Enrich Your Cooking With the Distinct Taste and Fragrance of Lavender
I’d never seen so many hard-working bees. As I relaxed into the rural vista, surrounded by fields of lavender in stunning purples, the hum of the bees soothed me into bliss. The fragrance of the flowers was the final calming element. Stress melted and vaporized.
I was at Keys Creek Lavender Farm in eastern San Diego County during the last weekend in May. The peak blooming season this far south is May and June, so my daughter Angela and I timed our visit perfectly. If you live further north, the peak blooming season for this hardy plant, which thrives in many parts of the country, will be later in the summer.
One of the Keyes Creek owners gave us a tour of their organic fields and the distillery where they make essential oils. I had always loved the beauty and fragrance of lavender, but never thought of it as a cooking ingredient until I sampled the farm’s fruity lavender tea. Still another level of enjoyment and relaxation infused me with that distinctive taste and aroma.
We drove home with fresh and dried lavender, various lavender oils and scrubs, sachets, orange and lemon lavender teas, and the farm’s organic Herbes de Provence. I had never cooked with this herb mixture – or in fact with lavender at all – before. While there are many different blends of Herbes de Provence, the Keys Creek blend has basil, marjoram, thyme, and lavender as the main flavors. I’ve enjoyed this new addition to my flavor menu, often adding a spoonful of the herb blend to the broth I stir fry veggies in for both the unique taste and fragrance.