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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Foodie Sunday- Fathers Day, The Summer Solstice and a fabulous food & fragrance giveaway from yours truly and Roxana Villa!

 By Beth

My father was the parent who instilled in me my life long passion for plants. Before he suffered his first stroke, dad was a painter who crafted huge canvases splashed with vast rich swaths of color. Deeply in love with the impressionists, his gardens reflected the richness of his favorite Monet's and Van Gogh's and like Monet he set out to create his own Giverny My childhood yard was incredibly beautiful, filled with fragrant Rugosa Roses and Lilies of all types. In the spring there were fragrant clouds of narcissus and daffodil everywhere followed by vast bouquets of peonies and iris. My father could make anything grow. He had a beautiful terrace that was covered with a wisteria vine that although it had not bloomed in 10 years as a gift to me he worked on it all Spring the year that I was to be married. The morning of my wedding I walked out and noticed the blooms and later that day I was married to my beloved husband under that magical bower of sweetly scented blossoms, the best wedding gift ever!

I always thought that my father had a fairies touch and perhaps he truly does, but his gardens were crafted through his deep and intimately personal understanding of the natural world. He knew that the very essence of life itself although seemingly effortless was truly fragile and could be destroyed too easily…he warned us endlessly of the folly of depleting natural resources without any understanding of how they were used in the extraordinary dance of connection to the world around us. He hated companies like Monsanto and Dow, companies he believed were capable of unleashing great devastation as a result of their unrelenting pursuit to poison our lovely world for their own profit. Way back then he was worried about his honeybees and taught me early just what it would mean to humanity as a whole if there were ever a dramatic die off in the hive populations, because we desperately need these hardworking little creatures to ensure our food supplies all year round. It’s that simple. No pollinators, no food or for my fellow perfumistas; no Flowers, no perfume!

Because my father holds a Masters in Biology as well as Fine Arts his education allowed him blend his artistic visions with a real understanding of what was needed to create a beautiful home for all of his plants. No pesticides ever and his soil was dark and rich, he'd pick up rich handfuls and smell it....he could tell what it needed simply by the feel and scent and blessedly he taught me to do the same. I'll never forget when they first started selling cocoa hulls to use for mulching. My father’s gardens were always a riot of color and fragrance but with the addition of the rich chocolate perfuming the dark moist earth they became a symphony of exquisite scentual dimension.

My father weaned us on Thoreau and Rachel Carson and he took a very holistic approach to his gardens, well before it was "chic" to do so. To him, doing things organically was what made sense, he didn't use pesticides and herbicides because every bug was invited and he delighted in the wee flowers that would pop up all over his lawn. His perennial beds were great blowzy things teeming with life....dragonflies and Praying Mantis, ladybugs and butterflies flittered everywhere but his favorites were the bees and judging from the amount of them they seemed to know it. He loved them all from the large soft bodied ones to the little honeybees that danced from flower to flower with their legs and bodies covered with pollen. I spent many years with him while he tended his lovely gardens, quietly working alongside while he pruned, coaxed and cajoled his flowers and fruits into huge and heavily sensual blossom. I am forever left with the memories of how those gardens would smell in the early part of the morning, petals and leaves dripping with dew and laced with “his” honeybees so hard at work. If you’re quiet around them, you can actually get close enough to a honeybee to smell their own perfume. It is sweet and very musky, deeply provocative and strangely sensual. As a child I really wasn’t aware of what I was smelling, I just knew that it was strange yet totally wonderful and somehow very private. I’m fairly sure that those earliest fragrance impressions were completely responsible for my almost obsessive fascination with fragrance and food and sex. “To Bee or not to bee that is the question….” and you all know that I’ll always choose “to bee” no matter the context!

My father would have found a kindred spirit in my dear friend and Natural perfumer Roxana Villa, who has learned to tend her honeybees organically with as little interference as possible. Roxana’s “Warrior Girls” as she affectionately calls them live up in her lovely home in the Topanga Canyon area and they are as happy as can be and hard at work producing a bit of honey for her family and beeswax for her sumptuously beautiful solid perfumes. She describes the smell of her hives as feral and sexual with a delightful musk. She has created a wonderful perfume to be released on the Summer Solstice on the 21st of June called “To Bee” which I haven’t had the pleasure of sniffing yet but I know that I will love it. She describes it as being full of musk and leather, yet sweet and warm like the smell of her hives with a lovely base created from her tinctured honeycomb that sounds lovely, all yummy oozy honeyed warmth and dripping with caramel and a accord of sweet clover absolute which she says is filled with the warm sweet hay notes of the hive….and well to me sounds like the recipe for a truly lovely roll in the hay!

I’ll have a wonderful sample of Roxana’s “To Bee” to giveaway to one lucky reader along with a wonderful yet to be determined jar of fabulous honey in honor of this years Summer Solstice, my 92 year old father and our wonderful native American honeybees whose populations are slowly healing due to the careful tending of their hives by “Bee Warriors” like Roxana and her friends from The Backwards Beekeepers group.

Check out their site if you’d like to learn more about helping our devastated honeybee populations. Until recently we’ve ignored that most simple fact that would help insure our survival …because of the massive overuse of pesticides and other poisons our honeybee populations have dwindled to a dangerous tipping point ; in our lifetimes the plight of our native bees is the proverbial canary in a coal mine; an alarm bell pealing incessantly to try to tell us to stop the insanity before the danger to our beloved Gaia reaches the point of no return.

If you want to smell this delightful new perfume just leave me a comment and let me know what you’re going to be doing with the honey I’m sending!

I’ll start…ripe peaches soaked in truffled honey and muscat , served with fresh shortbread and whipped cream…In bed. How about you?

Roxana Villa’s newest fragrance will be released (after June 21st) at her store.

Photograph of To Bee by Roxana Villa
Photograph of Bee Balm in my fathers garden by Beth Schreibman Gehring

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Blogger ~elise said...

sounds lovely! With honey I would whip up some soy/mirin/honey chicken and smile the whole time watching my kids eat it up!

12:23 AM EDT  
Anonymous Lavanya said...

such a lovely post, Beth!

The perfume sounds glorious!!

What would I do with the honey? We bought peaches today from the Farmer's market- and so I'm definitely going to try your peaches soaked in honey..yum!

I love eating honey straight out of the jar. Also planning to make granola at home so will use honey as the sweetener.

12:44 AM EDT  
Anonymous your vintage avon lady said...

Growing up amongst all those glorious flowers sounds so wonderful, I loved reading this!

Honey- what don't I do with it? Well, I like to use it in my home-made bbq sauce, in my home-made granola, we also love to whip up cream cheese, honey and walnuts for our bagels, and how wonderful it is just as a light glaze on buttered toast. Nothing better than fresh from the source - honey.

Thanks for the chance.

1:37 AM EDT  
Blogger Tama said...

I'm terrified for the bees - thank heaven for the beekeepers of the world.

I love a good honey served simply - on a bit of toast or hot biscuit, drizzled on a bit of fruit, in a mild tea. Not to mention just licking it from the spoon.

2:21 AM EDT  
Blogger HJ said...

Although I wouldn't be able to receive the giveaway honey (not allowed to import honey into Australia), I can still dream yes?! =)

I love using honey over roast vegetables. In fact just this week I used a gorgeous local raw honey over root vegies, with olive oil and fresh rosemary sprigs - Yum! I love honey with butter on turkish bread toast, in my banana, yoghurt, cocoa nib and cucumber smoothies (odd I know, but it works for me). And I'm with Tama, straight from the spoon, if nothing else! lol

Thanks for the draw, I'd love to be in the running for the perfume sample at least =)

3:29 AM EDT  
Anonymous Lys said...

A very lovely and moving article: you've made me think of my grandfather, who was a lover of plants and nature... and also of good cooking and wine :)

If I had the chance to try Roxana Villa's honey I would spread some of it over a sesame bread slice and I would put above some rosemary blossom taken from my garden... ancients thought that this food would have kept snakes and harmful animals far from their houses, and however it's simply wonderful: have a try :)

I'd love to try the perfume sample too.. thanks for the opportunity.

4:25 AM EDT  
Blogger rit said...

as a sweetener is nice, strong matcha latte

5:17 AM EDT  
Blogger marsha said...

Beth: another awesome article! I love honey on peanut butter toast!

Thanks for a chance in the draw.

7:13 AM EDT  
Blogger Ann C. said...

Wonderful post! Your father's gardens sound like they brought you, and everyone else, a lot of joy. I can just imagine the smell of that dark, chocolate earth.

I love using honey in my tea instead of sugar, and there's no better accompaniment than a piece of toast slathered with butter & honey. It's finally time to start firing up the grill here in New England; I add a touch of honey to barbecued pork chops. Yum!

Ann C.

7:21 AM EDT  
Blogger woodgirl said...

Wonderful article. I love to spread honey on whole wheat toast. Also drizzled over oatmeal or on pan-steamed salmon. Thanks for the draw!

8:32 AM EDT  
Anonymous sybil said...

I would eat the honey straight from the jar, or drizzled over some very good vanilla ice cream.

I love bees. They are amazing creatures.

8:35 AM EDT  
Blogger womo531 said...

I'd taste it straight out of the jar or mix it with a bit of fresh water + ice for a refreshing summer pick me up~

9:21 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! As far as the honey ... definitely a batch of baklava, and then the rest in my morning tea for as long as it will last.

10:35 AM EDT  
Anonymous RusticDove said...

What a beautiful post Beth, and the tribute to your father was so sweet. He sounds like an amazing person.
I recently read an article that cell phones may also be contributing the the honeybee population. Their shrinking numbers are indeed cause for much alarm.
So many uses for delectable honey! I can't drink tea, any kind of tea, without honey sweetening it and a drizzle of honey is so good over hot cereal. I make several glazes and marinades with honey and I love perfumes with a honey note!

11:33 AM EDT  
Blogger Stacey said...

Wow, another great post Beth. I always love Sundays. :) I would be so excited to try the new Roxana sample and the honey. First, the honey will definitely be put to use with some peanut butter and bananas on toast. Then maybe my boyfriend can get creative with using it in a savory dish (he is the cook around here).

12:21 PM EDT  
Anonymous BARBARA O said...

I would put the honey on french toast. And the draw sounds good too!

12:42 PM EDT  
Blogger Onyxode said...

Wonderful post.
I would add honey to my teas.
Love honeybees!!!

12:57 PM EDT  
Anonymous Bellatrix said...

Love natural perfumes...
Honey - lip balm:) great ingredient. :)

1:14 PM EDT  
Blogger rosarita said...

I always enjoy your evocative posts! I use honey lots of ways but my favorite is to slather it all over homemade bread, with plenty of butter. Breakfast fit for royalty! Thanks for the opportunity.

4:11 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

No need to enter me, but what a delicious post! I would put the honey on the fresh raspberries that will soon be ripening in my garden, with some high quality yogurt.

it's wonderful that there are people who are really paying attention to the plight of our precious bees. Roxana is definitely an important part of the movement, and as a bonus we get to smell her wonderful honey in her perfumes!

5:37 PM EDT  
Blogger Balutakat said...

Fresh butter whipped with honey on a fresh loaf of seedy/rosemary bread. That's my idea of an anytime treat. What a lovely Sunday post! - Katherine

5:37 PM EDT  
Blogger a.k.a. Warum said...

Thank you for a beautiful post!
I share the concern about bee population, and at the same time love all things bee -- honey, pollen, beeswax, perfumes with honey notes.

Most certainly, I will do different things with the honey. I will taste some right out of the jar, I will let my DH put some on homemade biscuits (his favorite). I will poach some pears, add a little bleu cheese and drizzle with honey. I adore honey and this draw makes me super excited.

6:43 PM EDT  
Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

These are such delicious ideas....I love them. Thank you so much for sharing, I get so much inspiration from you guys! Hope that you had/are having a wonderful Fathers Day!

7:43 PM EDT  
Anonymous EmilysHollow said...

Salted brown butter spread with honey. Spread it on brioche and after you've died and been resuscitated, you'll thank me.

8:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Alice said...

Thoroughly enjoyed your post! I would mix some of the honey with peanut butter and make a sandwich. Some, I would eat with a spoon or to sweeten my tea. I love honey! I might even make some honey mustard to use as a dipping sauce.

10:21 PM EDT  
Blogger Norma said...

What a neat giveaway! With the honey, I'd top homemade biscuits for breakfast with my kids. Or better yet, pancakes!

12:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Veroushka said...

Oooh, honey! One of my favourite scents and all-around useful products. I use it as a face mask sometimes and it works wonders and smells heavenly. I also drink it in tea and love it spread on fresh toasted bread. Makes me hungry just thinking about it. :)

5:31 AM EDT  
Blogger Katherine said...

Thank you for a lovely post!

With the honey I would make my favorite simple snack: greek yogurt drizzled with honey and sliced almonds. :-)

8:40 AM EDT  
Anonymous maggiecat said...

What a delightful post! Honey sound sperfect drizzled on my husband's homemade bread - for breakfast (or a lste night snack) - in bed of course!

12:57 PM EDT  
Blogger ololiuqui said...

Great review!I find this brand from you and I realy would love to try it.I checked Roxana's web page and I'm realy impressed.

1:48 PM EDT  
Blogger Janet said...

I have a friend who's a beekeeper and her hives are finally starting to come back. It's very scary!

Hmmm...honey...I think I'd mix some with soy sauce and chipotle spice and slather it on chicken to be grilled...and of course, I'd use some to make cornbread!

2:09 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honey drizzled in Lady Gray tea! Thanks for letting me play!

3:22 PM EDT  
Blogger snowcrocus said...

Ooops, better identify myself...honey in Lady Gray tea, that's me...

3:25 PM EDT  
Blogger ccdouglass said...

I'd just put a little on some hot buttered wheat toast. Thanks for the draw!

4:36 PM EDT  
Blogger Lisa said...

Honey and goat cheese on a warm baguette, is there anything better!

4:53 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love this article! it reminds me of the bees we used to have in gardens in florida. i love bees, and i love honey. so far, my favorite has been tupelo honey, but i use texas wildflower honey every day (can't find the tupelo here). i would use your honey in my many daily cups of tea (i don't really cook)! it might also find its way onto some fresh strawberries. and roxana's new solstice scent sounds gorgeous! i know i'd love it.


6:31 PM EDT  
Blogger Acorn Alley said...

The perfume and the honey both sound divine. I am an utter oney addict, to the point that I even have a honey liquor (tat is the best ting ever for a sore throat). I would make some delicate honey-lavender shortbread, and also use it to dip my whole-wheat pizza crusts.

8:23 PM EDT  
Anonymous matildaben said...

I would love to be entered in the draw. Bees are very close to my heart because my husband's pet name for me is bee-related. I would either mix the honey in with high-quality Greek yogurt and berries for dessert, or give it to my husband for one of his masterful baked goods.

11:03 PM EDT  
Blogger ... said...

I would give the honey to my 92 years old grandfather who loves honey. Every Christmas we try to find him something knew to taste, and every years he is equally delighted!
Though, the perfume I would like keep for myself:)

11:05 AM EDT  
Anonymous Natalia said...

i'm a huge fan of teas and i very often use some good honey with it. peaches sound delicious! a must try!

1:50 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOOOVVVED the article. :)
it reminds me of my father very, very much. We had honey bees when I was a teenager and he loved tending to the hive. When I found out about the honey bee situation it was very upsetting and I have even more love for the bees now than I did before and wish for a time where something so sweet, simple and delicate could thrive and live their lives in peace.
Your writing is lovely and I think I will have to try her perfume. :) I am hoping to get another hive at my home now. Oh, and I love vanilla bean ice cream with honey drizzled all over it. :)

1:09 AM EDT  
Anonymous Olivia A said...

Oh, Beth, this post was just beautiful - thank you so much for sharing with us! I could almost imagine the bees' own scent :-)

The perfume by Roxana sounds delightful, and I hope to get a chance to try it. Thank you for hosting this giveaway! As for the honey... If I'm the lucky one, I think I would have to make some buttermilk biscuits from scratch, to drizzle the honey on. I've never made biscuits from scratch before, (and rarely even eat biscuits as it is) but for some reason, that's what I'm feeling drawn to do with this honey! (Honestly, I'd probably also eat a spoonful here & there, on its own... I just adore honey.) :-)

1:14 AM EDT  
Blogger Princess Ellie said...

what a lovely post. This sounds like a perfect perfume from Roxana. Her love and passion for bees is evident in her blog. She has a excellent nose for perfume, making some of the most beautiful perfumes I have ever smelled. It would be a delight to be entered in the drawing for To Bee.

8:03 AM EDT  

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