PARK Restaurant & Bar's Chris Balchum is a bar manager who curates a worldly selection of beer (draft, bottle, cask, and can from Cambridge, Mass. This gin-based drink is the perfect floral and mildly fruity cocktail; the mix of honey and St. Germain (a liqueur with tastes of peach and orange) are the perfect mix, making this one of the best gin cocktail recipes.
Cherry Lavender Moon Milk Recipe (Vegan)
Published: Apr 28, 2018 · Modified: Feb 1, 2021 by Kristen Wood · Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
This Cherry Lavender Moon Milk recipe makes for one creamy, delicious, calming and beautiful sleepy-time beverage for those evenings when you could use a little extra support. With a healthy blend of oats, walnuts, spices, sweet cherries, and plant-based milk, this warm and cozy drink makes for one comforting vegan gluten-free night-time remedy with its roots in Ayurveda.
A comforting, healing, and flavorful nighttime beverage with its roots in Ayurvedic medicine, this Cherry Lavender Moon Milk is vegan, gluten-free, and filled with all things healthy, and delicious . . .
What is Moon Milk?
Moon milk is a delicious and soothing beverage that has its roots in Ayurvedic traditions. Ayurveda is Sanskrit word that translates to &lsquoknowledge of life&rsquo. It is an ancient Vedic holistic health science with emphasis on the mind-body connection. In Ayurveda, warm milk consumed before bed is a common remedy for sleeplessness, anxiety and insomnia. Moon milk can be the simplest concoction of milk and honey or more complex such as those with a variety of spices, fruit or even adaptogens and herbs.
Being that my blog is named MOON and spoon and yum, I figured it high time I share a lunar beverage! Ha!
I'm always experimenting with various concoctions to aid whatever ails my family or myself. And this Cherry Lavender Moon Milk makes the perfect remedy for those sleepless nights, those days where you just cannot unwind, or simply when you desire a little beautiful comfort .
This Moon Milk is:
Soothing, healing and comforting.
Rich in fiber and protein.
Full of vitamins and nutrients.
Contains walnuts for their tryptophan content which helps induce sleep and promote relaxation.
Vegan, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and can be made keto-friendly
Tips for making Moon Milk:
You can use any dairy or non-dairy milk of choice, but if you use a sweetened milk, please omit the maple syrup/honey from the recipe.
I do not recommend omitting the coconut oil, as it helps in the absorption of vital nutrients and lends to the overall flavor of the recipe.
If you are on a low-sodium diet, you can omit the salt.
Make this Moon Milk sugar-free or keto friendly by omitting the sweetener or using a sugar free syrup such as this one.
Please do not skip the soaking step for best results. 30 minutes is the minimum soaking time. You can also soak as long as 8 hours, or overnight before blending.
For an extra creamy and frothy moon milk, use a milk frother such as this one.
More Vegan Moon Milk and Healthy Beverage Recipes you might enjoy:
With a lovely blend of plant-based milk, sweet cherries, lavender buds, oats, walnuts, and spices, this Cherry Lavender Moon Milk will hypnotize you with its enchanting powers as you drift into restful sleep & sweet dreams . . .
If you try this recipe please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, share this post, use Pinterest's "tried it" feature, or take a photo, & tag me on Instagram and I'll share it! Thank you so much! <3
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In a small saucepan, warm your milk and stir in cacao. Turn off heat and steep lavender for 3 minutes.
Strain with cheesecloth, adding milk and the remaining ingredients to your blender. Since the mixture will be warm, avoid filling the blender more than half way and be sure to vent the blender by keeping the middle part of the lid open and covering with a towel while holding the lid down by hand. This is for safety reasons, as otherwise heated liquid could force the lid off.
Blend on low until milk is frothy and ready to enjoy. Find a quiet place and sip. Goodnight moon!
Perfect Summer Cocktail: Lavender Martini
During our girlfriends’ getaway to Charleston a few weeks back, we discovered something delicious:
Typically that isn’t something I’d order, let alone drink, but since it came highly recommended we decided to try it out. Which led us here to Cypress, located just a few steps away from our hotel.
We decided to order one for a taste. Four girls, one martini.
Yeah, that lasted about 5 seconds. After quickly ordering three more we were true believers in the power of the lavender martini! And maybe we ordered a few more, but I’ll never tell.
What did it taste like? Crisp lemon, fresh vanilla, with a teeny tiny almost-too-small-to-notice hint of lavender.
The next day our first order of business was to hunt down the recipe. Once home, the second order of business was to find lavender syrup. You can make your own, but my lavender plant still looks like this and is nowhere near ready for drinking:
I found lavender simple syrup on Amazon (is there anything you can’t get there?) but specialty and/or gourmet stores in your area might carry it. Yes, it’s a bit pricey when you add in the shipping but I’m counting on the bottle to last the entire summer so it’s totally worth it for a summer-long signature cocktail.
Plus I’m growing my own mint for mojitos, so I’m saving money there, right?
Back to the martini. Here’s the recipe, it’s very very easy!
- 1 1/2 ounces vanilla flavored vodka
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 ounce lavender syrup (sometimes I add a little more, to boost the flavor a bit)
Fill your cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, lemon juice, and syrup:
Shake it all up, strain into martini glass, garnish with a lemon swirl or sprig of lavender, and voila!
My secret is I’ve been using Walmart brand lemon juice when I’m out of lemons. YES, fresh is indeed best but this is a fine substitute in a pinch.
When a woman is stressed out
As women, we are at an increased risk of developing autoimmune disorders. Studies have shown that women are more likely than men to develop autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Grave’s disease or Celiac disease. The reason for this is still being debated, but scientists claim that it may be because of hormonal changes in women and higher constant stress levels. As women we deal with various types of stressors on a daily basis, from raising children, to working fulltime and running households, to relationships and navigating our ever-changing hormones. If we do not try and reduce our chronic stress, it can trigger chronic health problems, and developing an autoimmune disease is the worst possible outcome.
Ashwagandha’s role in reducing stress has been proven by anecdotal and scientific evidence. It can help our bodies to adapt and react better to stress, and to sleep better. Lowering our stress, and our cortisol levels, will lower our chances of developing an autoimmune disease.
Once you start adding ashwagandha to your supplement list, you will start to feel a change in your energy levels and your mood.
Lavender Moon Milk
Have you ever had a simply exhausting day? A day where you just run from one event or task to another? Then, you finally lay your weary head down on your nice comfortable pillow and close your eyes ready for some much-needed sleep —- and then all of a sudden, your brain starts to rehearse all of the things that went on that day! Or worse yet, your brain takes this moment to start reviewing (stressing) all of the next day’s upcoming details….
Has this ever happened to you?
Insomnia is no picnic.
I have had my fair share of sleepless nights. And when my mind is racing and has so much going on inside of it, life can start to feel a bit overwhelming and stressful. This is especially true if I can’t fall asleep and get enough restful sleep each night. The next day is that much more difficult and exhausting.
This can also affect your emotional and psychological well-being. And if insomnia continues over time, your physical health can decline as well.
Lavender Moon Milk to the rescue!
Yes, there is such a thing. I didn’t make it up nor can I take credit for it. In fact, this concoction has some history in Ayurvedic tradition. Studies show that almond milk, in particular, helps you feel relaxed and sleepy because it contains tryptophan and magnesium, both of which contribute to sleepiness and improve sleep quality.
Have you ever tried moon milk? I have. In fact, this is my favorite way to enjoy it, though there are several ways to make it. Like so many recipes, it really depends on your personal preference and what you want to put in your moon milk. It can be downright vile or it can be soothing and calming. When made well, sipping on moon milk is like wrapping a nice soft blanket around your senses, albeit in the form of a warm blissful beverage.
Moon milk should be light, creamy, and slightly fragrant. It’s important that moon milk is not overly done.
Think of it this way, it’s like sipping nice hot chocolate milk before bed, but obviously with out the chocolate and with very little sugar…. Instead, this Lavender Moon Milk delights the senses with wispy notes of lavender and a hint of vanilla. These light floral scents are proven to help lull you into a nice restful slumber….
I love the floral fragrance that fresh lavender possesses. It smells lovely and helps reduce unwanted stress and anxiety. It also helps induce blissful sleep and is a natural anti-inflammatory. When we moved earlier this year, we had a lot of landscaping to do. And when I spotted two thriving lavender plants, I quickly added them to our cart.
Personally, I think they make a lovely addition to your home.
Oh, and did you know that lavender repels moths, fleas, flies, and mosquitoes? I had no idea. Supposedly, flies and other unwanted insects hate lavender. You can place tied bouquets in your home to help keep flies outside. But not everyone enjoys the scent of lavender.
Do you enjoy the refreshing fragrance of lavender? Better yet, have you ever tasted it?
Not everyone enjoys the smell or flavor. For example, my husband loves the smell of lavender but he adamantly says it belongs in hand soap and laundry detergent, not in his food or drink. This made me laugh right out loud.
But if you’re up all night and simply can’t fall sleep, you may want to try this Lavender Moon Milk.
Stay with me… in about fifteen minutes, you can be sipping on this delightful Lavender Moon Milk for yourself. It is fragrant and oh so relaxing. And it couldn’t be more simple and soothing.
Before we get started, there are a few notes and options to consider. First, there is a huge variety of plant milk available – whether you make your own or purchase it. And I’m sure you have your favorite, as do I. For this recipe though, I’d like to recommend that you try my Oat + Nut Milk, specifically using a blend of rolled oats and almonds.
Oat + Nut Milk has a creamy consistency, healthy fats, and quality plant protein. And since there aren’t any unnecessary gums, sweeteners, or sodium, it’s ready to use in a variety of recipes like this one. Plus, the process of heating oat milk magically thickens and elevates the plant milk into a creamy smooth beverage, which is exactly what you want in moon milk. Plus, as you’ve just read, almond milk contains tryptophan and magnesium, which induce quality sleep.
Now for the fun part! You have three great options to choose from.
First, you can steep fresh or dried lavender buds by heating the buds in your milk. But like most people, I don’t want a bunch of dried flower buds floating in my tea or milk. I may enjoy texture, but not in what’s supposed to be a smooth, creamy, and relaxing beverage.
For this reason, I highly recommend straining the buds when pouring the moon milk into your tea cup or mug. Simply use a fine mesh strainer to get all those delicious but pesky buds out of your creamy Lavender Moon Milk. Then you can sprinkle your spices atop, along with some lavender shatter, as desired and enjoy!
The second option is just as effective, but more fragrant. You can mix a small portion of melted coconut oil with lavender essential oil. Simply add a little vanilla and one-half teaspoon to one teaspoon of the coconut-lavender oil blend to your hot creamy moon milk. How much you use depends on how fragrant and potent you want your Lavender Moon Milk. Once you get accustomed to the taste and flavor, you may add as much as you want. If you prefer not to use coconut oil, simply add one drop of lavender essential oil to your moon milk.
And the third option is just a combination of the first two methods. So, there you have it! You can steep authentic lavender buds in your moon milk, use a lavender-coconut oil blend, or a combination of these two methods for a more indulgent and flavorful moon milk. As always, the choice is yours.
If you have just mixed your nut milk in the blender or Almond Cow, you can top your Lavender Moon Milk with a bit of bubbly froth. If you have a frother, you can obviously use that, too. Oh, and I like topping mine with a sprinkle of lavender shatter (tiny bits of lavender), turmeric, and nutmeg. Combining the lavender, along with these spices induce sleep and improve sleep quality. (Healthline). I think it looks pretty, too.
I hope you enjoy this Lavender Moon Milk as much as I do.
I’m just starting out and would love to see your results. Please leave a comment and rate it down below, tag a picture @pebblesandtoast and #pebblesandtoast on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! Enjoy!!
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My sweet little girl enjoying her tea party many lavender moons ago
Lavender-Coconut Oil Ingredients
Lavender Moon Milk Ingredients
- 8-10 ounces Oat + Nut Milk*
- 1-2 Tbsp pure maple syrup or sugar** (optional)
- ½ tsp lavender buds or shatter*** (optional)
- ½ tsp lavender-coconut oil (recipe above)
- ¼ tsp vanilla (optional)
- dash of turmeric (optional)
- dash of nutmeg (optional)
- In a small lidded bowl or jar, stir together the lavender essential oil and coconut oil.**** see note below regarding potency and your first cup. Set aside.
- Bring the Oat + Nut Milk, maple syrup, and lavender buds (if using) to a low simmer over medium heat. If using the Oat + Nut Milk, the milk will thicken slightly. Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly, to preferred temperature.
- Gently stir in the vanilla and Lavender-Coconut Oil blend stir gently. Taste and add more, if desired.
- Pour the milk mixture (through a sieve or strainer if using lavender buds) into a mug or tea cup.
- Top with turmeric, nutmeg, and lavender shatter, as desired. Feel free to omit any or include all of them.
- Drink and drift off to sweet slumber…….
* I use Oat + Nut Milk because the oats and nuts create a silky-smooth plant milk that thickens slightly to the ideal consistency when heated. The recipe explains that you can use any kind of raw nut, but I encourage you to use raw almonds since they contain tryptophan and magnesium. Both of these contribute to sleepiness and improve
** I like adding just a touch of pure maple syrup, though you can use any sugar, sweetener, or sugar substitute you have. Start with a little since you can always add more.
*** If you have lavender buds, they are divine when steeped in this lavender moon milk. But you’ll want to strain the buds out if you don’t like the texture of flowers in your moon milk. I’ve tried using a tea holder and tea bags but the essence just isn’t captured well in this milk. Lavender shatter is the tiny bits that don’t impact the texture much but look really pretty atop your moon milk.
**** Store the Lavender-Coconut Oil blend in a lidded bowl or jar and in a cool dry place. Start by adding 2-3 drops lavender essential oil to the coconut oil, then add one-half teaspoon of the lavender-coconut oil blend to create your moon milk. Add more of the oil blend if you enjoy the flavor. Increase the drops of lavender essential oil as you develop a taste for it. Alternatively, you can add one drop of lavender essential oil in your moon milk directly without using any coconut oil, once you are accustomed to the flavor. One drop is ideal.. This results in a slightly more potent cup of lavender moon milk, but it is delicious and relaxing.
If you have an Almond Cow, the Oat + Nut Milk comes out super frothy. So I like to just make a batch of milk right when I want frothy cup of moon milk. If you don’t care about the froth, enjoy the moon milk as is. If you’d like some froth, simply spoon some of the froth on top of your moon milk just before serving, then top desired spices.
I use Doterra essential oils because they are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade making them extremely versatile – plus, some essential oils, like lavender, can be ingested. You can use any high quality essential oil – just be sure to do some research until you trust the source of your oil.
I am not a health professional and speak only for my own personal use and what works for me.
If you are plagued with insomnia, you may want to consider applying Doterra’s Serenity blend to the soles of your feet. This blend is pretty amazing since Lavender is the first ingredient. Because of the other oils, it should not be ingested. But you can put a drop in your hands and inhale it to help you relax. This blend contains Lavender Flower, Cedarwood, Ho Wood Leaf, Ylang Ylang Flower, Marjoram Leaf, Roman Chamomile Flower, Vetiver Root, Vanilla Bean Absolute, Hawaiian Sandalwood. Doterra says it “has a calming and relaxing aroma …. is a perfectly balanced, tranquil blend …. creating a restful environment at bedtime.”
Lavender helps with sleep for a few reasons.
Studies show that it can promote relaxation and decrease anxiety. One of the ways it helps decrease those bad feelings is by the smell. So take the time to take a few deep breaths in of your warm drink, smelling the aroma.
This does more than just smell good. Studies on lavender and the nervous system now show it actually sends signals to the brain through the nerves in nose that stimulate relaxation.
“Mulled wine is one of the most well-known, long-standing drinks. It dates back to ancient Rome, where wine was cooked and infused with various herbs to help protect against illness and the coming cooler weather. Because of its history, this is a perfect cocktail to make in the fall to accompany a harvest ritual or ancestor worship. Enjoy while sipping by an outdoor fire, or pour some onto the earth as an offering and reflect on all that life has given you.
Garnish with a cinnamon stick for added protection.
Energies: Spirituality, Wisdom, Immortality, Divination
- 1 (750-milliliter) bottle cabernet sauvignon
- 1⁄2 cup pure honey
- 4 ounces pomegranate juice
- 3 whole star anise
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 large blood orange peels
- 4 ounces pomegranate liqueur
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 red apple, sliced crosswise into6 slices, for garnish
Combine all ingredients except apple slices in a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then lower the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour into six mugs to share and garnish each with an apple slice.”
I made this over the weekend to celebrate the start of September and my entire house smelled absolutely heavenly. Mine is much less cute than the photo in the book, but I tried cutting the apple into a little star for garnish! It looks kind of eerie and fall-like, right? I can’t wait to try out some of the other cocktails soon… there are a few margaritas in here that are calling my name!
Do you incorporate alcohol into your practice at all? Let me know if you try this cocktail, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Excerpted fromWitchCraft Cocktails by Julia Halina Hadas. Copyright © 2020 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Interior photographs by Harper Point Photography. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Belladonna, or “beautiful woman” in Italian, is a witchy herb with a sordid history. Beautiful yet deadly, belladonna is the femme fatal of the plant world, and is intertwined with the idea of beauty cloaking a hidden danger. Used as medicine, in beauty treatments, and as a murder weapon, belladonna has quite the bewitching reputation. Its energies are associated with death, beauty, power, and danger, and although we probably won’t be using the actual herb in our spellwork, knowing the history of the plant can help us incorporate its magickal properties in spells or rituals. Let’s take a look!
The Belladonna card from the Liminal Spirits Oracle by Laura Tempest Zakroff
Named for Death & Beauty
Belladonna’s official name is Atropa belladonna. Atropa comes from Atropos, a character in Greek mythology. Atropos (which translates to “unturnng one”, “she who may not be turned aside”, or “the inflexible”) was one of the Three Fates that decided a person’s life. The first sister spun the threat of a person’s life, the second measured it, and Atropos, being the last, cut it – symbolizing death. (Her Roman name was Morta, from which we get muerte, mort, and morte in the romance languages). In some sources, these Fates were daughters of Erebus and Nyx (Darkness & Night), so we see another layer of association with death.
The second part of the official name is belladonna, which means “beautiful woman” in Italian. The berries of the belladonna plant are indeed beautiful and apparently are fairly sweet in taste, but they hide a deadly alkaline poison that can kill quite easily. The name beautiful woman, comes from the enchanting woman of the Italian Renaissance court, where pale skin and ‘bedroom eyes’ were considered the height of beauty. To achieve this look, the women would use eye drops with belladonna juice in them to dilate their pupils.
In folklore and folktales, belladonna has been called many other things, all of which add to its notorious reputation. The most famous of these names are Deadly Nightshade, Witch’s Berries, Sorcerer’s Berry, Death’s Herb, Beautiful Death, Death Cherries, and my personal favorite, The Devil’s Cherries (great band name!).
A Nefarious Poison
Belladonna is best known for its reputation as a deadly poison. Weather fact or folklore, the stories about the use of the plant to carry out murderous intentions abound. There is some research that suggests early civilizations made poison arrows from belladonna. In Ancient Rome, Empress Livia Drusilla is said to have poisoned her husband, Emperor Augustus, with belladonna, while the wife of Emperor Claudius was supposedly poisoned with the plant by her husband. Another legend says that the historical Macbeth poisoned barrels of English drink with belladonna, causing the opposing troops to retreat before battle. And according to some historians, Solomon Northup (Twelve Years a Slave), was knocked out and abducted using a concoction that contained belladonna.
Nicholas Culpepper wrote “It is of a cold nature in some it causeth sleep in others madness, and shortly after, death.” These effects have led some to surmise that the famous poison that makes Juliet seem as though dead in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, included deadly nightshade.
Whatever the historical accuracy of these claims, it is absolutely true that belladonna is a deadly poison. The roots, leaves, and berries all contain high amounts of tropane alkaloids, which are deadly to humans and many domesticated pets. If one handles the plant with cuts or scrapes of any kind, the poison can affect them, and although the berries contain less alkaloids, they are the part of the plant most often responsible for poisoning deaths.
A full grown adult can die from approximately 20 berries (or less) and a child from only two. The symptoms of belladonna poisoning are as follow:
- rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
- skin rashes
- flushed skin
- dilated pupils
- difficulty swallowing
- blurred vision
- severe cramping
Although there are some medicinal uses for this poisonous plant, the boundary between toxic and non-toxic amounts is too close for comfort. It has been used as a muscle relaxer, pain reliever, and its key chemical ingredients have been included in some eyes drops in optometrist offices. It seems that there are some homeopathic products which contain belladonna, including teething tablets for infants, that have been warned against by the FDA, and as we can see, there is good reason to avoid any product containing belladonna, especially those made for children.
The folklore surrounding belladonna is very closely tied to witchcraft (or what societies assumed was witchcraft). One of the most persistent associations is that belladonna was an ingredient in the flying ointment used by witches. Flying ointment was a mixture of ingredients, usually poisonous and psychotropic plants, which were put into an ointment (made from the fat of children no less!) and rubbed into the skin (an in some stories the broom handle…uh…yeah it’s what you’re thinking), to help witches ‘fly’ to their satanic meetings. [An entirely separate discussion is whether this ‘flying’ was physical or astral it seems the latter is more likely. A witch would ‘fly’ (i.e. get high) and have hallucinatory experiences which were believed to have been really experienced)]. Belladonna was often listed as an ingredient in these ointments, due to its association with death and its hallucination inducing chemicals.
Another popular folk belief has to do with belladonna and beauty. In an ancient folk practice from Romania, girls would venture out, find a belladonna plant, and make an offering. She would bury bread, salt, and brandy in exchange for the plant’s root, which would then be carried on top of her head. This would assure her good looks and beauty. As we read above, belladonna was also used to ensure sensuousness and attractiveness in renaissance ladies, so this plant has been connected to the idea of beauty for centuries.
Belladonna & Goddesses
I just wanted to quickly include the goddesses associated with belladonna because the plant’s energies closely align with these powerful deities. Because of belladonna’s strong feminine energy and associations with death and danger, this herb has been connected to several ‘dark’ goddesses. The Roman goddess Bellona is one such deity. She is a goddess of war in Roman mythology. According to some sources, priests who worked with this goddess would drink a mixture infused with belladonna before rituals or meditations to connect with her.
Belladonna is also connected to Hecate and Circe. Circe (possibly Hecate’s daughter) is a Greek enchantress figure. Known for her workings with potions and herbs, Circe was a powerful woman who could use her knowledge to change those who offended her into animals. She is also associated with powerful femininity, sensuality, and because of this, witchcraft. Hecate is also a Greek goddess, and she is probably the most intensely ‘witchy’ goddess of all. According to Wikipedia (yes, I use Wikipedia!): “She is variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, night, light, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery“. We can easily see how belladonna, a plant connected to death and beauty and mystery and liminal spaces is tied to these goddesses.
In Magickal Workings
The magickal properties of belladonna are as dark and dangerous as her history. Powerful and seductive, yet extremely toxic, these energies should not be played around with lightly. Here are some types of magick that belladonna may be used for, although I don’t encourage use of the actual plant. I find that working with an artistic representation can replace the physical herb in spellwork.
- Magick dealing with the underworld or the dead
- Connecting with Circe, Hecate, Bellona, or or other similar goddesses
- In meditation (connect to the energy) to travel to the underworld/dead or similar energies
- Dark love spells or other magick to invoke intense power or seduction
- In hexes or curses (dealing with enemies) – warfare and aggression
- Beauty spells
- To open and get in touch with liminal spaces
I don’t have many ‘suggestions’ for this herb because there is no way I’m recommending using the actual plant. It can be grown and as far as I could tell it isn’t illegal however, it is very dangerous both physically and energetically. I love the idea of using a piece of artwork you connect with to bring in the powerful magickal properties, especially around Samhain, or maybe even a belladonna inspired charm. I think it’s up to you how you choose to work with this herb.
Alright, so I don’t have a recipe this week because this plant is highly toxic! What I do have are two suggestions to get in touch with her powerful energies.
How to Cook With Lavender so Your Food Doesn’t Taste Like Soap
For me, lavender conjures images of a top-down drive through the south of France. Fields and fields of purple unfold as I coast my hand out the window to catch the fragrant wind. Le sigh.
Until I can make my French fantasy a reality, I’ll settle for poundcake. Test Kitchen contributor Jessie Damuck just developed an excellent lemon-lavender pound cake (a perfect addition to an Easter brunch, I’d say). While it’s no Provence, it will satisfy the longing for now.
Look for culinary lavender at specialty food stores, tea and spice shops, or online. Photo: Alex Lau
You’ll find lavender fresh and dried, often at the farmers' market in the summer, and as a part of Herbes de Provence (a mixture of pungent herbs like marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and lavender). Lavender is a pretty amazing thing to have in your culinary arsenal but it can easily veer toward potpourri-town if you’re not careful. Keep these things in mind when you start to experiment:
No matter what you plan to do with it, make sure to buy “culinary lavender.” Like coconut oil, lavender is produced for uses other than cooking. It’s true: We made several batches of popcorn with cosmetic-grade coconut oil a few weeks ago. While we didn’t die or anything, we did feel a little bit weird about it. Lavender falls under the same umbrella. Culinary lavender is suitable for consumption while ornamental lavender isn’t (necessarily). And while it probably won’t kill you, just buy the stuff that you’re sure is safe to eat.
It’s no fun biting into a piece of cake and coming away with a mouthful of leaves. We like to use lavender as an infusion, so either grind it (say, with sugar for baked goods) or strain it out of a liquid (cream or syrup) before using. You’ll still get great lavender flavor without the chalky chew.
There is only one teaspoon of lavender in this Lavender Shortbread with Fruits, Flowers, and Herbs. Photo: Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott
A little goes a long way. If you’re not following a recipe you trust, use lavender sparingly. Its flavor is strong and can easily overwhelm baked goods or savory dishes if you’re heavy-handed. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.
Lavender has a strong flavor, so pair it accordingly with other assertive flavors. In baking, be sure to use a light touch or balance its low notes with something bright like lemon juice and zest. Herbes de Provence go great with lamb, or grilled or roasted chicken.
A few more ideas if this got the creative juices flowing: Infuse simple syrup with a sprinkling of lavender and use to sweeten iced tea, lemonade, or even to flavor meringue. Grind some lavender into sugar and use it in simple butter cookies or infuse cream for lavender-scented whipped or ice cream. Make your own dry blend of herbs and flowers (we like lavender with mint and rosemary) and rub on lamb chops or chicken wings before grilling. You can even candy the blossoms and use those to garnish. Now go make this cake.