urban farming: beekeeping

On Tuesday, August 25, I went to a Burgh Bees “Beekeeper Meet-up” on the North Side. I originally discovered Burgh Bees at the Phipps Garlic and Tomato Festival, which is a special event during the regularly scheduled farmers market that happens on the lawn at Phipps Conservatory every Wednesday. Based on the quick conversation I had with the Burgh Bees people at Phipps that day, it seems like they’re trying to get as many people as possible involved in urban beekeeping to protect the hobby. I guess the idea is that the more urban hives there are, the less likely the city government is to restrict people’s right to have a hive.

The lady who hosted the meet-up has a bunch of hives on her roof, and we all got to see the honeycomb and try some honey. Well–I didn’t get to try any honey, but in theory I think we were all supposed to have a taste. It was really interesting to see this small but productive operation (just a few boxes of bees produce 360-400 pounds of honey!) in a regular person’s urban backyard.

Naturally, I struck up a conversation with another attendee who turned out to be in the catering business, and we ended up discussing the food industry in Pittsburgh. Laura always teases me about this: wherever we go, I run into someone that I’ve worked with or find people who are involved in the food industry. Occupational hazard!

albondigas de pescado


  • 1 pound of pollock
  • 2 eggs
  • 28 ounces of stewed tomatoes
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry parsley
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • Olive oil
  • a dash of white pepper and red pepper flakes
  • salt


Soft poach the eggs in water with a teaspoon of white vinegar. Put them in a food processor. At this point you can start to gently heat up the olive oil. Enough to submerge at least three fourths of the albondiga. Take off the stem and seeds of the pepper and combine with the eggs. Add half of the onion to this. Blend for a few seconds and then add the pollock. Add parsley, white pepper and red pepper to the fish. Blend until it becomes a uniform paste. Finish it with a dash of salt. Let it chill for 15 minutes in the fridge. Make 1 to 1 1/2 inch albondigas, same as meatballs. Lightly roll in flour. Dice up the other half of the onion. In a deep saute pan sweat the onion.

With your mortal and pestle or the food processor make a paste of the garlic cloves and a pinch of salt. Dilute with the white wine. Add the stewed tomatoes to the onions and saute for a few minutes. Add the garlic and wine mix. Simmer the tomatoes. Fry the albondigas in the olive oil until they achieve a nice golden brown. Should only take a few minutes. The oil should be hot but not smoking. If it starts to smoke, reduce heat. Flip albondigas in oil to make sure they get evenly browned. As they finish frying transfer them onto the tomato sauce. When all the albondigas are in the sauce, cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes. A glass of wine and a little bread is all you need.

featured ingredient: lemon

The lemon (Citrus limon) is a small, yellow rounded fruit, pointed at its ends, with acidic juice. The origin of the lemon is unknown, though it may be native to northwest India. Arab traders in Asia carried lemons and other citrus fruits to eastern Africa and the Middle East between AD 100 and 700, reaching China by 1000. Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to the New World in 1493.
But, what’s most important is that the juice, zest and leaves all have culinary uses.

When purchasing look for big, plump, firm lemons that are heavy for their size. When choosing Meyer lemons, look for bright, shiny fruits with richly colored orange yellow rind, indicating that the fruit was picked when fully ripe.

Try to avoid brownish lemons won’t be as juicy. Avoid lemons that are shriveled, hard-skinned, soft, or spongy. Avoid old Meyer lemons with hard dry skin or with soft spots.

And store lemons in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks (1 week for Meyer lemons).

Lemon (juice, zest and leaves)is incredibly versatile as an ingredient. Adds flavor or enhances and gives freshness to others. They are great with artichokes, capers, cumin, fennel, fish, garlic, marsca-pone, mint, poultry, raspberries, shellfish, thyme, and many more. I like to use lemon zest in my rice pudding. Even my apple cheddar empanadas have a little lemon juice.

Lemons are definitely an ingredient you’ll always find in my fridge.