Thursday, September 20, 2012

September is "National Honey Month" & A "Baked Apples With Figs, Raisins, Nuts, And Honey” Recipe

“That buzzing noise means something. Now, the only reason for making a buzzing noise that I know of is because you are.. a bee! And the only reason for being a bee is to make honey. And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it!” Pooh Bear himself said this quote and it was from, “Winnie The Pooh and The Honey Tree.” Yes, honey is a sweet and gooey fluid produced by honey bees, and derived from the nectar of flowers. According to the US National Honey Board, “honey is a pure product that does not allow for the addition of any other substance."

You must be wondering why I am talking about bees, honey, and Winnie the Pooh? That is because September is “National Honey Month , which is why beekeepers and honey lovers are celebrating! Honey collection is an ancient activity. Humans began hunting for honey at least 8,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt and Rome, honey was used to sweeten cakes and biscuits, plus many other dishes. Ancient Egyptian people used honey for embalming their dead. The art of beekeeping in ancient China appears to be untraceable and was used not only for culinary purposes, but also for practical health uses. In 2010, China, Turkey, and the United States were the top producers of natural honey.

Did you know that honey is not all the same? Honey is available in many varieties! When bees visit mostly one kind of flower as they gather nectar, the honey they produce has a unique taste, aroma, and color from that particular flower. Other honeys are delicious blends of floral sources such as clover and wildflowers. There is raw honey, which contains enzymes that help digestion, several vitamins and antioxidants.
This brings me to the medicinal uses of honey. For at least 2,700 years, honey has been used to treat a variety of ailments through topical applications. Only recently honey has been found to have antibacterial properties and an antimicrobial agent for treating a variety of ailments. Did you know that honey is used in the treatment of diabetic ulcers? Honey also prevents dressings from sticking to healing wounds. I bet that you didn’t know that honey combined with lemon is often taken orally by laryngitis sufferers, in order to soothe them? But as we all know the main uses of honey is in cooking, baking, as a spread on bread, and as an addition to various beverages, beer, and tea.

My recipe this week is in honor of “National Honey Month,” is a baked apple recipe with dried figs, raisins, nuts, and of course honey. As the weather is getting cooler and the first day of fall is right around the corner, this recipe is a perfect warm and scrumptious dessert to serve for your family. Apple season is getting into full swing, so this is a delicious way to use those crisp, juicy apples. We know that baked apples are a favorite in America, but it is also a favorite in northern Italy. Half of the Italian crop of apples comes from the Alto Adige and Trentino regions. This comfort dessert is not too hard and it makes your taste buds dance. So enjoy and have some “Honey”!

Baked Apples, Figs, Raisins, Nuts, And Honey

4 large Golden Delicious or Cortland apples, washed and cored through the center
5 dried figs (I use Mission / Kalamata Figs)
4 dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of raisins
1/4 cup of honey
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, in small cubes
1/2 cup of orange juice or apple juice

Put the figs in a bowl and pour hot water over them which will allow them to soften up; let them stand for about 30 minutes. Drain the softened figs, cut off the stems and discard. Now cut figs into small pieces and place them in a bowl with the apricots, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon. Stir in the honey and coat well. This is your filling for the apples. Preheat oven to 350° . Next core apples and cut a shallow slit around the center of each apple, just through the skin, approximately 1/8 of an inch deep, this is so the apples don’t explode and it makes a better presentation on your plate or bowl. Divide and stuff the mixture in the cored apples. Dot the apples with the butter and place them in a baking dish. Pour the orange or apple juice in the bottom of the dish. Now bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the apples are just soft enough but not collapsed. If filling begins to blacken, cover the apples with foil and continue cooking. Serve warm with some of the pan juices or a dollop of whipped cream. “Yummy in my tummy,” Winnie the Pooh would say!!!

Till Next Time…………..

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