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Posts Tagged ‘Gifts’

When someone invites us to join them for Thanksgiving dinner, I like to bring something special. This year I’ve made tasty packages of  Candied Walnuts with Lavender and Figs. I’m excited to share my special treats.

The recipe is a variation on one from 101 Cookbooks. I love this recipe because it is easy, flavorful and nutritious. Yes, it does have a whole cup of brown sugar, however the nutrients provided by the walnuts more than make up for the sugar.

Walnuts

Walnuts : They're all they're cracked up to be and more!

Whenever I read a recipe calling for rosemary or mint, I  think about using lavender instead. Most times, it works beautifully and adds an exotic taste.  So when I read Heidi’s “Brown Sugar Rosemary Walnuts Recipe,” I wanted to try it with lavender. I also thought about substituting dried plums or apricots for dried figs, however I love figs so that is what I used.

 

For packaging, I dropped by Seattle’s PS-Store to pick up plastic containers, ribbon, labels and stickers. I love the square labels with the colored borders. In the past, when I’ve made gift packets, I’ve struggled with labels. Frequently, labels can be difficult to line up on my printer, and I get frustrated. These worked like a dream. I went to this link to get a template compatible with MS Word. I typed in the text and hit the print button. It all worked the first time. I used a 2” x 2” label. The container was 3” x 3” x 3”. I used a clear round sticker to seal the container, I tied a ribbon around it, tying a bow on top. PS-Stores sell an artificial lavender sprig that looks nice. The lavender sprig looks great on the package.

See the Lavender Sprigs: Perfect for Gifts!

Walnuts - All Sugared and Spiced

Sugared and Spiced: Walnuts are Ready for Someone NIce!

I cooked up one batch of this recipe yesterday afternoon in about 5 minutes. They baked in the oven for another 25 minutes, and I turned the oven off and just let the nuts dry out a bit more. When they were cool, I created my gifts. I created 5 gift packages.

 

Candied Walnuts with Lavender and Figs

1 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon ground culinary lavender buds*
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 large egg whites
1 lb cups shelled walnut halves
1/3 cup chopped dried figs, stems trimmed

Sugar and Spice - All Things Nice

*What variety works best? I like Royal Velvet; however any English Lavender will be fine.

*How to grind? Use spice grinder, mortar and pestle or a clean coffee bean grinder will work too!

Preheat oven with racks in the center to 300F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Combine brown sugar, salt, lavender and sesame seeds in a small bowl.

In a large bowl whisk the egg whites a bit, just to loosen them up. Add walnuts and figs to whites and toss until they are evenly coated – it’ll take a minute or so. Sprinkle the sugar-spice mixture over the nuts and toss (really well) again.

Split the nuts between the two prepared baking sheets in a single layer, separating the wa;nuts from one another.

Bake for ~25 minutes or until the walnuts turn golden brown  and the coating is no longer wet. Turn off your oven and let them dry for 10 minutes.  Cool for a few minutes, and then slide the parchment/nuts off the hot baking sheets onto a cool surface to cool completely. These will keep for a week or so in an airtight container.

Makes 1 pound of nuts

Prep time: 5 min – Cook time: 25 min

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Lavender Heart Botanicals Shop

Lavender Heart Botanicals Shop

When I met Holly Henderson at her shop, Lavender Heart Botanicals, I wanted to know more about her. After writing a book about lavender, I was curious about how this herb had enchanted Holly.

Holly grew up on her family’s farm, The Henderson Holly Farm, in the 1960’s. My first question was, “Were you named for the farm?”

She tossed her long red hair back, and said, “I never knew for sure. My mother told me that back in Minnesota, a lost little girl knocked on the front door on a snowy winter day. Mom invited her to come in out of the cold while she called her parents. Her name was Holly. Mom decided then if she ever had a baby girl, she would name her Holly.”

Holly’s parents set up a production facility, enlisted a crew, and created a business making and selling wreaths, topiaries and garlands. They shipped their botanical masterpieces across the United States and to seven foreign countries. Holly and her five siblings worked on the farm cutting holly, making wreaths and packing them for shipping. This experience would eventually lead Holly to lavender, however the route would be indirect.

Holly couldn’t wait to escape and go off to college. She joined several bands, where she sang and played acoustical guitar.

When the music scene wasn’t paying the bills, Holly got a part-time job in a florist shop. With her blue eyes flashing, Holly said, “You won’t believe what my first customer ordered: a casket cover! I didn’t have a clue how to make one. My mother looked everything up, so that’s what I did, I looked it up in a catalog. I found fresh gladioli, carnations and lilies, foam and a form to hold them in place, and actually created one.”

As Holly told me similar stories of her resourcefulness, I began to wonder when lavender would enter the scene.

Several years later, Holly was living in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. A phone call from Jan, a grade school friend, brought her another opportunity. “Holly, I’ve been looking at wreaths in the catalogs of Williams-Sonoma, Smith & Hawken and others. I know we could do better. Let’s start a business making wreaths and garlands. You’d be great at design and I could do the marketing.”

Jan snagged a large order with I Magnin, an upscale department store in Seattle. They were looking for a ‘gift-for-purchase’ item. Jan showed them the Lavender Heart Sachet that Holly had designed: a heart-shaped sachet filled with lavender buds & decorated with pink roses made of satin ribbon. I Magnin ordered 1000!

Now, Holly had to figure out how to actually produce these sachets.  “My dad offered the barn as a production space, his crew for assembly, and, suddenly, I was back to the place that I had wanted to escape from during my teens.”

Pink Heart Wreath

Heart Wreath at Lavender Heart Botanicals

Now, I began to see how wreath-making, lavender and Holly’s forceful personality were coming together to weave a path to her shop.

“Lavender was becoming popular in wreaths, topiaries and floral arrangements. I looked to France, Germany and Holland for new design ideas. When Eddie Bauer was opening stores, they engaged us to provide props; when Victoria’s Secret was doing a photo shoot and wanted lavender en masse, they turned to Lavender Heart Botanicals.”

As time went on, Jan decided to leave the partnership, and Holly’s five-year old son, Will, was ready to start school. Holly wanted to simplify her life and concentrate on parenting her son. “I found a retail location here in Madison Valley that met my criteria:  a five- minute drive to Will’s school.”

Whimsical Chicken Purse

Whimsical Chicken Purse

“My shop offers unique products such as lavender water, wreaths, fine soaps, candles and unique gifts like this whimsical chicken purse,” Holly said. While I talked with Holly, several customers came into her shop. Two women walked in together. They oohed and awed over the chicken purse and eventually bought it. I asked them if they lived around here.

Music lured Holly away from wreath-making at her parent’s holly farm. Then lavender inspired Holly’s

What a lovely cookbook!

creativity for botanical design, and under the spell of lavender, she returned to the holly farm. When Holly’s son Will came along, opened Lavender Heart Botanicals. Today, Holly’s Lavender Heart gift shop offers her customers unique gifts for nearly every occasion. Holly’s son is in college, planning on becoming a doctor. Holly’s creativity continues to delight her customers.

You will love the items in Holly’s shop, however if you’re looking for a chicken purse, you’re out of luck. Somebody already bought it.

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Glazed Pecans

Glazed Pecans: Appetizer, Snack or Treat

 

On the first day of October, I like to begin to think about holiday gifts that I can make at home. Especially this year with the economic slump, I’m looking for inexpensive, easy and luxurious gifts. One of the best treats that have ever dazzled my taste buds is Lavender and Orange Glazed Pecans. Easy-to-make, quick, full of flavor and luxurious, glazed pecans are sure to please. 

The pecan, actually a seed of a large tree, boasts a high fat content. Native to America, the pecan tree belongs to the hickory family. Mostly grown in Georgia, Oklahoma and Texas, pecans often star in the deliciously rich Southern pecan pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

When I was writing my cookbook, I discovered this recipe by chance. I contacted Susan Mc Rae seeking her permission to include it in my book. Since that time, I’ve made these glazed pecans too many times to count.  What a brilliant idea Susan had to use orange juice & zest along with lavender & ginger! 

I made a batch of these today and set the timer for 15 minutes. These fragrant pecans were cooling on parchment paper and I was sipping a cup of tea when the timer buzzed to tell me “Time’s Up”! I beat the clock and popped my prize – a tan and tasty pecan into my mouth. 

Gift of Glazed Pecans

Gifts from My Kitchen

 

Here’s the recipe. 

Lavender and Orange Glazed Pecans 

Slightly sweet and spicy with a hint of orange flavor, these pecans can be served as an appetizer, given as a holiday gift or nibbled as a quick snack. 

1 cup lavender sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
2 cups pecan halves (about 1/2 pound)
 

  1. Lightly toast pecans in large heavy pan over low heat.
  2. Line cookie sheet with waxed paper.
  3. Bring first four ingredients to boil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 30 seconds. Stir in pecans.
  4. Spread pecans in one layer on waxed paper and cool completely. Separate pecans if necessary.

(Prepare one day to one week ahead. Store in airtight container.) 

To make lavender sugar, add a cup of granulated sugar to a jar. Mix in ½ tablespoon culinary lavender buds. Put a lid on the jar and set aside. The lavender sugar should be made at least three days before using to allow time for the lavender to infuse its flavor into the sugar. Sift the sugar to remove the lavender buds before adding the sugar to the recipe. 

Makes 2 cups

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When I woke this morning, I was looking forward to driving to Kent – a suburb of Seattle – to visit a home and garden shop. About a week ago, my friend Crystel  visited a small shop, Bella Home and Garden. When Crystel discovered that the store was hosting an event called “The Sense of Lavender”, she told the sales clerk about my book “Discover Cooking with Lavender”. Then she emailed me telling me about the shop, their Open House and suggested I contact the shop owner. Crystel even gave me the phone number. 

Bella Open House Event

Invitation to "The Sense of Lavender"

 

I was pleased because I would not have found this shop without her email. I don’t live in that area and I rarely shop there. It’s about 25 miles from my home. Friends, like Crystel, are hard to find. 

Crystel - A thoughtful Friend

Crystel - A Thoughtful Friend

 

I drove out to Kent. The traffic was light and the cloudy drizzly day felt calming. I brought a few books along with me. I parked and walked towards the store. Tables full of small plants made the store look fresh and inviting. I spotted plenty of 4 inch lavender plants, Betty’s Blue was blooming. I walked into the store and was immediately greeted by an attractive blonde woman, whose name  I soon learned was Carol. Carol introduced me to the shop’s owner, Marci Wainhouse. 

Soon we were talking about cooking with lavender, lemonade, grandchildren and Girl Scouts.  “I brought a few copies of my book.”  I said. 

Carol began looking at it. “I love the cover.” 

Then Marci paged through it. “This is my granddaughter. And the little girl on the back is Charlotte Rose, daughter of Shelley Thomas and Brian Smale (the food stylist and photographer who gave my book its great look),” I commented. 

I was thrilled when Marci said, “We love the book. It fits perfectly with our shop. We’d love to carry it.” 

The conversation turned back to the Open House. “I can be here on Saturday, October 2nd from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Would you like me to demonstrate how to make and use lavender sugar? Also, I’d love to show your customers how easy it is to dry roast culinary lavender buds to create a whole new taste,” I offered. 

“Good, sounds wonderful,” Marci replied. 

With that settled, Marci asked, “Have you shopped at Martha E. Harris? She used to be near University Village? I used to work there many years ago.” 

What a coincidence, I thought. “Martha Harris is my favorite florist. Whenever I order flowers, I call Martha E. Harris.” 

Marci smiled, saying, “I thought I might have recognized your name. You should see if she wants to carry your book. It would do well there!” 

She went on to suggest several other places where she thought my book would be a fit. One was Purple Haze. Then the topic of food came into the picture. Marci raved about Purple Haze Lavender and Herbes de Provence Mustard. “It’s delicious on ham on French bread. I made a wilted salad with it and loved it,” she said. 

“I’d like to buy some and try it.” I said. 

Marci walked across the shop to the shelf where the mustard was displayed, picked up a jar and placed in a bag with the Bella logo. “This is on us. I hope you enjoy it,” she said. 

This is a story of how one kindness can open the door to more. Crystel, thanks for opening the door.   

p.s. By the way the mustard is delicious. We tried it this evening using Marci’s serving suggestion. Perfect! 

If you are in the Kent area on Friday(10-1) or Saturday(10-2) between 4  p.m. and 8 p.m., drop by Bella. Gourmet food tastings, special price for lavender and great gift ideas will be available. 

Ham on Mustard on Bread

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My Brownie Troop

My Brownie Troop

As a young girl, I joined Brownies. My mother was our troop leader, we met at our home. The troop was together about 5 years. During that time I learned how to make a bunsen burner, weave newspapers together to make a “sit-upon” and I made close friends. I also learned to sell Girl Scout cookies.

Now, it is my pleasure to participate in Girlfriends Weekend. This event, offered by the Girl Scouts, gives women the opportunity to spend a weekend at Camp River Ranch, a favorite camp near Carnation, Washington. Carnation is less than an hour drive from Seattle. 

Women, moms and daughters, sisters, friends and neighbors have been invited to a “pampered camping” weekend where they will enjoy gourmet food, yoga, massage and cooking demonstrations and more. The proceeds from the event will raise money to send girl scouts with financial need to camp next summer. 

A silent auction  will give the “pampered campers”   a chance to financially contribute to this cause plus snag some of the special items up for grabs.  

  • A holiday dinner with the Governor at the Governor’s Mansion (live auction)
  • Tickets to Teatro ZinZanni
  • Victoria Clipper vacation packages, including hotel accommodations
  • Tickets to 5th Ave Theatre
  • Gorgeous handmade quilts and other amazing artwork
  • Certificates to spas and salons, including Seven Salon
  • Chef cooking classes
  • Certificates to some of Washington’s best restaurants
  • Discover Lavender Culinary Basket

Lavender BasketI am thrilled to have been invited to attend as a presenter. I am hosting a cooking demonstration on Saturday, September 11th. There is nothing I enjoy more than sharing my passion for food, eating and, of course, lavender. My demonstration will include new ways to infuse the flavor of lavender into sugar, seasoning blends, and more. 

Yesterday, I delivered my donation for the silent auction. I created a basket of my favorite lavender food items along with an autographed copy of my book – “Discover Cooking with Lavender”. 

 The basket includes special culinary products that I picked up last weekend at Lavender Wind Farm on Whidbey Island.Lavender Treats I found a big basket and lined it with lavender tissue paper, then filled it with tempting treats, wrapped it all in cellophane tied it with a ribbon. 

Girl Scouts has taught me many things. Supporting girls and helping them to have many opportunities has been the most rewarding.

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