Lavender Tea Cookies

1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender flowers*
1 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Lavender Frosting (recipe below)

In a mortar, grind lavender flowers with the pestle. In a medium bowl, cream together ground lavender flowers, butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon extract. Add flour and salt; mix until combined (dough should be soft but not sticky.) Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until dough is firm.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove dough from refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough approximately 1/4-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters and place onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks. When cool, frost with Lavender Frosting. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Lavender Frosting

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender flowers
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

In a small plastic bag, combine powdered sugar and dried lavender flowers. Let stand at least 1 day before using. When ready to use, sift the mixture into a medium-size bowl; discarding lavender flowers. Add milk and corn syrup, mixing well. NOTE: Additional powdered sugar or milk may need to be added (enough milk to make frosting easy to spread). Spread on cooled cookies.

Special Lavender Lemonade

Make lemonade either from scratch or concentrate. Separately, make a lavender tea, using dried lavender flowers. Let the tea steep for about 15 minutes; remove the lavender. Pour the tea into the lemonade. Use about 1 cup of lavender tea for every gallon of lemonade. Add plenty of ice, and a lavender sprig in each glass for a garnish. Enjoy!

The History of Lavender

Lavender has been a favorite herb for centuries. The historic use and recognition of lavender is almost as old the history of man. As an herb, lavender has been in documented use for over 2,500 years. In ancient times lavender was used for mummification and perfume by the Egyptian's, Phoenicians, and peoples of Arabia .

The Greeks and the Romans bathed in lavender scented water and it was from the Latin word "lavo" meaning "to wash" that the herb took its name. Perhaps first domesticated by the Arabians, lavender spread across Europe from Greece . Around 600 BC lavender may have come from the Greek Hyeres Islands into France and is now common in France , Spain , Italy and England .

The 'English' lavender varieties were not locally developed in England but rather introduced in the 1600s right around the time the first lavender plants were making their way to the Americas . Queen Elizabeth I of England valued lavender as a conserve and a perfume. It has been said that she commanded that the royal table should never be without conserve of lavender and she issued orders to her gardeners that fresh lavender flowers should be available all year round! She also drank an abundance of Lavender tea to help ease her migraines and used it as a body perfume.

Queen Victoria of England is most notable for making Lavender popular across England and it could be found, in one form or another, in every one of her rooms, as she used it to wash floors and furniture, freshen the air, and had it strewn among the linens.

During the First World War, nurses bathed soldiers' wounds with lavender washes.

To this day, the French continue to send baby lamb to graze in fields of lavender, so their meat will be tender and fragrant.

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