Loving Lavender

Two lavender plants are currently bloomingâ??one for the first time in about three years. Maybe remembering to water has something to do with it. In addition to making an infused simple syrup for cocktail purposes, I plan to do a lavender salt I just read about in a tome called The Breakaway Cook by Eric Gower. Gower uses flavored salts in a number of his recipes, and they're all simple. Just take a teaspoon of the flavor of choice (in addition to dried lavender blossoms, he uses pulverized, dried tangerine peel, pulverized kaffir lime leaves, smoked paprika and a Japanese powdered green tea, but you could surely come up with others) and add it to ¼ cup coarse sea salt. Keep at hand for seasoning anything from lamb chops to chicken breasts and grilled vegetables.

Local lavender festivals in Blanco and at Becker Vineyards suggest that this aromatic herb is finally getting its due in South Texasâ??and not just as a sachet in granny's handkerchief drawer. Of more interest to this writer, in any case, are products such as lavender honey, usually available at the Pearl Saturday Market. (This makes a great baste for roast chicken.) And, though it wasn't from these parts, a lavender ice cream recently crossed my tongue. Snoqualmie Gourmet French Lavender ice cream is produced in Washington State near where I grew up (and knew nothing of lavender). The flavor is perfumy without being cloying, the texture is dense, the mouth-feel fantasticâ?¦and it's available at Central Market. Or was a month ago. While you're there, pick up some shortbread cookies to go with. Or make your own adding just a whisper of black pepper.