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Indulging my interest in food and flavor, I love to write about cooking, gardening and life's bounty. My new book - "Discover Cooking with Lavender"- is now available

Friday, November 24, 2006

Olympia Farmer's Market

Winter is here in the Pacific Northwest. No more sunny warm days. Sandals and shorts will have to wait for the next season. Rain pouring from the sky. My favorite way to cheer up is to spend time at the farmer's market. Olympia's Farmers Market is one of the best.

I came home with pears, plums, cabbage, parsley and carrots. Crunchy and bright orange, the carrots tasted sweet and fresh.

Lavender wreathes remind me of summer. The fragrance is sweet and seductive. The color is vivid.

If you are looking for a way to escape the winter blues, consider visiting a farmers market near your home.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Austin's Sweater

I love to knit! Today I finally completed the sweater and hat for my nephew, Austin. I desperately needed a model, and persuaded my dog, Mattie, to do the honor. Now, you have to admit he looks quite rakish!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

About Tisanes and Teas
How about a nice cup of tea or tisane? What is tisane? Simply another word for hebal tea. Calorie-free and caffeine-free, these drinks became popular before black tea became available as a luxury import.
To make a tisane, use the infusion method. I love lavender tisane. Easy to make, refreshing and relaxing, drinking lavender tisane brings me a taste of summer whenever and wherever I want it!
I go out to my garden and pick some fresh lavender. Clean it, wash it, chop it and place the mixture into my tea ball. I cover the tea ball with boiling water and wait for the water to become infused with the floral scent of lavender. Drink your lavender tisane with honey or with out, hot or cold.
When I don't want to make up my own tisane, two of my favorite beverages are: Sequim Farmers' Chamomile & Mint Tea with Lavender (available from www.bluemoonlavender.com) and Lavender Tea offered by Murchie's Tea and Coffee (note, this is a caffeinated tea using China's mild black teas laced with lavender.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Scones: Ginger, Lemon and Lavender
For the last month, I have craved scones. Every morning, I justify my indulgence for a scone and latte by a long and vigorous walk directly to my favorite coffee shop. A warm, sunny autumn provides the perfect weather for my morning outing.
Today, I decided it was time to make my own scones. I tried two recipes: Ginger scones from Nancy Silverton's Pastries (from the La Brea Bakery )and Lemon Lavender Scones, a recipe from Denise Kitchel. I added lavender to the Ginger Scones just for the fun of it!
Nancy Silverton's Ginger Scones are FANTASTIC! With 6 ounces of butter and 3/4 cup heavy cream, the taste was rich and reminded me of a butter cookie. The ginger gives the pastry a little zing! The recipe makes 9 very large scones.
The Lemon Lavender Scones were also delicious. Lemon and lavender seem to compliment one another. This recipe calls for two eggs plus butter and cream! What's not to like?
Lemon Lavender Scones
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4" pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lavender, dried, finely chopped
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus additional for brushing on top
1/4 cup lavender sugar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Farenheit.
In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, lemon zest and lavender.
Add butter pieces and cut in with pastry blender or using your fingers until most of the butter looks like oatmeal, with a few pieces the size of small peas.
In antoehr bowl lightly beat eggs and cream iwth a fork just unitl combined.
Add the eggs and cream to the flou mixture and stir just unitl combined.
Knead gently until dough comes together into a ball .
Cut the dough in half and shape each piece into a ball on a floured board.
Flatten the balls with palm of your hand until about an inch to an inch and a half thick.
Cut each piece into four wedges. Place scones onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with cream, and sprinkle with lavender sugar.
Bake scones for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brwon. (The bottos should be well browned and the scones should feel just slightly springy when pressed on top.)
Makes 8 scones.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Herbal tea, vibrant and refreshing, replenishes my spirit and delights my taste buds.

The Wu wei blend was created by a Seattle Teahouse in our Wallingford area -Teahouse Kuan Yin. Drink it for its beauty; the color is like a ruby. Also, the taste delights. Hibiscus, lemon balm, orange peel, lavender buds and cloves blend and offer a tastes from the garden.

Drink it cold on a hot afternoon if you please. The temperature in Seattle reached 80 plus today, so the iced tea was a perfect afternoon delight. The helpful young gentleman at the Teahouse Kuan Yin said the tea is also good served hot! The name of this blend is Wu Wei, meaning "effortless doing".

I purchased 1/4 pound of Wu Wei for a personal treat. After brewing a tall glass of Wu Wei in my kitchen, I felt refreshed with a sense of renewed energy. Delicious!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Seattle Lavender on June 20

Sweet, lovely lavender basking in Seattle sunshine. Looking beautiful along the street in my neighborhood. I could not resist taking several photo's. Enjoy!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Of Sunshine and Surprises!

After a lovely walk in the sun, I arrived home to find the most amazing gift on my front porch. Stunningly beautiful and luscious too, this surprise is one I want to share with everyone!

Okay, I know it is a cliche', however there is truth here. A picture is worth a thousand words. Just look at this edible bouquet.

My thoughtful and classy freinds, Lauren & Rion, sent this amazing treat. Many thanks, I feel better already!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Scarface Claw: The Cat Living at the Garden

Yesterday, I tended my garden. I weeded out quick grass, calendulas and other unwanted plants taking root in my p-patch. I also planted four tomato plants, two zucchini plants and six cucumber plants. My raspberries are thriving, with berries galore.

The highlight of my time at the garden happened when Scarface Claw sidled up to me. I tried to get a picture of this guy but he made it difficult. Everytime, I aimed my camera at Scarface, he moved quickly to rub up against my leg making it nearly impossible to get a good shot of him.

Persistence paid off.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

French Candy: Nougat Provence Style

Nougat is a candy made with sugar, or honey, egg whites, almonds and water

I have been testing various recipes. I have tried three different recipes. For the first two trials, I sweetened the candy with lavender sugar. The result is a pleasing with a very subtle taste of lavender. In the third test, I used lavender syrup along with lavender sugar to flavor the nougat. The third recipe is my personal favorite.

The first recipe specified the use of toasted sliced almonds. In the second version, I used whole marcona almonds. These almonds are grown in Spain, and are very sweet.

The second recipe I used was a three step process. Whipping egg whites was the first step. The second step was to make thick sugar syrup and beating that syrup into the egg whites. In the third step, I made another sugar syrup cooking that to the softcrack stage about 280 degrees. This thick syrup is then mixed into the creamy egg mixture.

After a lot of looking, I found individual cellophane twist wrappers. I discovered refrigerating the nougat makes it very firm and easy to cut. I like tiny pieces- ½ inch by ½ inch squares. The candy is so sweet, a little goes a long way.

I have to say when you put one of these nougat candies in your mouth; you experience the sweetness of the sugar, a subtle hint of lavender and then the rich nutty almond taste. This little bag of sweetness will be gift for a special friend.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Discover Lavender

April is rapidly coming to a close. I have been so busy writing, cooking and gardening (also playing golf weekly), I have been somewhat sporadic in posting to my blog.

You must check out www.gildedfork.com. This site not only put lavender in the spotlight in April, the editor featured my article describing why I love lavender.

This site is a new discovery for me and I love it. I love the clean fresh look of the site, and I enjoy the recipes. I can hardly wait to try the Milk & Honey Lavender Sorbet....mmm mmm !

Speaking of delicious food, last evening we had dinner with friends. The dinner was one I will remember for a long time. The first course was Alaska Crab. Sweet and delicious, this was an amazing treat. I want to get the specific name of the type of crab. I have never seen it on the market here, and our host informed us that this was the first season in 5 years that fishing for this type of crab was permitted.

The main course was cod prepared in an almond reduction served beautifully on a bed of fresh greens. Fresh asparagus, avocado & tomato salad, brown rice completed the menu. Everything was simply delicious.

I must also mention how much I enjoyed the dessert. So simple and so good! Arranged on a cutting board, the hostess served fresh sliced apples, pears and strawberries along with two sweet dipping options -- caramel and chocolate. Both dips were served warm. A perfect ending to a fabulous dinner.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

This Appetizer Wins a Blue Ribbon

Blue Cheese topped with lavender honey on a cracker makes a delicious appetizer. My favorite blue cheese is an artisan cheese produced by The Rogue River Creamery. The strong and pungent taste of the cheese is enhanced by a dollop of lavender honey. My favorite lavender honey comes from the Olympic Lavender Farm located in Sequim, Washington.

I discovered the recipe for this appetizer in a magazine advertisement for Carr's crackers. What a great idea!

Monday, March 20, 2006


In the mood for a fast and delicious dessert? Looking for something fat-free? Then you must try this one. I made it in less than 15 minutes. My kitchen is filled with the most wonderful fruity, floral fragrance. Trust me whether you are preparing a simple family meal or a feast with company, this dessert will be enjoyed by everyone.

Lavender Poached Pears

Pears partner exquisitely with lavender. These pears remind me of the home-canned pears my mother made in the summer and served us for dessert in the middle of winter. The texture is soft and the flavor is a gentle reminder of summer.

3 fresh Bosc or Bartlett Pears
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons lavender buds
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

Wash pears and peel the skin off completely. Cut the pears in half, removing the core.
Sprinkle the pears with lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.
Put the lavender buds in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie up with kitchen twine.
Place the pears in a micro-wave safe dish; add sugar, water and the bundle of lavender.
Cover the dish and cook in microwave for a total of seven minutes or until the pears are easily probed with a fork. After the first three minutes, rotate the dish and rearrange the pears.
If you prefer to poach the pears in your oven, you can place the pears in an oven-proof dish, cover and bake at 325 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.
Remove the bundle of lavender and add the lemon zest. Spoon the syrup over the pears, cover the dish and let the pears stand at least 30 minutes before serving.

Serving suggestions: This makes a simple fat-free dessert or can be served at breakfast with yogurt. My favorite way to serve this is as dessert sprinkled with a tiny amount of best quality dark chocolate and garnished with a sprig of fresh lavender.

6 Servings

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Strawberries sweetened with lavender sugar and topped with a mixture of Greek yogurt and creme fraiche is a fantastic way to announce that spring is nearby.

Simple, elegant, fresh and delicious, this recipe is one you will use over and over again.



1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed, stemmed and cut lengthwise into 8ths
1 tablespoon lavender sugar
1 tablespoon best quality balsamic vinegar

1 cup Greek Style yogurt
2 tablespoons heavy creme fraiche
1 tablespoon lavender sugar

1. Chill 6 desert goblets by placing in the refrigerator
2. Combine the strawberries, vinegar and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir gently. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Just before serving, combine the yogurt and creme fraiche in a bowl and whisk gently adding the 1 tablespoons of lavender sugar to taste; The mixture will remain quite firm.
4. Spoon the strawberries in to the desert goblets and top with the lavender yogurt cream.

Garnish with a sprig of mint or lavender.

6 Servings

Saturday, March 18, 2006

This morning I am grateful for my hands. They are incredibly useful, helpful and busy. Whether they are keying in letters on my computer, digging a small hole with a trowel or scratching an itch, my hands are necessary for all kinds of things.

I am taking excellent care of my hands. Beeswax cream is soothing, luxuriant. My hands love it. The cream adds moisture back that is lost due to hot water, soap and garden dirt. This cream is organic. The ingredients are sesame seed oil, beeswax, distilled water, propolis tincture, lavender essential oil and a little bit of borax. The cream has a subtle clean fragrance. I have been using this cream for about a week, and my hands are beginning to respond to this pampering. They are softer and the dryness around my cuticles is gone!

You can get this cream from kate@healingbees.com.

Hands, bees and lavender -- all blessings enriching my life!

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Lavender Fairy

Lavender has its very own fairy. The charming illustration was created by Cicely Mary Barker in 1923. The little fairy is standing barefoot on a lavender bush. Her arms reach up as she steadies herself by holding on to a spike of purple flowers. Dressed in a purple dress, the fairy has wings. Butterflies seems to dance around the flowers.

Check out this illustration at this website: http://www.insects.org/ced4/lavender.html

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Several days ago, I wrote about the cat at my garden. I don't think I mentioned that my garden is a community garden, better known here in Seattle, as a P-Patch. This big black cat seems to live in the garden. I am suspecting this is a male cat. He struts and swaggers around the garden like he owns the place. He looks mangy, his fur is thick and uneven. He has a wild look, scruffy and shabby. I do hope he is not reading this blog because I would not want to hurt his feelings. My grandson, Sam, calls him "Scarface Claw." Scarface Claw fits this guy perfectly.