What’s up, honey?

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In our house, I’m not just the chief cook; I’m also the chief experimenter.

So I was pretty stoked to get a chance to fly to New York earlier in the year to attend a luncheon and watch a cooking demonstration by Chef David Guas for the National Honey Board (who also has a cookbook out now — it’s pretty cool and worth a look).

The whole idea of the demonstration was about using honey more in home cooking while the audience analyzed Guas’ Backyard NOLA Honey Swingers (photo above), because good god man, they were delicious.

They’ve become our go-to party drink since the New York trip.

Guas, who works with the National Honey Board, is a bit of a honey nut. He said he uses dozens of different varietals at home. Up until the trip, I had really only used honey in occasional recipes or just drizzled on yogurt. (I agreed to take part in this because I do use honey all the time to get through grueling workouts, and even completed the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon using only honey as my natural energy booster.)

But Guas convinced me to experiment more with honey at home, and I have to say: It works. Big time.

I started tinkering around with honey as the chief sweetener in my marinades, sauces, and dressings. It’s really brought out a flavor profile I wasn’t expecting — adding an earthy and sometimes heavy component to grilled meats. It helped create a syrupy layer and just tasted better all around. I’ve been particularly taken with finding buckwheat honey. It’s dark and rich and reminds me of fields and earth — you can just taste a difference. It’s been my perfect helper for his Asian Grilled Tri-Tip with Honey recipe.

Over the next few months, I’ll be posting a few family recipes I’ve tweaked to include honey instead of another sweetener. I also hope to take Emme out to an apiary near my hometown. I’m pretty excited about this adventure because I’ve always been a big fan of honey but I’ve only really been using it for a few purposes. I hope you follow along. And I hope you do try out Guas’ Backyard NOLA Honey Swingers, and his book. It’s really pretty cool and Guas is a good dude who talked about letting his kids help out in the kitchen. Sold.

The National Honey Board is partnering with me in this campaign, providing compensation with a chance to fly out to New York to learn more about cooking with honey. And be sure to follow along on my Facebook page for updates about the #HoneyBeeBQ campaign.

Father’s Day three pack book giveaway

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And so it all begins.

Again.

I’m incredibly proud to bring you my third book: Dad’s Awesome Book of Recipes — everything you need to put the kids in charge of cooking.

As a special promo, I’ll be giving away a signed three-pack of books every week until Father’s Day.

Simply share this post on Facebook or leave a comment below by Thursday at noon PST and I’ll randomly select a winner of the cook book, the craft book, and the science book — everything you need for a summer of fun with the kids.

But now back to the cook book.

It’s designed to read together and then let the kids have their turn at the stove, or microwave, or blender — whatever you’re comfortable letting them use for the moment. Jam packed with dozens of recipes, it’s got everything you need for a quick snack or a family meal.

But even better … it has guests!

Special guests!

I reached out to a few of my favorite dads I know are handy in the kitchen and asked them to contribute some recipes that they like to make with the kiddos, so a big hats off to Jason Sperber, Whit Honea, Doyin Richards, Chris Routly. Their recipes are delicious and fun to make, and I’m just pleased to have my name attached anywhere near theirs.

I’ll be writing about more recipes in the book, but here is one of my favorites to get you started: the 5-minute microwave chocolate chip cookie.

It’s easy, delicious, and incredibly fun to make. I have kids over for a play date and almost as soon as they walk in the door, they say, “Can we make the cookie?!”

It’s a family hit. Enjoy.

Fuel up for more play!

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My cousin jokes about his method for getting his kids outside to play.

“Give them a rope. Toss them all outside. Lock the door. Kids can play with rope for hours.”

Indeed.

No matter your method for getting them outside, it’s incredibly important for kids to play — for the body, the brain, and, not to be too touchy feely, but for the soul.

Who doesn’t well remember a childhood playing outside with friends after school until the streetlight hours? Or roaming the countryside, poaching pears and apples from orchards? Or pick-up games with kids on the crowded streets?

All that wild, free play time is part of what made me the person I am today, and I look back upon those years with fondness.

In the big city, it often feels difficult to re-create those endless hours of free time for my own child. Yet, we are big believers in massive doses of physical activity, so I’m incredibly delighted to work with Fuel Up to Play 60 — a program designed to get kids eating better and playing a lot more in school. It’s a partnership between Real California Milk, the National Dairy Council and the NFL to encourage healthy eating and tons of play.

Count me in.

With an incredibly bouncy, active kid, it was easy to make the decision to join this movement.

Emme is on a travel soccer team, loves to run and bike, and is a Grand Champion horse jumper (seriously, you’re never going to hear the end of this brag; she’s so proud of herself and I’m so proud of her as well), and one of the things I’m keenly aware of is her risk for injury. Extra play time — and some good training and eating — can help minimize the risks of injury, so we’ve been tossing her outside more and more as she grows older.

It’s going to become a lot more important in the years to come. I remember reading this New York Times article about the book “Warrior Girls,” which looks at high incidents of knee injuries in girl athletes, and seeing just how difficult it is to maintain play time as kids get older. At 9, they get three or so hours a day; at 15, it’s under one hour.

Yikes.

It’s important to set this base early, to make play time a natural part of kid’s lives. It seems like a no brainer, right? But I’m keenly aware that for a lot of kids, including ours, everything is hyper-scheduled nowadays. Add in computer and social media time, and all of a sudden, the day is gone, and that wild, free play time suffers. I’m hopeful that programs like this can reverse that trend and provide those fond memories we well remember as adults, while also laying the groundwork for a life of health and fitness.

Visit fueluptoplay60.com to find out more about the program and what you can do at home and at school to keep kids active, healthy, and happy.

I’m proud to partner with Real California Milk for this post and social media campaign. The money will probably go toward a stronger lock and a solid rope. Watch out: Play time ahead!