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Oh, the Middle of Summer

Means life on the farm is hot and very, very busy. So busy that this blog will be serving not two, but many masters. 3 new recipes: strawberry butter, red currant jam, lavender meringue, an update on lavender picking, and a market breakthrough.

Lavender is almost gone - we've had many visitors who came to the farm to pick it and lots of flowers were sold at the farmers market (read here). The nice tool that I used this year for the first time and highly recommend to all of us engaged in gardening - Sun Joe Cordless grass shear. It helped me tremendously - it really was an absolute breeze to cut the whole bed of lavender. And I found myself reaching out for this tool more and more often, as these days, unfortunately , even a glance towards heavy scissors makes the arthritis flare up. It is available on Amazon here.

And now on to the recipes.

After the rehabilitation of butter (yay!) I am no longer shy to search cooking sites for butter-rich recipes. My latest find was an extremely simple one. Strawberry Butter

Pulse 300 grams of ripe sweet strawberries in the blender - you should aim to leave the strawberries in small chunks, so a couple of pulses are enough. Here I deviated from all recipes and added a couple spoons of cognac into the strawberry. Softly beat 300 grams of soft sweet butter with your mixer into an almost white cream, adding a couple spoons of powdered sugar. Incorporate the strawberries into the butter - and you are done. Spread strawberry butter on the toast, on the pancakes- it is amazing. Do not keep it long in the fridge - whatever is not consumed right away should be stored in the freezer.

Red Currant Jam

Wash currants. Don't worry about removing the stem of each berry. Weigh them and blend them in the blender with equal weight of sugar. I actually did a bit less sugar (800 grams sugar to 1 kilo of berries) - the berries were very ripe and not very sour. Bring the mixture to boil over a medium heat - there will be lots of foam, scoop it off the jam. I know, I know - the foam is nothing but some air bubbles, trapped in something like a jam matrix. It's light, thick and spoonable, with very fine bubbles and looks a bit like cotton candy. It is also THE BEST PART of summer jams and preserves, so be patient and scoop it all for later enjoyment. After the foam subsides, boil for about 5 more minutes, stirring often. Then strain the jam through the sieve to remove the pits, bits of skin, and stray stems. Distribute into sterilized jars, cover and continue with a boiling water bath in the canner for additional 10 minutes. While they cool you will hear them making “popping” sounds, saluting you with the job well done and informing that they are sealed. Tighten the rings at that point and start dreaming about winter, tea by the fireplace with currant jam… The jars that do not sealed correctly (the lids are popping in the middle when you press them slightly) should be re-done through the whole process (yes, including boiling the jam again) - or just consumed right away.

Lavender Meringue. Last but not least. Well, it's not a real recipe, to be honest. Grind a spoon of dry lavender buds with sugar (your goal is to get a sugar powder, with lavender parts really tiny and fully incorporated). Use this lavender sugar in the regular meringue recipe. It is really amazing, with a refreshing aroma. Play with the amount of dry lavender buds to use. I happened to have 4 eggs - and used one full tablespoon of lavender with ¾ cups of sugar, but I would add slightly more next time.

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