LAVENDER – Lavandula Angustifolia
Herb of the Year 1999
Lavender is hardy to Michigan if you choose the correct variety. Munstead is the variety that I recommend. Lavender is a beautiful plant to use in your landscaping as well as being very versatile. It can be used for fragrance – in bouquets, potpourri, between linens in the linen closet and in woolens to keep moths away. The oils from the lavender can be very relaxing when inhaled. The oil can also be used in soaps, candles, perfumes and other bath and body products. I use it extensively as a culinary herb. It can be used in a flavored vinegar, lavender sugar for sugar cookies or flavoring fruit or tea, in biscuits, scones, ice cream, butter sauce for salmon, punch and sugar cookies (recipe follows). It is one of the ingredients in Herbs de Provence.
Lavender likes a sunny location with well drained soil. I harvest when flowers are full of color but just before they open. If flowers are open when picked, they will fall off in the drying process. In early Spring I cut the woody stems back to about 6 inches so I get nice green growth and eliminate the big stems that don’t produce green growth. This keeps it well shaped instead of leggy.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons lavender flowers
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup buttermilk
Heat oven to 450 F. Measure flour, lavender, sugar, baking powder, salt and soda into a bowl. Cut in shortening thoroughly, until mixture looks like meal (This can be done in a food processor). Stir in almost all the buttermilk. If dough is not pliable, add just enough milk to make a soft, puffy, easy-to-roll dough. Round up dough on a lightly floured cloth-covered board. Knead lightly 20 to 25 times, about 1/2 minute. Roll a little less than 1/2″ thick. Cut with a floured biscuit cutter. Place on un-greased baking sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 2 dozen 1 1/2″ biscuits. Serve with Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly.
LAVENDER SUGAR COOKIES
3/4 cup shortening (part butter)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 Tablespoons lavender flowers
Mix thoroughly shortening, sugar, eggs and flavoring. Blend in flour, baking powder, salt and lavender. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Heat oven to 400 F. Roll dough 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured cloth-covered board. Cut into desired shapes. Place on un-greased baking sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until light brown. 4 dozen 3-inch cookies. Can be frosted with pale lavender icing drizzled like lattice work and garnished with a candied Johnny-Jump-Ups.
2 cups honey
2 Tablespoons lavender flowers
Bruise fresh (or crush dried) flowers and place them in the bottom of a saucepan. Pour honey over the mixture. Stir and heat only until honey is lukewarm, 2 or 3 minutes. Do not boil. Pour honey into sterilized jars and seal. Store at room temperature about 1 week to develop flavors. Then re-warm the honey gently to liquefy. Strain out flowers and reseal.
PINK LAVENDER LEMONADE – Makes 2 quarts
1 – 12 oz. container of frozen pink lemonade OR 1 container of Crystal Light Pink Lemonade
3 Tablespoons lavender
Bring 1 cup of water to boiling. Remove pan from burner, add lavender, cover & let steep until mixture cools. When cool, strain off flowers catching liquid in a cup. Pour frozen lemonade into a pitcher. Pour strained liquid into the emptied lemonade can and fill can to the top with water. Add this can and remaining water specified on lemonade can to dilute the lemonade. Serve over ice and garnish with a lavender sprig.
LAVENDER ICE CREAM
4 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup Triple Sec liqueur
2 Tablespoons to 4 Tablespoons dried or fresh lavender flowers
Pour Triple Sec into a glass measuring cup. Add flowers and microwave until steaming. Allow to steep for about 1/2 hour or until cool. Meanwhile soften ice cream. Strain off the lavender flowers (I don’t like the texture of the flowers in the ice cream)and pour lavender infused liqueur into softened ice cream, stir well. Spoon into individual serving dishes and put in the freezer. Just before serving, garnish with: fresh lavender sprig, candied pansies, mint leaves or a thin orange slice.
STEAMED LAVENDER CHICKEN
A few sprigs of flowering lavender
1 whole chicken – quartered
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon flour
salt and pepper to taste
In the bottom of a steamer put ½ cup water and the lavender sprigs. In the top of the steamer put the chicken pieces. Put on stove, bring water to boiling, cover, lower heat and steam for 20 to 30 minutes, just until meat is tender, it should be juicy. Keep chicken warm while you make the sauce.
Melt butter in a saucepan and stir in flour. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Pour in enough of the lavender water from the steamer to give the sauce the desired thickness. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Season to taste. Slice the meat onto a platter and pour sauce over. Garnish with a lavender sprig and serve with wild rice, broccoli and carrots. Serves 4.
RECIPES USING LAVENDER SUGAR
• Stir into hot or iced tea
• Sweeten scone, pancake and muffin batter
• Sprinkle over sugar cookies before baking
• Mix in softened butter for a sweet flavorful butter
• Use on grilled fruit
GRILLED FRUIT WITH LAVENDER SUGAR
Choose from any of the following fruits equaling 6 cups
1 cup honey
Zest of 1 lemon
3 to 4 Tablespoons lavender sugar
Cut fruit in large chunks and pat dry. Arrange on a baking sheet. Melt honey and brush on fruit. Sprinkle lemon zest and sugar on fruit. Put fruit on skewers or grilling tray. Grill on a medium heat grill 4 to 6 minutes per side, turning once. Serve plain with cheese or cookies or over vanilla ice cream.