So I’m sure by this point you’ve heard me reference my big jar of lavender that I harvested and dried back in the summer. It’s a kind of pride and joy. So much time, labour, and sunshine essentialised and condensed in to one medium-sized mason jar. Whenever I need a pick-me-up or a soothing break, I wander into the kitchen, unscrew the cap, and take a big breath of the intoxicating aroma. There really is nothing like it.
What do you use the lavender in, you might ask? The possibilities, I maintain, are truly endless. One of my first posts here on hearthstrung was reflecting on making vegan chocolate truffles with cardamom and lavender — it goes so well with most any baking recipe. Back in the summer, I made madeleines of two types — earl grey and lemon-lavender (post on those to come!). Lately, though, I’ve been using it as a feature in salads.
This particular one C and I made together when he was visiting a couple weekends back. We had some fresh baby greens from our csa, and Jesse had just gone on an epic dumpster run and brought back pears, broccoli, and blue cheese, among other treasures. It was a lazy sunday afternoon and thus a salad was born. The bold flavours of the blue cheese (I may have even added a little too much) and balsamic vinaigrette were tempered by the slight sweetness of the pears and the earthy richness of the broccoli — not to mention the great contrast in texture between all the different components. But for me, what really made this salad was the generous infusion of lavender in the dressing. I rubbed a good spoonful of the precious purple buds between my hands to release their aroma before pouring them ceremoniously from my cupped palms into the dressing jar. I shook them up with some olive oil and a touch of balsamic, and let them stand for a few minutes to infuse further and let all their wonderful flavours seep into the dressing. Tossing it in with the salad immediately transported me back to the summer — harvesting stems of purple blossoms in huge bundles, leaving them on the picnic tables for the volunteers to take home, and bringing home the many basketfuls still left over. The aroma is both stimulating and relaxing — truly the scent of calm alertness. Not to mention delicious and remarkable. It was a joy to share this treat with someone special, warm and comfy in the kitchen, while outside the snow and ice still held claim to a cold, bright day in January. Talk about taking a trip without even leaving the house.