Lavender in the Garden Day was such a special one that we couldn’t resist hearing from a number of staff involved in the programs offered over the course of the day: Ilse Murdock, Family Art Project Leader; Justine Spilotros, Public Programs Manager; and Laurel Rimmer, Assistant Director of Public Programs.
At the Family Art Project Sunday morning, families engaged in a three-part art-making extravaganza: Rama Mandel introduced Lavender Blooms with a scratch-n-sniff book called My First Book of Smells and Colours by Orianne Lallemand. In the Sally and Gilbert Kerlin Learning Center, families filled their hand-sewed sachets—check out the samples pictured here— and hacky sacks with dried lavender buds. Sewing materials were available on the center table with plastic and metal needles, carefully distributed to adult caregivers. Children were so excited to learn various hand-sewing techniques, terminology and stitch patterns. One family came in to make sachets for their mom as a gift, while a group of children made hacky sacks, drew faces on them and gave them silly character names. High-school interns Sam and Seolyun initiated a game of bean-bag tossing once storytelling was over.
Late morning, a dozen visitors gathered for a three-hour Cold-Pressed Soap-Making Workshop led by Melissa Rivera of Essence and Aroma. Divided into two groups, participants created a total of 20 pounds of soap, enough for each participant to take home the equivalent of fours bars of homemade soap. In the first image, Rivera demonstrates the proper way to melt the oils. The second shows one group testing the temperature of the oils, while the last shows the pouring phases, when oil and lye have been emulsified.
A thoughtful and careful instructor, Rivera provided a wealth of information about the ingredients and process of soap-making, and then led the group through each step of the process, which ends with a curing stage that lasts several weeks.
By Sunday afternoon, the scent of lavender was wafting throughout Wave Hill House—participants in Hatha Yoga and Meditation in late morning each received a muslin goody bag of dried lavender, as did those who attended the Cooking Demonstration mid-afternoon. Great Performances chef Stephen Rosenberg welcomed almost three dozen visitors to a demonstration of the culinary aspects of lavender, complete with samples and, of course, recipes for the two summertime dishes he prepared during the session, Lemon Roasted Free-range Chicken with Lavender and Grilled Peach and Feta Salad with Lavender-balsamic dressing. Find them below, courtesy of Great Performances. And let us know how you enjoy the results!
Hints for Cooking with Lavender
(Adapted from the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen)
- Be sure to buy culinary lavender from a reputable source.
- Use sparingly: a little goes a long way!
- Lavender has strong flavor, so pair it with other assertive flavors.
- Use lavender as an infusion, grind it or strain it from liquids to get flavor without the chewiness of the flowers.
Lemon Roasted Free Range Chicken with Lavender
- 1 (4 to 5 pound) free-range chicken
- Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, & lavender (for seasoning)
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 head garlic, halved
- 1/4 bunch each fresh rosemary, thyme, & parsley
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse the chicken with cool water & pat dry using paper towels. Season with salt and pepper, then stuff the cavity with lemon, garlic, and herbs. Place the chicken, breast-side up, in a roasting pan. Tie the legs of the chicken together with kitchen twine to help hold its shape. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a fair amount of salt, pepper & lavender. Roast the chicken 1 to 1 1/2 hours, basting with the drippings & rotating the pan every 20 minutes or so to insure a golden crispy skin. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer says 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (the legs of the chicken should wiggle easily from the sockets too.) Remove the chicken to a platter and let stand for 10 minutes, so the juices settle back into the meat before carving.
Peach and Feta Salad with Lavender Dressing
- 3 cups mixed greens
- 1 red onion cut into rings
- 2-3 tablespoons of feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 peaches cut into segments
- Juice of half a lemon (4 tablespoons)
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1 teaspoon fresh lavender flowers
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
To make the dressing:
In a bowl add the lemon juice, salt, mustard, lavender, garlic & balsamic vinegar and whisk together. Slowly drizzle the olive oil while you continue whisking until you have added the entire amount.
To make the salad:
Lightly grill the peaches. Arrange the mixed greens on the serving plate and top with the grilled peach segments. Arrange onions on top of the lettuce. Crumble the feta cheese on top. Decorate with a few lavender twigs. Drizzle the dressing on the salad right before serving.
Sources for Lavender Plants:
- Gilbertie’s Herbs: www.gilbertiesherbs.com
- Well Sweep Herb Farm: www.wellsweep.com
- Joy Creek Nursery: www.joycreek.com