inspiration comes in many forms. and i welcome whatever form it takes. through my posts, you may have already learned how much i admire my backyard bees (front yard, too, guys…no offense intended). as fall begins to crowd out summer, the lavender menu becomes sparse. but the bees continue to savor every bit of every lavender head remaining in bloom. it is to their tenacity and commitment i bake and dedicate this recipe.
and so it isn’t missed by including as an endnote, i want to thank KPLU (Seattle’s NPR News and All That Jazz) host and food-lover Dick Stein for giving me the jolt of inspiration i needed to actually begin this blog. after ruminating about it for many months, a segment of Food for Thought, hosted by Dick and Seattle Times food critic Nancy Leson, put me over the edge (um, in a good way). the topic of that week’s broadcast? donuts (see the scout’s truth north very first blog post). Dick was also kind enough to point me to the totally hip recording of The Ink Spots’ Donuts, played during the segment. caution: like donuts themselves, the recording can be addicting.
Bee-Inspired Lemon-Lavender Shortbread
a variation based on a recipe from Everyday FOOD
reported to make 36 cookies; in my sometimes imperfect kitchen, it makes more like 24
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (i don’t use unsalted as noted in the original recipe), at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached organic flour
1 1/2 tablespoons culinary lavender
grated zest of 2 lemons
yellow sanding sugar (optional)
- beat butter, sugar, vanilla and salt with an electric mixer until smooth. on low speed, add flour, mixing just until a dough forms.
- mix in lavender and lemon zest.
- divide dough in half; place each half on a piece of parchment paper. with floured hands, gently roll each into a 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. if you are so moved, sprinkle sanding sugar on logs, roll to press in.
- wrap the logs tightly in the parchment and stick in the fridge until firm (60 – 90 minutes).
- preheat oven to 350F.
- with a serrated knife, slice dough into 3/8-inch-thick pieces. if dough begins to crumble, stop immediately and let stand at room temp for 5 to 10 minutes.
- place slices on cookie sheets, about 1 inch apart (i put parchment paper on my sheets).
- bake about 15 minutes, until the cookies are very lightly golden around the edges.
- let sit on cookie sheets for a minute or two, then completely cool on wire rack.
i actually think the serrated knife makes these cookies look a little ratty around the bottom edge; next time i might try an alternative. the shortbread keeps wonderfully in an air-tight container for a week or perhaps even longer. but i wouldn’t know; they’re snarfed up too quickly. not my best photography, but the shortbread is lovely—light and buttery.
this summer has been extraordinarily hot and dry. yesterday, as i set about to tackle yard work, i sadly noted the leaves have prematurely begun to fall. to conserve water, we’ve let our otherwise lush, green lawn turn an unattractive khaki. of course, despite the drought, the multitudinous varieties of weeds on our property remain prolific. but my perennials have been worthy rivals. little troopers continuing to flourish amidst climatic adversity. and the most persistent of all? the lavender.
Grosso, Hidcote, Italian, Munstead, Spanish. all happily blooming. all attracting eager, fuzzy, equally happy bees. walking by the gardens, i took in the heavenly scent and watched the bees bounce industriously from plant to plant. after a few minutes of observation, my heart felt uplifted. i burst into a big grin and jumped on the tractor to mow the dead grass. hee-ha!
a few photos shot in Sequim, WA lavender fields, out on the dramatically beautiful Olympic Peninsula. the bee on my home page header idles around the head of a Spanish lavender in my backyard garden.