Looking for lavender

If you have the opportunity to meet The Hub, you will note that he looks fairly normal. But it’s just a front. For example, on Saturday morning, I told him that I was going to the Midtown Farmers Market at North Hills to visit Norma DeCamp Burns’ Bluebird Hill Farms booth. I explained that Burns used to be a Raleigh City Council member (among other things in her varied life) and now produces herbs, flowers and vegetables on the Bennett, N.C. farm. The Hub’s response: “Is she a member of the Society of the Cincinnati? She certainly would fit.”

Duh, huh, what?

He explained that Cincinnatus was an ancient Roman leader who entered public service only because he was needed, and left to go back to his farm as soon as the crises he was called upon to resolve were over, without seeking ultimate power. The society, The Hub continued, was formed at the end of the Revolutionary War to promote the ideals of citizen political service; Washington and Jefferson were members.

“Uh, sure,” I said, and left before he could hand me a final exam.

I was looking for lavender that I could use in an ongoing experiment: making lavender ice cream. When cooking with lavender, there’s a fine line between intriguingly tasty and choking on potpourri, and I’m slowly creeping up on it while trying not to cross over. Burns’ crops are organic, so the lavender is safe for use in cooking. She leaves her culinary lavender buds on stems, making the lavender easier to strain from liquid than the loose buds.

Because I can never leave a farmers market solely with what I came for, I also got a Grilling Spice Rub. It contains oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, sage and an herb called perilla, which is known as shiso in Asian cooking. At home, I mixed olive oil, lime juice and enough of the rub to make a paste, which I rubbed on flank steak. I let it sit at room temperature for about an hour, then hit the grill. The rub offered flavor and tenderness without a long marinating time.

Before I left the booth, I told Burns about The Hub’s comments and the Society of the Cincinnati. She smiled and said, “I’ll have to look that up. Your husband certainly sounds interesting.” True, never a dull moment, as long as I can avoid history pop quizzes.

 


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