How do you make a good first impression?  Smile?  Shake hands?  Or, stumble into a thorny twig and end up bleeding mess?  I, of course, chose the later.   By not putting on my sensible shoes that were in the car (so I wouldn’t smudge my new pedicure), I managed to make a grand entrance into One-derings Lavender Farm.  Two of the owners of the farm, Kim and Amy,  rushed to my aid and after a dash of alcohol (on the foot; not in the mouth) a swipe of aloe and a big bandage, I was good to go.   I know, I know…idiot!

Let’s begin again, OK?

While visiting my hometown, I had the opportunity to go down to historic Findlay Market where I met Kim of One-derings.  Kim’s knowledge of English culinary lavender peaked my interest and I asked if I could come out and have a tour and find out more about this aromatic herb.

So, on a beautiful summer evening I drove through the verdant hills and lush, green fields to an area very close to where I spent the summers of my younger years.   Around every turn I found farmers reaping their golden harvest, grazing horses with shiny summer coats and young lambs crowding next to fences to say “hello.”   Thanks to Kim’s accurate directions (way better than any GPS) I found my way to the grove of tall pine trees and the fragrant lavender fields beyond.

I entered the cottage that houses their retail store and where bouquets and sachets are assembled.  I was awash in a wave of gentle, aromatic lavender.  I’ve never been anywhere that I felt so enveloped by scent.  Soothing, soft and inviting…oh my!  I had to start taking pics of everything I saw…then I went outside (and you know what happens next, don’t you?).

 
Onward and upward.  Kim and I go out to the fields so I can get a lesson in lavender while Amy goes back to gleaning the bursting purple buds.  Gleaning is harvesting the lavender that is mature enough to be cut, leaving the rest to be harvested later.  How do they know when the lavender is ready to be gleaned?  The bumble bees arrive…that’s when Amy knows it’s time to begin her task.  She works in silent concentration and soon she has filled another bin to be processed into bundles and buds.

They started with around 600 bundles of lavender their first year and they now harvest between 3,000 and 5,000.  They have many varieties which gives them a staggered harvest and each provides a special beauty inherent to that particular species.  Two of my favorites were Bueno Vista and Hidcote.

Kim informs me that it’s extremely hard to grow lavender in the dense clay soil of Ohio.  One-derings is blessed because their lavender field is situated over a natural gravel pit that provides the good drainage that lavender requires.  Kim believes that English lavender is better for cooking because it has 1% camphor content,  whereas the French lavender has 3%.  Therefore, the French has a more intense camphor smell and flavor, the English is more delicate.

Amid the fields of lavender are pockets of chamomile that compliment the growing cycle of the lavender.  Close to the cottage are other herbs such as sage, calendula and rosemary, just to name a few.  Many of these are used with the lavender to produce their beauty products.

After my tour, I was invited back into the cottage to look at the many products that have evolved  naturally through requests from their extended family and the fact that the sisters come from a family of engineers….engineers that have years of expertise formulating beauty products because they used to work at the largest consumer products company in the world.  Some of their products include: body lotion, shea butter and linen spray.   I was really impressed.  So impressed, that I purchased several items and I can truly say that I love them all!  Have to say here: this is NOT a sponsored post.  I have not been paid or given anything to influence my opinion.  I just found some great local folks that are doing a wonderful job bringing you lovely fresh lavender bouquets, sachets and beauty products and wanted to share this with you.  If you are interested, everything but fresh lavender can by purchased from their website here.

As the sun was setting, I was offered a special treat: fresh lavender lemonade and delicious rich, buttery lavender shortbread cookies.  I asked Amy if she could share her recipe with you and was delighted when she said “yes.”

When I got home, I started working with the 2 large bundles of lavender that I had purchased.  First, I put the lavender in the refrigerator overnight so that it would be easier to handle, then I started to make small bundles to be dried and gathered buds for sachet, potpourri and of course, cooking.

Two weeks later, the lavender was dry enough to process.  I remembered that Kim had told me that you could process it either by pushing the buds through a sieve or processing them in a food processor.  My food processor was broken (I know, right)  so I did it the old fashioned way with a sieve,  and I’m glad that I did because I really liked the consistency of the lavender powder in the cookies.

When Amy makes these cookies, she rolls them and presses the sugar sprinkles in before baking.  I did a little twist on this and used a cookie cutter to give them a flower shape.  Then gently pressed some the sugar crystals in before baking.  I did this in 2 batches.  After I finished cutting out about 22 cookies, I popped those in the oven, rolled the dough into a ball again and then rolled that out to 1/4 inch and popped it back into the fridge.  Then did that process 1 more time till all of the dough was used.  If you want to cut it into little rectangles like Amy does, it would be more simple, but you know me…I opted for pretty.

So here it is for you to enjoy and share with family and friends for your next Sunday Supper.  Since this recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies you have an opportunity to send some home with them.

One-derings' Lavender Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Yield: 4 dozen plus

Prep Time: 60 minutes

Cook Time: 20- 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours

Rich and buttery with a touch of lavender.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups salted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons processed lavender buds
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Lavender sugar sprinkles (I used Wilton)

Directions:

Either use a food processor or a sieve to process the lavender buds.

In a large bowl, cream together (I used a blender) the butter, granulated sugar and confectioners' sugar till light and fluffy. Mix in the lavender and lemon juice.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch and salt till well combined. Mix this into the butter mixture in the large bowl until combined.

Cover a cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment or wax paper. Place dough on cookie sheet and top with another sheet of parchment or wax paper that is the same size. Roll the dough until it covers the cookie sheet and is about a 1/4 inch thick. Refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and remove the top sheet of paper, sprinkle with purple sugar crystals, replace top sheet and gently roll sugar into dough. Remove top sheet again and cut into small rectangles of desired size and transfer to another cookie sheet (use parchment paper on the cookie sheet for easy removal).*

The cookies expand a bit, so you may want to leave an inch of space between the cookies.

Cook for about 15 - 20 minutes until edges are slightly golden brown (mine took about 30 to reach this stage). Remove from oven and allow to cook for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

* My process differed because I removed the chilled dough from the refrigerator and used a cookie cutter to cut out the shape, then sprinkled the sugar crystals on and gently pressed them in the dough with my fingers. I took the leftover dough, rolled it out again on the cookie sheet and repeated the chill, cut out process.

Enjoy!