Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ahhhh.... lavender

(from Aquarupella 2010 Calendar of Provence)

This is a photo of my fantasy home in Provence, situated in the middle of un champ de lavande.  Who cares about windows?  No need.  You can't see it from this angle, but there is a little patio with a table and two chairs where all meals are taken.  There are a few extra chairs that can be unfolded for when guests come for a kir or a pastis and une salade de chèvre chaud.  There are no complicated meals prepared here.  Just simple, seasonal fare.  Le soleil brille, the sun is shining, les cigales chantent, the cicadas are singing, the air is hot and dry. The hottest part of the afternoon is spent inside, taking a little sieste after lunch or reading.
We all have our fantasies, non?  I have been to the lavender fields of Provence.  I've picnicked in the shade of a pine tree, overlooking the Abbaye de Sénanque near Gordes.  The lavender blooms there in mid-summer.  It's incredibly beautiful.

There was dried lavender for sale at the market in Arles last month.  I couldn't resist buying a bunch, wrapping it carefully in plastic and stashing it in my suitcase.  Most of the little flowers fell off, but that's okay.
I can't resist it.  The mec that I bought it from even sprinkled a few drops of lavender oil on it.  That made my suitcase smell heavenly.

It is also sold by the little bags full, if you would rather.  You can make your own sachets.
These are two that "live" on my desk at school.  The little one was made my very creative friend, Signora.  It hangs on my wooden Eiffel Tower.  The other was a gift, sent from France by someone who probably suspected that I needed it!
Sophie, a beekeeper I met while working with Chef Érick, was at the market.  Thank goodness she had some miel de lavande, lavender honey, left over to sell to me.  My two jars made it home safe and sound.  (One for me and one for the BFF!)
We also found these beautiful little bottles of lavender oil at the Arles market.
Once again, I bought two of them.  One for me and one for Lucy, a member of the Arles 6 gang, a colleague and very good friend.  She has a shrine to Provence in her house here in Durham.  Every time I go back, I bring a little something for her to add to it.  (I haven't been to visit lately... need to fix that!)
This is me, Lucy and Signora one day this week.  We all just happened to be wearing pink so we had our photo taken in my classroom.
This little touch of lavender is hanging on the wall above one of the sinks in Chef Érick's kitchen.  (Sigh...)
So, as the sun shines here in North Carolina and there is a touch of summer in the air for Easter weekend, with temperatures predicted in the 80's, I can already smell the lavender that will bloom on my back porch.

I think that I will make some cookies this weekend...

Lavender Limoncello Cookies

1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. white sugar
2 Tbsp. dried lavender flowers
2 lemons, zest and juice
1 egg
2 Tbsp. Limoncello liqueur
2 tsp. baking powder
2 c. + white flour

Preheat oven to 350F.
Blend butter, sugar and lavender.
Add in lemon zest and juice, then the egg and Limoncello.
Blend in the 2 cups flour and the baking powder.  Dough should be soft but not oily.  Add more flour by the tablespoon, if needed.
Roll into 2 logs and place in wax paper. Chill at least 20 minutes.
Slice into 1/2 inch thick rounds.  Makes approximately 30-36 cookies.
Bake 10-15 minutes on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bottoms should be pale gold.
Ice with a lemon - powdered sugar glaze, if desired.

Bon appétit, my little mas in Provence!

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