Turkey Creek Lavender

Turkey Creek Lavender

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Why is your farm called Turkey Creek Lavender? And where the heck is Turkey Creek?"

Okay, here's yet another question I get asked alot. So let's get this out of the way. Why did I pick Turkey Creek Lavender as a name?

Well, we have a creek running through our property, but it doesn't have a name. If it has a name, I don't know it. And we have turkeys. And we have lavender. So...this is why I named it Turkey Creek Farm, and consequently, Turkey Creek Lavender...

Because we have turkeys. Wild Rio Grande turkeys.

We are blessed with lots of them. (We used to have a cool Turkey Crossing sign out by the road but sadly someone stole it. If anyone knows where I can find another one this big I would appreciate the heads up. This one came from the National Wild Turkey Federation.)

Sometimes they land on the fence...

and sometimes they like the front yard...

...but most of the time they like the field.

I find them wonderful, and beautiful, and fascinating. I know not everyone does. But I do. I'm weird that way. And I'm protective, and, okay, I worry about them. When you watch them on a daily basis it's kind of hard not to. If there were 5 toms yesterday, why are there only 3 today? Where are the other 2?! And when the females start nesting and are all by their lonesome, who will protect them from the predators we have around here, like bobcats, and coyotes? Hmmm? I ask you.

So, Turkey Creek Lavender was born out of my love for my little farm with it's unnamed creek, and my love for the turkeys, and my love for the lavender.

If you have any more questions please feel free to email me at clfieldturkeycreeklavender@gmail.com and I would be happy to answer.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Questions I Commonly Get Asked About the Lavender and a Little More About Me

“So, how’s the lavender?”
I'm never sure if people really want to know the answer. Is that a question like, "What's up?" or "How's it going?" I don't know, but I always answer.

This time of year my reply is usually something like, “Well…it’s just there…waiting for spring.”

And that’s just what it’s doing. Waiting. I always find it so surprising how resilient the lavender is. It looks like a somewhat dry, closely pruned shrub in the winter. Dormant.

But just as it starts warming up, new leaves appear on the plants, and new growth soon follows. Plants that I suspected were dead, rally, turn green, and send out lovely lavender stalks as we move into summer.

I admit I was worried when the ice coated the lavender plants so thick it obscured their shape.

And I was mildly concerned when the snow covered the plants not once, but twice this year. I don’t take any extra precautions like lavender farms to the north, like mulching, or using floating row covers. Our weather just doesn’t get that bad in Oklahoma. And the soil where I live is so sandy that winter moisture is always welcome.

"Why did you decide to plant lavender?”
When I planted my first 500 lavender plugs in the early spring of 2007 I didn’t know what to expect, nor did I really know what I was doing. But I was intrigued by the idea of growing something like lavender. I loved the smell of it. I loved the look of it. I liked the idea of a little lavender farm. I envisioned a beautiful little field of purple swaying in the hot, Oklahoma breeze, with sunflowers and zinnias in the background.

I could see it in my mind so perfectly. And, having moved around with the military all of my life, first as an Army brat, then as an Army spouse, I guess I literally wanted to put down some sort of "roots."

Never mind that I’d never grown lavender before. I knew I liked it. A lot. So I read, and I researched, and I screwed up the courage to e-mail a few actual lavender farms. The lavender growing community is a very gracious one. In general everyone responded to my queries, but especially Chris and Denise at Clear Creek Lavender, which is east of Tulsa. They both offered great advice about suppliers, and drip irrigation, and various other resources. And they didn’t couch the fact that being a lavender farmer is hard work.

"How do you grow lavender in southwest Oklahoma?”
Lavender, which actually grows naturally in the mediterranean climate of France, likes dry, hot, rocky soil. And, as you probably know, France is the biggest producer of commercial lavender. Well, then, I reasoned, it should grow here in dry, hot, rocky Oklahoma, right? Weeeeelll…in theory. Lavender doesn’t like clay soil because clay doesn’t drain well, and holds too much water, so if you have clay (and who doesn’t have clay in southwest Oklahoma, right?) then your soil would have to be amended. Lavender doesn’t like what is commonly referred to as wet feet, meaning wet roots. It likes well drained, sandy/loamy soil, and lots of sun, a minimum of 6 hours of hot, glorious sunshine. Well, I had that in abundance, and while my soil isn’t exactly loamy, it is sandy. Silty sandy. It drains well. Almost too well. I discovered the hard way that I had to water during the winter dry spells. I lost plants that first winter. And the second. And we’ll just have to wait and see what made it this year, my third.

Then there is the weeding. I did not put down a commercial weed cloth. I wasn’t sure the lavender would grow, and produce, so I didn’t want the expense. But it is back breaking work, the day in, day out vigilance to keep the weeds at bay. Especially the sand burrs. I hate sand burrs. I despise sand burrs. I have had them in my knees, and my hands, the bottoms of all my pants, my gloves, stuck on the sleeves of my jackets, the dogs get them in their paws. Those suckers are evil. And they hurt. And after you pull them out, they hurt some more. Okay, enough on the sand burrs, but I had to vent.

I am the first to admit that I am not a lavender expert, and I still have so much to learn. And by commercial lavender farm standards, mine is but a tiny one. But I keep studying, and learning, and planting, and replanting. I keep growing the lavender, and consequently, the lavender business grows. And indirectly, I find the lavender has allowed me to grow. Just when I was wondering what was next for a soon to be mid-lifer, I found a new direction. And I have the lavender to thank for that.

Warmest Regards,


Monday, April 12, 2010

Cooking with Lavender: How to Make Lavender Syrup and What to Do With It!

Oops! I've received several emails asking how to make the lavender syrup I mixed with the preserves and used in the middle of the bunny cakes. I neglected to tell you how to make that. Sorry folks!

If you have any experience making simple sugar syrup it is the same thing except...you guessed it...it's infused with lavender. And we all know how much I love infusing things with lavender!

Once you discover how wonderful infused simple syrups are...trust me...you will be infusing all summer. Lavender, vanilla bean, mint, rosemary, lemon, ginger...oh yes! Then you can combine the flavors, personalize, create! I get so excited when I think of the possibilities! Do not pay money for simple syrup when it is so cheap to make yourself! Think about it...flavor your own coffee or your coke with your own vanilla simple syrup, make your own spritzers all summer long, impress your guests, your coffee group, your bunko group, your Mom!

Sorry...back to earth. So, what can you do with all of these flavored syrups? Well, naturally, I keep lavender sugar syrup in the fridge at all times. Like lavender honey, the uses for lavender syrup are only limited by your imagination.
          Raspberries in lavender syrup and French Vanilla ice cream!
I drizzle it over things, like berries of all types, or ice cream, tarts, cakes, sliced fruit, canned fruit; stir it into things, like whipped cream, or Cool Whip, jams and jellies, hot tea, cold tea, white tea, green tea, all teas! Stir into juices and lemonades for a surprise flavor. Delicious stirred into champagne! The basis for lavender martini's, or margaritas. My favorite right now is stirred into Lillet, a sweet french aperitif wine, sooo good super chilled all summer long! My favorite non-alcholic beverage of the moment is a spritzer made with lavender syrup stirred into Ocean Spray Blueberry Cocktail Juice. Can't seem to get enough!

I could write volumes...but here's the basics.

Making simple syrup is...so simple. The ingredients are 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, or 1 to 1 for whatever amount you want to make.

Lavender Simple Syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
3 tablespoons dried culinary lavender buds
Place ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved, which doesn't take long. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and allow to cool. It steeps while it cools. Strain out buds, store in the refrigerator up to 1 month. Tip: The longer you let the lavender buds sit in the syrup the stronger the flavor, and the longer the syrup simmers the thicker.

Lavender Blueberry Spritzer
1 cup Ocean Spray Blueberry Juice Cocktail
1 cup club soda
1 tablespoon lavender simple syrup
blueberries and lavender for garnish (optional)
Mix together, serve chilled. Adjust to taste.

Lavender and Lillet
I just mix lavender syrup into Lillet Blanc to taste. So simple! Lillet Blanc is around $20 a bottle.

For a more detailed recipe of a very chic cocktail using Lillet that was served at a very lovely wedding, click here and visit the Design Sponge blog. Wouldn't some kind of lavender aperitif be oh, so elegant for a wedding?!

Now go forth and create!  Please report back any wonderful uses for lavender syrup so we can all try them! And remember, a container of lavender syrup with instructions on how to use it would make a great gift for a friend, co-worker, teacher, Mother's Day...just a thought!
Another end to another beautiful spring day!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Another Excellent Lavender Article...this time from Hobby Farms Magazine

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yet another major publication recognizes how wonderful lavender is. I was going to do another post today, but when I saw this in my inbox I couldn't resist passing it along. It has so much information about lavender. Cooking with lavender is such an adventure! I even saw that McCormick has included it in their spice aisle offerings at the local gocery store.

The recipe in Hobby Farm for lavender sugar is a good one, and only makes a small amount. Or, and I will include this in another post since I am experimenting with flavoring Splenda, and raw sugar, you can layer your lavender in a jar with the sugar, and let it sit for a week or two until it takes on the flavor of the lavender. So scrumptious in teas, on desserts, in sauces, in your baking, and on and on. THIS is the fun of it...the experimentation...the creating...there is so much you can do with lavender!

So I'll hush now and let you go read. Just follow the link and have fun! If you cook with lavender, or experiment with it I would love to hear about your experiences, and share your recipes.

Have a wonderful day,

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lovely Little Bunny Cakes for Easter

I do hope all of you have enjoyed a beautiful Easter Sunday. Such a lovely day here in southwest Oklahoma. The sun is shining, the tulips are blooming, and the lavender is showing the first signs of spring green. And, it would be remiss of me if I didn't share our traditional bunny cakes with you. Lovely, cute, adorable little bunny cakes. My Mom made these when we were growing up, and I've just continued the tradition with my own kids.

They can be as easy, or as complicated, as you like. Personally, I use a cake mix, and canned frosting, which opens up a very broad range of flavor combinations for you to play with, depending on your favorites. You can have a chocolate bunny with chocolate frosting, or a white bunny with white frosting, or a lemon bunny with lemon frosting, or a german chocolate bunny, or a carrot cake bunny with cream cheese frosting, or a scratch white cake with fluffy 7 Minute Frosting, buttercream frosting, chocolate ganache...well...you get the idea. They sky's the limit.

And decorating your bunny can be simple, or fancy, fun, or funky, depending on what your personal style is. I've drawn flowers, polka dots, swirls, sprinkled with colored sugar, colored sprinkles, coconut, toasted nuts, shaved chocolate, and on and on.

And then there's the fillings. Lemon curd, lime curd, jams, or preserves of every type, raspberry, strawberry, apricot, peach, and so forth and so on.

Today, I made some scrumptious combinations. There is always chocolate, for the two that love chocolate, then there is white for those of us that like white, me included. Today there were some twists to the norm. Not only did I make mini bunny cakes, which is soooo much fun for a darling individual presentation, but I added lavender syrup and strawberry preserves to the filling of the big white bunny, and it turned out so yummy! And raspberry preserves to the filling of a small bunny, who then got coated with icing and pink coconut. He was so scrumptious!
So here's how you do it. Mix up a cake mix of your choice like normal, and bake in 2 round cake pans. I use the 9 inch because I don't like my bunnies to be too fat. (Those of you who know me know I like the icing more than the cake!) You can use the 8 inch, or you can make all mini bunnies in the Wilton 4 or 5 inch cake pans. Doesn't matter. It's whatever you want.

Once the cakes have cooled I generally roll the crumbs off so they don't get in the icing. Sometimes I have to do a crumb layer and freeze the bunny before putting on the rest of the icing. Depends on the recipe. Anyway, cut your circle in half. If you eyeball it, it's a good idea to stand the half circles up next to each other to make sure you cut straight. If not, lay one layer on top of the other and trim until they are even.

Now, the filling. You can spread the filling, in this case jam, on one half, and put the icing on the other and sandwich together. Or you can mix the icing and the filling, giving it a nice tint. For the lavender/strawberry I just mix the lavender syrup in the strawberry preserves before spreading.

After you sandwich them firmly together, stand up your half rounds. At this point I generally decide what I will be serving them on and place the cake on that, with wax paper strips under the edges to keep the plate clean.

Now you eyeball your half round and cut a chunk out of one end, forming the head. The chunk now becomes the tail, attached with a bit of icing.

Then ice your bunny all over. Remove waxed paper, if you used it, and decorate your bunny as desired. In this case, the bunny with the lavender/strawberry filling got some purple flowers. You're almost done!

Cut ears out of paper, in this case I used white copy paper and colored the center lightly with pink, and stick the ears in like so.

And now for the face. You can simply use jelly beans, or you can tint icing and add blue eyes and a pink nose, or whatever color eyes and nose you want. Whiskers are optional, in this case they were just cut from paper, but I've used toothpicks, and also drawn them on.

Aren't they darling?! Sometimes I nestle them on green tinted coconut with jelly beans sprinkled around, and sometimes I nestle them on store bought cotton candy. (I've also used that for a fluffy tail, too!) Sometimes I ice one round with green icing and put the bunny on that...well I could go on and on with ideas, but hey...

let's eat some bunny cake!



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