It's time for garden parties. I mean, parties in gardens or back yards or parks. Not Madison Square "Gardens" about which Nelson wrote this song. But the message holds up in all locations. Pleasing everyone around you can be a hopeless task. It's a horrible rat race that can consume your soul. So you have to just sit back, sip some snazzy Lavender Lemonade in your own garden, and contemplate the best YOU you can be, and want to be, and set that as your goal. Lavender Lemonade is a very good thought sifter! Try it and see!
A few years ago I had to do an internship at the end of my class training in culinary school. I really wanted to learn about baking as I had dreams of owning my own bakery some day. But, living in a relatively small town, I couldn't think of anywhere I was going to get the education I wanted. My daughter, however, happened to live in a large city where there were several bakeries I could look to for this training. Luckily, I was able to get a spot at my first choice. I lived with my daughter and her family for 6 weeks while I worked the grueling schedule of a bakery/patisserie.
I definitely learned a great deal.
About baking and about myself. I missed my husband and my home several states away like crazy. There weren't a lot of pats on the back dished out and I discovered I thrived on praise. The stress was acute as I fretted about whether or not I was doing things correctly. Let's just say that there wasn't alot of warm fuzzies floating around that place! I left late most days, exhausted and frustrated. But there was a sunny spot.
One particularly horrible and tearful day, one of the baristas came up to me and quietly asked if maybe she could get me a Lavender Lemonade. I nodded yes, not trusting my voice at that point. I always had something to sip on while I worked in the back but she apparently noticed my preference for her beautiful lemonade concoction. She returned with my drink and gently put her hand on my shoulder and told me not to give up. It was a very simple act of kindness but one which I will never forget.
I had wanted to walk out that day and never look back. I had convinced myself that I was no good, that I had no talent, and what in heavens name did I think I was trying to prove by pursuing something like this at my age, anyway! I had had enough.
But kind words, and a sip of a cool drink that was altogether cheerful and bursting with flavor and brightness, brought me around to where I was able to finish out the day - and show up the next day - and the day after that - and on and on until I completed that internship. I eventually got my confidence back. The next half of my internship, done in a commercial kitchen, I was surrounded by folks who were eager to be friendly and help me learn. With praise.
Lavender Lemonade has special meaning to me. I came home and figured out how to make it myself and I'm passing that recipe along to you. I intend to take my glass out on my patio, in my own little garden that you see through this window, and contemplate the good things in life.
Why don't you make yourself a glass and join me?
makes 2 quarts
2 1/2 c. water
2 c. sugar
1/3 c. dried lavender buds
2 1/2 c. water
1 c. fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Place the first portion of water and the sugar in a small saucepan and stir. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a boil. You're making a simple syrup. When it comes to a boil and the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and stir in the dried lavender buds. Cover with a lid and let cool. You are infusing the lavender flavor into the syrup - making a lavender simple syrup!
When cool, pour the lavender simple syrup through a fine mesh strainer, straining out the lavender. You will have a liquid that is a beautiful, well - lavender color, naturally!
Juice 3 - 4 lemons to get 1 cup of fresh lemon juice! Please use fresh lemons! Please!
In a 2 quart container, combine the lavender simple syrup, the second portion of water, and the lemon juice. It's cool to watch it turn beautiful pink as soon as the lemon juice hits the water! Stir well! Adjust the sweetness, if necessary. Fill glasses with ice cubes and then pour the lemonade over the cubes! Sip and enjoy!