Fort Wayne – Alice Rekeweg, a resident of rural Adams County, enjoys sewing and working in her vegetable garden. She and her husband, Duane, have four children, Rena of Switzerland, Tony of Adams County, Emily of Fort Wayne, and Andrea of Des Moines, Iowa. They have seven grandchildren another is due in June. Rekeweg and her husband run the family business, Rekeweg Honey Co.
Although she does much of the paperwork associated with running a company, Rekeweg, 59, has other job duties.
I just got done bottling. I’m the cleaner. It’s a sticky business, she says grinning.
Rekeweg said her husband was interested in beekeeping in his youth, but he soon learned more was involved if he was to run a business.
Duane first got his bees in 1981, but then it was just a hobby. His grandfather (the late August Bauermeister) was a beekeeper. (August) got his first hive at 13. When he was 92, he had a stroke and was no longer able to lift, so that’s when Duane decided to buy his grandpa’s bees, she says.
It was then that Rekeweg says her husband reached out to area beekeepers and organizations such as the Northeastern Indiana Beekeepers Association to answer his questions about beekeeping.
Other than liquid honey, Rekeweg says they offer raw honey, flavored and plain cream honey, lip balm and bee pollen.
She uses honey often in her cooking. Last year, her double chocolate oatmeal cookies won first place in the Baking with Honey contest at the 2013 North American Beekeeping Conference.
Last year, Rekeweg’s Honey Co. had 150 hives at 20 locations throughout Adams, Wells and Allen counties. Unfortunately, they lost quite a few of the bees this winter.
(The bees) stay in the hive. They eat honey to keep them alive in the winter. In this part of the United States, it takes about a hundred pounds of honey to get them through winter, she says.
As for the number of times she’s been stung by bees, Rekeweg says, More than I can count. I have helped clean the hives. I do have a suit. I do not work the bees. I am not the beekeeper.
Honey bees pollinate many of the foods we eat, such as fruits, vegetables and nut trees. Noting that there has been a decline in the bee population in recent years, Rekeweg was asked what area farmers and landowners could do to keep the bees from dying off.
I’ll just tell you the way it was when (Duane) started, she says. There were smaller farms – dairy and alfalfa. There weren’t as many pesticides and herbicides (used). Herbicides are killing weeds that bees can get honey off the plant. Fence rows – you could always find clover. Now the herbicides kill it. More and more people are putting a couple of hives in their yards – as long as it’s OK with city ordinances or the neighbors.
Q. What’s your favorite cookbook?
A. My favorite cookbook is probably one I’ve made myself. It has recipes from my mom, friends and recipes I’ve gathered over the years.
My second favorite is the Hoosier Honey’s Cookbook, of which I am a member. I do sell (it) here. I sell it for $10, but if you need it shipped, it’s $12. (Email requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Q. What’s your favorite vegetable?
A. Asparagus. I started out with about 25 plants.
Q. What’s your favorite cooking utensil?
A. A pastry blender for making crumb top; to blend the butter with the flour.
Q. Who’s your cooking idol?
A. My mom, the late Rosella Franz.
Q. What do you do to keep meals healthy?
A. I always have a vegetable and fruit. I can and freeze both (using produce from the garden). I use honey as my sweetener.
Q. What’s something people would not find in your refrigerator?
A. I don’t put honey in the fridge. That would granulate it. You would not find processed meats in my refrigerator. I do not buy processed meats.
Q. What one word describes your cooking style?
A. Boy, um, I’d say for the most part, simple. I still do a lot of cooking from scratch.
Honey Lemon Slaw
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
4 cups cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup raisins
Stir together mayonnaise, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice and ground ginger. Add cabbage and raisins. Mix. Chill. Makes about 8 ( 1/2 -cup) servings.
Fresh Strawberry Pie
4 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon milk
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 (8- or 9-inch) baked pastry shell, cooled
3 cups ripe whole strawberries, washed and hulled
1 cup ripe strawberries, crushed
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
In a small bowl, cream together the ingredients for the filling. Spread in baked pastry shell. Arrange whole strawberries over filling. In saucepan, mix together the ingredients for the glaze. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute longer. Remove from heat. Set the pan in a bowl of ice water to slightly thicken, stirring occasionally. Spoon cooled glaze over berries in pastry shell. Refrigerate until well-chilled (about 3 hours). Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1 1/4 cups honey
2 squares chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped nuts
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. Cream shortening and honey thoroughly. Add eggs, melted chocolate and vanilla. Beat until creamy. Gradually add flour mixture while mixing. Blend well. Fold in rolled oats, nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 5 dozen.