Patsy Bell Hobson is a garden writer and a travel writer. For her, it's a great day when she can combine the two things she enjoys most: gardening and traveling. Visit her personal blog at http://patsybell.blogspot.com/ and read her travel writings at http://www.examiner.com/x-1948-Ozarks-Travel-Examiner.
I had never used lavender in the kitchen until I went to DayBreak Lavender Farm. You can pick your own lavender or everlasting drying bouquet at the Ohio Lavender Harvest. The odd thing is, lavender isn't supposed to grow in Ohio, but it does. The farm is in the rolling hills of Ohio near Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
I like to flavor sugar with lavender. To flavor sugar, add 2 tablespoons of lavender buds to 2 cups of sugar; stir or shake the jar then seal tightly for two weeks. (The lavender flavors the sugar kind of like when Martha Stewart adds vanilla beans to flavor her sugar.) Two weeks later, sift the sugar to separate the lavender from the sugar. I use this lavender flavored sugar in sugar cookies and butter cookies. You can also use your lavender-infused sugar to make simple syrup for lavender-flavored lemonade.
Step 1: To flavor sugar, add 2 cups of sugar and 2 tablespoons culinary lavender; seal and wait two weeks.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson
Step 2: Sift sugar after two weeks. Use in place of regular white sugar.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson
Lavender goes well with baked goods and is especially nice with chocolate. To incorporate lavender into your baking, add a teaspoon to your next batch of brownies. For another lavender infusion, use candied lavender flowers as cake decorations or on ice cream. Also, you can use your mild-flavored lavender sugar in baked goods or beverages. For example, use lavender sugar when making hot chocolate.
Add small amounts of lavender to your espresso along with dark chocolate for lavender-infused hot chocolate.
Courtesy Flickr/Photo by Robyn Lee
At the lavender harvest in Streetsboro, Ohio, owner Jody Byrn will share her recipes for Dark Chocolate Lavender Truffles and Lavender Tea Cakes. You can also buy lavender gift baskets from DayBreak Lavender Farm. My first experience baking with lavender was using Jody's recipes for lavender desserts. It gave me the confidence to add lavender to other recipes.
These potatoes have been seasoned with Herbes de Provence before roasting.
Courtesy Flickr/Photo by bearsyr
The best known herb combination that includes lavender is Herbes de Provence. These herbs have always been key to southern French cooking. But the rest of the world was introduced to Herbes de Provence in the 1970s when the mixture was formulated by spice wholesalers to sell more herbs.
Herbes de Provence Mix
I use this premixed herb combination on cornish hens before they cook on the rotisserie or as a spice rub on kabobs before grilling. Herbes de Provence is a mix of rosemary, cracked fennel, thyme, savory, basil, tarragon, dill weed, Turkish oregano, lavender, chervil and marjoram. Start here if you want to mix your own herb combination perfect for southern French cooking.
• 2 tablespoons dried savory
• 1 tablespoons dried rosemary
• 2 tablespoons dried thyme
• 2 tablespoons dried oregano
• 2 tablespoons dried basil
• 2 tablespoons dried marjoram
• 1 tablespoons dried fennel seed
1. Blend herbs and keep in an air-tight container.
2. Make this recipe your own by adjusting the amounts of the different herbs.
• Jody Byrne, founder of DayBreak Lavender Farm
• Rose Marie Nichols McGee, owner of Nichols Garden Nursery