Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Calm the mind with Lavender

Stress weakens our immune system and we can become ill.  Lavender is a great way to calm and soothe.  It has been used for centuries as a calming agent. 

Fatigue  Add 5 drops of Lavender oil to a hot foot bath and relax while your feet soak in it. The soles of the feet are particularly porous, so Lavender reaches your bloodstream very quickly, exerting its stimulating and soothing effects on various systems of your body.

Aching Muscles  After an exhausting day at the office or a back-breaking afternoon in the garden, jump into a Lavender bath to soothe aches & pains.  Add Epsom salts and a few drops of Lavender oil to the bath and soak away the tension.

"Lavender, sweet Lavender;
come and buy my Lavender,
hide it in your trousseau, 
lady fair. 
Let its lovely fragrance flow
Over your from head to toe,
lightening on your eyes, 
your cheek, your hair."

Cumberk & Clark
Flower Song Book 1929


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lavender Bridal Bouquet

Lavender flowers are popular again at weddings particularly in wedding bouquets. Lavender flowers smell wonderful and they symbolize purity and fidelity.

You may choose a Lavender bouquet solely of fresh Lavender stems or simply have your florist incorporate Lavender flowers into your wedding bouquet. Look online and you can see dozens of choices for Lavender bouquets. 

Head wreaths of Lavender may be created for flower girls and then combine fresh Lavender buds with rose petals for them to sprinkle down the aisle.  Bunches of Lavender flowers can be placed on the sides of church pews. After the ceremony they can serve double duty as table centerpieces.

Excerpt from book "Lavender - the Universal Herb".  Read more online at Amazon:

Lavender Orange Focaccia Bread

The Ingredients:
Dough (for two loaves):
2 1/2 c warm water
2 T olive oil
1 T sugar
1 T + 1/2 t dry active yeast
2 1/2 t salt
6-7 c unbleached white flour

Orange Lavender topping:
about 1 T olive oil
4 t chopped fresh lavender (about half leaves and half flowers)
1 small orange, sliced as thinly as possible
2 t sugar

The Process:

  1. To make dough, combine water, oil, sugar, and yeast in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, and let sit for 5-10 minutes until yeast is puffy.
  2. Add salt and about 5 1/2 cups of the flour and knead with oiled hands or stir with the mixer's dough hook, adding more flour as necessary to form a slightly sticky but workable dough.  Knead about 12 minutes by hand or about 5 minutes with a stand mixer.
  3. Form dough into a ball, coat with oil, and place in a large, oiled mixing bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and place somewhere warm.  Allow dough to rise until doubled. (This can take anywhere from about 45 minutes to more than 2 hours, depending on your yeast and the room temperature.)
  4. Punch down dough and divide into two equal pieces.  Preheat oven to 400°.
  5. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets, and stretch each piece of dough into a rough rectangle, mostly covering a baking sheet.  You can leave the edges rounded and uneven for a more "rustic" look.  Let sit, covered loosely with plastic wrap, for about 15 minutes, then uncover and lightly dimple the surface of the dough with your fingertips.  Brush each loaf with a generous coating of olive oil.
  6. For the orange focaccia, arrange orange slices on top of dough, then sprinkle with lavender and lightly press the lavender in with your fingertips to make it adhere to the dough.  Top with sugar.
  7. For lemon focaccia, arrange lemon slices and asparagus spears on top of dough, brush asparagus with a little olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  8. Bake about 20-25 minutes or until tops of loaves have golden-brown splotches, then cool on baking racks.
Recipe Source:  Bite Me, I'm Vegan blog

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lavender Pasta recipe

Farfalle with Vegetables and Lavender
Adapted from Mark Bittman

½ pound of pasta, such as farfalle, orechiette, or gemelli
2 or 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin or crushed
2 medium zucchini or summer squash (about 1 pound), trimmed
2 medium carrots, peeled and trimmed
1 bell pepper (use whatever color you prefer), cored
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (enough to completely coat the bottom of your sauté pan)
1 teaspoon fresh or dried lavender flowers, plus additional for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (i.e. just barely tender, which is usually one minute less than the recommended cooking time.)
  2. Meanwhile, slice the vegetables thin, using a food processor, mandolin, or knife. Pour the olive oil into a large unheated skillet and add the garlic. Turn the heat to medium and gently cook the garlic until it starts to turn golden, stirring occasionally. (Cooking the garlic this way will both infuse the oil with the garlic flavor and minimize the possibility of it burning and becoming bitter.) When the garlic turns golden, add the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add the lavender, crushing the flowers in your fingertips to release their fragrance. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies barely soften, just 5 minutes or so.
  3. Hopefully the pasta will be nearly done just as the vegetables are nearly done. (If you start cooking the garlic right after you add the pasta to the boiling water, the timing should be right.) Drain the pasta, reserving some cooking water. Add pasta to vegetables and continue to cook, adding water as necessary to keep mixture moist.
  4. Taste, and add more lavender to taste; it should be distinctive but not too strong. When pasta and vegetables are tender but not mushy, adjust seasoning for salt and pepper, garnish with a couple of lavender flowers if you have them, and serve. A nice crisp sauvignon blanc would be really nice with this dish.