Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Hi, You've met Happy Herb and the other Spice Gals, Basil and Rosemary. I'm Spice Gal Lavender. My name comes from the Latin (not Greek) word lavare and I was named by the Romans, who used my leaves, flowers and stems in their "Roman" baths. "Lavare" literally means "to wash."
Friends tell me I'm beautiful (and who am I to disagree) and that I smell wonderful. (again, who am I to disagree). I'm a staple of the English countryside, although I'm not native to England. I was born and raised in the coastal hills of the Mediterranean and I've travelled (with the Romans) throughout Europe.
Cleopatra was a close friend of my family. It is long believed that one of Cleopatra's secret "love" weapons was Lavender. Our sultry scent, helped Cleopatra seduce Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony. FYI: Cleo had plenty of men friends. It's rumored that the wasp that killed her was hiding in one of her lavender bushes. I promise, we didn't have anything to do with that!
I help life smell more beautiful. Oil made from my leaves has soothing properties and are often associated with calming the nerves or relieving anxiety, providing relief for ailments from headaches, migraines to insomnia. As a medicinal herb, and once dried, I can be made into teas that calm the nerves and can help you sleep.
I'm compatible with the flavors of honey and lemon, and I am the perfect summertime herb to brighten seasonal foods. I add a unique, unexpected and delightful flavor to meats, salads, custards, jams, teas and cookies. Think of me as a sous chef. 'm so versatile in the kitchen, that adding me into almost any recipe will give you favorable results.
Recipes using both fresh and dried flowers are generally on the sweet side. I can be used to replace rosemary and other strong tasting herbs. Or, I can be blended with other members of my mint family, like Rosemary, Sage, Fennel, Tarragon, Oregano, Thyme and Mint. Together, we're known as Herbes de Provence. We're especially good mixed with olive oil to coat chicken, fish, tomatoes or chunks of potato for roasting, adding to a pizza sauce or sprinkled over game or kabobs before roasting. I'm also used for seasoning salads, sauces and cheeses, as well as soups and stews. Try rubbing the blend on whole turkey or the breast before roasting.
Here are a few of my most favorite recipes.
Lavender Lemonade with Honey
1 cup raw honey
5 cups water
1/4 cup fresh lavender blossoms, crushed*
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice, strained
Lavender sprigs for garnish
Bring 2 1/2 cups water to boil in a medium pan
Remove from heat and add honey, stirring to dissolve.
Add the lavender to the honey water, cover, and let steep at least 20 minutes or up to several hours, to taste.
Strain mixture and discard lavender
Pour infusion into a glass pitcher
Add lemon juice and another 2 1/2 cups of cold water.
Refrigerate until ready to use, or pour into tall glasses half filled with ice, then garnish with lavender sprigs.
Share and enjoy!
*Note: DO NOT use lavender essential oil in this recipe. Consuming lavender oil can be toxic, cause allergic reactions, as well as contribute to hormone imbalances in men and boys. Signs of lavender oil toxicity (requiring a call to Poison Control) include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, blurred vision, burning pain in the throat, difficulty breathing and skin rash.
Lavender Roasted Potatoes
This simple roast potato recipe is transporting with the flavor or lavender conjuring flavors of Provence. It's sure to freshen up any meal. (Special thanks to Toni Dash/BoulderLocavore.com Click HERE)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings
2-2 ½ pounds (about 4 large) thin skinned Potatoes (New, Red, etc)
2 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 ½ tablespoon dried Lavender
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Scrub potatoes, cut out any bad spots and cut into bite sized pieces. Do not peel.
Toss in a bowl with olive oil. When coated with the olive oil, add lavender, salt and pepper.
Spread into a single layer in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring part way through to ensure even browning. Potatoes are done when soft inside to the fork/bite.
Mojitos aren't just for limes anymore! Meyer lemons and lavender paired with traditional mint create a light, refreshing Mojito that is unexpected and tastes deliciously of spring.
5 fresh Spearmint Leaves
1 teaspoon Confectioner's Sugar
Juice of half a Meyer Lemon*
1/2 teaspoon dried Lavender
2 ounces Light Rum
Club Soda to fill
In a quart Mason jar or a shaker, combine the spearmint leaves, confectioner's sugar, Meyer lemon juice and lavender. Muddle completely. Strain into a Collins glass.
Fill the glass with ice.
Pour rum over the ice and fill with Club Soda.
Garnish with lavender sprig, mint sprig and/or a Meyer lemon slice and serve
*TIP: microwaving citrus fruit on high for 10 seconds before juicing will release more juice!