10 Jul 2012

Provence, Lavender, the Alpilles Mountains… And Ice Cream

 

It is lavender time in Provence and as you cans see, lavender is the centrepiece of our garden in summer. It forms a band between our farmhouse and the olive groves… almost a division between work and play… Although anyone who gardens would know that lavender is all work and not much play. It is worth it… the cutting back, the weeding between the rows and all the other efforts that make it spectacular. The lavender this year is early… it started to bloom a couple of weeks ago… and right now it is at its vibrant best… Lavender flowers start out as a soft, almost baby blue colour and as the blossoms open, the hue intensifies until the tiny blooms become a potent shade of violet… As the colour deepens so does the fragrance… Imagine the heady perfume that wafts in the evening air.

Sometimes in my less romantic moments, I think… ‘Lavender and Provence, what a cliche’…  yet… every year I am enchanted by the colour, the beauty and the fragrance. Each year I think… it cannot be any more glorious… It is.  I see it as a giant bouquet in our garden… a welcome to friends, a talking point and a wonderful prize from nature. The purple changes colour with the light, with the shadows… As I write this I can see that it is softer, rosier than these photographs I took last night.

Lavender is a natural habitat for bees… I enjoy walking underneath the purple haze and listening to the ‘buzz’… this sound has a way of making all things seem right in the world… Like me, the butterflies adore this paradise… I love their gentle floating motion, as they wing their way in and out of the bushes… At the end of the season, we clip the lavender back and tie it into bundles… Sometimes, when time permits, I collect the dried flowers and leave them in bowls around the house… at other times I stack the bundles in baskets and use them to light the fire in winter… the natural oil makes for a great fire-starter.

Lavender and olive trees… they seem to go together… in my world any way…. To tempt you…  a delicious and easy recipe for lavender ice cream.

Ingredients: (for four servings)

  • 6ozs honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lavender flowers or 1 level teaspoon dried culinary lavender
  • ¾ pint double cream

Directions:

  1. Place the honey into a heavy bottomed saucepan, over a low heat.
  2. Crush the lavender flowers with a spoon, and add them to the honey.
  3. Stir in the cream and mix gently.
  4. If you have an ice cream machine, transfer the mixture and follow the manufacturer’s usual directions until frozen.
  5. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, whisk the mixture until it becomes thick. Put it in a shallow container suitable for freezing, cover, and place in the freezer. After half an hour, take it out. It should have started freezing from the outside edges, but not be fully frozen in the middle. Whisk to break down the ice crystals and make it smooth. Put it back in the freezer and repeat after another half an hour. You may need to do this a total of three or four times until the ice- cream is frozen through and smooth, with lavender speckles.

Ice Cream Serving Tips:

  • Move the ice cream from the freezer to the fridge about half an hour before serving, and it will be the perfect texture.
  • Serve small quantities of lavender ice cream in a shallow wineglass or dish, with plain shortbread,and garnish with a fresh sprig of lavender, for a dessert with a difference!

To Store the Lavender Ice Cream

  • Put lavender ice cream into a suitable container with about half an inch spare at the top to allow the mixture to expand.
  • Lay a sheet of clingfilm against the surface of the ice cream and close with an airtight lid. Store it in the coldest part of the freezer.

***

Try it… you won’t be disappointed… it is an unusual but superb flavour… and one that will keep your guests guessing…. xv

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50 Comments

Anita Rivera

Mon Dieu……you have touched upon the strings of my heart Vicki!!! When I was in Grasse, I saw my beloved dream: A LAVENDER FIELD. The perfume was heavenly and the sight a gift to my eyes.

YOUR garden is paradise. Here in the states in my own garden, I have my boxwood hedges that delight me every day. One thing I cannot grow here however, is lavender. I love the idea of using the flowers for every season. In winter, what a great way to ignite magical in your fireplace. In summer, QUEL DÉLICE…..CRÈME GLACÉE A LA LAVANDE? How much richer can one be than to use the jewels of nature to live on.

LUCKY YOU my dear…thank you for this recipe!! Anita

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Lynn Taylor

Oh Vicki, what a beautiful garden! I live in Scotland and I’m just trying to grow my first ever Lavender, so not sure how successful I will be given the Scottish climate :-).

Thank you for sharing these fabulous photos, and indeed all you great posts, I look forward to them daily!

Have a lovely day
Lynn

Reply
simone

Vicki, your garden is so beautiful – and the photos so good – that I can almost smell the lavender, it’s absolutely amazing!!

I had lavender & honey for the first time last August in the south of France, it evokes summer memories for me immediately. I’d love to try making it myself :) XX

Reply
Rob and Tonya

I absolutely love this post today! We only raise a little lavender but are incorporating it into our new landscaping plans when we build our new home. Your fountain is also amazing! The ice cream is one I will certainly try! Thanks for sharing.

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Pamela

Your garden is beautiful! Those lavender are gorgeous. My mom just started planting lavender in her garden. But I saw lots of them in The Getty Villa in Malibu, California. The ice cream recipe seems simple. I assume we can use that recipe for other ingredients like rose and other fruits? Merci Vicki.

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Melinda

What a beautiful post! Clichéd as it may seem, lavender really does evoke the sights, smells, and taste of Provence. I have tried, rather unsuccessfully to grow lavender in my garden in Wisconsin. I get a few sparse bunches each year, but I cherish each lovely sprig! Thank you for the gorgeous pictures and the recipe. I always have lavender ice cream when I’m in Provence. I can almost taste it now!

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Pauleen

Such exquisite scenes, cliche or not. How I would love to see the lavender fields in flower! Your hard work has certainly paid off…the garden looks gorgeous.

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Mary

Lavender fields = heaven! I loved them in Provence and fortunately there are a couple of lavender farms right here in North Carolina where I love to visit to ‘get the feeling’ of being back in France! Meanwhile, in my garden I have a few plants which, in this very hot Summer, are doing quite well. I have already clipped a bunch and dried them – now added to a bowl in my bedroom and smell delicious. I’ve had lavender ice cream and loved it – I’ll try making some one of these days if I can dig the ice cream maker out from the depths of the cupboard!!

Your always spectacular garden is a joy to behold Vicki – I know envy is not right but OMG, how can I not!!!!!

Enjoy the beauty for me too please………Mary X

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Leslie Sinclair

What a stunning garden!! Lavender is my favorite bloom!! I am going to plant some here and see what happens. I will have to try the ice cream–wonderful post!!!

Reply
Clare

I love to see your lavender photos at this time of year. So spectacular! I’m off to bed now to dream of lavender fields in Provence… sigh…

~ Clare x

Reply
Greet Lefèvre

Oh dear Vicki,
Your garden is to die for!!! I wish I could pack right now and go your way!! It is such a terrible weather here in Belgium and weather forecast promises nothing good for the next weeks!!
Maybe we visit Provence in the month of September!
Loved your post of today Vicki! (In fact I love them al!)
Hugs,
Greet

Reply
Teresa @ Splendid Sass

Vicki-
Your garden is breathtaking. I have lavender in my garden, and I love the scent and the beauty, and I too love the butterflies. Nothing more beautiful or relaxing than watching their show.
I am saving this recipe for ice-cream.
Thank you for sharing.
Teresa
xoxo

Reply
Amy Kortuem

That sounds so beautifully delicious! When I was visiting my uncle in Melbourne Australia, he took us to a lavender farm. It was magical. I’ve never seen the Provencal lavender, but it’s on my “list.”

Reply
Heather in Arles

So very beautiful in images and in words. I felt like I was right along with you so much that I could nearly smell the lavender. I truly enjoy how much you appreciate all around you, never taking any of it for granted…

And yes, cliché, of course! As much as the cigales that sing! But they became so for a reason as there is nothing that more aptly sums up the possibility of our beautiful Provence at this time of year.
xo,
H.

PS. If Greet makes it down in September…

Reply
Katherine

Nothing this spectacular could be a cliche. It’s nice to hear that you take the time to wander through this wonderland of beauty and enjoy it.

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Debby

I would love to visit Provence one day. The ice cream sounds interesting! Love your photos, so gorgeous. xo

Reply
La Contessa

GRAND DAME MS.ARCHER,
YOU have a wonderful setting!Thank You for sharing!So, so beautiful!I can hear the bees now and smell the fragrance just from your descriptions!What a treat!

Reply
miss b

I never tire of pictures of lavender – it’s one of my favourite plants and scents. Your garden looks lovely and it’s worth getting my ice cream maker from the back of a kitchen cupboard to make this delicious ice cream. I have only eaten lavender ice cream once in a restaurant but never made it.
http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

Reply
Jeanne McKay Hartmann

I can smell the lavender from here. Vicki, your garden is spectacular. I would love to sit there with a glass of rosé and a bowl of lavender ice cream and inhale Provence. Heaven!

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Jeanne @ Collage of Life

I can see bundles ‘French Essence’ lavender beautifully displayed and sold in your local market…and of course…you must sell it and wear lavender and linen with the perfect hat to compliment it all. Ohh..I am feeling very excited about this thought. French Essence…lavender essence.. Hold that thought! I think we need to meet for a glass of rosé to bring this idea to it’s full potential! :) xx

Reply
Hallie

If that garden isn’t pure happiness…I adore lavender and boxwoods and you have the addition of flowing water.
I planted a row of Provence lavender or lavender augustifolia and another of Hidcote next to the row of boxwoods that line the curve of my driveway. They have survived two winters beautifully and are in bloom now. I plan on clipping them since it is only July and there’s a good chance they will bloom again.
Thanks for your exquisite photos.

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Keri Doolittle

Beautiful garden photos, Vicki! I always enjoy seeing glimpses of your beautiful home.

Thank you for the ice cream recipe. I do believe I will try it out on my family tonight! Will let you know how it goes. I suspect they will love it.

Enjoy your day!
Keri

Reply
Paul

Love the intense blue wave behind the pond with the russian sage coming through at the sides.

The Olive collared with Lavender is…….well, perfect!

‘Dix points’

Paul Xo

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kabayoz

Vicki, I love the cliche(s) of your life…”when life gives you miles and miles of lavender fields, make lavender ice cream”. One of the heavy domes sitting on one of the coffee tables in my home is of the gorgeous lavender fields of the South of France. My mother was a lover of lavender scented anything. No other scent can take me back in an instant to my childhood and my mom than lavender. Thank you for sharing the bounteous beauty of your garden and life in France. Have a lovely day enjoying the buzzing of the bees, the fluttering of the butterflies, the purple haze of your lavender fields, and the beauty of your garden. xo

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Glamour Drops

Vicki, you mention the bees on the lavender. With all the decline in the bee population around the world, which is heart breaking, have you noticed any discernible change in the numbers of bees in summer on your farm?

Reply
Vicki

We have a very healthy bee population… and insects too… we have been organic for 5/6 years now and this has made a big difference…. xv

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Sue M.

Your garden is just beautiful Vicki. I especially like the lavender growing so lush under the olive tree. I’m making a note to try and create it under a tree I have. I just bought three lavender plants the other day and have been moving them around trying to decide where to place them…but am now convinced to go buy more and plant them under my crape myrtle tree… so I can enjoy the full impact of their beauty as well. Thank you for sharing. :-)

Reply
pve

I think I might have to up your little french tease with some American Caramel sauce that is to die for.
pve

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Keri Doolittle

Just visiting back to say, I made the lavender ice cream this afternoon. Definitely unique, very refreshing and delicious! I’ll will certainly be making it again. I served it with shortbread as recommended & it added a nice touch. Thanks again for sharing!

Keri

Reply
The Enchanted Home

Absolutely breathtaking Vicki! When we were there two years ago it was right before the season and we saw tiny buds, but seeing it in full display is really a sight! Just gorgeous…and I can imagine the scent, ahhhhhh!

Reply
Callie Grayson

Lavender is one of my favorite scents, imhave 3 in my front garden. I was just thinking of re designing the front to have more lavender
And now, I think,I will add more it’s such a sweet simple scent
Xx
Callie

Reply
Judy Bales

Have you been to L’Art Glacier in Ansouis? Beautiful views of the Luberon Valley, lights strung from the trees, and deliciously creative ice creams. I like the “Pastorale” which has lavender, miel (honey) and thyme ice cream served in a big compote glass with pralines and a merange cookie. Whipped cream and a butterfly complette this beauty!

Reply

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