Are you familiar with the word xeriscape? I would never want to assume you’re not, but I don’t believe I would know the word if I lived in a different part of the country. In fact, I probably have only known the term for about a decade. I have no idea if it represents a concept that has traveled very far.
Xeriscaping refers to the conservation of water through creative landscaping. Originally it was developed for drought-afflicted areas, but there is a much broader appeal as water is now more generally considered an expensive and limited resource.
Many states are experiencing drought conditions, but I am particularly tuned into California forecasts. We had another too-dry winter and reporting indicates that a mere 4.4% of the state is not suffering from extremely dry conditions to severe drought. The Los Angeles area is classified as “abnormally dry.” We aren’t yet thrown into drought conditions, but we have previously lived through seasons of strict water rationing, and with the hot summer months yet to come, any rain before next winter is unlikely.
I do remember long seasons we were forced to limit our water usage or pay high fines for going over our limit. And it wasn’t fun carting pails of bath water out to the vegetable garden. We still have many water-inefficient segments in our landscaping, but I am studying the concepts of xeriscaping, and patch by patch making some better choices. I’m slowly selecting plants that are native to this region–which means they must be drought tolerant.
We have large areas of succulents and some limited showy cactus, but we aren’t restricted to typical desert plants. At the moment I have an abundance of lavender. It’s such a wonderfully drought tolerant plant requiring almost no care so it’s the perfect plant accepting Southern California heat. It tends to take over.
Lavender attracts ladybugs, butterflies and praying mantises, too –all sorts of beneficial insects. But the bees are so active on the plants that I don’t know why I have been so slow to realize I need lavender closer to the vegetable garden. Lavender attracts the friendly pollinators!
I hadn’t even considered how much it had spread, and that it was” free” in my front yard until I opened this week’s produce box and out popped a large and lovely bunch of…more lavender! I put my little bouquet in a glass vase with some water and just enjoyed how pretty it looked. The addition of a little aromatherapy was enjoyable, too.
But then it began to play on my thoughts…What to do with all the lavender?
So I’m going to try something a little different…for me anyway!
We will be entertaining guests this weekend. My cousins are coming into town for a family wedding and although I think we will all be figuring out meals together, I would still enjoy having a couple of things ready just because I can! I’ve decided to take a couple of tried and true recipes and experiment with an exchange. I frequently use rosemary from my garden, so I’m thinking… how about exchanging my rosemary bread with lavender bread?
This is the easiest no-think recipe!
Rosemary Lavender Bread
1 TB sugar
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 TB butter
1)Place yeast, sugar and water in large bowl and allow mixture to become bubbly.
2) Mix in 1 T butter, salt, and 2 cups of flour
3) Add 1 TB of the fresh chopped lavender
4) Knead for about 10 minutes by hand, or 5 minutes in mixer with dough hook
5) May need to add another 1/2 cup of flour (I always do).
6) Put dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour–until dough is doubled.
7) Punch down dough and divide in half.
8) Let dough rest about five minutes then shape the dough into 2 small rounded oval loaves.
9) Sprinkle remaining lavender over the loaves and press into the surface.
10) Let loaves rise again until doubled–45 minutes or so
11) Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. I like to use a baking stone.
Let it cool…remember you’ve made it for company and don’t eat too much!
If I find I have time I might delve into other recipes I’ve just recently found. There are lavender cookies, scones, even ice cream! Maybe a little too much for one weekend, but I am now quite curious and will need to do a little experimenting.
I often make a very simple rosemary lemonade and it has a very distinctive flavor. But exchanging the rosemary with lavender I’m thinking I might need a little something extra? Maybe some Citrus Vodka? Sounds good to me!
And with rosemary bread I often serve an olive tapenade, Italian truffle cheese, some artisan salami, and because we can’t get enough…more olives! But somehow I think I may need to add a new twist to suitable accompaniments for the taste of lavender.
There are some great cooks out there…I know, because I read your blogs! If you have some thoughts and suggestions, don’t hold back! I haven’t done my shopping yet!
And I hope you, too, make a few exchanges…perhaps exchange the flurry of the busy week with a giant exhale, and simply fold into a wonderful weekend.