Alisa. 37. New Hampshire. Married for almost three years to this wonderful, funny, smart guy. Previously married. Went through in-vitro fertilization to have my five year old magical son Keegan. Stepmother to the charming Isabelle (6). Gushingly in love with our baby boy Harper(1). Policy Wonk and dreaded bureaucrat. Lover of fine cuisine, honeybees, truly romantic moments and the underdog.
Curried Beef Short Ribs

Note: I found this was more realistically four servings.

Finishing this dish with lime zest and juice brightens its rich flavors.

Yield 6 servings (serving size: about 3 ounces ribs, 2/3 cup rice, and about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce)

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 pounds ...continue reading

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Make A Place For The Girls

New York Times Article:

To Bee or Not to Bee
If we make our backyards safe, welcoming places for honeybees, they'll thank us with dinner and flowers for years to come.

Many of us can remember being stung by a bee while drinking from a sticky soda can, or stumbling onto a ferocious stinging nest while wandering in the woods. Maybe we remember wearing shorts and sitting on a bee that was trapped in the back of the station wagon, or a barbecue disrupted by a painful sting.

But think carefully: was the assailant really a bee? Many perceived bee stings are actually the work of hornets and wasps - aggressive, menacing carnivorous cousins of the gentle bee. As spring and stinging insects arrive in your backyard, try to remember that the heroic honeybee is good, and it should be admired and befriended, not feared and killed.

Channel-surfing recently, I came upon a reality show. A young couple had just discovered honeybees in their backyard and, horrified, rushed to Home Depot to purchase a can of Raid. Minutes later, the husband was shown heroically spraying the bees. They were dead in seconds.

What shocked me about this scene was the hero's apparent ignorance of the benefits and beauties that the bee brings to all of us. These gentle creatures produce delicious honey, of course, but they are also essential to the pollination of more than 100 of our most important crops, including broccoli, oranges, melons, onions, almonds and sunflowers. Dozens of other crops like asparagus, endive, tomato and coffee also benefit from bee pollination.

That's right; bees bring us our morning coffee, and, by pollinating the alfalfa crop that produces hay, then meat and milk, they deliver the cream we lace it with. It is estimated that a third of the food on our tables is brought to us by way of the honeybee.

Bees and other pollinators are also responsible for the flowers and vegetables growing in our backyards. Without bees, perennials would perish. Thyme, lavender and forsythia would fade, and fat ripened zucchinis, squashes and cucumbers would cease to exist. Our dinner tables and bud vases would be much duller without bees.

How could such a beneficial creature, the provider of such bounty, be the target of a can of Raid? As an amateur beekeeper, I've heard many of the reasons. "I'm afraid of bees" and "I'm allergic to bee stings and I'll die if I get stung" are the most popular.

But bees are amazingly gentle, not fearsome, creatures. I've had them on my bare arms, crawling and licking, and I can tell you it tickles more than anything else. Bees sting only under duress - when they feel that the safety and livelihood of their colony is in peril. A bee in a vegetable plot or flower bed is not a threat, but rather on a nurturing mission to collect pollen or nectar for the young bees being raised in the hive. In the process, she (I write "she" because all of the honeybees you meet are female - the males rarely leave the hive) is pollinating and fortifying the plants.

When her mission is complete, she is instinctively eager to return home to feed her forage to the next generation of bees. She is not interested in stinging you; in fact, she'd probably rather not because she dies afterwards. If you meet a bee in your garden or yard, just go about your business - the bee will soon finish hers and dart away.

When I do something stupid or clumsy in one of my beehives, the inhabitants do become defensive and punish me with a well-deserved sting or two. After six years of beekeeping and dozens of stings, I still swell up freakishly. If I'm stung on the hand, my fingers become sausages, and my arm turns into a thick salami, feverish and furious from the bee's venom. This is a typical, localized reaction to a bee sting, and it's deeply unpleasant, but not deadly.

Most people will experience some sort of similar reaction, and a few might have a more dramatic bodywide response, but only a very few will experience anaphylaxis, which can be fatal. About 50 Americans die each year as a result of venomous insect stings, and probably only half of these are delivered by bees.

So we are not in great danger around bees, but they are in danger around us.

Destruction of habitat and pesticides threaten bee colonies nationwide, and a deadly parasitic mite called the Varroa has literally halved the bee populations of many states, including New York. That means half the honey production and half the plant pollination. It's hard to imagine what our world will look and taste like if the Varroa and the Raid continue to have their way.

You can befriend bees by giving them a haven in your backyard. They will happily visit, pollinate your garden and produce luscious results, especially if you entice them with a little drinking water and flowers in their preferred colors - blue, yellow and white. Another way to promote friendly relations is to limit the use of pesticides, many of which are toxic to bees and other pollinators. If you must use chemicals, apply them in the evening, as bees forage during the day and return to the hive at night.

If we make our backyards safe, welcoming places for honeybees, and learn to be more appreciative than scared, they'll thank us with dinner and flowers for years to come.

Holley Bishop is the author of "Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey, the Sweet Liquid Gold That Seduced the World."

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