Putting the family buds to good use

This is about lavender buds, of course… just in case you were expecting something else!

Just had a fantastic farm-side meal out at Janie Burns’  Meadowlark Farm in Nampa. She is one inspiring voice for the local foods movement. I have the good fortune to belong to a really great locavore group led by locavore-cheerleader & all-around public TV rockstar Thanh Tan.  Dinners rotate to members’ homes or local producers like Meadowlark or Peaceful Belly.  Sometimes there’s a theme, other times – it’s just about bringing a dish showcasing one or more local products.

It may be the easy way out – but my go-to locavore product is from my family’s lavender farm - Lakeside Lavender in Nampa. A few tablespoons of our culinary lavender (one of the English varieties like Munstead, Royal Velvet or Blue Hidcote) in a sweet or savory recipe is yummy – though I prefer the sweet!

Here are a few of my parent’s recipes that I’ve already tried (like the cool & refreshing & super-simple lavender lemonade.) But I wanted to try something new. From a quick trip around the web I found two recipes to try out to satisfy my sweet tooth and lavender supply. Happily found the Dessert for Breakfast blog (fantastic title!) and the story and recipe for Meyer Lemon Lavender Pound Cake. I really love the melding of lemon and lavender, 
Visually? It looks fantastic! And the recipe was pretty easy – though I may tweak it a bit to it is a bit less dry. This is an example of cooking lavender buds right into the food. You don’t need fancy recipes to do it – try it with your pound cake, sugar cookie or scone recipe. A tablespoon or two should do.

But my favorite experiment was the Lavender Cheesecake with Blueberries & Honey. Holy crap this came out good and is addictively delicious. (And comes from another fantastically named food blog – More Than Burnt Toast. I need to get more creative with this blog’s name :-)

I tweaked the recipe slightly, adding about double the amount of honey and ‘lavender tea’ (another way to infuse lavender flavor – steeping dried buds in hot water for 15-20 minutes, straining out the buds and adding the liquid to your recipe). The Lorna Doone crust brought back great memories of my grandmother! Overall, while it was good it didn’t firm up too well. So when I try it again I’ll definitely make the cheesecake in individual portions in ramekins. 

Quick plug for my folks – if you love lavender and you’re in Southwest Idaho you can pick up their products at Idaho Indie Works!
(Thanks to Whitney Rearick for the awesome locavore dinner pics!)

- Jess Flynn