Life’s just one big day-spa when you’re a stay-at-home-Mum... Progressive coffee mornings where we women lie around with our feet in Remington foot spas, sipping steaming hot perked coffee fairly traded from Kenya...
Lavender shortbread at High Noon (with a side order of crazy)
Not-so-Super-Mums meet to debate how long the globe will take to warm up sufficiently before we can sunbathe all year round...
Life’s just one big day-spa when you’re a stay-at-home-Mum... Progressive coffee mornings where we women lie around with our feet in Remington foot spas, sipping steaming hot perked coffee fairly traded from Kenya. Delicious sweetmeats are proffered by fan-waving butlers in order to fortify our strength. A posse of nannies hover over our collection of children, giving us time to debate world peace and how long the globe will take to warm up sufficiently so we can sunbathe all year round. (This is, of course, in between our regular weekly manicure and Brazilian appointments).
The reality, as you are probably well aware, is a little different to what our delusional husbands would like to believe.
Instant coffee thrice microwaved, yet still cold on consumption. Packet chocolate biscuits and mounting hysteria as snotty-nosed, (why did she bring him this week?) kids cry, scream, whine, assault each other and scuffle over toys that are only ever interesting when six kids are interested in them. Adult conversations stop-start, then are abandoned due to bums that need changing, snacks that need dispensing, scrums that need refereeing and sometimes just plain old nappy-brain that derails the train of thought.
So like a relationship desperately in need of revival, I decided a little more effort than usual was in order for our weekly coffee group. No, not sexy suspenders, but a sexy new tablecloth whipped up in a frenzied passion of amateurish sewing after a fabulous Spotlight sale, (LOOK WHAT I HAVE CREE-A-TED!!! I howled to the moon at 11.27pm late one evening – please bear in mind, I am not a sewer…er… seamstress).
Frilly, that was how we were going to play it. Invitations for a ‘High Tea’ were immediately dispatched (albeit by text), “wear your best hat!.” On the table, my finest ‘set’ of mis-matched bone china teacups and saucers collected from trawling multitudinous Saturday morning garage sales, a glass jar of daisies uplifted from my neighbour’s garden, and my piece de resistance, a fabulous 3 tiered ‘nana’ cake stand.
My 2 year old son and I baked a favourite of ours, Lavender Shortbread, a recipe that granny would perform immoral misdeeds for! We pillaged and plundered the garden for lavender to add to the recipe and to decorate the cake stand, and very soon ladies and children in bonny bonnets arrived.
Lo and Behold, a veritable miracle occurred! Perhaps it was the tablecloth; maybe it was the relaxing properties of the lavender in the shortbread? I don’t know, but for some reason coffee group was a triumph. The sun was shining, the gods smiled upon us and the planets were in perfect alignment. We had a wonderful, peaceful morning, full of lively and uninterrupted conversation. Not a nanny was needed!
Lavender Shortbread Recipe
250g butter, softened
2 cups flour
¼ cup corn flour
½ cup caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of dried lavender
Fresh lavender to garnish
Line oven trays with baking paper and preheat oven to 160c. Cream butter and sugar with electric beater until light and fluffy. Sift in flour, corn flour, lavender and salt. Mix gently. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for a minute or so. Roll out to 10mm thick. Cut into squares and place on oven trays. Bake for 30 minutes, or until shortbread starts to colour lightly.
The key to cooking with lavender is to use the right amount, too much is very bitter and tastes like you added a squirt of Jean Paul Gaultier. It's also important to use the right varieties, as different types have different flavors. The English Lavenders (angustifolia) are the best to use for baking, as they are milder, sweeter and contain the least amount of camphor.
Though lavandins (Lavandula x intermedia cultivars) such as 'Grosso' and 'Provence' are sometimes used, they have a much more camphoric taste. Either dried or fresh flowers can be used, however the potency of the lavender flowers increases with drying. In cooking, use 1/3 the quantity of dried flowers to fresh. Drying flowers for cooking is easy, pick the spikes when the first few corollas have opened and hang the bunch up in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. They can be rubbed off of the stems once dried, then stored in an airtight container.
All blooms should be washed thoroughly. Immerse them in water to remove any insects or dirt, then lay the flowers on paper towels and dab dry, or gently spin dry in a salad spinner. Please do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries, or garden centers. In many cases these flowers have been treated with pesticides unsuitable for consumption.
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