Sunday, March 25, 2012

Willard Bay 2012 - Lavender Hill

Those that have been potting up baskets during Basket Daze at Willard Bay Gardens have already seen that the purple cabinet has been "LaVeNdErIZeD". 
You may notice a few new products, like our Lavender & Vanilla Cream Lip Moisturizer.
 Also the lavender syrup for making yummy spring drinks.
And we be selling a few of our lavender wreaths there this year.
Della's seed wall is up.
I love all of the colors.
 They have wonderful custom potting soil and....
Perennials Galore!  Right now is a great time to plant.
For address and information click here:  Willard Bay Gardens

Spring is poking through.

The warm weather has been melting the snow at rapid rates.  The ditch that we put in on the upper level has helped immensely with the spring run off/ rivers.
 Last spring we had so much run off we also had to put in more french drains.So far things are looking "trench/river" free. 
We are mostly done with the "tractor work" at the top of the garden so we are going to fill in the road way with lavender.  Each bucket that you see on the gravel will be a lavender plant this spring.  We will call this planting Phase 4 and it will merge Phases 1 & 2. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Strawberries Dipped in Lavender Hill Chocolate

You will need:
20-30 strawberries washed and dried
1 Tbs shortening
8 oz of chocolate.  I used the following:
1 cup chocolate chips (which is aprox 5.75 oz)
2 lavender Hill Chocolate bars, Milk or Dark (they are 1.25 oz each)
double boiler
tooth picks
waxed paper
cooking spray

 Every so often I accidentally drop one of our Lavender Chocolate bars or a wrapper gets torn.  Usually I take these damaged ones and save them for myself.  With every pregnancy there are certain things that I can and can't eat, with this one it is chocolate. So, instead of eating it straight and getting an upset stomach....I decided to be creative.
~ Strawberries dipped in Lavender Hill Milk Chocolate ~
I washed and hand dried about 20 strawberries, leaving the green tops on.
 I was going to get some "gourmet" chocolate chips, but then I thought that I would first try to use things I had around the house and make this recipe as easy as possible. 
 I don't have a double this is my make shift one.  I put about 2" of water in my pan and turned my stove to medium heat (5).  I placed a glass microwave safe bowl on the pan and made sure the water did not touch the bottom of the bowl.  I let the water and the bowl heat up at the same time.  Once I saw that the water was just about to boil I turned down the stove heat a little (4).  I added 1T of shortening and let it completely melt. 
 I wanted the strawberries to have just a "hint"of lavender.  So I found a recipe that covered 50 strawberries and cut it in half which meant that I would need 8 oz of chocolate. To stay within the 8 oz of required chocolate you can eat 2 squares from one of our bars or use 2 full bars for more lavender flavor.
I used 1 & 2/3 bars of our Lavender Milk Chocolate and 1 cup of milk chocolate chips.
 I added the chips and our Lavender Chocolate to the melted shortening and let it sit for a minute before stirring.  Once I saw the chips relaxing I stirred it a couple of times and then let it sit on the heat for another minute and then stirred again.  At this point there were only a few larger chunks that needed to be melted so I turned the stove heat down to "low".  With the heat on "low" I left the pan, water, glass bowl and chocolate in place and let the heat from the bowl melt the rest. I guess you don't want to over heat the chocolate and when dipping and you actually want it to be cool to the touch or close to room temperature.
 The consistency was very smooth, but not runny. I left my stove heat on "low" for the remainder of the dipping process.
 I took the DRY strawberries and put a tooth pick in the top.  This gave me a little handle to hold onto so I could turn the strawberry while dipping it.  If the strawberry is not completely dry the chocolate will not sick to the berry. One recipe said to leave the toothpick in and instead of placing the dipped strawberry on waxed paper, you would insert the toothpick into a Styrofoam block to allow the strawberry to cool.  I didn't have Styrofoam and I didn't mind the chocolate pooling below the strawberry, so I used waxed paper. I was a little worried that the chocolate wouldn't come off the paper, so I sprayed a tiny tiny bit of cooking spray on the paper and brushed it all around just to be sure. 

Also, place your waxed paper on a cookie sheet or tray BEFORE placing the dipped berries on the paper.  Believe me, it is REALLY hard to do with a full sheet of cooling strawberries. And it makes it easier to move the strawberries to the fridge.  
 I didn't make enough chocolate to submerge the entire strawberry, so I used my spoon and pushed the chocolate up and around to get this look. 
 Place your tray of dipped strawberries in the fridge for 15 min til the chocolate has hardened. Remove toothpicks before serving.

Ta' Da! Beautiful!
I served a lavender dipped strawberry with a slice of my chocolate cream cheese cake and a scoop of Bryer's peach ice cream.  

When I make these again I think that I will try no shortening.  I set a couple of strawberries on top of the fridge and forgot about them.  When I came back to them they were still fine, but the chocolate was very soft, probably from the heat of the fridge. When I bit into the strawberry the shell broke and fell off easier. 
Trying to think ahead to a sunny summer day like this one...
I don't want the heat of the day to make a mess of eating chocolate covered strawberries in the garden.
So, either I use chips with a higher cocoa content and keep the
shortening or fore go the shortening all together.
These would be wonderful to serve at a wedding...just a thought.