Saturday

Making Lavender Ice Cream

Last summer I experimented with a number of recipes using lavender. A few of my dessert efforts came out very well. You might like to try them.

If you are planning a dinner party or informal get together, offering something unusual that gives people a chance to try a dish that's new to them can stimulate conversation and make your party an occasion.

Dishes and ingredients that people might be reluctant to make for their small households, or order at expensive restaurants, can be a big hit when offered to them as guests. Even people who are reluctant to try new things will be more adventuresome when it comes to desserts in particular. I don't know why. Give a couple of these upcoming recipes a try, and don't forget to place a vase of cut lavender on the table.

For the recipe below, I infuse whole milk with lavender. The ratio is one heaping tablespoon of lavender for each cup of milk. If you are purchasing the lavender, it should be culinary quality. I use English lavender from my garden, and include flowers as well as a few leaves.

Making Lavender Milk or Cream

I tie dried lavender flowers and leaves into a coffee filter and place the little packet in cold milk or cream, bringing it slowly to a temperature of about 190 Degrees Fahrenheit in a heavy duty saucepan. (Don't let it boil.) I discard the filter after about an hour, and then let the milk cool completely in the refrigerator. I have also tried using lavender sugar to flavor ice cream, but like the stronger punch of the lavender milk better.

Caramel Lavender Ice Cream Recipe

This is a variation on the honey lavender ice cream that's been experiencing some popularity. My husband prefers caramel to honey, so I fashioned my own recipe. The lavender rescues the ice cream from cloying sweetness.

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1 ½ cups cream (not half and half)
1 cup whole milk (with lavender infusion above)
9 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Boil water and sugar in a heavy-duty saucepan until the mixture turns reddish amber. This can be tricky, both because the mixture can be hot and sticky, and because it goes from ready to burnt and inedible pretty quickly. Keep a close watch on it, and push the ingredients away from the sides of the pan with a wooden spoon to promote even cooking, but otherwise, leave it alone.

Remove the pan from the heat and add cream in a steady, even stream, stirring constantly. Keep at it until all of the caramel has been completely dissolved.

In a large bowl, separate eggs and reserve the yolks, add salt and blend until smooth.

Return the saucepan to the stove and add milk, stirring until the caramel mixture simmers. Remove from the heat.

Whisk the caramel into the egg yolks a little at a time until completely blended. Start SLOWLY.

Return mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened. Never allow to boil.

Strain if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until cool.

You can now prepare the mixture according to the directions provided with your ice cream maker.

Serve with lemon wavers.

Photo courtesy of J. Skrepnek. You can see other photo collections by this photographer at:
flickr.com

Monday

Quick Lavender Chicken Bake

Chicken with lavender, particularly with the addition of a little thyme, makes a great main dish. I use a generic seasoned coating mix (shake/bake) product as a base and then add the herbs, baking according to package directions. Because our family likes both white and dark meat, I use a combination of thighs, legs, and breast pieces.

Easy Savory Dish Using Lavender

I get regular inquiries about savory dishes using lavender, and this is the quickest and easiest. If you want to get an idea of how lavender tastes in cooking, this is the recipe to try.

Lavender Chicken Herb Bake Recipe

8 Assorted Chicken Pieces
½ teaspoon lemon pepper
½ teaspoon lavender leaves, dried and ground
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon ground thyme
One packet of seasoned coating mix

Mix seasonings with coating mix and place in a plastic bag or flat bottom dish. Set aside. Clean and pat chicken pieces dry. Coat chicken lightly with olive oil and dip in herb and crumb mixture. Bake according to package directions.

Special note: Use the leaves of English lavender for cooking. There are a number of shake/bake type products out there. Avoid spiced blends and go with the basic original variety.

Friday

Lavender Tea

If you like the fragrance of lavender, try a relaxing lavender tea. A natural muscle relaxer, lavender tea will work on your body as well as your taste buds, giving you some needed down time.

The addition of a few dried lavender flowers can elevate a tea break into a quick and effective aromatherapy session, but straight lavender can be harsh if you aren't used to it, so try this lavender blend to start.

Lavender Tea Recipe

1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers (English lavender)
1 tablespoon English Breakfast tea
a dash of fresh lemon
sugar or honey to taste

To prepare, pour two cups of boiling water over the tea leaves and lavender and allow to steep for five to ten minutes. Add lemon, strain, add sugar or honey to taste.

Special Note:

Before anyone corrects me, let me explain that 'tea' proper is made from the Camellia sinensis plant, and all other pretenders are actually infusions.

Lavender 'tea' is a popular name, and a tasty brew, once you get used to it. It really is relaxing, and works well to take the edge off a hectic day, or to help you get into a sleepy frame of mind at night. It's like Earl Gray tea in that it has a bit of a bite that's a surprise at first. Try it.


The wonderful photo that accompanies this post is courtesy of 1bluecanoe. You can see other example of this photographer's fine works at: flickr.com

Wednesday

Lavender Blogs

Over the last few months, as part of this blog and also in The Herb Gardener, I've put together a number of lavender related how-tos and articles of interest. I love lavender and hope that you do too. Below I have a recap of articles to date. If you've missed any, please take a look.

Lavender perfume in your home will make visitors feel more welcome, and special gifts like lavender pillows, lavender soap, lavender candles, and lavender water will show your friends and family how much you care.

*Growing Lavender

*Understand Lavender Varieties

*Lavender's 'Lucky" Reputation

*Propagating Lavender

*Keeping Lavender Indoors

*Lavender in History

*Lavender in Literature (Quotes)

*Herbes de Provence Recipe

*The Legend of Four Thieves Vinegar

*Make Lavender Bath Salts

*Make Lavender Sugar

*Make Lavender Facial Scrub

*Make Lavender Water

*Make an Easy Lavender Candle

*Make Lavender Bubble Bath

*Make Lavender Sunburn Treatment

Sunday

Growing Lavender

If you are a lavender novice, you may want to create some of the neat projects on these pages but need some help with the basics of planting and growing your own lavender stock. I have created a beginner article on lavender that will give you a basic introduction, please visit it at: Understanding Lavender

If you want a recap of lavender articles, tips, tricks, and interesting tidbits of lavender history, visit my lavender index: Become a Lavender Expert

I've covered some interesting topics, including lavender aromatherapy, candles, bath salts, facial scrub, and more. Even though I've only scratched the surface of what lavender has to offer the herbalist, cook, and crafter, getting a few plants in the ground comes first, so put planting lavender on your to-do list this season.

Thursday

Herbal Sunburn Treatment – Lavender Oil

Lavender has properties that naturally sooth the skin. Abused skin that is tender and painful as a result of sun or wind burn will feel better when treated with lavender oil.

Easy and inexpensive to make, this oil stores well in your refrigerator, and is a cool and relaxing alternative to commercially available sunburn preparations. Don't confuse lavender oil (a blend) with essential oil of lavender (concentrated lavender essence). In its concentrated form, essential oil of lavender can be an irritant and should never come in direct contact with the skin. Use it as an ingredient, not alone.

Lavender Oil Recipe

To make a soothing lavender oil combine ½ cup of olive oil with 1/4 cup of white vinegar. Add 12 drops of essential oil of lavender to the mix. Shake well before using. Apply gently with a cotton swab.