Saturday, July 18, 2009

Local Eats: Celebrating Lavender and the Market

Who knew we were living in the Lavender Capitol of the USA? Well, ok, close to it--Sequim (pronounced "skwim"), with its Mediterranean climate, is the next town over from Port Angeles--about 15 miles away--and it is indeed Lavender Central this time of year. The third weekend in July is reserved for the annual Lavender Festival, which draws people from all over, not just our little neck of the woods. There is a street fair with art, music, food and lavender products of all sorts, farm tours, demonstrations. And this year we were actually lucky enough to be here for the fun!

Eli and I wandered the street fair yesterday: we sampled Lavender Lemonade and Lavender-Mint Iced Tea, we bought some bulk culinary lavender (and a few gifts that won't be mentioned), and I found a really cool pair of earrings by Meg Jones (like the Boney But pin on this page for a birthday present to myself. It was sunny and breezy--a perfect Pacific Northwest summer day!

In honor of the festival I made this Lavender Sage Roast Chicken for dinner when we returned:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

I didn't measure (as usual) so I will try to guess how much I used, but (as always) I recommend tasting as you go along to see if you like the balance of flavors. My tastes may not be the same as yours!

2 Tbs. dried lavender flowers
1 Tbs. fresh sage or 1 tsp. dried
1 tsp. sea salt (or more)
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. soft butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. coconut oil
(or just use one of the fats if you like)

Place the chicken in roasting pan. Loosen the skin over the breast of your chicken by carefully sliding your hand beneath it, wiggling your fingers until you free the membranes--do this slowly so you don't tear the skin. Put most of the herb butter under the skin then spread it around by massaging the outside of the skin, distributing it as evenly as you can. Rub the rest of the butter on the legs and wings, then squeeze half a lemon over the chicken. Put the squeezed lemon half in the cavity.

Roast for about an hour, basting every 10-15 minutes. The chicken should have crisp skin and clear juices (look in the gap between the thigh and body) when done.

We served this with mashed cauliflower, which I was tempted to season with lavender-- but opted instead for nutmeg. The pan drippings were wonderful on the cauliflower, and we had a "farmer's market" salad (whatever I find in the fridge that I collected from the market this week: greens, herbs, fruit, veg, whatever).

Sometimes I feel so spoiled here with the riches that surrounded us. I don't want to gloat, so you need to let me know if my meal descriptions are welcome as inspiration or not . . .

Which brings me to tonight's dinner, a product of today's market (our farmer's market runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer) and a box of elk from my father-in-law. I'll just leave you with a menu--if you want how-to's, let me know.

A Typical Saturday Feast:
Wine and cheese
Baked oysters with melted butter
Braised elk steaks with mushrooms and carrots
Buttered English peas (thanks for shelling the 2 lbs of peas Eli!)
Field greens salad with nasturtiums and marigolds
Raspberries and chocolate with cocoa

We don't eat like this every night, but most Saturdays we have oysters and/or fresh fish from the market, along with the tenderest produce that won't last. I am hoping to make a trade with a neighbor for some Dungeness crab tomorrow, so maybe Sunday's dinner will be a feast as well (keep your fingers crossed for me!) . . .


Mama between the lines is said...

After seeing this amazing field of amazing lavender, I wish I were right there! How fantastic is that?!! :)

Justine Raphael said...

Well, you'll have to come visit then! And bring your sweetheart for a bit of a romantic adventure . . . (you can stay on the sailboat--with or without the girls)

skg said...

Justine, I'm ready to come over for dinner - any night - doesn't have to be the Friday/Saturday ones, but o boy am I nostalgic. I'm so glad to read that you are able to spread your wealth of understanding in the Pacific Northwest. BTW you have such a gift of written expression that much is more easily accessible than one would otherwise think. Keep up ALL the efforts.
Love, Sallie

Justine Raphael said...

Oh do come! We miss you and you are welcome anytime . . . The leaves are golden and the apples are almost done (we have a cider press, and boy am I behind in posting!)

And thanks for the compliment about my writing. Now I just need to find more time.

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