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Along with the cold of winter comes the desire for a warm and comforting bowl of soup. Soup has many advantages for any cook. It can be made with a variety of ingredients that you find stored in your refrigerator or cupboard; it can make a complete meal; you can put together a hearty soup in a short period of time and it can be left to simmer in the slow cooker all day.

The Beekeepers in the Yellowstone Valley recently had a chance to showcase their honey and compete for special awards and recognition. The first ever, “A Taste of Honey” contest was held in Billings at the Last Chance Pub and Cider Mill Dec. 11, giving beekeepers the opportunity to compete not only in the different categories for honey, but also in baking with honey.

Christmas will soon be here and the countdown has begun for all the final preparations. What will be served for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day may have been decided several weeks ago. Perhaps you have some family food traditions that are always followed, such as oyster stew for Christmas Eve or prime rib for Christmas dinner. Traditions help tie families together and preserve their heritage.

We are encouraged to eat more plant-based foods, and even if going vegetarian may not be for you, how about trying one day a week to go meatless? When following the vegetarian lifestyle, it is important to include quality sources of protein in your diet. Beans, legumes, lentils, soy products, protein-rich grains, dairy and eggs are all good sources of protein. Try one of the following recipes and you will find you can enjoy going meat-free.

This year has been a productive year for the apple crop. Driving around town you can’t help but notice the heavily laden apple trees. It is always disappointing for me when I see the apples going to waste, not picked and put to use, but rather left to fall on the ground to create a mushy mess on the grass and sidewalks, or to attract the deer into town for a feast.