Edible color - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Edible color

Updated: Sep 8, 2011 04:09 PM EDT
© Todd Coleman / Bonnier © Todd Coleman / Bonnier

By Carolyn Forché

In late afternoons in high summer, the fields of Whidbey Lavender Farm on Washington State's Whidbey Island give off a purple radiance, and the breeze of Puget Sound lifts the floral scent toward the cedar forest.

So it is no wonder that the women writing poetry and fiction in the cottages of the nearby Hedgebrook writers' retreat come to walk among the lavender when their day's work is finished.

That is how I came, by way of a deer trail, to the fields planted by M.C. and Kay Kang. The couple started their first lavender field in 2005, after falling asleep in a bedroom scented with the just-picked blossoms at a friend's lavender farm in the mainland town of Sequim the previous year.

Along with Sequim, Whidbey Island lies within a rain shadow, a lavender-friendly microclimate protected from too much precipitation by the Olympic Mountains. Most of the Kangs' plants are the fragrant Grosso variety, used for bath oils and perfumes, but they also grow several kinds of English lavender—sweet-smelling, low-camphor plants that are best for cooking.  

It was this culinary lavender that interested me as I stole beneath the rafters in the Kangs' cedar drying barn.

Hedgebrook's chefs had befriended the Kangs and were making sorbet and salted cookies flecked with their blossoms, but I soon learned that English lavender has a long history in the kitchen.

Native to the Mediterranean, lavender was, in all likelihood, brought to the British Isles in the second century by the Romans, who used it for washing and bathing, as well as for cooking and winemaking.

A member of the mint family and a relative of thyme, it lends floral and herbal notes to dishes. Today, farmers in France send their lambs to graze among the blooms, and French grandmothers cut lavender from roadsides for their kitchens. I followed suit, adding blossoms to crème brûlée, threading shrimp onto sprigs for the grill, and tossing the sweet dried herb with potatoes for roasting.

The Kangs don't sell their lavender, preferring to give it away, but the nearby Lavender Wind Farm does. I like to hang a bunch of theirs in my kitchen, where its fragrance transports me back to Whidbey Island's fields.

See Recipe For Roasted Potatoes with Lavender »

© 2012 SAVEUR
All rights reserved.
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
3514 State St. Erie, PA 16508
Newsroom: (814)454-8812
Toll Free: 1(800)454-8812
Business offices: (814)454-5201
Share Stories
Submit your stories to our site!
Share Photos
Share your photos in our community galleries
Mobile Site
Be sure to stay constantly updated with the power of WICU12 and WSEE at your fingertips
Free Android App
Free iPhone App
Free iPad App
Storm Tracker App
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WICU. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
                   WICU/WSEE - 3514 State Street Erie, PA 16508 - (814) 454-5201 - info@wicu12.com