LIVING LA VIDA LOCA….SEVEN DAYS OF EATING LAVENDER, DAY FIVE (LAVENDER FUDGE)

After taking a break for a few days to live life in the Florida Springs, I have resumed my goal of eating lavender somehow, some way, for seven days (with mixed results). Today is a winner. How could chocolate with a hint of anything ever go wrong?

After deciding I don’t like the texture of the dried lavender flowers between my teeth, I decided to strain them after putting them in a double boiler along with some butter and sweetened condensed milk before adding the chocolate. The result is a simple to make fudge with a hint of lavender, which is neither overpowering nor does it taste like soap.

I made it in a 9 x 9 inch square pan, but I think it would be better a little thicker in a 8 x 8 inch pan instead.

For those of you brave enough to give this a whirl, here is the recipe:

Lavender Fudge

Ingredients:

16 ounces chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet but next time I might try dark chocolate)

14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

1 Tablespoon dried lavender flowers (or 3 Tablespoons fresh0

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:

  • Melt everything together butter, lavender flowers, and sweetened condensed milk in a double boiler. When melted, stir for about five minutes, then strain. Add the strained mixture back to the double boiler and add chocolate. Stir until smooth and melted. REALLY smooth and melted (almost glassy).
  • Pour into a pan lined with wax paper (approximately 9″ x 9″). Cover with Saran Wrap. Chill overnight.
  • Cut into 1″ squares.
  • Sprinkle fresh lavender sprigs on top layer to decorate if available!

Life is good; live life fully. Carpe diem, friends……….

lavender plant:dreamstime photo

LIVING LA VIDA LOCA….SEVEN DAYS OF EATING LAVENDER, DAY FOUR (LAVENDER LEMONADE)

dreamstime

Lavender lemonade. Such wonderful alliteration. I adored the sound of it, so today on day four of eating (or drinking) lavender, I knew THAT was exactly what I needed to make.

I steeped the lavender only thirty minutes in order to get a subtle lavender flavor to avoid that “soapy” taste I’ve encountered in some recipes. The recipe calls for steeping the lavender several hours alternatively if desired for a stronger lavender flavor.

My daughter really liked this tart lemonade (you can fiddle around with the amount of water, sugar, or lemon if necessary, too. I could see this lemonade mixed with seltzer water or sparkling wine, too, for a different refreshing drink.

Here is the recipe if you want to try this:

Ingredients:

  1. A small handful of freshly picked and rinsed lavender flowers or a Tablespoon of dried culinary lavender flowers (I used dried from Amazon).
  2. 1 cup white granulated sugar
  3. 2 cups of boiling water for the infusion
  4. 1.5 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice from lemons (it helps to roll the lemons on the counter with the palm of your hand before juicing them to get maximum juice from each lemon.
  5. 2 cups or more of cold water
  6. ice

Directions:

  1. Cut the lavender flowers from the stem and place in a medium bowl. Pour the sugar over the flowers and use your fingers to gently rub the flowers into the sugar.
  2. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the lavender sugar and stir until the sugar is melted. Cover and let infuse (or steep) for thirty minutes or up to several hours.
  3. Strain the lavender syrup into pitcher you just made, discarding the flowers.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and add another two cups of water. Add more water, sugar, or lemon if desired according to taste. (more lemon if too sweet; more sugar if too tart.
  5. If desired, add a drop of purple food coloring.
  6. Chill and serve with ice, sliced lemons and a few lavender sprigs if available.

Life is good. Give something new a whirl today. Carpe diem, friends………..

LIVING LA VIDA LOCA….SEVEN DAYS OF EATING LAVENDER, DAY THREE (LAVENDER CAKE)

I can still hear my wonderful father saying to me time and time again in my head: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That was him, “King of the Colloquial Expression”, always finding a teachable moment everywhere. A man of few words but words that meant something. He didn’t speak much, of course, unless he had something to say. No idle banter for him, but a pleasant and funny disposition, a kind and loving heart, a warm smile with a sunny laugh, and a man of few words. Life lived well and lived fully.

I think of my Dad today on day three of a week of lavender recipes I am trying. It comes down to the idea of cut the idea of cutting your losses while you are ahead versus you never know until you try. Go the distance; live without wondering what could have happened. Go the distance; risk disappointment but know you tried. I impart these same words to my daughter, “Teen Traveler” and decide without blinking an eye that the proverbial “show must go on”, another quip from my beautiful days with my father before he passed on. Even though we haven’t really cared for the two lavender recipes we tried this week, we will continue in our quest.

Day Three: Lavender pound cake. Pound cake brings to mind simpler, almost more old-fashioned times, as my beautiful mother adored pound cake and served it to me when I was small like her mother did before her. Pound cake, buttery goodness and sweet confection, just like Mom. Throw in a little lavender, and it HAS to be good, right? This time I am going to decrease the amount of lavender I use to see if that makes a difference and pair it with lemon. How could lemon pound cake go wrong with wise words of advice from my father coupled with sweet memories of my mother……

I decided to use my Mother’s old vintage Corningware loaf pan, complete with the cornflower from a lifetime ago filled with less complication, confusion and without Covid. This was either a very good thing to use my Mother’s pan as fond memories of love and comfort surrounded me while I was baking, or…..it was a bad thing because my mother wasn’t much of a baker. In either case, it was fun to take out my Mother’s old pan again if for nothing other than the sake of nostalgia.

Yesterday my track record for yummy lavender recipes was 0 for 2. I waited with excitement as I watched the cake come out of the oven and cool. I used a vanilla confectionary sugar glaze when it was cool enough as the recipe directed.

And I added sprinkles. Of COURSE I added sprinkles, as I had learned years ago from marrying into my husband’s family that sprinkles on our Italian struffali is the ONLY way to go. LOTS and LOTS of sprinkles. My daughter also taught me that life is better, always better, with a little sprinkles on top.

One person who tasted it said it felt like they were eating a scented drawer liner. My daughter said it would be delicious WITHOUT the lavender. I actually liked it, but I would have preferred the recipe to have a little heavier glaze on the top, as it was almost transparent in the recipe, even though I added even more confectionary sugar to thicken it than the recipe called for.

Day three: 1 for 3. Finally a recipe that tastes good (to some of us). I actually think I’m on to something here with the combination of lavender and lemon. Perhaps tomorrow I will try lavender lemonade. You know how it goes…..”if life gives us lemons, we make lemonade!”

Life is good; carpe diem, friends……..

(photo 1:dreamstime)

LIVING LA VIDA LOCA….SEVEN DAYS OF EATING LAVENDER, DAY TWO (LAVENDER HONEY ICE CREAM)

Day two of my seven days of eating lavender. How could I go wrong with lavender honey ice cream? How could I EVER go wrong with ice cream? My daughter and husband now wonder out loud why we didn’t choose seven days of cinnamon.

I found a recipe that uses lavender with honey, so I elected to use orange honey, a local favorite here in Florida. How could I go wrong with orange honey either? Orange honey tastes a little sweeter than the regular clover honey which is what one normally thinks of when one thinks of honey. It is also a little more “floral” in taste.

Using heavy cream, whole milk, dried culinary lavender blossoms and honey in a pan on the stove until steaming, this is how I began the process. The recipe says to cool the mixture for one hour in the refrigerator after it is steaming, and the honey melts and to follow the instructions in one’s ice cream maker. At some point, I strained the lavender flowers from the mixture, too. My ice cream machine says to put cold ingredients into it before starting it up, so that’s what I did. I cooled the mixture much longer than an hour. I decided before I put the mixture into the ice cream maker that the muddy-colored default ice cream color simply would not do, so I added a few drops of neon purple food color before continuing after I strained the lavender out of the mixture. Lavender should be purple. One of life’s axioms perhaps.

After waiting with great anticipation, the ice cream started to freeze and began to take shape. After my first trial of a recipe using lavender yesterday (lavender-mint water), I was a bit skeptical, but the ice cream looked so appealing in the ice cream maker. Finally, the time came for me to try it……ready…get set……….go…..Smooth texture, appealing color but tastes like…….SOAP. I immediately reminded myself that the French word for “to wash” is “laver”. Sounds like lavender. Lavender is associated with WASHING, not eating evidently, and for good reason.

After freezing the ice cream for many hours, I decided that it tasted a little better when it was colder. The texture was smooth and creamy, and I almost liked the flavor. ALMOST. I am wondering now if the hints of floral taste to the orange honey may have given it the strange after taste. Might try this again another time with standard clover honey instead……or….might NEVER try this recipe again.

All in all, it was fun to experiment with a new flavor. I have come to like expecting the unexpected.

Life is good………..find enjoyment in the unexpected today if you can. Carpe diem, friends.

Note to self: perhaps combining lavender with lemon tomorrow might do the trick! Luck with lavender and lemon……at least the alliteration is fabulous!

(photo 1/2:dreamstime)

LIVING LA VIDA LOCA….SEVEN DAYS OF EATING LAVENDER, DAY ONE (LAVENDER WATER)

I love lavender. In fact, I wear a lavender body spray from Bath and Body Works every night before I go to bed because I love the scent so much and have for years. They say lavender has many medicinal properties such as anti-inflamatory properties, help for insomnia, pain relief, and can help one relax. I’m not sure about any of that, but I just love lavender.

In my ever-present search to “shake things up” to live my life fully, I came up with the crazy idea of EATING lavender for seven days. Why not? Sounds fun. My daughter, who is game for just about anything, celebrated my search for satisfactory lavender recipes and offered some recipes she found herself. Other people I spoke to wondered WHY on Earth would we EVER eat lavender and remarked there is probably a reason lavender is not as ubiquitous as rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, basil, or parsley. All the more reason to give it a whirl I said.

Day One. Having just received our culinary form of lavender (culinary form is important to avoid pesticides, chemicals, etc…), I was excited to begin. I thought we would start out with something simple. My daughter and I love fruit flavored water, so we decided we would try LAVENDER flavored water. We had already ordered culinary lavender from Amazon and were ready to begin.

I was thinking that the addition of another flavor might work out well, so I tried a recipe for lavender-mint water with the mint we grow in the yard. How could I go wrong with mint? This recipe was quick and easy, as you put some lavender in a tea strainer along with water and mint sprigs in a mason jar.

The mason jar steeps at least 8 hours in the refrigerator and is ready to drink after being strained for any stray lavender buds. Ready…..set…..drink……

culinary lavender from Amazon

Soap. Soap is what it tasted like to me. Not refreshing. Not anything but soap. My best friend here said to look on the bright side, and I should be glad at how clean my insides might be from this soapy confection with a laugh. And maybe the other person who said there probably is a reason why we don’t use lavender in our recipes was right. Just maybe that person who said that is always right. Note to self: try lavender in a recipe with some other flavor that “cuts’ the strong flavor of the lavender somehow. After a little research, I found out that lavender is, in fact, better if the flavor is “cut” somehow with something like dairy, lemon, or honey.

Can’t wait for tomorrow…….day TWO of la vie de loca with lavender.

Life is good; find something to shake things up today. Do the unexpected. Eat something you normally don’t or won’t eat.

Carpe diem, friends…..

(photo 1, 2,3 :dreamstime)