans, cucumbers and zucchini. There is something quite satisfying in rising from picking row upon row of beans with a full bushel basket of waxy yellow beauties. Yet, after the end of the picking session finds you with more beans than can be eaten fresh and taken to market, what to do?
Why, have a pickling party, of course! Many hands make light work. Many of us pickle and preserve on our own, but we had so many vegetables, and also wanted to share the pickling bounty with our non-pickling farm friends. So Hollie and I gathered together a group of like-minded ladies, and last year we had two pickling parties, which we have come to call Pickle Bees. A working 'Bee' is a gathering of peers to accomplish a task, making social and enjoyable what otherwise might be a tedious chore. I think this is the perfect description of our bees.
The Pickle Bees were also an easy way to try an untested recipe. We'd never tried making dilled beans or relish, and ending up with one or two jars of a new pickle is much better than been stuck with six jars of an unloved preserve. In the end, all the recipes turned out great, and were delicious. Together we ended up with dozens of jars of dill pickles, dill beans and zucchini relish. We shared the jars amongst the the Pickle Bee attendees, and gave the remaining jars to our farming friends.
This year I look forward to a spring and summer of planting, weeding (that's a lie, as I detest weeding), harvesting, and marketing, but what I most relish is the cooking, pickling, preserving, jamming and baking, and the eating, of course. It will be an even more delicious season in the company of wonderful friends.
Photos courtesy of Jesse Senko, Hollie and Kate