Monday, June 11, 2012

Lavender Recipes!

As promised, here are a few little ways to bring more lavender into your life.

This is great drizzled over toast, English muffins, granola, or stirred into a cup of tea!
1/4 cup English lavender buds
1 cup honey (not the creamed kind)

Place lavender and honey in the top part of a double boiler and simmer for about an hour, checking water to make sure it doesn't boil away. Remove from heat and strain out the lavender while the honey is still warm and thin. Pour honey into a clean jar with a lid, and store at room temperature.
Note: You do not ever want to let honey reach its boiling point. It will bubble up in a flash, leaving a sticky mess all over everywhere. Ask me how I know. ;-)


Adapted from the Atlantic Spice Company's recipe
The original recipe called for "Tilia Flowers", which Atlantic Spice no longer carries. They do carry the cellulose fiber fixative, which is basically ground-up corn cobs. Their link is listed to the right, and the San Francisco Herb Company is their sister company for all our western U.S.A friends.
You can omit the cellulose fiber if you'd like - just increase the amount of cedar chips by one cup, and drip the oil onto them instead.

Caution: Essential oils are potent and should be handled with care. Be careful not to get the oils directly on your skin or in your eyes! When mixing, use only non-reactive bowls, spoons, etc. (glass, ceramic, or stainless steel - no aluminum, plastic, etc.), and dedicate them to craft use from that point forward. (I like to get bowls & such at Goodwill for craft purposes!)

6 cups cedarwood chips*
4 cups lavender
1 cup cellulose fiber fixative
1 cup cinnamon sticks (1-inch)
1 cup cloves, whole
¼ to ½ ounce cinnamon or lavender essential oil

Drip essential oil onto the cellulose fiber nuggets, blending well. Mix with all other ingredients. Fill wide-mouth jars about ¾ full, cover tightly and store in a cool, dark place. Check fragrance after several days and add more cinnamon oil if desired. Cure for 2 to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally.

*Note: Cedar chips sold as bedding for small animals will work just fine, and are usually a lot less expensive than herb-store cedar!



Dried lavender buds
Sheer wire-edged ribbon
Buttons or beads

Cut a 13” length of sheer wired ribbon.  Turn ends under about 1/4" and stitch.  Fold 5 ½ inches of the ribbon over on itself and stitch the sides together.  Put the lavender mixture into the pocket.  Fold over the remaining 2 inches to make the pocket flap.  Sew a button or beads to the pocket to secure the flap. 


Have fun with your lavender!  - J.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Loving Lavender!


I love Lavender! It's been a favorite for centuries, and with good reason:

It's beautiful in the garden - no self-respecting cottage or herb garden would be without it.
It attracts bees and butterflies! (Ever tried lavender honey? Yessum!)
It smells heavenly - all clean and crisp and sweet and sunshine.
It keeps that scent when it's dried. For years.
Because of that scent, it keeps moths out of the closets.
Its oil soothes sunburn, burns, and scratches. And headaches.
It makes a fabulous syrup for making lemonade. Or iced tea.
It makes a load of laundry smell like sunshine.
It makes a soothing and refreshing bath.
It is a "balancer" in aromatherapy terms: if you're dragging, it's thought to pick you up. And if you're tense,  
          it's thought to calm you back down. Balance. :)
It's delicious in tea, in Herbes de Provence, in a cake with blueberries... let me count the ways...

In other words, I could go on and on and on.

Lavender's botanical name is "Lavandula", which comes from the Latin lavare, "to wash". I've always thought of it as an English plant, but it actually originated in the Mediterranean region. (Many thanks to Roman soldiers for spreading it and other herbs around!Ancient Greeks and Romans added it to bath water, medieval folk carried it to ward off the plague, and it was historically recommended to treat “A light migram or a swimming ov the braine”.
 Yup, I'd rather not have my braine swimming, either! *innnnhale*

In the garden, lavender loves sunlight, warmth, and a well-drained soil that's on the "sweet" (alkaline) side. Here in my part of Kentucky, our soil has more than its fair share of clay - so the "well-drained" part is difficult at best to achieve. Our air is also extremely humid in the summers, which can be a little bit of a problem for some lavenders. 'Grosso' (pictured below) is an exception to this, and can grow to over four feet in diameter around here! I planted my lavender next to our concrete driveway - lime from the concrete tends to leach into the soil, making it a little more alkaline. Happy Lavender Campers.

Left: Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote'. Right Lavandula x 'Grosso' .
So, as I write this, it's June - full-on Springtime in the lovely state of Kentucky. The lavender has been blooming for several weeks now, keeping the bees happy. I cut quite a bit of lavender every year, both for my own use and to sell in little bunches at craft shows. The bees and I have an Understanding... when I'm harvesting bunches of stems, I move slowly and talk softly to them. I reassure them that I'm only taking some of it, and leaving plenty for them to enjoy. So, we work quietly and happily alongside each other. At this point in the season, whatever is left is all theirs - since I'm harvesting it mainly for ornamental use, I prefer to take stems that haven't bloomed-out yet. But I still go talk to them, of an early morning. :)
Bumblebee this morning, busy  in the 'Hidcote'

Freshly cut stems of  'Hidcote', which has the darkest-purple buds and blooms of any Lavender I know.



In my own home, I love to dry it and put it in a certain little vase.  My Mom had the vase from my Granma (my Dad's mom), and passed it on to me long ago. It usually lives on the bathroom window sill, but sometimes I like to change it up a bit. :)



Whoops - it's time to go set up for the radio show! I'll be back with another post, with some recipes. 
Promise. :)