Oh darn, the last long weekend of summer is upon us. Labor Day. Traditionally it has been unacceptable to wear white after Labor Day. Do you follow this rule? I tend to follow it not so much because it’s tradition but because I look forward to the cool days of fall and darker, richer colors. Don’t misunderstand, I like to sport white clothes all summer long but come september I’m ready for a change. Summer officially ends on September 22 and if our heat doesn’t let up you might catch me in something white between Monday and the 22nd, but never white shoes. Fall is, as stated in an earlier post, my favorite season. I’m ok with packing away the whites – how about you?
I have much more pressing matters to write about. Like hatch chiles and sugar syrup. I made two recipes with hatch chiles this week, neither of which seem appropriate for our sweltering heat. I made Hatch Chile Sausage Cornbread and Hatch Chile Potato Soup. My family really likes it when I make this soup and we turned the air down to be sure it was nice and cool in the house while we ate it. It is easy, hearty and versatile. I made the cornbread as a dinner diversion the night before. My man, Dan kept saying, “We’re just having cornbread and salad?” Like he couldn’t wrap his head around that being enough to fill his belly for dinner. I reminded him it was all about those hatch chiles he loves so much – I guess we should have labeled this week “Hatch Chile Week” as the majority of our meals included the tasty peppers in one form or another. After it was all said and done he commented that it had been a really good dinner. The cornbread tender and filling, crusty on the outside, with bites of spicy sausage made a perfect accompaniment to the soup the following evening.
Now, on to feeding bees. Two of my hives are still eating sugar syrup. They seem happy to see me when I remove the empty jars and replace them with fresh jars full of syrup. I’m including some photos today for you to see how it works. When I remove the empty jars there are always a few bees clinging to the top, looking for that last slurp of sugar syrup. I always brush them off at the front door and they scurry inside, probably headed back up to the syrup hole. If I fill the jar, replace it and wait a few seconds then lift the jar again it is always covered with girls going about their business of collecting syrup to carry down into the hive. I like doing this – as it lets me know they do need this extra food until more food is available outside. I get a kick out of watching them work and go about their bee business.
The good news about outside is that this week a plant called “Snow on the Mountain” is starting to pop up all around us. It fills the pastures throughout fall and is a good source of food for my bees. Unfortunately it makes honey referred to as “hot” honey and doesn’t taste good to humans, but is satisfactory for the bees. Also, this week I’ve seen a few bees on the “Abelia” shrubs getting pollen and nectar. I first noticed a change while watching bees come and go from the entrances of their hives. I noticed pollen packed legs! This excited me as I know how desperate they are for pollen and nectar. The pollen is creamy white and bees are bringing it in to every hive.
Ahhhh, now I’m waiting for a cooler day, windless and sunny when I can inspect every hive from top to bottom. I haven’t opened up my hives as often as I like since we put up the tarps to give relief from the heat. This next week they are predicting cooler temps and it’s sounding good for bee keeping chores. Stay tuned…
If you haven’t gotten any Hatch chiles yet don’t wait too long as they will disappear from the stores. I guess if you live in New Mexico this may not be true but I know in my neck of the woods they are about to disappear until next August.
Hatch Chile Potato Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
4 Hatch chiles, roasted, seed, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 quart chicken stock
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled and chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup Crema, sour cream or plain yogurt
Additions of chopped chicken or ham can be added for a heartier soup. I’ve made it with and without any meat and it is delicious either way. This day I used about 2 cups cubed ham.
In a heavy dutch oven or stock pot add the oil and heat, stir in the onion and half of the peppers, salt and pepper and cook until onion are slightly golden. Stir in the garlic and cook briefly to release the aroma, 1-2 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock; add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and purée in a food process, blender or with an emersion blender (my fave) just until smooth. Do not over-process or you will have gummy soup. I prefer to leave a few chunks of potatoes but it can be served smooth or chunky. Return to heat, stirring in remaining chiles, meat (if using) and crema. Bring just to a boil then reduce heat and keep warm until time to serve.
Hatch Chile Sausage Cornbread
1/2 pound Hatch sausage
2/3 cup each yellow cornmeal and flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
4 tsp. sugar
2/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup canola oil
2/3 cup fresh corn kernel (cut from the cob)
Heat a 10″ cast iron skillet in the oven for about 10 minutes. Meantime in a large bowl mix corn meal and flour with the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir in the corn and sausage. Mix eggs, sour cream and oil together and add to batter. Pour into hot skillet and bake in a 400* oven for 25 minutes.