Sunday, April 27, 2008

These Four Hands... some help from good people.

Chris and I talk a lot about how and what we want our lavender business to be and how to achieve our ideas. If you visit our tent at the farmer’s market or at another event you’ll hear us use the phrase “these four hands do all the work”. We grow the plants in the field, we make the soap ourselves, we package the products, we set up the stand, we tell you what conditions your plant needs and we bag your purchase. Two people and four hands do it all. We like how small we are and hope our customers appreciate the work we put into bringing a bit of ourselves to the plants and products we offer. You won’t find our products in stores or our label in a venue where we aren’t standing behind the table.

The past two weeks we’ve been at big and busy events. It rarely happens but we called in the troops to help us out. Our past customers may have noticed new faces selling them lavender soap or helping them learn how to cook with lavender pepper. The three women who came to our aid were people close to us and we are very grateful for their assistance.

At the Sand Springs Herbal Affair my good friend Cathy covered our backs with cashiering and selling of products. Cathy is someone I instantly liked when I met her at my all-time favorite knit shop, Fringe (now closed). She’s smart, funny and tells great stories about her adventures bicycling around New Zealand or living in a cabin in Fairbanks, Alaska. I always have a good time when I’m around Cathy.

Making an appearance in both Sand Springs and Jenks was my sister, Londa. She’s the gal with the fun silver spiky hair and sparkling smile. My big sister has always played an important role in my life. If you were at our booth very long you probably heard her talking about our culinary line. Londa is an amazing cook and is completely fearless in the kitchen. We’re often trading recipes or cooking ideas. She’s also the gadget-girl in the kitchen – if there’s a new kitchen tool she’s got to try it out.

And rounding out our team was my daughter Hillarey. Most parents are biased and think their kid is wonderful, and we’re not immune to that, but she’s really pretty amazing. Smart, independent, and creative, Hillarey is often the sounding board we go to if we dealing with issues and need another opinion. She’s is a good person to have in our lives. Hillarey’s an art student and the beautiful silver jewelry that she wears, and often that I’m wearing, are her creations. I like who she is and what she stands for (and up to, sometimes!) and I’d like to think that even if I hadn’t given birth to her I’d choose her for a friend.

Now it’s back to “these four hands doing all the work”, but we want to thank the extra six hands that helped make the past two weeks a smooth success.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The long awaited sign of spring

Each year in April while weeding I begin a quiet search for the very first bud. Yesterday while working in the Munstead section of the field, I spotted the first tiny spikes of the season. It felt so good to see those little guys that I called Chris over just to show them off. It may seem a bit strange, because after all this is what lavender does every year, but I always feel a bit of panic until it happens. Every farmer and gardener probably has the same anticipation waiting on seeds to germinate or plants to flower and set fruit.

Munstead, the cultivar we use in our culinary products, blooms in May. Generally it blooms in May I should say, because last year it was very late in the season before we saw spikes - all due to the wicked April freeze of 2007. We're selling Munstead again this year during plant season. If you're interested in cooking with lavender I highly recommend this plant over the more fragrant, long-stemmed variety. Its flavor is mild and can be used sweet or savory. Our Fat Spike and Provence lavenders are beautiful and fragrant but add a slight soapy taste when used for cooking. Not what cooks usually intend - unless they've got someone who needs their mouth washed out.

Recipe Collection

A few recipes from the kitchen at Clear Creek Lavender

Lavender Rubbed Salmon

Salmon filets
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Clear Creek Lavender Salt
Purchase two salmon fillets at your local market. Finger each fillet with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and place on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. (The skin of the fish will adhere to the foil when you remove the fillet.) Sprinkle a teaspoon of lavender salt on the fish. Sometimes I add either rosemary or coriander. Cook for ten minutes, or until the center is no longer translucent.

Lavender Roasted Potatoes

Small golden potatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Clear Creek Lavender Pepper
Red Pepper flakes
Select six small golden potatoes. Finger the potatoes with extra virgin olive oil. Slice them, almost cutting completely through the potato but leaving enough attached on the bottom to allow the potato to splay open a little. Place them cut side up in a baking dish. Combine lavender pepper and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle these over the potatoes and bake until golden.

Lavender Cookies

1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup Clear Creek Lavender Sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 eggs
1 cup soft butter
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 ¾ cups flour
Mix sugar, half of lavender sugar, butter, and eggs. Stir in cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Mix in flour. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls (one oat a time) into a bowl of remaining lavender sugar and coat. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350F until edges are golden.

Lavender Blueberry Vinaigrette

¼ cup cooking sherry splash of white wine vinegar
½ cup fresh blueberries
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons Clear Creek Lavender Sugar
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until berries are liquid. Pour into curette. Great over butterhead lettuce with sliced apples or peaches, and walnuts.

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Lavender

1 Armenian Cucumber, cubed
½ cup Plain Yogurt (unflavored)
1 + Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Tablespoon Clear Creek Lavender Salt

Cube cucumber and put in blender with olive oil and yogurt. Blend until smooth, add lavender salt and pulse briefly. Pour into small bowls and chill several hours. Just before dining swirl a teaspoon of olive oil in the center of each serving.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

ONEOK Shout Out

We've just come home from the first lavender event of the year and want to say a special thanks to the people from ONEOK who visited us today at the Brookside Herb Festival. Someone at ONEOK started emailing our website and blog around, and we must have developed a following from the folks at 5th and Boulder because several ONEOK people stopped by! Denise used to work at an architectural firm downtown, and I worked in the Reference Department at Central Library, and we've both gone through the cafeteria line at ONEOK many times. Thanks for your business.

Chris and Denise