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Using honey in recipes

Backyard beekeeping is becoming a popular hobby. It's good for your garden and your taste buds!

Greek Honey-Dipped Cookies

Commercial honey producers aren't the only ones who can keep bees. Put a beehive or two in your backyard! Besides harvesting honey, you'll improve your garden and help repopulate honey bees.

Howland Blackiston has been keeping bees in his backyard in Connecticut for more than 20 years. He says to place the hives in dappled sunlight facing southeast so they get early sunshine to wake the bees up. Have a source of water nearby, such as a chicken waterer. You'll need to buy a veil, a special hive tool, and a smoker, which allows you to inspect the hive without the bees becoming alarmed. There are several companies that sell bees and equipment. Expect to pay about $500 to get started.

One hive can produce up to 100 pounds of honey. You can use some to make these yummy desserts!

Greek Honey-Dipped Cookies

Prep: 1 1/4 hours Bake: 9 minutes/batch Cool: 1 minute
Stand: 30 minutes Oven:375°F.

1 3/4 cups mild-flavored olive oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/3 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
7 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Step 1: In a large bowl, whisk together oil, 1 1/4 cups sugar, orange peel, orange juice, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and cloves until combined. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon (dough will be stiff).
Step 2: Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes (dough will be crumbly). Form dough into a ball.
Step 3: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Using a slightly rounded tablespoon of dough for each cookie, shape dough into 2 1/2 x 1/2-inch ovals, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Dip dough ovals in sugar-cinnamon mixture, turning to coat both sides. Place ovals 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Brush tops of ovals very lightly with beaten egg white. Place two or three almond slices atop each cookie, pressing lightly onto cookies.
Step 4: Bake in a preheated 375°F. oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are just firm when lightly touched and tops are lightly browned. Cool cookies on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool completely.
Step 5: Set wire racks on sheets of waxed paper. Dip cooled cookies into Spiced Honey Glaze, turning to coat both sides. Remove from glaze with two forks, allowing excess to drip off. Set cookies on prepared racks. Let stand 30 minutes before serving. Makes about 72 cookies.
Spiced Honey Glaze: In a small saucepan, combine 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup honey, 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 inches stick cinnamon, and 1 whole clove. Bring to boiling, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Cool completely.
Storage: Layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

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