Lovely Lavender

The soothing scent of lavender wraps around the room…. native of the Mediterranean mountains and coasts, lavender is one of the most popular plants used for its fragrance. Lining lingerie drawers, stuffed inside miniature pillows, or made into a bath oil, lavender is known for it’s fragrance. It is also used for its ability to soothe and calm people, just from its scent. Interestingly, lavender is supposed to soother and calm animals as well.

A favorite purple flower, lavender comes from the Latin word lavare, which means to wash. Ancient Greeks and Romans had used lavender for perfuming sheets, in soaps, and to provide a fresh scent to washing water. The Romans first brought lavender to England. It still grows in England today. Lavandula augustifolia, which is the English or true lavender, is the best lavender species used for eating. This lavender is much harder than the French lavender (Lavandula dentata). English lavender has blunt, narrow, grayish-green leaves and can grow over three feet. Their small flowers are grouped in whorls of six or ten.

Unlike English lavender, the French lavender (Lavandula dentata) has long, narrow, grayish green leaves. Their flowers are a rich, dark purple, and they grow only to about twelve inches tall. When planting your lavender plants, look for a sunny spot in your garden. Why? Because lavender prefers to grow in a sunny location that has light, dry, and well-drained soil.

I prefer to buy my lavender flowers for eating from a known organic food supplier. One of my favorite recipes for using lavender flowers is in a dessert. Take dates, slice them open, and stuff with a mixture of plain cream cheese with lavender flowers. Making this dessert in stages is the best method. Mix your lavender flowers into your plain cream cheese mixture and let it sit for at least three days. Then take a small knife and stuff the dates. Roll the stuffed dated in granulated sugar and let sit until ready to eat. You will be surprised to have such a quick and easy dessert ready in time for those unexpected house guests!

A final warning…. be careful how you use lavender oil. You should not eat it as lavender oil may be poisonous.

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