Birthday Celebration: Rustic Pear Galette with Warm Lavender Honey

This weekend we celebrated my elder daughter's birthday. Over years, I've always made conventional birthday cakes for my children, but given my daughter's passion for France (she is a French major), I wanted to do something French-like.  Assessing the options, I found myself studying an earthy-looking galette. For some reason, maybe because it uses fresh fruit, the recipe struck a chord. For one, it looked like something that could be transported with ease, and it seemed simple to make. It was on both counts. According to Food Lover's Companion, a galette (gah-LEHT) is a round, rather flat cake made of flaky pastry and there are as many variations as there are French regions. Basically, you start with a French pâté brisée, a rich flaky dough, which you roll out and then fill with fruit. The rough pastry edges are simply folded up and over. I'm not sure how close my galette comes to the French model, but, for the record, we all loved it.  

The basic process is simple: (1) Roll out the pastry (2) Peel, core and slice thinly two very large, ripe pears and arrange them in concentric circles atop the pastry (3) Sprinkle a sugar-cornstarch mixture over the pears (4) Fold over the crust edges and dot the pears with a little butter (5) Brush the pastry with an egg glaze, and (6) Bake in a hot oven for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden and the pear juice is bubbly. Finally, before serving, I couldn't help myself. On a last-minute whim, I glazed the pears with some of our farm's lavender honey. After all, don't lavender and France go hand and hand?

Bon anniversarie, Annie!

Late September: Lavender Honey and Pruning Days

A few years ago, a swarm of honeybees landed in one of our willow oaks. At the time, I phoned the local cooperative extension service and was referred to Barron Church, a local beekeeper. Before Barron had a chance to come collect the bees, they had already moved on...but an idea had been planted. Keeping bees at the farm is in line with our sustainability efforts, and honey is a value-added product. So this past May, Barron brought two hives out to the farm and situated them alongside the lavender field.

Over the summer I sampled as many different types of honey that I could find, ranging from tupelo to lavender to local wildflower. I've learned that some honey producers simply infuse the lavender scent into clover honey - a practice that does not seem exactly authentic. I like to think that the honey Barron harvested from our farm in August is the real deal, the result of happy bees working the lavender flowers. Yet when it comes to taste, I've decided that most honey is, in fact, similar...with only minor subtleties. Honey's benefits are well-known. It is a natural preservative and has been used in healing remedies for at least 4000 years. It acts as an antibacterial agent and is commonly used for dressing wounds. Honey also contains vitamins and beneficial antioxidants.

On a personal note, over the next several weeks I'll be pruning lavender - a job you can't run away from because it's vital to the plants' health and longevity. Pruning needs to be completed by Halloween - in time for the first frost. Happy Autumn!