Lavender’s pungent flavor and aroma calms the nerves, stimulates and aids digestion, and pairs subtly with the sweetness of barely-cooked summer berries.
Summer has two distinct qualities. One is the sense of utter calm and contentment born from abundance. The other is the frenetic sense of urgency that is inspired by such rapid growth. Summer is a time of expansion and plenty. Everything is powerful. The sun is hot, the air is warm, the storms are loud and assertive, plants grow and bloom, animals bustle, abundance surrounds. Living with grace in the summertime is about learning to balance these many qualities.
When it is hot out, eating hot food and heating up the house by cooking often feel unappealing. Not coincidentally, summer provides bountiful crisp, colorful vegetables and juicy, ripe fruits. Green salads, grain salads, or other cold dishes are all good choices, as are smoothies and fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
Lavender’s fragrant flowers also emerge in summer. Like other bitter, pungent, and aromatic culinary herbs, lavender is a good digestive aid. Small amounts can ease indigestion and relieve intestinal cramping. It stimulates the digestive fire and improves the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Of the many varieties of lavender that exist, all are highly aromatic, intoxicating to the senses, relaxing, as well as clarifying, and prized as medicinals.
Lavender is a powerful nervine (affects the nervous system). Its bitter, pungent flavors and aromatics are grounding and calming. It is a great ally for depression, anxiety, fear, nervousness, hysteria, obsession, negative thoughts, and panic. It helps dissolve tension and can relieve headaches, promote sleep, and reduce feelings of fatigue. It is an uplifting heart remedy — lavender helps put us back into our body and into our heart when our mind has run away from us.
USE IN THE KITCHEN
I recommend lavender every which way — including at least one fresh plant in your life. If you don’t have a garden, consider lavender in a pot on the windowsill.
Sautéed Blueberries with Lavender Essence and Whipped Cream
When it comes to fresh fruit, less is usually more. This is almost like a blueberry soup — a simple and honest celebration of the berry. The berries are gently warmed, just to coax out the juices, and subtly complemented with aromatic lavender and creamy butter. The best part is watching the whipped cream dissolve softly into the beautiful purple berries, making marbled patterns in varying shades of blue and purple. This makes a great afternoon snack, breakfast, or dessert.
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 tablespoon fresh or dried lavender flowers
- ¼ cup boiling water
- 3 cups fresh blueberries
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2–4 tablespoons raw honey
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Put the lavender flowers in a teapot or jar and pour the boiling water over them. Cover with a lid and let steep for 10 minutes, then strain into a saucepan.
- Add the blueberries, butter, and honey to taste to the lavender infusion. Heat over medium heat until the berries soften and release their juices, 5 to 6 minutes.
- While the berries are cooking, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Serve the berries hot, in bowls, with generous dollops of the whipped cream.