My garden supplies me with culinary and tea herbs I enjoy and share with friends. It is a joy to sit outside and observe the bees and butterflies up close as they go about their business procuring nectar and pollinating. So when a friend suggested we go to the Blue Mountain Lavender Farm here in the Walla Walla Valley I was all for it. We had hoped a couple other friends would join us, but that didn’t work out; they were sorely missed.
I hadn’t ridden in Carol’s Mini Cooper, so we decided to take that from my house to the farm. We looked up the directions prior to leaving the house since the motorcycle rides my Hubby and I took didn’t show us where it was located. As navigator I had my phone out, map open. You know how they tell you that the maps aren’t always accurate? You know they tell you to check the accuracy before committing to following their directions? Well, when you are unfamiliar with the area and have no way to check the accuracy of the directions, you tend to follow them. We did, for a silly adventure along a canal bank named ‘Mud Creek Road’. The Mini Cooper is a low-clearance, small car with terrific handling and speed; not a typical off-roading vehicle.
Do you know how far two miles is? Do you know how far two miles in a Mini Cooper on a canal bank is? They are not equivalent by any means. Dutifully following the blue line on the map we kept heading toward the little red bubble. Close enough to the alfalfa seed fields that the bees were audible as they industriously pollinated the dark purple flowers. The ditch was running with ribbons of Chartreuse algae across much of the top. Laughing, and cringing as my fibromyalgia pain ramped up, we crept around the potholes and larger boulders to watch the blue line flip in front of us; we had made it to the next paved road! Heaving a sigh of relief we stopped to put the address into the phones again to see if we would get a more accurate map. The blue line of the new map showed us a short route, on paved roads. There were signs pointing the way on this route too!
In just a few minutes we climbed out of the abused Mini into the mid-day heat. The charming farmhouse and grounds planted primarily to lavender, the gift shop, the covered outdoor craft space were not large, but they were immaculately groomed. It was hot, already over 90*F. Wondering through the fields, noting the names and descriptions of the different lavender cultivars for future reference, we made our way back to the gift shop. I purchased a tin of Apricot Lavender tea that smelled heavenly and Carol purchased a couple of tea towels and sachets. We packed ourselves into the Mini and drove away, astound to see the turn we took toward the canal bank so quickly as the two miles on the road blinked by. We headed to my house for lunch and wine to enjoy the rest of our visit in air-conditioned comfort.
Before driving to Walla Walla, Carol picked basil from her beautiful garden for me. The next morning I made pesto, using some of it for a pasta dinner that night. I typically don’t grow an abundance of basil due to confined spaces, but I do enjoy pesto so this was a wonderful treat. There are a few containers in the freezer for future use and a bit out to enjoy now.
The recipe for Basil Pesto from Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead’s The Herbal Pantry:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup parsley leaves, 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons pine nuts, 2 large garlic cloves, peeled, 3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons soft butter, salt to taste (I think the cheese adds enough salt, personally). In a food processor or hearty blender puree all but the cheese and butter. If you are freezing it, put it into your containers at this point. Hand mix the cheese and butter into the pesto you are going to use. If you have some to store in the refrigerator, put a thin layer of olive oil on top to preserve the bright green color. Enjoy!
It is also time to start visiting the vineyards in anticipation of harvest. Lots of beautiful grape clusters, strong, healthy vines predict another fabulous crush season ahead. Cheers!