Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Beekman 1802.

With Christmas right around the corner, my days have been spent enjoying simple pleasures around our home- from baking, to birdwatching, hibernating with my books and cooking shows galore.  It's hard to keep up during the holiday season, and our schedules become easily jam-packed, so it's nice to have personal downtime to really do the things that get lost in the seasonal chaos.

Not too long ago, as I was putting together some festive champagne cork garlands for our windows, I was scanning through Netflix in search of a new chef obsession and came across season one of the hilarious, heartwarming and intriguing TV show, "The Fabulous Beekman Boys".

The Beekman Boys are indeed, not Beekman's at all.  "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" follows the story of Josh Kilmer-Purcell (a former drag-queen/ New York Times bestselling author/advertising executive) and Dr. Brent Ridge (a former geriatric physician/Martha Stewart Omnimedia consultant) on their journey to becoming full-fledged farmer's after purchasing the 'Beekman Farm' in Sharon Springs, New York in 2007.  It also catalogs how they develop their lifestyle brand, Beekman 1802, a company made famous by their outstanding all-natural goat's milk soap in recent years.

Little did I know, I was already familiar with the Beekman Boys, thanks to a certain previous employer and my own good taste in bath products.  I had fallen in love with their soaps years ago, and still use them to this day.  I was elated to learn that they had TV program for me to ogle, and even more excited to find out that they had grown the brand extensively to include artisan foods, thanks to their ever-expanding family of goats (all lovingly cared for by the shy, sweet Farmer John Hall.)  Between the hilarity of goat farming, a very sassy llama (Polkspot!) and the personality of both boys and their fellow townfolk, even the hubbs was cracking up laughing at the antics on Beekman Farm.

This article isn't focused on their TV show, even though we enjoy it immensely.  I wanted to highlight some of their actual product, because I do truly support and believe in the quality of their goods.  I contacted Beekman 1802 to discover where exactly I could get my hands on their provisions these days-- as it turns out, pretty tough luck here for us west coasters...  Our options are very limited.  Not surprisingly, thanks to the boys business saavy practices, their soaps, home items, cheeses, gardening gear and fun accessories are primarily only found on the Beekman 1802 website.  Josh's novels, "I Am Not Myself These days: A Memoir" and my current read, "The Bucolic Plague", are both available in bookstores everywhere and online.

This book has brought great joy to this holiday season for me.

Now on to the goodies...
The hubbs and I both love ice cream.  We also love spice, so when I saw this, I about fainted... I'm pretty sure I'd be comfortable using this rich, delicious caramel sauce on just about everything- if we could keep it stocked in our pantry long enough!  Beekman Cajeta.

"Most caramel sauces you'll find at your local store are primarily composed of high fructose corn syrup. Some dulche de leches are made the old-fashioned way---cooking down high quality cow's milk until all that is left is the sugars. But cajeta--a tradition in many Latin countries--is made with pure goat milk.  Traditionally, cajeta is somewhere between a sauce and a caramel chew. You eat it out of a small wooden box with a spoon.  All Beekman 1802 caramel sauces are made with goat milk, pure cane sugar and vanilla beans. Excellent over cakes, in chocolates, or cinnamon buns.  But like everything we make at Beekman 1802, we put our own twist on things. Some like it hot. So for those people we steeped habanero peppers from our own garden as the caramel was cooking down. The combination of sweet and heat is unlike anything you've ever tasted. It brings an entirely new complexity to any ice cream or fruit dipping sauce."

For every something sweet, you need something savory.  I've sampled other onion jams before, but nothing compares to the Beekman "Blaak" Onion Jam.  It's perfect paired with hard cheeses, topped on crostini, used in addition to cooking sauces or, you know, just eaten with a spoon.  Remember, all the Beekman goodies are made with ingredients straight from the farm.  Josh's green thumb shines in this fabulously classy condiment.  I'm pretty sure this is a seasonal item, so if you can't locate it online just now, sit tight and look for it during the spring.

Me and my honey.  No, not the hubbs.  Beekman Rosemary Creamed Honey.  Somewhere between liquid gold and pure, smooth butter.  I use it on toast and in my cappuccino.  The herbaceous flavor cuts the sweetness just enough.  "Moses Quimby kept 1,200 colonies of bees in the Mohawk Valley in the mid-1800s and invented the smoking can that beekeepers still use to this day when harvesting from the hives. His honey would have stocked the shelves of William Beekman's original Mercantile.  One of our first "discoveries" at Beekman farm was an old apple tree on the border of the property into which a colony of bees had set up home. We sat for hours wondering about the hidden queen ruling the kingdom from somewhere deep within the hollow trunk.  Now there are 40 bee hives at Beekman Farm, producing about 15,000lbs of honey a year.  It takes 648 bees working a full season to produce each 9 oz jar of sweet goodness."

My next purchase, which I'm saving my pennies for, will be the Beekman 1802 Blaak cheese.  It "is the world-famous artisanal cheese produced from the goats at Beekman Farm. Blaak is an Italian-style semi-hard cheese made from a 60:40 mix of raw goat and cow milk giving the cheese a mild but distinctive flavor. In keeping with traditional cheesemaking practices, this rare cheese is aged for 3 months in our caves and is coated with ash at each turning to promote the ripening of the wheel. The resulting edible black rind gives the cheese its name and makes it a true conversation piece on your table."

I also picked up the Beekman Heirloom Cookbook, which I highly recommend to any and all food lovers and home chefs.  All of their recipes are based on heirloom style cookery- hearty foods, all seasonally appropriate according to what will be available in your home garden or farmer's markets.  The photography and recipes are gorgeous, along with the anecdotes and special edition stationary that accompanies the book.  "Together, Josh and Brent have created a gorgeous cookbook that is “heirloom” in every sense of the word: they showcase heirloom fruits and vegetables; offer delicious heirloom recipes from farm, family, and friends; and include a section in the back of each chapter so you can personalize the book with your own treasured recipes--and create a unique keepsake to hand down to your family."

I could go on and on about Beekman 1802 and the Beekman Farm.  But I'll leave a little for you all to discover on your own.  Check out www.beekman1802.com for info on the fellas and their bucolic lifestyle.  I'm sure you'll enjoy discovering the many splendors of the boys, their gaggle of goats and a whole lot of llama drama.


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