March 14, 2009

3-Way Lavender Infusion and a Love Letter

Dear Lavender,

Let there be a god as large as the purple moon so he can reflect his love onto you.

Let there be a banjo that plays purple Appalachian chords.

Let all women wear purple tights and all men walk their purple poodles to the all-you-can-eat buffet.

Let the girl who just lost her first tooth sprout a purple one in the empty place.

Let there be a garrison of purple tutus pirouetting erratically in your direction.

Let there be a drought that ends with purple floods.

Let your arm be coated in naked lady tattoos. Let holy purple spray from their ribs.

Let gray winter end and purple spring begin.

Let us spring perpetually into purple fountains like muskrats made of liquid silver.

Let every supermodel in my country wear purple lipstick on the pages of fashion magazines. Let them kiss us in purple.

Let us be thankful that your love is purple and that my love is purple. Let it spread thick and iridescent into this future like a Pacific oil spill. Let it give back a million moons.


J. Violet Shadows
********** ********** **********

3-Way Lavender Infusion

Below you will find three magical ways to infuse shadows of lavender into everyday baking ingredients: vodka, sugar, and milk. (I know vodka isn't necessarily an "everyday baking ingredient," but once infused with lavender it becomes lavender extract--a supersonic baking necessity.) Once married with the flavor of lavender, these ingredients can be used in many traditional recipes that call for extract, sugar and milk. A regular quick bread can become a spectacular quick bread when infused with this lovely floral flavor! What's even better is that mastering the art of infusion is a cheap way to make the same-ol'-recipe taste like a different princess entirely! My bag of culinary lavender buds--nearly 6 cups!--cost me a mere $4. That's one cheap princess!

While not all grocery stores carry culinary lavender buds, some apothecaries, aromatherapy joints, tea shops, natural food stores, and flower shops do. If it is not readily available in your area, you can order it online for super-cheap. Or, consider other edible & infusible delights: vanilla beans, jasmine, ginger root, loose tea, etc. The possibilities are endless when it comes to infusion! When hunting for lavender buds, however, make sure they were grown pesticide-free.

1. Lavender ExtractSummary: While extracts take only seconds to blend, you will have to wait at least a month for them to reach their full flavors. An extract is created by combining alcohol (usually whiskey, rum or vodka) with another substance--namely, a substance whose flavors you want to "extract." Nuts, fruits, and flowers are common items used in culinary extractions. When building a lavender extract, I use 2 tsp. lavender buds for every cup of alcohol. So far I have only used vodka, but I imagine rum would give the extract a sweet & yummy base.

Process: Using a jar or other airtight container, combine your dried lavender buds with your alcohol of choice. Shake the container for a couple of minutes, and then set aside. Make sure to shake the container once every couple of days to strengthen the flavor of your extract. Once a month has passed, strain the lavender buds from the liquid. Your extract can now be used to add a punch of purple to any sweet!

Suggestions: Often I use lavender extract in place of vanilla extract. Consider using a tsp. of lavender extract in pancakes, quick breads, lemonades, sorbets, cupcakes, whipped cream, cheesecakes, scones, etc.

2. Lavender SugarSummary: Lavender sugar is a fabulous ingredient to have on hand! As lavender infuses with sugar, its flavor becomes subtle, gentle, and light--the perfect addition to spring and summer desserts!

Process: Depending on how strong you'd like your lavender flavor to be, you can use 2-4 Tbs. of lavender buds per 1 cup of sugar. Layer your sugar and lavender, and then set aside for future use. After about 2 weeks, the lavender oils will have lovingly anointed the sugar crystals. If you are wanting a stronger flavor, then let the flavors meld for up to a month. If you are looking for a quick floral fix, however, you can flavor your sugar much more quickly. Simply combine your buds and sugar in a bowl, and macerate with the backside of a spoon for 5 minutes. This method will not result in as strong of a flavor, but it will still be noticeable.

Suggestions: This sugar works great in berry- and citrus-based desserts, such as sorbets, pie fillings, and muffins. Imagine using lavender sugar in your next creme brulee recipe!

3. Lavender MilkSummary: Milks and creams are a wonderful base for the flavor of lavender, as they tame the sometimes bitter & perfumey taste of lavender. Milk is like a thick fog that settles over the glassy terrain of lavender, making the landscape appear softer and less threatening. (Not to mention delicious!)

Process: I use 2 tsp. of lavender to flavor 1 cup of milk. Bring milk to a boil, and then quickly remove from heat. Add the lavender buds and stir. Allow mixture to cool for 30-45 minutes. The longer you let the milk sit, the stronger the flavor! Strain buds from milk before using. Use instantly, as the lavender flavor can become a little bitter if you allow it to sit for more than a couple of hours.

Suggestions: Can you imagine using lavender milk as the base for your next ice cream recipe?! It tastes fantastic in cupcake recipes, quick breads, milkshakes, and pancakes.

Have you ever used lavender in a recipe? How did you like it? Where would you use this extract, sugar or milk?!


Hadley Gets Crafty said...

I still need to make that fabulous orange lavender bread you sent the recipe for!

Anonymous said...

Hello Lovely Lavender Lady!
There is a new burger place in town and they put lavender on the fries - you'd love it! The cowgirl cupcakes post is so adorable. When are you coming to AZ? Give me a buzz sometime soon.

Jada Ach said...


Lavender on fries?! That sounds incredible! Thanks for the tip. You just gave me an idea: lavender salt! Mashed potatoes will NEVER be the same...

Can't wait to talk to you!



Estelle said...

Purple people eaters! Bloody good poetry and brilliant lavender blue dilly dilly ideas.