High Summer: Sunflower Social at Hauser Creek Farm

Given an abundance of rain this month, the grass has stayed green and vigorous (commanding a crazy amount of mowing) and the sunflowers have flourished, big time. August is shaping up to be intensely yellow. Join us on Wednesday, August 7, at Hauser Creek Farm starting at 5 pm until 8 pm and get yourself an armful of local, field-to-vase sunflowers. Stick around and try a sassy lavender spritzer /food-photos/ and some locally-sourced munchies. There is no charge to visit. Don't come to the farm expecting to see lavender in bloom as that crop has been harvested. We DO have lavender product for sale (cash, check or credit) and the lavender lineup includes: dried bundles, culinary lavender buds, lavender soap, bulk Provence lavender buds, loose lavender tea, and lavender sugar scrub.  Any questions, feel free to contact me or visit https://www.facebook.com/events/147421018787296/

 

 

 

A Modern Spice Drawer Staple: How 'Bout Those Lavender Buds

I imagine it's safe to say that lavender is a little known seasoning agent in many Southern kitchens. I'd like to change that. Like oregano, rosemary, and other Mediterranean herbs, lavender deserves a place in the spice cabinet, for sure. The culinary possibilities are as big as the imagination. Dried lavender buds can be incorporated in herb and spice blends for seasoning meats and vegetables, used in vinaigrettes, or turned into homemade lavender sugar, a mainstay in my pantry /blog/lavender-sugar-fragrant-by-design-hits-the-sweet-spot-in-sty.html. Herbs de Provence, a mixture of dried herbs, commonly contains lavender and is easy to make at home.

Camphor, the compound in lavender that renders it so pleasantly fragrant, is contained in variable amounts depending on the variety of lavender grown. It's important to know that not all lavender varieties are suited for cooking. I prefer angustifolia lavenders, especially Hidcote, for culinary uses, although some cooks use Provence. As with most dried herbs, a little goes a long way, and while lavender buds are costly the shelf life is up to a year.  In addition, don't overlook lavender foliage. If you have lavender in your yard or in a pot outdoors, the leaves can be snipped right through the winter and used in the kitchen. 

Finally, and this has nothing to do with either lavender or cooking, February dawned windy, soggy, and cold in our area. It had been awhile since we benefited from a good rain. That all changed a few weeks ago when it rained for 4 straight days and nights. This was not a gully washer rain, but a good long drenching that filled Hauser Creek. As the rising water made its way across our meadow I couldn't help but wonder what the creek, and the critters that depend on it, would say if it could talk.

Happy Valentine's Day!  ♥ ♥ ♥ lavender

Lavender Sugar: Fragrant by Design, Hits the Sweet Spot in Style

One reason I love lavender is that it's so incredibly versatile and multifunctional. Among the many ways that it can be used, and one that's pretty phenomenal in my opinion, is lavender sugar. I think every cook should have a secret ingredient. Mine is lavender sugar. Every now and then when I'm in a baking mood I like to use lavender sugar because it adds an interesting background flavor to cakes, breads, pies, and cookies. You can also sprinkle it on top of scones or muffins or stir it into hot cocoa or tea...yummy. Best of all, it's easy to make! All you need is some storebought granulated sugar, dried culinary lavender buds, a food processor, and about 60 seconds. Put the sugar and lavender buds in the food processor, process for about 60 seconds and you're done! This creates a finely-textured sugar and breaks apart the buds, releasing the essential oil and fragrance. An alternative is to use a clean coffee grinder in which case you'll need to make smaller batches. And here's a thought - transfer the sugar to pretty jars, tie on a decorative ribbon and you've got a unique gift! Stored in an airtight container in a cool place, lavender sugar will keep for up to a year although the fragrance may fade over time. Of course, the proportion of buds to sugar can vary depending on taste. I generally use 2 teaspoons lavender buds to 1 cup sugar.

Finally, hasn't the year just flown by? If you're out and about this Sunday afternoon, we hope you'll feel free to stop by the farm for Fall Open Farm Day. We'd love to see you and share a slice of Lavender Pound Cake and hot tea. We'll have lavender buds for sale (so you can make your own lavender sugar!) along with soap, bundles and more. See you soon!