Monday, October 31

Stealing Lavender

This morning I find myself in Phoenix, thinking of happier times.  The warm temperatures here and the sunshine remind me of summertime, and the scent of flowers still blooming on this early November morning brings me back to summers spent picking wildflowers.

When I was a little girl, I remember there was a house a short way down the road that had a large patch of purple flowers growing in front of a small rock wall.  It was not a garden and it was never tended.  The flowers grew wildly, like weeds, and their intoxicating aroma drifted my way on the breeze.  My friends and I would often sneak over there, bottles and bowls in hand, crouching low so as to not be seen over the short rock wall.  We'd fill our bowls and jars with the little purple buds.  Fending off bees and wasps, we'd scrape the small flowers from the stems with our fingernails until our hands were grey-green and the tips of our fingers were raw and stung.  Then we would run, ever so stealthily, back to my house.  The heady fragrance emanated from our clothes, skin, and hair, and I'm sure my mother knew exactly where we had been.

We would then head to the sink to concoct our "perfume."  It was simply the purple buds mixed with water in old spice jars and perfume bottles which my mother had given me to play with.  I made batches and batches of this perfume - the flowers never ran out - and the scent of it covered my dolls and toys for many childhood summers to come.

I'd forgotten about this time until I visited a new spice shop that recently opened down the street from my son's school.  There I found a jar of Lavender from France for a  VERY reasonable price.  Of course I had to have it, and when I got home and opened the jar I was immediately back in that Lavender patch of my childhood, and the memories came flooding back.  We had no idea that what we were picking was Lavender, and back then Lavender didn't hold the mystique that it does today.  It was simply a garden filler.  Something that would grow where nothing else would.  What we did know - even as children -  was that there was something special about this plant; a magnificent and mesmerizing aroma which kept us coming back for more.

I think lavender is good in just about anything.  And, to be honest, I'd much rather eat it than rub it on my skin, but that's beside the point.  I use it in soups and under the skin of roasted chicken.  And I add a good, healthy dose to my Pot Roast Provencal, which I'll post later.  Last week I made Lavender Shortbread Cookies.  The original shortbread recipe was Ina Garten's, and I added Lavender in the hopes of re-creating a Lavender biscuit which I came across in Italy.  The results were divine.

Lavender Shortbread Cookies

3 sticks of butter (please don't have a heart attack yet - this makes a lot!)
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (the good stuff)
3 1/4 cups flour
1 heaping tsp dried lavender (more or less depending on your taste)
1/4 tsp salt

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the vanilla.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, Lavender, and salt.  Gradually add this to the butter and mix until well blended.  Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a disk.  Wrap disks separately in plastic and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350.

Flour your work surface and roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut with a pretty cookie cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Sprinkle the tops with a little extra sugar and bake for about 20 minutes until the edges are just slightly golden.  Cool to room temperature.  This makes about 4 dozen cookies and they freeze well.  Just wrap in a double layer of foil and put into a freezer bag.


  1. Very interesting post with beautiful pictures. I am from Jamaica and I have seen pictures of the lavender flower and it is really beautiful. Recently I got a lavender sachet from someone in England and the smell is really lovely. I did not know that lavender could be included in food. These cookies look great. I am a new Follower of your Blog from the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop.

  2. I didn't know lavender could be used in food either...I imagine they smell divine when baking! I would love to taste them.

  3. what a fun UNIQUE cookie. I have never had a lavender cookie! Amazing recipe :)

  4. Hello Rashel! I can't imagine how wonderful it must be to live near a field of lavender! I bet you have no trouble falling asleep with that lovely scent drifting into your home at night! :) I only have a small plant in a pot, and I must buy my lavender from the spice shop. Do you cook with the lavender you pick? Thanks for visiting! ~Rebecca