A lavender simple syrup made with honey & vanilla beans for a healthier, coffee shop experience at home paired with a Lavender Lemon Healthyish Cake.
At every gathering I host, I like to add at least one little detail that will get guests to say, "oh girl, oh no you didn't!" Infused butters will elicit that remark. They're that 2.0 moment, the little cherry on top of the sundae, and best of all, you'll likely have enough leftover to continue spreading all that flavor on subsequent pancakes, morning toast or quick breads long after the party dust has settled.
With my t-shirt outstretched, I collected the basil the Urban Farmer clipped from the plants below me. The smell of the broad, shiny green leaves was intoxicating. A craving for a refreshing lemon-basil sorbet hit me, while I simultaneously wondered how I could drench myself in the scent. Beyond recipe inspiration, the farm has me thinking about the healing and restorative powers of these plants. I’m increasingly interested in how I can treat myself with the very ingredients I’ve weeded and watered, in combination with simple staples. How do I build my own natural apothecary? Step one is a homemade facial toner.
Much like heathifying a traditional cake recipe, my goals are to strip away excess ingredients, explore the blank-canvas attributes of a concoction, and in the end, simply feel good about what I’m putting in and on my body. As one who routinely falls asleep on the couch, then raises like some sort of mummy to brush teeth and saunter to bed, I can’t brag about a nightly beauty ritual. Maybe one day I’ll overcome my bedtime resistance, but in the meantime, a facial toner was a great, get-my-toes-wet way to begin exploring DIY apothecary.
The more I learn about Apple Cider Vinegar, the base ingredient for this homemade facial toner, the more amazed I am, and the more I realize how those bright and shiny, shop shelves, with countless varieties of designed packaging, have steered us away from the basic and the simple. Even the organic shelves leave me wondering, what’s truly essential?
Calm, calm is essential, so I brewed a cup of Chamomile Lavender tea to use in the homemade facial toner instead of water. The advantage of making this concoction is savoring the benefits of each step. Sip some tea, breathe deeply and inhale the calming vapors, while contemplating the tea’s challenging little message. Traditional Medicinals’ tea collection parallels the lessons and the experiences of the farm, proving how vast and robust plant power is.
I made this homemade facial toner when the basil was still in its infancy, so I infused my elixir with rosemary, but the aromatic basil has me captivated. Once I devise how to cloak myself in its scent, I’ll report back. For now, give your face a natural tingle and take control of your skincare!
Homemade Facial Toner with Lavender Chamomile Tea
adapted from Tasty Yummies
About This Recipe: Apple Cider Vinegar, in all its potency, is powerful, so play with the strength of the tea and the essential oil to combat the vinegar’s strong scent. I used 2 tea bags in my initial batch, but I’ll probably use 6-7 next time. The ratio of ACV to filtered water is 1:1, but you can experiment here too and determine what works best for your complexion. I recommend following with coconut oil as a moisturizer.
Floral, salty, crunchy, icy, juicy, fruity, creamy, minty and mapley… this tart is all of those elements in one bite! This spring inspired tart is easy to make, can be made the night before a gathering, and when garnished with a mound of fresh berries and mint, this tart is quite the show stopper!
After you make this tart once, you’ll surely have new ideas and inspirations for different versions. I’m already dreaming of swapping the blackberries for pureed peaches in peach season and riffing off my corn popsicle recipe for a dessert with a surprising key ingredient and a pale yellow palette.
Whether for a crowd, or for your own, sweet, spring and summer indulgences, I hope this tart finds its way to your freezers!
Frozen Blueberry Tart with Lavender Coconut Crust
Gluten-Free with Vegan Option
About this Recipe: You’ll need a food processor or blender for the crust to thoroughly grind and blend the lavender. Use organic lavender buds for the crust (i.e.: food-grade/pesticide-free). Make the tart the night before to ensure it freezes, but if you’re in a pinch, a couple hours will suffice. Pull from the freezer a few minutes before serving (in summer months, serve directly from the freezer). The whipped cream I featured uses dairy, but I offer a vegan option below to make this recipe completely vegan.
April showers bring May flowers…and floral donuts too!
I recently had to drive through a neighborhood I visit all too infrequently. The drive reminded me just how beautiful that neighborhood is, especially in spring. Each house seemed to be framed by a blossoming bush or tree. The bold house colors of the historical row homes and their antique details really seemed to sing. I drove at an elderly pace, taking in the views of white petals, bright pinks, a lot or two transformed into communal gardens, trees swaying on the blistery day… all of these views reminded me of how deep my hibernation had been.
Like the awakening annuals, the busy bees and the returning birds, I am ready for this change of season, for exploring new flowering fields and even the blooms breaking through concrete too. Despite the wanderlust whirling inside me that yearns for the exotic, far-off corners, I’m making a conscious effort to be more adventurous, more playful and to take the time to explore what’s close to home.
A flowering breakfast donut is a great reminder of all those goals! Here’s to April and its promises of spring in full bloom!
Blackberry, Lemon & Lavender Cake Donuts with Lemon Lavender Glaze
yield: about 12-15 donuts, depending on the size of your cutter
About this Recipe: Be sure to source an organic lavender bud for this recipe. I found mine at a Farm-to-Table conference, but I’m sure there are farmers or smaller stores that sell them as well. Avoid lavender that isn’t labeled food-grade, as it probably was sprayed with pesticides. I used a food processor to grind the lavender with the flour to make sure it was equally dispersed and to achieve a more palatable texture. You can substitute your favorite berry for the blackberries. Be sure to use an organic, non-gmo oil to keep these donuts as guiltless as possible. They’re best when fresh and still warm.
July 2012 The Pursuit of Lavender: Lavender: 1 Quelcy: 1!!! After lavender officially beat me last time, I decided to put on my serious face, and I re-approached the challenge of baking…