My garden is full of lavender and two large, specially-made wooden containers on either side of the front door, painted the same color as the shutters on our house are overflowing with the feathery stalks.
Since the founding credo of this blog is to always tell you the truth, I'll enumerate all the reasons why I have always had a long-standing love affair with lavender:
- It's unspeakably beautiful.
- I'm enchanted by the butterflies it attracts (and the bees -- it makes me think someone, somewhere is making lavender honey).
- Once cut back in the fall it returns as lovely as ever the following year.
- It makes stunning bouquets mixed with other flowers from the garden in the summer -- or on its own in big unruly, un-arranged bunches.
- It dries beautifully for winter bouquets.
- You can make your own sachets for lingerie drawers and linen closets (here we go with a confession: I know this can be done, but as I've explained on many other occasions I'm not craft clever so I've never done this.)
- Dried bunches can be tied with silk ribbons and placed in linen closets. This one I've done -- not too complicated even for me. . . They look absolutely beautiful when you reach in to take a towel or a pillowcase. However, by the time spring rolls around the dried flowers have fallen off thus providing another spring cleaning opportunity.
- OK, here goes, the truth: Lavender is absolutely no work: no fuss, no pruning, just pure joy.
If you don't have a garden, a beautiful pot of lavender will give you almost as much pleasure as a field full of it (well, a little hyperbole there, but it will make you happy; that I promise.)
Those of you who are accomplished cooks and gardeners probably know this, but like so many things in my life I've discovered once again, I'm a late bloomer. I didn't know you could eat and drink lavender, I thought its raison d'etre was to decorate the table onto which one places the food. (Yes, I knew about the honey as mentioned above, but that's it.)
A few of my latest discoveries:
Marsi's Lavender Lemonade
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs. lavender flowers (organic, unsprayed)
4 cups water
1 cup lemon juice
Boil the sugar with one cup water until dissolved. Add the two Tbs. of lavender flowers. Let steep for 10 minutes. Strain mixture. Add four cups of cold water and one cup lemon juice.
(I've been told if one is so inclined it's quite delicious laced with vodka. I'm just saying. . .)
Anne-Sophie Pic Recipe Tips***
Lightly dust carottes râpées with the blossoms
(Ed. note:grated carrots with a light vinaigrette or a simple squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil is a French classic)
Vinaigrette: in proportions of 3/4 olive oil and 1/4 lemon juice, add fleur de sel and lavender blossoms.
Des Abricots Fleuris
Lightly warm abricots halves in a noisette of butter (a hazelnut size measure).
Déglacez with a larme (a tear, you be the judge on that one -- this is the romantic way French recipes are explained) of sugar syrup.
Sprinkle with lavender flowers
***The remarkable Anne-Sophie Pic is the only woman who has three stars in the Michelin Guide.