In October, 2014, Lavendula arrived in Coupeville, much to her surprise. This is her story as it unfolds over the month.
[Stay tuned for the next installment.]
In October, 2014, Lavendula arrived in Coupeville, much to her surprise. This is her story as it unfolds over the month.
[Stay tuned for the next installment.]
There is an amazing resource in Coupeville, and no, I’m not talking lavender.
Late one afternoon I drove up to the Bishop’s Granery,where they have been letting me hang lavender to dry because we have a bumper crop and needed more drying space. I needed to clear out some dry lavender to make room for more fresh lavender we are harvesting.
The Granery has been on the prairie since at least 1893 as you can see in this image from the inside wall where they were logging bags of grain.
As I drove up to the gated dirt road, in my white Chevy Colorado pickup, a car was blocking the entrance to the driveway. A couple of people with cameras were wandering down the road. “Hey!”, I called out, a bit annoyed “I need to get in here.” The woman, with good will, immediately ran to her car and moved it so I could drive in. At the granery they approached me and asked if they could take pictures. With a grin, in spite of still being rather peevish, I said, “Sure! But you have to earn the right by helping me take down some of this lavender.” These two students of light, Arthur Myerson and Keron Psillas who are instructors at Pacific Northwest Art School, gasped with delight as their eyes adjusted to the darkness inside and they saw the racks of lavender hanging. The three of us cheerfully set to work taking the lavender out and throwing it into the back of the pickup. As farm workers they lacked efficiency because they kept stopping and taking pictures. I really can’t fault them, though, look at the result – Arthur sent me the top picture, it makes the lavender come alive. I ended up with a full load of lavender, and they ended up with a bunch of pictures and a story to tell their students.
The amazing resource is two-fold. It’s the Pacific Northwest Art School that brings talented, creative people to our community, and it’s Ebey’s Landing Historical Reserve that has preserved the prairie and beyond for generations to come.
PS. The Granery was part of a larger homestead, which is now gone. This is the setting where the granery is located just back of the tower sort of building.
The historical pictures of the Granery and the owl are from Karen Bishop used with permission.
Arthur Meyerson’s picture of Sarah gathering lavender in the granery is used with permission.
The tragic fires in eastern Washington right now have had an unexpected result for me at the farm. There is a film camp that normally takes place in Twisp each year called Wild Mind Film Camp. The dates for the camp this year are July 16-27. However, they had to evacuate due to the fire in the Methow Valley, and luckily they found accommodations on Whidbey Island.
Monday I was distilling at the farm and a woman introduces herself as Lulu Gargiulo, a film student, and tells the story of the camp’s relocating. Then she asks if she can film the farm and interview me. Ok, I’m a bit of a ham, so it was easy to say: “Sure!” Turns out this “student” is a film making professional and has done lots of projects from commercials to features. What she hasn’t done is direct films, because she has mostly been behind the camera as director of photography and camera operator. Just to add drama to the context of her request of me I want to remind you that we are getting ready for our annual festival and at the same time we are having the biggest harvest we have ever had. Everyone on the staff is working incredibly hard and for longer than normal hours. But, I am a fool for fun projects, and Lulu’s film camp sounded fun.
The next day she comes to the Coupeville shop and prepares to interview me on camera. A fellow student serves as her assistant and they stage the patio, set up their equipment and invite me in. She started asking me questions, and they were good ones. They made me think. They asked me to reflect on the farm, my trajectory as a lavender farmer, my part in the community, and some rather deep thoughts about lavender, farming lavender, and what it all means.
It was a blast! I’d include the video, but she is off in the editing barn, on Whidbey Island, trying to put bits and pieces together to make it into a cohesive whole. It is, after all, a student project, even if that student is a gifted professional so she needs to burn the midnight oil to complete the work. I sure hope I get to see it when it’s done. Meanwhile, we are working on getting her addicted to our lemon lavender shortbread.
Our 11th annual Lavender Festival is bringing back wine and music for your enjoyment. Relax walking the lavender fields, then sit back and sip some local wines and listen to music. Want to learn how to make a lavender wreath or a lavender wand? This year we have booths with lavender craft activities, a children’s activity booth, and a wide variety of art booths by fabulous local artists. Oh, and did we mention food? You will find an amazing array of tasty treats for any palate.
You don’t need tickets to come. Free Parking, if you are nice to the parking attendants!
12:00 pm Siri Bardarson
3:00 pm Shifty Sailors (Time delayed 1/2 hour)
12:00 pm The Muse and Eye
2:30 pm Skinny Tie Jazz
It is late spring and the garden is starting to take off. The Swiss Chard is growing like a weed and it’s a perfect time to try lots of new ways to use those big leaves in creative ways. These roll ups are just the thing for a tasty plate of hors d’oeuvres that have good flavor and are good for you.
Chop onion, garlic, thyme, and lavender.
In a fry pan with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil sauté the onions and garlic. When barely starting to brown, add Thyme and Lavender, Salt and Pepper. Stir frequently so the vegetables just get a little bit more brown.
Then remove from heat and put into another bowl to cool.
Add egg and stir until blended. Then add the Asagio cheese and the chopped almonds and stir until they are all mixed in.
Wash and de-stem the leaves and break into pieces that are about 4” square. They will vary in size and shape, that’s ok. Save the stems of the Swiss Chard for soups, or just sautéing with other veggies in another meal.
Form the roll ups
Put them vein side up and spoon in about a teaspoon of filling per leave piece.
Almost as if you are wrapping a little package, fold over sides first
then the ends.
Put a toothpick through to hold it from falling open
and place onto a cookie sheet that has been greased with butter or oil (I started using coconut oil for this and it’s releases well).
After you have filled your pan, roast them for about 12 minutes in the 350º oven.
Take them out and cool them on the pan. They will be slightly crispy when you take them out, but they will soften a bit as they cool.
Plate them up and add a garnish of sprigs of lavender and thyme if you want.
This is a Plan Friendly recipe.
PS. Use the stems from the swiss chard for soups or stir fry. In this recipe we used Rainbow Chard, and those stems are so pretty!
You are finally ready to put lavender into your garden – whether you are planning on putting them in the soil or in a pot on the deck. What you might want to think about before you come to the shop to get your lavender plants….
How much sun will your lavender get? Lavender likes at least 6 hours of sun a day. Sometimes people think that because there are a lot of cloudy days that their plants won’t get the sun they need. Those cloudy days aren’t the problem for lavender plants – it’s the trees and buildings that block the sun that can be the problem.
How well drained is your soil? Lavender likes “dry feet”, which means your lavender spot should never have puddles, even in the winter. If lavender stands in water it drowns. That’s true if you over water lavender, too.
How big do you want your lavender to be when it’s full grown? It takes lavender around three years to grow to its full size. Lavenders tend to be as wide as they are high, looking sort of like hedghogs, except prettier. Some lavenders grow only about 10 inches while others can grow up to 3 feet and many are varying sizes in-between. Also, think about whether you want them to be individual plants or whether you want them to look more like a hedge. That will determine how close together you plant one to the next.
What color and how long do you want the flowers and stems to be? Lavender flowers range from dark purple to white and lots of shakes of purple and pink between those two. They can have stems that are quite short, or ones that are more than 14″ long. The shorter stems will produce a more compact look, while the longer stemmed plants will give a wavy, moving in the wind sort of look.
When do you want them to bloom? Lavenders vary in the time of the summer that they bloom. Some bloom rather early, some quite late. If you have a lot of varieties, it’s like a blooming parade through the end of summer. You can plant all of one variety and have a big show at one point in the summer.
What do you want to do with the lavender? You can cook with some varieties, use some for dried flowers, use some for bulk lavender and make sachets. Unless you have a lot of plants, you probably won’t be able to make your own essential oil, but you can make lavender extract for cooking! There are some varieties of lavender you shouldn’t eat that are great for your garden, but not for your plate.
Now are you really confused? Don’t worry, we’ll help you when you come in.
Learn to cook with lavender and some techniques to make some basics much better!
with Alena Stapel and Sarah Richards
Thursday, May 1st – 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Learn to cook with lavender as well as learn cooking techniques that will improve your cooking ability and confidence.
You will learn how to properly cook a steak, make a rub, and a salsa to accompany it. Then you will learn how to make lavender chocolate chip cookies and how to adjust the recipe so you get the kind of cookie you really want. Learn amazing tips that will take your cooking to a new level.
Instructors: Sarah Richards, owner of Lavender Wind, loves cooking with lavender and creating new dishes. She teaches many classes related to using lavender.
Alena Stapel is a Whidbey Island native with a strong passion for work in the restaurant and catering industry. She received an Associates of Applied science degree in Culinary Arts from Bellingham Technical College and has received numerous awards in competitions through the Washington Restaurant Association. She currently works at Front Street Grill in Coupeville and the Elks Lodge in Oak Harbor as the Event Coordinator and lead catering staff respectively.
The cost of the class is $30 and is limited to 10 people.
You can register by calling 360-544-4132.
Ninth Annual Lavender Wind Festival – 2014
Whidbey Island Artists are invited to apply to exhibit at the annual Lavender Wind Festival
Visitors will enjoy a beautiful weekend of Lavender in bloom, art, wine and music!
Please submit 3 images of your Artwork and an Artist statement by sending an email with the images attached to email@example.com by May 15th, 2014. Any aspect of lavender in one or more pieces of your art will be a plus when juried.
All submissions will be juried and artists notified by May 31st.
Lavender Wind Festival Poster 2014 for Artists to use.
Mom showed love through food. On any day there were three of us in the kitchen; my sister, my mother, and me. We watched Mom cook while we played games at the table or did our homework. She made tasty meals, feeding well us on very little money.
Then, in special moments, she would decide to bake something with us. Aside from Christmas, I don’t recall there being any rhyme or reason for those sessions. She taught us how to make cookies, brownies, cakes, bread, and even donuts.
My sister and I took our baking to the road via a brownie and lemonade stand to get some money to spend. We’d stand out there, in the middle of that lonely country road and do dances trying to get just one car to drive by. This was in around 1962 and even though there was very little traffic on the road quite a few of the passing cars stopped and bought our brownies and lemonade. Each time we handed over our goodies our feet did happy dances when they drove off.
Fast forward five decades and now I get to bake in a fancy commercial kitchen and my sister is here baking along with me. We still do a happy dance when people come and buy our food. I send goodies to my Mom and my son to send love their way.
Beverley Walton, on our staff, remembers her mother also showing love through food:
If you mention food and love in the same breath, I will always think of my mom. My sweet “mum” passed away in October of 2013 but I will always remember how often she showed her love through food. She was good at telling you she loved you, but she really loved to cook for the people she loved. When grandkids came to visit, they would get a bag of her famous Anzac Cookies to take home with them. And going to work in the greenhouse with the garden club, she would, of course, take her Anzac Cookies. And thinking back (way back!) to dinner parties they had when I was growing up, what a spread she would provide with many courses for either sit down dinners or buffets for a crowd.
Today, for me, cooking is wonderful therapy – it soothes my soul. And just after she passed away and we had family in town, I found myself wanting to get in the kitchen and cook for all of them – so I guess I am my mother’s daughter.
We share some of our recipes for cooking with lavender so you can start to experiment, or get more ideas if you are already a lavender cook. The most important thing to remember when cooking with lavender is to be stingy with it. A little lavender goes a long way – usually. If you put too much in, it will taste like soap and you’ll be inclined to avoid lavender. So be judicious with your lavender, because it can add some special flavors to your food.
– Sarah Richards
Backwards Day is on January 31. Time to celebrate the potential in doing things in reverse (with lavender, of course).
When I was in Aix-en-Provence studying during my junior year in college I took many classes in French history,language, art history, and more. I wanted to be out roaming the streets and countryside (back then lavender wasn’t a twinkle in my eye). I was focused on finding young people to go with me to “Les Boites” and dance all night. Also, all those Patisseries were calling my name. So, as you can imagine, the lectures in the classes would seem rather dull. Being a good art student, though, I came up with a great solution. I’d practice being like Leonardo da Vinci and write in mirror writing. I took many notes in that way which ended up costing me. Studying, using those notes, was challenging and my grades suffered a bit.
Why would you want to do anything backwards like do mirror writing? Someone was wondering what purpose Leonardo da Vinci had in doing his mirror writing. He thinks it might be for the very process of forcing himself to slow down. In addition to slowing down, it gives those of us with over-active minds something to do while we are supposed to be listening to someone talking.
Then, almost as if it was a family tradition, my son adopted a part of mirror writing in the logo of his work. It is particularly cool if you knew that he is a physicist and was working in theoretical particle physics where they analyze the results of atoms speeding through a huge ring and crashing into each other. That would tend to send some of them backwards.
But, all those esoteric backwards events miss the basic need every kid has in doing things the wrong way around. And that is:
Lavender foods are some of the best way to do that. We have lavender chocolates, lavender cookies, lavender candied pecans, lavender jams… the list goes on and on. We also have lavender baking extract and culinary lavender so you can create your own dessert first goodies. Click here for a great recipe of Lavender Brownies so you can get started celebrating doing things backwards with lavender.
Finally, a quote from my favorite Art History teacher when she was taking us around to amazing cathedrals and other places in France.
by Sarah Richards