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Plum & Summer Berry Lavender Crisp from Adventures in Cooking, a photography and recipe blog by Eva Kosmas Flores, Portland, Oregon.

Plum & Summer Berry Lavender Crisp from Adventures in Cooking, a photography and recipe blog by Eva Kosmas Flores, Portland, Oregon.

I’ve had lavender on my mind for a while, and souffles. I recently snagged a copy of the very traditional Fannie Farmer cookbook from the early 1950s and thought I’d sprinkle a little lavender water in a souffle (perfume maker and herbalist Julianne Zaleta of Alchemologie has a beautiful one.) My husband’s dislike of lavender is hardly a deterrent for me, nor is the somewhat soapy lavender ice cream I made when we were first married (lavender can notoriously go a bit awry if used to excess.) Strangely, these little hiccups have only made me want to experiment and learn how to draw out lavender’s earthly charms with more subtlety.

An essential summer dessert
As it turns out, an email from Adventures in Cooking showed up in my inbox without missing a beat, suggesting plum lavender crisp. So I picked up a few plums and berries at the farmer’s market one Sunday and whipped one up in no time. Portland-based Eva Kosmas Flores’ blog is one of those gorgeously photographed sites that make you wonder–is this remotely possible in real life? But the recipe was truly simple (and delicious)–my husband gobbled it up with relish. It’s a luxurious dessert–so elemental and very much the essence of late summer for me, nearing the cusp of fall. I made it just before we left for Oregon’s lush forests, berries, and towering pines. http://www.adventures-in-cooking.com/2015/07/plum-summer-berry-lavender-crisp-falk.html

My version of lavender plum crisp (served with a Taiwanese milk oolong for Sunday breakfast.)

My version of lavender plum crisp (served with a Taiwanese milk oolong for a Sunday breakfast.)

We spent part of the week in Salem, and on the Oregon coast for a memorial held in honor of my husband’s grandfather, who died earlier this year. He was 95–a navy man stationed in Hawaii during World War II and a well-loved electrician in the years that followed. The drive to Lincoln City brought back a lot of memories: the first time I met him, he ripped open his shirt and showed me the butterfly tattoo he got right after his wife died–because she loved Monarchs. Sam would regale us with stories about his adventures as a sailor, took me to my first and only fish fry, and once, a roadside casino where I won a small jackpot and bought us fresh crab from Barnacle Bill’s–one of his favorites. I learned from his nurse, Jeanie, at the memorial that he built a shelf in his early nineties to house plants and food for birds and squirrels by his nursing home window.

Fernlike fragrances
We went with him to Silver Falls State Park about ten years ago but didn’t do the whole loop for some reason–I promised I’d go back someday. On the drive there last week, I found a perfume sample in my bag (I often carry a dozen or so.) It was the recent reissue of a traditional fougere–a fernlike fragrance–made by the Parisian perfume house Houbigant with notes of lavender, oak moss and tonka bean. Some critics say it pales in comparison to the 1882 version–I haven’t smelled the original but hope I’ll make it to the Osmosthesque–the world’s perfume archive in Versailles–one of these days. In the meantime, Houbigant’s latest fougere royale struck me as bright green, woodsy and pleasing–a fitting companion for venturing into Oregonian forests. http://www.luckyscent.com/product/53400/fougere-royale-by-houbigant Perhaps more unusual and intriguing is Julianne Zaleta’s Flora–a departure from the fougere but nonetheless woodsy blend with lavender, agarwood and clove–green and forest-y with warm, rich spices and depth. https://www.etsy.com/listing/182532302/flora-natural-botanical-perfume-sample?ref=shop_home_active_3

Lavender teas–from dark to light
One of my favorite all-time, go-to Earl Greys is from Rishi–a robust bergamot-driven brew with notes of lavender. A bold wake-up call, especially for chillier fall mornings! http://www.rishi-tea.com/product/earl-grey-lavender-organic-black-tea-blend/black-tea At the other end of the spectrum, I also love American Tea Room’s utterly light and refreshing American Beauty–a white tea with lavender, rose, jasmine and mint. http://www.americantearoom.com/products/american-beauty-organic-tea#0 A proper garden, indeed. I paired it with these amazing lavender sea salt caramels made in Oregon, but purchased from salt, chocolate and flower shop Meadow with an outpost in New York. http://www.lilliebellefarms.com/lavender-sea-salt-caramels/ Sublimely pretty–among my best ever tea and chocolate snacks in recent memory. Maybe next time, I’ll try it with a French lavender souffle.

Lavender in my garden, early August, Brooklyn, New York.

Lavender in my garden, early August, Brooklyn, New York.