November 19 02:49 PM

Biting into a new tastebud challenge

July 14, 2010
July is a great month for gardeners whose tastebuds lean toward the savory things in life. Their mouth is watering at the thought of a dinner table heavy with pans of zucchini stir-fry, pots of steamed green beans, platters of tomatoes destined for BLTs and bowls of tangy cabbage slaw. They're substantial dishes that replenish the vitality winter robbed from our guts and psyche...or so I believe.

But before diving stomach-first into all of that 'green' goodness, I wanted to indulge in one last sweet thing from my backyard. Without any berries, the one and only thing that might fall in that category is the lavender.

Until I tasted chocolate lavender ice cream at Iris Underwood's festival a few years ago, I didn't consider it to have a culinary use. Occasionally that "give it a try" attitude in the garden drifts into the kitchen too. With there being lots of social pressure to get kids to grow and like fruits and vegetables, I figure I should challenge myself to be a little more open to new 'exotic' flavors.

I found myself chopping florets on Sunday. The lovely smell really wasn't all that different from the fragrance wafting from the bowl of Blake's strawberries I'd mashed up a few weeks ago for freezer jam.

So maybe this isn't much of a challenge...

Lavender shortbread, adapted from

Renee's Garden


1/2 c. room temperature


2/3 c. sugar

2 tblsp. finely chopped lavender florets (dried or fresh)

2 1/3 c. flour

1/2 c. cornstarch

Pinch of salt

Optional: 1 tblsp. chopped fresh mint

Cream together butter, sugar, lavender in electric mixer. Add remaining ingredients and beat until incorporated.

Divide dough, flatten into squares, wrap in plastic and chill until firm.

On a floured surface roll or pat out squares to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into one inch squares, prick several times with a fork and bake on parchment-lined sheets in 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until a pale, golden color.

Email Maria at

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.
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