Bourbon Lavender Raspberry Applesauce

I will start off this post with clearing my guilty feelings. I am sorry fellow bloggers for not having been around to comment this week. Life has been nuts. Nothing majors, just super busy. I thought my schedule would calm down as the weather would cool down for fall…but nothing could have been further from the truth. Work is super busy and my social schedule is busting at the seam. So next week starting with a clean slate and I’ll be back at commenting.

Have you been suffering from the same busy bee ailment as I? I have to say I am not complaining, life has been a blast. Today will  be more of a visual treat of a day trip spent with friends. One of our stops was an apple orchard. And it was the perfect excuse to super-major-over the top-play with the best applesauce ever I made last year. The trick is making it over a long period of time in a slow cooker: it totally gets caramelized and the apple flavor dominates. This year I added notes of lavender, vanilla and raspberries with a splash of bourbon. Sounds like  weird mix but they all do go together and the notes were subtle. Time to make some Bourbon Lavender Raspberry Applesauce!

Bourbon Lavender Raspberry Applesauce top

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Lemon Lavender Avocado Loaf and Cupcakes

It’s Food ‘n Flix time again! In this monthly group a ‘host’ picks a movie of their choice that pertains to food. Everyone watches the movie and then makes a recipe which the film inspired. It can be any recipe you want. This month’s pick is hosted by Tina at Squirrel Head Manor. Tina picked a movie A Good Year, which is based on a novel by Peter Mayle. Like most of his books, the setting is Provence, the land of lavender – my inspiration!

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About 10 years ago I went on a Peter Mayle reading rampage. I read so many of his books I do not remember if I read this one. Apparently that would be a good thing not to remember as the book is very loosely based. That said it was a very cute romantic comedy movie.

Max, an unethical business go getter, inherits his uncle’s house in Provence, the house where Max spent a many summers as a boy. His trip for a quick sale becomes extend as he is in hot waters with the UK government. Well his presence upsets many people in this small French town, including the wine maker who works on the now for sale land and Fanny the lovely eventual romantic interest. What does the future hold for all three characters? Well I hope I wetted your appetite enough to get your hands on the movie.

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There is lots of talk about wine and food in the movie but nothing for me really stood out. What did stand out was a “situation” that occurred twice in the movie: the cleaning lady chases away scorpions with fresh lavender to save the terrified visitors. So I looked it up online and indeed lavender is a scorpion repellant. Who knew!

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That is when I knew my recipe would showcase lavender buds. I searched high and low for a really ‘out there’ recipe. Most people would find a lavender recipe exotic but I have actually use it in cooking several times. For this event I settled on the curious Lemon Lavender Avocado Loaf by Sheena on Allrecipes.

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It so happens that this summer 4 of my friends and I headed out of town to visit a local lavender field. Walking along the 2 toned purple plants up and down the longs field was such an amazing experience. At the midway point the farm had set up a bunch of Adirondack chairs. Imagine 5 lovely ladies sitting in a row just enjoying the calming smell. We we so relaxed and happy, it was hard to leave the fields.

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I had recently run out of edible lavender buds so I bought some while at the farm, perfect for this really creative recipe. I hope you were not to put off by this combination of lavender, lemon and avocado but actually it worked really well together. The avocado acts at the fat for the recipe and you only have hints of it on the palate. I will admit the lavender is intense here if you are not used to it. There recipe was for 2 loafs but since I only have one loaf pan I used half the batter for cupcakes which I topped with a pretty raspberry!

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I found that the flavors mellowed a bit after a day, so if you have the willpower wait for the next day to try a slice. I brought only one cupcake to work for an adventurous colleague. When my other colleagues found out I was reprimanded quite severely for underestimating their open-mindedness. I made amends by bringing half the loaf in the next day. And they proved me wrong as I mostly got positive comments.

Yields 2 loafs or 12 large cupcakes

Lemon Lavender Avocado Loaf
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Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed avocado
  • 2 Tbsps lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsps dried lavender
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Beat in the avocado and lemon juice with the last egg. Pour in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing until just incorporated. Fold in the lavender and lemon zest; mixing just enough to evenly combine. Pour the batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour (about 25 minutes for cupcakes). Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.
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http://cultureatz.com/lemon-lavender-avocado-loaf-and-cupcakes/

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Such a gorgeous shot of the batter with the lavender and lemon peel

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Total coincidence I was wearing purple nail polish, I swear.

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Aromatherapy: Sprains and Strains Massage Oil

Have you entered my GIVEAWAY yet which celebrates my 5th Blogiversary? Ends June 22 2012…hurry do it now!

This recipe is not to be consumed, but it will do wonders for your body. I have been dabbling in essential oil mixtures for a few years now, on and off.  I am not a big believer in the mood changing recipes but most of my ‘first aid’ mixes work. A few months back I made a recipe for muscle stiffness, tendons, sore joints and inflammation. If you already have essential oils at home it is way less expensive than buying some muscle pain creams full of chemical products.

This is week 13 following my wrist fracture/displacement and I am heading to my final orthopedic appointment today for final OKs. At this point my bones have set but I still have a lot of pain from damaged tendons and muscle tissue. And the exercises in physiotherapy to gain my mobility back can leave me quite sore too. I am pretty much off the pain killers except for the occasional difficult days. This massage oil has been essential in my pain management therapy. I often apply a drop or two and gently work it into my sore area every couple of hours. It’s instant magic and I often get enough relief as to avoid taking another pain killer.

You can also use it when you are stuffed up and have chest congestion by rubbing a few drops on your chest like our moms did when we were kids with Vicks. Or put a small dab right under your nostrils. Love multipurpose concoctions!

Ξ Sprains and Strains Massage Oil Ξ

Lavender – 4 drops
Peppermint – 4 drops
Tea Tree – 4 drops
Eucalyptus – 3 drops
1 tbsp sweet almond oil (or your favorite carrier oils like avocado, coconut, sunflower, etc)

Mix well in a small bottle. Shake before each use. It is best to use a dark glass bottle or make sure to keep the bottle out of the sun.

Ayurvedic Herbs: Knock you out and go to sleep sedating tea for insomnia

After a few lovely nights of insomnia this would probably be my drink of choice too! I am quite familiar with insomnia, we have been best buds (enemies ) since my teen years. I have tried every thing, no need to send me suggestions. Please, don’t! I have heard them all!

I recently had a particularly bad bought of sleepless nights …partly due to the cutting in half a certain prescribed medication. I needed to find some form of reinforcement. I recently mentioned in a post that I was playing around with herbal concoctions along the beliefs of Ayurvedic herbal healing. Well I am sharing here my first herbal tea. I know this is not exactly your normal recipe post but I am sure some of you will be more than happy to test this tea out.

Many people are content to drink a cup of  Chamomile tea to help them take a trip to slumber land. For me  Chamomile relaxes me but does not make me drowsy. I needed something that would literally SEDATE me. I researched my book The Yoga of Herbs for herbs that would knock me out. I was so thrilled with my mix, I really felt sedated within 20 minutes and fell asleep easily. I a,m always keeping a jar of this stuff around the house. I make big batches of the dried herbs. If you only want to make one cup used 2 tsp per cup of water.

Nee a crash course in Ayurveda? OK here we go. Ayurveda is a traditional form of medicine used in India which has been around for about 5,000 years. It is considered an alternative medicine in the Western hemisphere. In other words it can work but no doctor will know about it. Still today 80% of the population in India use Ayurveda. The main goal is to treat the mind, body and spirit as one. Treatments and practices include diet, exercise, meditation and massage. Each person has one of three main constitutions (doshas): Vita, Pitta or Kapha. Once you know your main one and which other may be unbalanced, you can prepare medicines to help heal your ailment according to your constitution. The book I mentioned above will help you figure it all out. I am only somewhat familiar with the herbal healing aspect of Ayurveda. The energy and medicinal quality of herbs or spices are classified and used to balance your doshas.

My recipe below is good for anyone if used occasionally so don’t fret about it not being good for your dosha balance.

Ξ Good Night Sedating Tea Ξ

1 1/2 tsp Valerian
1 tsp Passionflower
1 tsp Skullcap
1 tsp Lavender
1 liter of water

Put your water in a pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and sprinkle the herbs on top. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain out the herbs. This amount will be good for 3 days. About 30 minutes before going to bed warm up 1 cup and enjoy.

I am lucky as in my city there is a store that sells such herbs by weight, but if you don’t have such a store there are great online stores  like Mountian Rose Herbs which has a huge selection. Let’s take a quick look at the properties of each herb used:

Valerian: treatment of choice for anxiety and insomnia, sedative, muscle relaxant and aids in preventing panic attacks. The root is the part used and it is very odorous – good or bad, for you to decide. Just keep it in a hermetically sealed jar.

Passionflower: a gentle sedative that soothes nervous tension and alleviates insomnia.

Skullcap: calms excitability and anxiety, mild relaxant, enhances meditation and awareness.

Lavender: calming and soothing, sedative, and has balancing effects on the mind and body.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor am I a trained healthcare professional.  This post is for informational purposes only. This information should not be used as a substitute for a consultation or visit with a physician.

Check out my other posts with home remedies for insomia or sleep problems:

Lavender Buds for the Body

Everything is coming up LAVENDER for this month’s International Incident Party brought to us by Jeroxie. Yes lavender is the theme this month. I believe a lot of participants were a little concerned with this challenge as lavender may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But I am actually a fan of it, I just so happen to have a jar in my pantry and I have cooked twice recently with it to make a Lavender Ice Cream and a Lavender Lime Cake.

I wanted to use it in a different way this time around. At first I planned on a savory dish but then I came across a few homemade cosmetic recipes using lavender: here and here. I was sold, after all the preparation reads very much like any recipe. I settled on a lavender salve. You can use this lavender body butter lotion anywhere…your face, hands, feet, anywhere you want to soothe your skin. The final product is hard like a salve but easy to scoop out and melts like butter instantly with the heat of your skin.

Lavender Salve

2 tbsp almond oil
3 tbsp shea butter
1/4 tsp vitamin E
1 1/2 tsp dried lavender flowers
1/4 tsp cornstarch (reduces “greasy” feeling)

Direction:

  1. Put about an inch (2.5cm) of water in the bottom of a medium-sized pot and heat to a low simmer.
  2. Place a bowl in the pan of water.
  3. Place the shea butter and almond oil in the bowl and warm slowly over a low heat until the butters are melted.
  4. Stir in with a metal spoon the vitamin E and lavender and leave on a LOWEST heat fro 1h30min (a wooden spoon absorbs the scent of essential oils).
  5. Strain and return to bowl.
  6. Place bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice.
  7. Beat for several minutes using electric beaters until it starts to get nice and thick like whipped cream.
  8. Spoon into cosmetic jars.

How about a little martini while the lavender is infusing on the stove? Most lavender martini recipes I found required the use of lavender syrup. I did not care to make some so I found this instant one instead. If you find it too strong feel free to add a bit of orange juice.

Lavender Infused Martini

1/2 tsp lavender
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sugar
2 ounces quality gin or vodka

  1. Muddle the lavender in the lemon juice.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a shaker with an ice cube.
  3. Shake about 20 times and strain in a glass.

International

 

I Scream, You Scream..Win an Ice Cream Machine and Lavender Ice Cream

Yay my very first big giveaway contest I am so excited. For details keep reading all the way to the end. I you have been following my blog for a while you probably have figured out I am big on ice cream. And with spring here and summer arriving…its ice cream season baby!

I have been working on less then traditional flavors too. If you recall my last one was Roasted Black Sesame Seeds ice cream. This time I am going Provencal on you. Today we will make Lavender Ice Cream. Recipe is below.

Lavender ice cream is actually the first less traditional flavor I have ever had. I remember it so well. I was at Meu Meu on St-Denis Street (my fave ice cream spot in town) and after ordering this unusual Lavender scoop I sat on one of the barstools of the ice cream bar and had my first bite.

I was in heaven. It was so good. I wanted more. I wanted to make my own. I wanted my very own ice cream maker. That was a few years back. I put in on my Christmas and birthday list (yes as an adult) for 2 years and I never got it. I asked my mom why and she said she did not think it would be something I would use very long. I was disappointed.

I could not financially excuse the personal expense either. But that dream was finally realized last summer while I was visiting a friend in Toronto. She was moving and cleaning her place. She had one and said she was going to sell it. SOLD! I screamed. She actually ended up offering it to me as a gift. I have been making ice cream every since. So when I was able to pick my prize I knew right away it was going to be an ice cream machine. I want to bring you the joy mine has brought me!

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →