Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lovely Lavender

The lovely lavender plant has been around for centuries, is a member of the mint family, and with 39 species, its beautiful plants are grown world wide.

Lavender was used in ancient times for mummification, in Roman times for scented bathing, and it is used today for everything from scented water, scented soap, culinary uses, and as a migraine cure.

Pictured right - Illustration from "A Wold of Flower Fairies" by Cicely Mary Barker. Copyright The Estate of Cicely Mary Barker.

Lavender comes from the word lavare, meaning to wash. What a treat to have lavender scented soap! For that matter, I love lavender scented anything....

Today in France, lambs graze in lavender fields to enhance the flavor and quality of their meat.

This year my flower beds are lush with lavender and as I walk the gardens I always break off a piece of lavender and I inhale its lovely fragrance as I tour the flowers and veggies.

My lavender pictured above.

The lavender that I started from seed last year is growing like crazy this year and it is just stunning to see. The fragrance is wonderful!!

While perusing the web looking at all the wonderful information on lavender I discovered this nice video on how to start a lavender farm. It's a fun idea....

With 39 species and multiple mutations within those species, how do you select the best lavender variety for your climate?

Click here for a guide from Mountain Valley Growers to assist you in selecting the right species for your location.

Here in northern Ohio we are fortunate to have a wonderful lavender resource, daybreak lavender farm.

During the summer, daybreak lavender farm hosts a lavender festival where you can picnic, pick your own lavender, or purchase lavender products, such as soaps and culinary treats, from their company store.

9292 Market Square Drive

Streetsboro, OH 44241

For more information on the Lavender Festival click here

I have only cooked with lavender a few times in the past but plan on experimenting this summer with my new bounty. I think that I will try the recipe below for Lavender Creme Brulee from What's Cooking America.

Food Sytlist is Chris Russell

Photo by Carrie Russell

Lavender Creme Brulee

4c. heavy cream
1 tbs dried lavender flowers
8 egg yolks

3/4 c. granulated sugar, divided

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter (6-ounce) custard cups and set them in a glass baking dish.

In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, add cream and the lavender flowers; heat just to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow lavender flowers to infuse with cream for 5 minutes. Strain cream mixture through fine strainer to remove lavender flowers.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/2 c. of sugar until light and creamy. Slowly add the strained cream to the egg mixture, blending well. Divide evenly among the custard cups.

Bring the water for the bath to a boil. Add just enough water to the baking dish to come half way up the outside of the custard cups.

Bake 60 minutes or until set around the edges but still loose in the center.

Remove from oven. Leave in water bath until cooled. Remove from bath and refrigerate 2 hours to 2 days.

When ready to serve, sprinkle with 2 tsp. each of remaining sugar. Using small torch or broiler, cook until sugar bubbles and turns golden brown. Refrigerate at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8 depending on custard cup size.

I used these Herbs de Provence from Williams Sonoma when cooking meat. You can see the lavender when you rub the seasoning on the meat.

Most intriguing to me is the use of lavender in pillows. Lavender is thought to produce prophetic dreams. I don't know if the dream part is true but lavender is certainly a lovely scent to enjoy while falling asleep.

Buckwheat and Lavender pillow fill

Buckwheat is a wonderful pillow fill - try it!

Buckwheat and Lavender pillows from Lavender Fanatic.

Pictured right is lavender from my garden. I tied the lavender together and placed it on top of our headboard.

I don't remember any interesting dreams last night, but I will keep you posted if there are any of note.

Click here for instructions on how to make your own lavender dream pillow.
I have a flush crop this year and would love to try any lavender recipes that you have - please share.

I hope to visit daybreak lavender farm during July while my niece, Claire, is visiting from New Hampshire. I think it will make for a memorable outing. I will be sure to take some fun photos of the fields of lavender and I wish that there was a way to share the beautiful scent that I know we will experience in the fields.

What a powerful link there is between scents and memories. I look forward to making a few memories with Claire this summer.

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