The Bee's Knees
Editor's note: Mixed Made's Bees Knees was founded on the belief that anything can taste better with honey and chili peppers. So we sent Mixed Made's Adam, Liz, and Casey into the woods to whip up a few extraordinary fall camping staples using their extraordinary honey.
We packed up the car, cranked up the Spotify playlist, and hit the road. Adam and Liz and I had been eager to escape the city for a couple days and a fall camping trip—cooking around the fire, drinking with abandon, peeing in the woods—seemed like the ideal remedy.
Because Bees Knees Spicy Honey is great on anything, we brought it along and ate it with every meal: on fire-popped popcorn, stick-roasted hot dogs, juicy grilled chicken, sizzling fried eggs, even dripping off of s’mores. But below I’ve included our three favorite recipes from the weekend, plus a spicy twist on a classic campfire cocktail.
The key to campfire cooking is to wait until your wood burns to coals. Fire is marginally less hot than the glowing, ashy embers. Once I have some coals ready for cooking, I move my fire to one side of the pit and my coals to another. The fire will keep burning down the wood, providing a fresh batch of coals as you need them. Or it’ll keep toes warm while you wait for your meal.
You can invest in a camp grill, but I’ve always found a cooling rack is equally great. Just make sure it has some height to it; most of the time you’ll want to put some distance between the food and the coals.
Spicy Corn Cakes with Apple Compote
We devoured these in a flash. The double-whammy of Bees Knees in the corn cakes and the apple compote makes for a slow burning heat that sneaks up slowly and cuts right through the sweetness. It’s the perfect wake-me-up breakfast.
For the corn cakes:
- 1 box (8.5 ounces) of your favorite corn muffin mix
- 1 medium egg
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons Bees Knees Spicy Honey
- ¾ cup whole milk
1. Pour the first four ingredients in a large bowl. I added closer to 3 tablespoons of Bees Knees because I like a real kick in my cakes.
2. Add the milk and gently mix until just combined. Don’t be afraid of some lumps; over-mixing is a far worse crime. The batter will seem wet, but it will thicken up as it rests.
For the apple compote:
- 3 large apples
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- a pinch of salt
1. Peel the apples and chop into bite sized pieces. Aim large, these will shrink considerably as they cook.
2. Throw the apples in a hot skillet with the rest of the ingredients and inhale deeply.
3. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking. Salt not only enhances the other flavors, but also encourages the apples to release their delicious juices. The brown sugar helps to create a thick syrup from that juice, resulting in an insanely great topping.
* The only thing that can improve it is a hearty drizzle of Bees Knees. The honey will pull everything into a sticky, cohesive compote and the heat will add an amazing complexity.
The final dish:
1. Rake your coals mostly to one side of the rack so that you have a few small ones left behind. You’re aiming for a lower heat here because corn cakes are fragile and will burn easily. If you need more heat, rake a few more coals over but go easy.
2. Add a pat of butter to your pan and let it start to gently bubble. Add one small corn cake to start. Every batch of pancakes needs the initial sacrificial lamb. If it makes it out alive, start adding them in small batches. The cakes should be about three inches in diameter.
3. Pile the cakes on a plate, scoop on a spoonful of the apples, and drizzle on that sweet and spicy syrup.
Our dog Fitz was very hopeful for some pancakes, but they were too good to share.
Campfire Fondue with Garlic Toasts
No kidding, I could eat this every day. I would never see 30, but it would be a happy death.
For the fondue:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small shallot
- a few cherry tomatoes
- some rosemary sprigs
- 1 lb of a softer cheese (I prefer Fontina)
- lemon zest
1. While your skillet is getting nice and hot, thinly slice the shallot and halve the tomatoes. I always salt my tomatoes a few minutes before adding them to things. It creates a much more distinctly tomato flavor.
2. Cube the cheese and pluck the rosemary. This goes quick, so you want everything ready to go.
3. Pull your skillet off the heat, add the oil, and throw in the shallots. Stir everything around to keep from burning. Golden brown is the goal.
4. Add the tomatoes and rosemary and slide back onto the heat. Let it all simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are soft and breaking up. Drop in the cheese cubes and keep a careful eye on it. As the cheese melts, keep stirring it so that it doesn’t start browning. Pull of the heat when almost all the cheese is melted and let it sit.
For the garlic toasts:
- Focaccia or a crusty loaf
- a few fresh garlic cloves
1. Slice your bread and rub one side with a raw garlic clove. I like to pretend I’m coloring in the bread with a crayon. This will add a subtle garlic flavor to the toast.
2. Throw the bread on the rack and turn quickly. The coals will toast it faster than you expect. If you want a lighter toast, place the bread on the periphery of the rack away form direct heat.
The final dish:
1. Give your fondue one last stir to incorporate all the flavors. Drizzle a healthy amount of Bees Knees on top. Trust me, you’ll be sorry if you skip this step.
2. Spoon the hot, gooey, spicy, cheesy mess on a toast and go to town. This is not the time or place for judgment.
Roasted Stone Fruit with Bees Knees Whipped Cream and Nilla Wafers
For the stone fruit:
- A mix of plums, apricots, nectarines, whatever looks delicious
- Cardamom pods
- Whole star anise
- Bay leaves
1. Halve and pit the fruit. Each plate should receive one half of each fruit, so chop accordingly.
2. Lay three layers of tin foil on a flat surface. Space out the fruit and sprinkle the spices on top. Fold the sides up and add a small s plash of water. Make a tightly wrapped package and place on the rack.
For the whipped cream:
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons of Bees Knees Spicy Honey
1. A copper bowl is not required, but it does make this a hell of a lot easier. Invest in one and never use canned whipped cream again.
2. Whip the cream to about the halfway point – frothy, but not stiff. Add the Bees Knees and continue to whip.
3. You want a fluffy mound of cream that holds its shape. But be careful not to over whip or it will turn into butter.
The final dish:
1. After about 30 minutes on the heat, carefully unwrap your fruit. It should be soft and with lots of juices swimming around.
2. Carefully remove the fruit and plate. Throw the cardamom, anise, and bay leaves back in with the juices and shape the tin foil into an open bowl.
3. Lay it back on the rack and let the juices reduce into a nice sauce. Crush the Nilla wafers and sprinkle on top and around the fruit. Add a spoonful of the juices and a big dollop of the cream.
On both nights of our trip we were treated to the most amazing sunsets. The sky would burn orange and cut through the blue, then spread a pink and purple wash about us. Fish were splashing in the river, creating peaceful ripples on the glassy surface, while a gaggle of geese were squawking and climbing onto shore for the night.
As the night came and the air grew chilly, it was time for a blazing fire and a spicy hot toddy.
Spicy Hot Toddies
Warm and boozy and perfect for the autumn chill
- 2 tablespoons whiskey
- 1 tablespoon Bees Knees Spicy Honey
- two dashes of orange bitters
- 1 large lemon wedge
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
1. Rake a few coals from a blazing fire and set a kettle on the rack to boil water.
2. Add the first three ingredients to a mug. Pierce the lemon rind with the cloves and squeeze the juice into the mug before dropping in the wedge.
3. When you hear the water sizzling in the kettle, fill up your mug and use the cinnamon stick to stir everything together.
4. Add an extra splash of whiskey if it’s an especially cold night.
Sometimes it’s nice to remember how infinite the galaxy is. Our riverside site had no electricity nearby to interrupt the shower of meteorites and depth of constellations on display.
When the moon crested over the trees, it shone so bright that we turned out our lanterns and sat in quiet awe.