Since Winter never really got here, we are and have been in Spring like mode for quite a few weeks over here. Local seasonal produce has been changing rapidly. Peas are sprouting, winter squash are disappearing. Asparagus are in, wild blackberries and raspberries are popping out in by the marsh behind our house. Strawberries are just a couple of weeks away.
Along with the produce, my whole being makes a little switch. In that time in between mosquitoes and scalding heat, I wake up and immediately open up the windows, I go to bed without pulling the mosquito screens. I continuously check for the progress of the seedlings I planted. Impatiently.
You can feel a natural tingling in the air, to everything and everyone at Spring is approaching. It always gives me inspiration and energy. At home, it means a thorough clean out of the studio and re-organizing equipment and files. Recycling, giving, de-cluttering. Making a space that allows my thoughts to grow even wilder.
In the kitchen, recipes change less than the ingredients they use but soups tend to get lighter and colder, salads take on many more fresh herbs and sprouts. Cakes, cupcakes and such make ways for lots more custards, creams and sorbets. A lot more berries are popping in desserts and sometimes in salads lately.
This time of year always make me long for home. The valleys and mountains of Provence and the Hautes Alpes where I grew up. Lavender, thistle, thyme, rosemary. Picking blackberries and raspberries on the side of the roads with my parents. Making lots and lots of blackberry tarts for my dad. Watching my mom stir a long wooden spoon in a heavy copper jam pot. Watching her pull out her sorbetiere to churn homemade treats.
I picked enough blackberries the other day to have enough for a cobbler or a tart but I was really craving sorbet instead. With raspberries and blueberries left over from a shoot the other day, I had plenty to make that sorbet I so desired. I made two small batches, one I left with nice bits of fruits in it and one I pureed smooth to sandwich with lavender shortbread cookies.
Lavender, berries, cookies, sorbet. A fabulous trip down memory lane. And lots of nice treats to share with our neighbors.
Before I leave you, I wanted to share with you two little big things that I had the privilege to do this past month. One was to have some of my photographs used as a backdrop during a Donna Karan's event for her non profit foundation, Urban Zen. I was in good company with fellow photographers Matt Armendariz and Lindsay Morris. You can see pictures of the event by clicking here and a recap of the foundation's event here.
I am also extremely honored to have been asked by Heirloom Book Bo. to have my photography on exhibit for the next couple of months. The opening reception took place recently and it was an awesome thing to share with friends. You can find pictures and more info about the exhibit here and here. None of this, work and accolades, would be possible without your constant support and appreciation. Thank you!
Berries Sorbet and Lavender Cookies:
Makes 4 cups (sorbet) and about 1 dozen cookies
1 cup fresh blackberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
zest and juice of one lemon
In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat, place the berries and the rest of the ingredients and bring to a quick boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Puree until smooth in a blender or food processor and then strain through a fine mesh chinois (strainer). Process in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.
You can also let the mixture cool completely and churn without pureeing it smooth. It will give you a chunkier sorbet.
Lavender Shortbread Cookies:
Makes 12 cookies for sandwiches
1& 3/4 cups all-purpose flour or Jeanne's Gluten Free All Purpose Mix
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons fresh edible lavender
3 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Position a rack in the middle.
In a bowl stir together flour, sugar, and cornmeal. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in lavender. Add milk. Stir with fork to combine and form into ball. Knead until smooth and divide in half.
On lightly floured surface, roll half the dough at a time to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 2-inch square cookie cutter, cut out dough.
Place cutouts 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 10 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack. Cool.
To store: Place in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature up to 3 days. Or freeze unfilled cookies up to 3 months.
To make sorbet sandwiches:
Spread about 2 cups of the sorbet in a 8x8 square pan and freeze until firm. With the same cookie cutter used for the lavender shortbread, cut out square of sorbet. Sandwich between two lavender cookies and freeze again until firm.