While harvesting this year's lavender blossoms, I came across a song sparrow's nest filled with speckled eggs. I left a large swath of flowers so the nest would remain camouflaged, and kept tabs on the eggs as the days passed. Two days ago the first chick hatched, suspended in a heady lavender cloud. Along came the second chick- followed by the rest. They are the tiniest, most humble little creatures, barley covered in grey down, yet their entry into this world was a poetic one. Their mother chose a hedge of the most fragrant of herbs to rear her young; mother nature's finest nursery.
I have since dried and stored all of the harvested blooms while the remaining flowers continue to perfume the first days of the baby song sparrow's lives, and completely intoxicate passing butterflies and honey bees.
I've been a devout fan of lavender since I can remember, having some sort of indescribable attraction to every application of it. I use my dried blooms in eye pillows or sachets, the rest I reserve for salve. Occasionally lavender will appear on the table as well.
When I spotted mention of lavender lemonade on a fellow food blogger's site, I knew it was the perfect tonic for this unseasonable mountain heat wave.
Here's an icy toast to my favorite herb, to newly hatched chicks, and to summer's sippable pleasures.
Lavender Lemonade (Serves 2)
*15 sprigs fresh lavender flowers
*2 cups boiling water
*3 Tablespoons local honey
*6 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
Place lavender sprigs in a bowl. Pour boiling water over lavender. Allow to steep for 30 minutes. Strain blooms from infused water. Mix honey with lavender water while still warm, stirring to dissolve.
Fill two cocktail glasses with ice. Place 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice in each glass. Add 3/4 cup honey lavender water to each glass. Gently stir. Garnish with a lemon wedge or lavender sprig. Serve immediately.
I figured there are enough red, white, and blue recipes floating around foodie cyberspace today, so at risk of being taken as unpatriotic (quite the opposite is true, I will be playing with sparklers and barbecuing this evening like most my fellow Americans) here is a simple recipe to compliment your festivities, along with a few thoughts:
When I think of the Declaration of Independence and its goal to protect equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I can't help but reflect on what those sentiments mean in terms of eating. Ideally, we should all have equal rights/access to nourishing food despite our differences in class or heritage. Our food supply should sustainably support human and environmental life. We should have gastronomic liberty (liberty by definition: The sate of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life), and be free to pursue happiness through unadulterated food pleasures and by being healthy.
Well, we have some work to do before seeing such a reality, but at times I catch glimpses. Farmers markets are rebounding across the nation. Individuals are starting to take their health into their own hands, and gardening is enjoying an immense modern comeback. "Grass-fed" is the hottest food trend of late, while chefs and home cooks are realizing the importance of local, fresh, real food, grown in good soil. CSA's are thriving. Food bloggers have awesome and devout readers (thanks all). We're making progress.
As I spent the morning in the garden, trimming the scapes from our rows of garlic, I imagined all the old-timers of generations passed, bent over tending the rows of their own gardens, eating well and preserving their yields for later months, and how this agricultural history demonstrates true patriotism and independence. It is a beautiful thing to feed yourself from the soil you live on, or to be fed by the abundance of a neighbor's. In the modern age, I would even say it has become a luxury. But if we keep our eye on its importance, and support agriculture which clearly relies on integrity, I think we will continue to see the pendulum swing.
I know many of us live in cities and have careers which keep us from tending a rooftop garden or pot of basil, but given the renaissance of young farmers returning to the fields to make a living at tending them, most of us can reach out and find a CSA or little market where these folks gather to offer the fruits of their labors. Just google, you will be surprised.
So, happy Independence Day fellow eaters. May we keep free the things which were meant to be, and relish all of our blessings.
Garlic Scape Pesto:
This recipe lacks parmigiano reggiano, which you can easily add at any time.
*2-3 cups chopped garlic scapes
*1/2 cup toasted almonds
*1 teaspoon sea salt
*1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
*1 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley
*zest from 1 lemon
*1/4- 1/2 cup olive oil (amount will vary depending on amount of scapes)
Trim away the top flowering portion and bottom woody portion of each scape. Place all ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor. Blend. With blade running, slowly pour in olive oil until contents turn into a spreadable paste.
Place pesto in a jar fitted with a lid and store in the refrigerator.
Great on sandwiches, smeared over your next grilled piece of grass-fed meat or tossed with roasted new potatoes. Try as a dip for fresh and roasted veggies too.