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REACH Mentoring Program

Food Sources: Bringing a honey education to Carlton County

 

July 19, 2019

Ram Reizel put these "bee tubes" outside his home.

Our region is flush with great food. From the Fond du Lac Band's indigenous gardeners, to Mahtowa beekeepers, Wrenshall sustainable farmers, Carlton shiitake mushroom growers, Esko picklers, Moose Lake brewers, and Cromwell orchardists - the "grow, shop and eat local region" is prospering here. Meet our food lovers and enjoy the favorite dishes they actually cook and eat at home.

Ram Reizel has been involved with beekeeping and honey since he was a little boy living on the Yad Mordechai Kibbutz in southern Israel. His hometown is known throughout Israel for its honey.

Beginning in eighth grade, Ram worked at the kibbutz commercial apiary, five days a week after school and every summer. He and the other students and workers tended the apiary's 3,000 hives, moving them from farm to farm to pollinate sunflowers, avocados, watermelons, whatever produce was in season. They also extracted about 80 tons of honey each year. Ram loved observing the color changes in the honey: yellow when the pollen came from sunflowers, green from the eucalyptus, clear from the clover, and so on.

Ram and his wife, Daniela, moved to Minnesota eight years ago when she began teaching political science at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. We became friends when Ram worked with our puppy, Sukie, at R&R Professional Dog Training and Boarding.

Ram and Danielle sell their honey to friends, at the Honey Bee Festival and Holiday Market at Oldenburg House. He says to always expect good honey to crystallize: the pollen and propolis cause crystallization, and you don't want it all screened out. It's good for us, so just warm the honey up gently in a water bath and enjoy.

Last year, Ram aged honey in bourbon casks, and it took on a dark color and complex flavor that was great on our oatmeal. We're urging him to do it again, and no doubt it will sell out again at the Holiday Market.

Ram told me about a book he's reading by Thor Hansen on wild bees, "Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees." He has a nesting box he made for wild bees hanging near his house. He noted that bee enthusiasts understand the importance of limiting the number of honey bee hives. First, they're an invasive species, native to Africa. Second, they are not really the most efficient pollinators; they are effective by virtue of their sheer numbers. They aren't very good at pollinating some things we love - tomatoes, for example.

We are all hearing about the disappearance of bees and other pollinators. "We get pollination for free, and if we aren't careful about the way we treat our backyard, the bees may no longer be there," he said. The cause of decline in pollinators numbers is probably a combination of many different stressors including loss of habitat, pesticides and fungicides. Ram said the best thing often is to do nothing: "Don't mow everywhere, just enough to keep the ticks down. Let the dandelions be. Don't weed too much and leave your brush pile alone; the pollinators will use it."

If you want to help create bee habitat at home, you can plant bee-friendly plants like creeping thyme, self-heal and Dutch white clover in your yard. Next year the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources will reimburse homeowners for planting pollinator-friendly lawns.

You can buy some of Ram and Danielle's honey at Bee Friendly Day July 20 in and around downtown Carlton. Learn more at http://www.oacc.us.

Our recipe this week comes from Ram's brother, Paz, a social worker and baker who lives in Israel. Paz often incorporates bread baking into his work with families; he sees that making and breaking bread together builds close bonds that help families work through their problems. Paz also has a small business selling his breads and pastries.

Onion bread

Ingredients:

2.2 pounds flour

1/2 cup honey

2 cups beer

2 tablespoons yeast

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup fried onion

1 tablespoon baking powder

Heat the oven to 480°F. Place a baking pan containing water at the bottom of the oven (this will keep humidity high, ensuring the bread will rise and form crust).

Ram Reizel's brother, Paz, combines baking with his work as a social worker in Israel. He said making and breaking bread together builds close bonds that help families work through their problems. Paz shared one of his recipes with the Pine Knot News this week.

Mix the flour, yeast and baking powder.

Add the honey and beer, knead until the dough is smooth (around 7 minutes).

Add salt and knead for another 7 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half and shape each into a round loaf.

Cover and let rise or half an hour.

Bake the bread for 20 minutes at 480°F.

After 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 420°F and bake for another 20 minutes.

If you would like to tell your local food story, call Emily at Oldenburg House: 218-384-4835.

 
 

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