Saturday, 12 May 2012

My Fragrant Kitchen

About 6 weeks ago  I  bought some lavender to be grown outdoors on the balcony.  Actually I should say that I bought a LOT of lavender.  I put most of it in the planter that was designated for it and had a little bit leftover.  

Having just thrown out a hanging plant that didn't make it in my kitchen I had a free space.  I was curious what would happen to the lavender inside of the house.  Most attempts to keep other herbs in the house resulted in a bit of success followed by an infestation of bugs of the crawling and flying variety.  I know that lavender is supposed to repel many pests so I thought I'd put that theory to the test as well.  I put a small bunch of the lavender in a 7" pot and then into a hanging planter.  I watered it thoroughly and then hung it up and waited to see what would happen.  About four weeks into this I noticed that the plant was looking a bit leggy but thriving well.  I was letting it get rather dry before watering since lavender natively grows in areas that get dry.  Just as I was about to give it a trim I spotted something.  A bud!  In the past week or so the flowers have been appearing all over.  Beautiful, perfect little lavender coloured flowers!  And I haven't mentioned the fragrance yet !  Since about the third week I would walk into my kitchen in the morning to with the room full of fresh lavender fragrance. What a cheering smell when I'm still a bit stiff and groggy and trying to figure it all out while making my way to the coffee maker that I usually forget to do the night before and take advantage of it's timer feature.  No stale smells of last night's cooking either so that was a bonus.  From time to time I'll rub the leaves through my fingers for a nice fragrant blast.  Lavender is such an uplifting and happy smell. :-)  The photos below don't do it justice but here it is and I hope that you can see the flowers:

I can't seem to find the right light setting for my camera to get bright colours to show up indoors.

On Wednesday my kitchen was smelling fragrant for another reason.  On Tuesday afternoon weather related problems had me feeling a bit achy so I spent much f the day sitting, watching tv, crocheting and trying to keep occupied.  I was flicking channels after tiring of the Leveson Inquiry and endless economic doom and gloom that Sky news is fixated on and tuned into the Food Network  I wasn't paying much attention though other than that it was a Mexican food show but then I hear the word "flan".  That's the name of one of my most favourite deserts ever!  The first time I made it back in my early 20s and new to cooking I severely burnt a couple of fingertips when I stupidly put them into the pan of melted. caramelised sugar.  Ouch!!  I still have slight scars from it and have never been tempted to touch hot sugar (tomatoes were later added to the list) ever again.  Anyway, "flan"was being made.  But then I saw that it wasn't just any old flan it was chocolate flan.  A mix of a favourite desert (flan) and a necessity of (my)  life (chocolate).  It got my fullest attention and looked simple to make so I immediately got on the net to find the recipe.  I was happy to find that I had all the ingredients in the house thanks to my being a bit obsessive about being well stocked.  So the next afternoon I set about making the flan.  OH peeked in on the goings-on and saw the ingredients and declared whatever the outcome it was going to be "dangerous".  :-))  I prepared it all as per the recipe and got it into the oven to bake.  After the 1 hour baking time I checked on it and it was a gooey mess.  I decided to stick it back it for 10 mins. which made a small but noticeable difference.  After a few 10 minute increments the flan was firm and cooked.  Later on I read the comments on the web page and saw that most who tried it had to bake it for the 90 mins. I ended up having to do it so I felt much better about it.   It smelled so lovely while baking and my house was full of that lovely smell.  I made my own Caramel sauce since I had no "cajeta" but did have a bag of Kraft Caramels, which were individually wrapped. (Ouch from having to open them all!.)  I melted them with some milk in the microwave 2 minutes at a time and presto! caramel sauce.  But here are the results:

I had lots of caramel sauce left over so overdid it a bit!  It looks a mess but tastes sooooo good!  It was a firm custard but also a moist chocolate cake combined.  The mix of the two was a marriage made in sweet tooth heaven!  :-))


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