Gardening brings so much pleasure and beauty to my life. I’m really pleased with how my little plot has been progressing over the past few months. A friend who stopped by my garden the other night asked me to explain my broad sweeping goals for my garden. I didn’t hesitate with my answer: “slightly unkempt cozy cottage garden with a purpose.”
What this mouthful of a mission means is that I wanted a less-fussy but still “designed” garden that would produce practical crops that I could use. My vegetable rows obviously yield plenty of useful crops. I have just begun to harvest carrots, string beans, and lemon cucumbers. Even the tomatoes are starting to blush. Sadly, my gorgeous collection of antique cutting lettuce is just about to bolt in the July heat, but not before I got enough for today’s post.
But it’s been my flowers that have been the most productive so far. I have been taking lots of cut flowers into the house (I have three large bouquets right now in my kitchen), and I’ve already dried dozens of bunches for tea and wreaths yet to be made. However, eating my fresh flowers is the “bee’s knees” in my opinion.
When I was selecting what varieties to grow, I held up a standard in my mind: the best flowers out there are those that serve all of these functions – cutting, preserving, and eating. As such, borage ranks right up there among the best. Its cool cucumber taste has long been a key ingredient in the English “Pimm’s Cup” cocktail. It’s striking when used in salads and to garnish desserts. When you think about it, there just aren’t that many naturally blue ingredients available, making borage special.
Nasturtiums are another favorite. My two small plants have more than quadrupled in size over the past two months, making their flowers a frequent and welcomed peppery addition to my salads. They’re also great in butter and cheese spreads. I’m getting so many of them, some quite large, I’m also thinking about stuffing them with soft cheese the way I do with squash blossoms.
Gosh, I’ve rambled on so much about my garden gatherings that I’ve completely forgotten to talk about what the real recipe is for today: a sweet and tangy dressing for the salad. Buoyed by the delicious results of my strawberry dressing earlier this season, I put some of my stash of fresh blueberries into this one, along with some of the lavender-infused vinegar I’d brewed myself. If it’s no longer blueberry season where you are, the same results can be gotten with frozen berries. Just be sure to thaw them before proceeding with the recipe.
With a salad so pretty and flavorful, the blueberry lavender dressing really accented the floral notes that were already there without overpowering the bits of cucumber, carrot and lettuce. The leftover dressing will keep for a week or two in the fridge. Use it on more salads or drizzle it over steamed or roasted vegetables, such as beets or squash.
Adapted from www.mealsforyou.com
2 C.fresh blueberries
2 C. white vinegar
1/2 C. sugar
1 T. lemon zest
Put blueberries in a large bowl and cover with vinegar. Let stand for 1 hour. Transfer to a large sauce pot and add the sugar and lemon rind and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Strain the blueberry mixture, pressing out as much liquid as possible.
LAVENDER BLUEBERRY DRESSING
A Straight from the Farm Original
3 T. blueberry Vinegar
3 T. lavender vinegar
1 small Shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
dash white pepper
6 T. extra virgin olive oil
Combine ingredients in a jar and shake vigirously until combined. Serve over salad or roasted vegetables.
(makes 1 cup)