Let's say we're all bees. Each and every one of us is buzzing about-
buzz buzz buzz.
The honey that we make is our lives. Experience has taught me two things...

KILLER BEES MAKE THE MOST DELICIOUS HONEY

...and LIFE is only as yummy as you make it!

Are YOU a Killer Bee?



bee my guest?

bee my guest?
Howdy Beezers! I'm excited to share something new with you... Over the upcoming months, most of the content you'll be seeing here will be from special guest contibutors! This is sure to add a new texture to this thing we've been weaving over the years. I know that many of my readers (yes, you!) are writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers. PLEASE feel free to contact me if there's something you'd like to contribute! I'd be most honored to pollinate... send me a note: m.mckinley@rocketmail.com

please be seated

December 27, 2011

A KILLER CHRISTMAS

 
 We've got that holiday feeling...


December 20, 2011

Up On The Rooftop


I like the way this kid thinks...


LONDON (Reuters) - A worried letter from six-year old Leo Park sparked a mammoth operation to test what is believed to be the world's first chimney specifically designed to accommodate Santa Claus.

The little boy's parents are having a house custom built and when Leo viewed the plans he was concerned that the chimney wasn't big enough for Father Christmas and his famous belly that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly.

As he was penning his traditional letter to Santa, Leo decided to also write a heartfelt missive about the chimney design problem to Jeremy Paxton, who owns the estate on which the new house is being built.
In childish scrawl the letter reads: "Dear Mr Paxton, I am worried that my mummy's house does not have a big enough chimney. I think Santa Claus will get stuck. Please can you help. Love Leo Park."

Paxton, founder and owner of luxury holiday home development Lower Mill Estate in the southwestern English region of the Cotswolds decided to commission a special formula to satisfy Leo's concerns.

Obviously size was the key consideration to ensure Santa won't get wedged tight on his way to stuffing the stockings and so Paxton enlisted a mathematician to take on the challenge and save the jolly old elf from turning red for the wrong reasons.

The Santa-friendly formula looked at risk factors of chimney entry, the size of St Nick's girth versus the width of the chimney at its narrowest point.

To test what they said was the perfect chimney, Paxton enlisted the help of a stand-in Santa Claus in full padded outfit, a crane, a harness and winch to put the new chimney through its paces.

Leo was invited to watch as the great experiment got underway.
"Go on Santa" he shouted out as the faux Father Christmas was lifted into the air towards the chimney.
A few seconds later and Santa was successfully lowered into the chimney of the half-built house, re-emerging shortly after to deliver a hearty: "Ho Ho Ho."

"I can guarantee that this chimney is big enough for Santa and all the presents," he told Leo.
An excited Leo gave a thumbs up to the St. Nicholas impersonator and rushed to hug him.

"I'm absolutely delighted not just that Santa fitted into the chimney, but that that little boy, Leo, said to me: 'That was the best day of my life' which made the whole thing worthwhile," said Paxton.

The Park family won't be able to inhabit their new holiday home until next December, just in time to get the milk and biscuits ready for their very special Yuletide visitor.

(Reporting by Georgina Cooper, editing by Paul Casciato)

December 11, 2011

Grandma Furman's Cookies: THE RECIPE

When my maternal Great-Grandmother Rose Ferguson Furman came over from Ireland over 100 years ago, she brought this recipe with her. It wouldn't be Christmas without them, and the ritual of sitting around the table and decorating them is a tradition my siblings carried on with their children, as have I with my circle of friends... it's a much anticipated event! Even in lean years when the only gift I could afford to give was cookies, we've had them.

It's a hearty, DELICIOUS, and curious cookie. Sort of a hybrid between a spicy gingerbread and a molasses. The first year I made them by myself I was 15, and I over-baked ALL of them. I suppose it was a right of passage, and my friend Eric Freitas dubbed them Grandma Furman's Hockey Pucks!

I never knew my Grandma Furman, she passed away the year before I was born. But I can only imagine that it would tickle her to know that the recipe she passed down, the one she simply wrote "Brown Cookies" on the index card for- would be loved and enjoyed by so many people all over the country. In another century, another millennium! Thanks Rose, from all of us.

THE RECIPE

1 1/2 cups shortening
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 eggs
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup robust molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
6 cups all purpose flour

Cream together shortening and sugars. Beat in eggs. Add spices and extracts, then molasses. Dissolve baking soda in water and stir in. Add the flour, one cup at a time. USE A STURDY METAL SPOON, OR MAKE IN A STAND MIXER. The 5th or 6th cup of flour will be the end of a wooden spoon!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll out grapefruit sized balls of the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Rose's daughter, my Grandmother, always said to me "Don't be afraid to roll them out nice and thick!" I like to use simple, broad shapes for my cutters. In fact, I now only make circles, diamonds, and trees. As you can see from the pictures, you get lots of decorating possibilities from 3 simple shapes! Space 1 inch apart on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes. Yes, they bake quick and all ovens calibrate a little differently, so watch the first couple of trays carefully, and scope out the bottoms just to make sure. They will puff up and turn a paler shade of brown when they are close. Remove cookies promptly to cool on racks, or on brown paper bags. When cool, stack like shapes together and store in an airtight container until ready to frost. HELPFUL TIP: If they over bake (and become crunchy when cooled) throw a few slices of soft bread in the container and let them sit with the cookies overnight- that should soften them up!

THE FROSTING

These are not delicate cookies, and they should be frosted, not iced. Here's what we do...

Beat together 1 stick of room temperature butter, 1/2 lb powdered sugar with 4 tablespoons of milk. A 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla is optional. I don't like the way it messes with my colors! The consistency should be smooth and creamy, but thick. If it's too thick add a few drops of milk at a time till it "gets there". If it gets a little runny, add a little bit more powdered sugar. You get the idea. Divide amongst smaller bowels and tint to desired colors, but leave some white. The white ones are pretty too! I achieve my rich and funky colors by using a combination of liquid and paste food colors.

THE METHOD
A basic table knife is your best tool. Place a nice sized dollop in the center of the cookie, and working from the center outwards (with just the tip of your knife) spread it towards (but not over) the edges. It should be a nice layer so the cookie doesn't show through the frosting. I find that if I leave a nice little "reveal" of brown around the edge, it has a great finished look.

Festoon with festive sugars, jimmies, and any other edible baubles you can find. Just try not to over do it. Personally I'm in it for the cookie, not a mouth full of crunchy decorations!


When the frosting has "set" (a couple of hours) store them in single layers between sheets of waxed paper, in an airtight container. If you keep them sealed up, they'll keep beautifully for a couple of weeks!

Musical Treat of The Week


CHRISTMAS TREATS!
I'm sure that after 3 years together you're well aware of my love for the holiday season, and especially Christmas music! Though this tender ballad by Mindy Smith came out in 2007, its new to me this year and already has a special place in my heart. Enjoy.

December 10, 2011

Jolly



Holly, Jolly, and All That Jazz.

You know me. I'm the friend who's most likely to see the silver lining when you're too funky to even notice that there's clouds in the sky. I'm your go-to guy for a pep talk, your "anythings possible!" man. And trust me, I really do believe that. But life isn't always roses and rainbows (shameless Julie Budd reference, I know), and even Killer Bees get the blues. I recently had an unpleasant blip on my radar. Over the course of just 10 short days I had two friends pass away (one expected, one not) my dream vacation was ruined and had to be postponed until next year, and a prime business opportunity slipped right between the fingers of myself and my business partners.

Can I tell you that for about a solid week Burl Ives could kiss my holly, jolly ass?

With Christmas just weeks away, I was about to acquire an unprecedented case of Bah Humbugism. Yes, rosy-cheeked me who always manages to make plum pudding out of dried prunes just in time to save the holiday, was starting to think "Meh, Christmas." There's a handful of people in my life who have little time or tolerance for the exuberance of the holiday season, and manage to suffer through each year with gritted teeth and a ticking stop watch. I love them, but I'm not much interested in trying to become them. I say to the Scrooges of the world "Why are you so mad at Christmas? I mean seriously, what did Christmas ever do to you?"

A Holiday Round Table

There's been a recurring theme in discussions lately amongst myself and several friends regarding the subject of expectations vs. disappointment. In case you haven't heard, expectations lead to disappointment. This notion (and sometimes fact) is the subject of much fascination to me, and fodder for debate.

While its true that the source of much our pain is disappointment based, it is impossible to go through life with no expectations. Expectations and aspirations (and all of those other good ations) are key propellers through the journey of life. To further my point, I believe that if you expect nothing, you're usually going to get nothing. 

It is a YES universe, after all.

I guess the key is to keep them realistic...and not hold any person or situation responsible when things don't work out the way you had hoped. Including yourself. Maybe everything doesn't happen for a reason per se, but everything is exactly what it is, and exactly what it is supposed to be. Whether we like it or not. So just how mad at Christmas (or anything for that matter) are you going to be?

Hostage Crisis (averted)

Work with me for a minute , will you? I want you to think of The Universe as Santa. They're both magical, so its plausible...

I'll give you an example. There's really only one thing I want for Christmas this year, and I don't stand a snowball's chance in Hell of getting it. So does that mean I should hold Santa hostage for not fulfilling my expectations? While I'm tempted to do so, it would be truly unfair. To both of us. Besides if I'm honest this has been a year so rich, so full of blessings that to throw a tantrum at this point would only reveal what a spoiled rotten brat I am. Nope, not me. I'm leaving milk and cookies for Santa because I want more than coal in my stocking. So much more.

Its all perspective, and the one I choose to adopt is my decision too. You know what? My future's so bright I gotta wear shades. Who am I to wallow in petulance during a season of cheer when my cup is running over with it? If I practice what I preach, then my list of  things to be thankful for is pages longer than the post-it note of disappointments that one 10 day stretch brought. In fact a stretch like that can come along  simply to remind a person of everything that is shiny and bright, merry and well.

I've been making that list and checking it twice.
And you know what kids? Its all jolly good. Yes, jolly indeed.
From the bottom of my heart I'm wishing all of you and yours the very same (roses and rainbows too) this beautiful holiday season.

Be well my friends, and be jolly ~
Michael Patrick

December 4, 2011

Christmas Past



For those of you who pine for the splendor and joys of holidays past, here are the links to my holiday archives. Recipes, videos, and musings aplenty- 
Merry, merry!


Musical Treat of The Week

This Christmas, I wanna hang out at Judy's...

A CHRISTMAS TRADITION: The Bloody Olive

Returning for a 3rd year, is our very own holiday tradition here at Killer Bees Make The Most Delicious Honey! Dir. Vincent Bal / Belgium / 1996

The classic Christmas short film noir with inevitable twists and turns. Mylene and Werner are going to make their flat up for Christmas. Then Sam comes with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot. Sam tells Werner that he knows Werner has stolen money at work. Werner murders Sam. Soon afterwards, Sam is alive again and it looks as if somebody else would have to die. Who's fooling who? Winner of the Grand Prix at Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival.

Our 3rd Annual KILLER COOKIE CONTEST !

Does your best holiday cookie recipe hold rank with our 2009 winner Helen McGreevey's
Glazed Fruitcake Drops?


OR can  it hang-delicious with Bryon Stewart's 2010 winning entry
Chocolate Spice Cookies?

  
Well here's your chance to find out!

Send your recipes (pictures aren't necessary) to me at m.mckinley@rocketmail.com
Entries must be received no later than Saturday December 17th.
Once again the winner will receive a $40 gift certificate to Penzey's Spices that can be redeemed in any Penzey's retail outlet, or on their website.

Come on now, don't be shy... The oven's on and The Bees are ready to nosh!

December 3, 2011

HOLIDAYS by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;--
The happy days unclouded to their close;
The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;--a fairy tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream. 

STACEY'S HOT DISH PRESENTS: Pie Crust 101



Are you intimidated by homemade pie crust? I know I was, for years... and trust, I'm no slouch in the kitchen! Well its been many years now since my I set my flaky inhibitions free, and I've never looked back. Now OF COURSE its easier to open a box and unfurl a ready-made crust into a pie plate. Believe me, there's absolutely no comparison in flavor, texture, or oral ecstasy. Its so worth it Beezers!

In the first video Stacey shares a simple but showy blueberry nectarine gallette that will  impress your holiday guests anytime of the year! In the second, he removes the mystery shrouding the perfect pie crust. Enjoy!








Buzz Out!

Buzz Out!