Lavender Fields Forever

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Oh how I love the scent of lavender.  It does something to me.  No, really, it does something to  me.

I want to touch it, I want to smell it, I want to cook with it, and I want to bathe in it!  I can’t tell you how much I love lavender!  It must be the Lavender Fairies, but I just have to have it in my life.

I visited Lavender Hills Farm today, and let me tell you, it is an amazing place to visit.

As I walked through the entrance, I smelled a wonderful scent, but it wasn’t lavender–what was it?  Jasmine?  Oh no, this was something I have smelled before–it was honeysuckle!  Lots and lots of  honeysuckle wrapped around the arbor entrance to the lavender fields.  Oh, the smell of honeysuckle mixed with this view?…

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Intoxicating!

How long has this farm been here, and why haven’t I visited before?  Oh, forget the past, look at this place!

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I’m highly allergic and I avoid cats like the plague, but remember, I was under a the spell of the wee folk 🙂 …

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Look at this little one…

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The Lavender Fairies put a spell on me and I want a cat.  I do!

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Every where I went, these green eyes were never far behind.

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I especially enjoyed the blown glass garden art–gorgeous!

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I left with a jar of lavender honey (from their own bee hives!), a package of culinary lavender, a white lavender plant (Yes!  Lavender can be white too!), and 3 rhododendrons–they are mystery plants, as the owner has no idea what kind they are.  I figured for $3 a bush, I’ll take my chances.  I mean, who knows what else those fairies have in store for me.  I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I need to start baking something with lavender.

Maybe this Lemon Lavender Cake!

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APPLE PIE ~ More Baking with Olivia

I’ve been on a pie baking roll!  I just love pie–I do, I really really love it!  I love cream pies, fruit pies, meat pies, ANY pie!  I’m not sure I’ve ever met a pie I didn’t love.  I would love to try a grape pie!  I hear they’re pretty good.

I grew up on pie pastry made with Crisco, and to be honest, I thought I’d never enjoy a pie crust without it, but with all the bad press on shortening, it was either stop baking pies or change with the times.  I changed.  I’m happy to report, I don’t miss Crisco at all 🙂

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The pie pastry above is from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Bernanbaum.   I love this book, and she won’t steer you wrong.  Her cookbook has helped me to cross over from Crisco to butter.

Olivia’s second pie lesson request was for apple pie.

Olivia is committed.   She rolled, peeled, sliced, mixed, and crimped–I run a tight ship!– until we finally got that apple pie made.

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I love Rose’s idea of rolling between two sheets of plastic wrap–no sticking! YAY!

Don’t forget how great the marble rolling pins are for pie pastry!

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While Olivia and I slaved over a hot stove, the guys snacked on Mark’s homemade salsa and tortilla chips while watching “Bizarre Foods” with Andrew Zimmern .  I can hardly stomach that show–who in their right mind?…

anyhoo, back to the pie…

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Apple Pie

We didn’t have time to allow the pie pastry to cool for an hour in the fridge,  and I often add more apples to the typical apple pie recipes–because let’s face it–with apple pie, more IS better!  Instead, I stuck to the usual 2  1/2 pounds of apples.

Here we are, sliced and ready for ice cream!

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Recipe for crust is on Epicurious Basic Flaky Pie Crust

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ABOVE: 1950’s plastic apron–how cute is this?

The Gardens in Early June

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Le Jardin June 1, 2009

There are few things I enjoy more than waking up to a nice cup of hot tea and looking out at the gardens.  I usually head out in my nightrobe and flip flops.

Once again, I’m recording the early days of the gardens in order to watch the rates at which they progress through the season.  I thought I’d share a few of my favorite things.

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The Artichokes are coming..

(Front: Raised bed)

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Triple Coconut Cream Pie

DSC_2331ABOVE: Slice Triple Coconut Cream Pie

I’ve been teaching Olivia how to make pies this past week, and I’ve learned a few things myself.

I decided on two different kinds of pie:  a cream pie, and a two crusted fruit pie.  Olivia and I are both fans of coconut cream, so I set out to find the grand daddy of all coconut cream pies.  I remembered an unbelievably great pie I had baked several years ago,  and I once ordered the same pie at Tom Douglas’  restaurant, Dahlia Lounge, and I loved it!  He calls it Triple Coconut Cream Pie, and it is over the top!

I don’t know why I started with a more involved recipe, but I told Olivia if you start with more challenging recipes, the other pie recipes will be a breeze.

Our timing couldn’t have been worse.  We started making pie pastries late in the morning, and then we took our 3 mile hike on the beach while they chilled in the refrigerator.  Sadly, we ran out of time, as Olivia had to leave before we finished the custard filling, but I was able to show her how to temper the eggs before she left.  I completed the pie, and they joined us that evening to enjoy it.

We made our apple pie the next night.  I should have known better than to squeeze two pies into one afternoon.  Lesson learned.

Olivia brought her marble rolling pin, and I don’t think I’ll ever make another pie crust without one.  They are just perfect for rolling out pie pastry.

Tom’s coconut pie pastry is a bit different than the usual pastry, the dough feels different than regular pie pastry.  It has coconut and sugar mixed into it.  It turned out very flavorful and flaky.

The pie filling calls for the seeds of a whole vanilla bean–the vanilla makes it!  Don’t skip the real bean.  If you have a World Market Cost Plus in your area, they are very affordable there.

This is one of my top five favorite pies ever!  Next time, I will cut back on the amount of whipped cream topping, as it was just a bit too much for me, but when I mentioned that to Mark he gave the idea a thumbs down.

DSC_1448ABOVE: Olivia on a tea break

Olivia is the perfect future daughter-in-law.  She is very patient, and she puts up with all my craziness in the kitchen.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to tell her , “Don’t do what I just did!” 🙂  She makes a great walking partner too!

DSC_2236ABOVE: Flakes of toasted coconut and white chocolate shavings

I used Lindt white chocolate–go cray with it and make sure you pop a bit of it into your mouth!

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Click more for RECIPE

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A Morning Walk

I’ve been walking close to three miles a day for the past few weeks.  I have a lot of anxiety, and I’ve found walking, for at least an hour, seems to help tone it down.   I’ve suffered from anxiety, on and off, my entire life.  Recently, I noticed it was reaching a point that made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I knew I had to do something, but I didn’t know quite what to do.

I know exercise is key in calming the mind, so I mapped a walk near my home, and I set out to walk and walk and walk some more.  I’m so happy I decided to start walking down on the waterfront.  It is only a seven minute drive from my house, and the views are healing.  I thought I’d share a few shots of my late morning journey.

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Brackett’s Landing is the ferry terminal for the town of Edmonds.  This park has saved my life.  I can remember bringing my son here when he was very young.  This park will always remind me of our days at the beach.

There is something magical about this place.  I like to read and write here.  Lately it seems to have gained popularity and it’s a challenge to find a parking spot.  I just park up the hill in town and make the walk longer.  It’s all good.

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Just past the ferry terminal is a lovely path through yet another park.  In mid summer there are small trees here that are very fragrant.  I still don’t know what they’re called, but the fragrance stops me in my tracks.  I swear fairies live here.

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