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Part cookbook, part honey primer

Special to The Recorder

“The Fresh Honey Cookbook” by Laurey Masterton (Storey Publishing, 208 pages, $14.95)

Cafe owner and caterer Laurey Masterton is obviously a woman with strong passions. A few years ago, she decided to try keeping honeybees. After a couple of aborted tries, she ended up with a thriving bee population, myriad honey-related recipes and a position as spokesperson for the National Honey Board.

She follows those accomplishments with “The Fresh Honey Cookbook.” Subtitled “84 Recipes from a Beekeeper’s Kitchen,” the book is slated to be published on Sept. 10. Its launch will be celebrated at a dinner at the Blue Heron Restaurant in Sunderland on Wednesday, Sept. 11.

Surprisingly, many of the book’s recipes don’t call for honey. Masterton explains in the book’s preface that her desire to delve into beekeeping and honey cookery stemmed from the realization that one-third of all the foods Americans eat would not exist without honeybees and their pollination.

“Where would we be without honeybees?” she asks. “I knew bees made honey, but no one depends on honey, even though we may like it. But ingredients, a third of all we eat? Now, that got my attention.”

The book is part cookbook, part honey primer. Each of the 12 chapters focuses on the foods available during a different month of the year — and on a different type of honey that complements those foods. Short essays and graphics discuss such honey-related topics as the life cycle of bees, the best way to taste a new honey and the process by which bees make honey.

To emphasize the dependence of various foods on honey, Masterton uses bold type for the ingredients in her recipes that would not exist without bees. These include oranges, wine, coconut, garlic, carrots, onions, strawberries, coffee and mustard.

The recipes are elegant and look delectable in the book’s stunning color photographs. Most appear fairly easy to put together. I plan to make a couple of seasonal dishes — Vermont-Style Summer Squash Casserole and Broiled Peaches (served with a yogurt-honey sauce) — in the near future.

The four-course menu planned by Chef Deborah Snow for the Blue Heron dinner will include Pan Roasted Organic Breast of Chicken in a Meyer-Lemon and Apple-Blossom-Honey Marinade and Apple Tarte Tatin with Homemade Buckwheat-Honey Ice Cream. Local honey from Warm Colors Apiary in South Deerfield will be used.

The evening at the Blue Heron will feature a talk by Masterton, a honey sampling and remarks by Masterton and Snow about each course. “The Fresh Honey Cookbook” will be available for sale courtesy of the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley. The event costs $40 per person (excluding taxes, beverages and tips).

“It’s what we like to call a win/win for several local businesses, serving up delicious fare,” says literary agent Lisa Ekus of Hatfield, who is helping to organize the event. “It’s sure to be a sweet evening for all!”

For information and reservations, call the Blue Heron at 665-2102.

Tinky Weisblat is the author of The Pudding Hollow Cookbook (www.merrylion.com) and Pulling Taffy (www.pullingtaffy.com). She is always looking for new books from Franklin County-related authors to review for this paper. If you have a book suggestion, email her at Tinky@merrylion.com.

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