Pennsylvania Lavender Festival fetes, eats lavender flowers

Lavender long has been used for medicinal purposes, its tiny blue-violet flowers and fragrant essential oils providing relief for everything from headaches and insomnia to bug bites and burns. What you might not realize is that this pretty plant is just as useful in the kitchen.

Madeline Wajda, whose Willow Pond Farm in Fairfield, Adams County, near Gettysburg is hosting this weekend's 10th annual Pennsylvania Lavender Festival, likes to fold the sweet-tasting herb into the farm's jellies and vinegars. Dried lavender also regularly makes its way into her homemade beverages, cookies and other desserts.

This year festival-goers get to wash down lavender brownies and blondies with lavender lemonade, as well as sample five lavender-flavored ice creams (the dark chocolate lavender sounds especially decadent).

"There is always a food component to our Lavender Festival, since the thing I like most to do with lavender is cook and get other people to do it, too," notes Mrs. Wajda. To that end, she'll give a talk on lavender luncheon dishes (with samples and recipes) on Friday and Sunday and another on lavender desserts on Saturday.

Also on Sunday, the chef who oversees the kitchen and preparation of lunch during the festival will demonstrate how to fill swan-shaped eclairs with lavender cream.

Advance tickets (available at cost $17.50 and include a picnic lunch, a bunch of cut-your-own lavender and 5 percent off purchases from the Willow Pond Farm shop. Some 70 varieties of lavender will be for sale, as well as other herbal products.

Lavender Cookies

  • 3 to 5 tablespoons dried lavender
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Whirl lavender and sugars together in blender or food processor. With mixer, cream together shortening, butter and eggs. Add lavender and sugars. In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add to shortening mixture, mixing well. Blend in vanilla.

Divide dough into thirds and shape into rolls. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate about 6 hours or overnight. Cut slices a little less than 1/4 inch-thick. Place on ungreased baking sheet, allowing room for cookies to spread.

Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, or until cookies begin to change color.

Makes 6 to 7 dozen.

-- Madeline Wajda, Willow Pond Farm of Fairfield, Pa.

Lavender Lemonade

  • 1/2 cup dried lavender
  • 2 cans frozen lemonade

Bring 1/2 cup dried lavender and 1 quart water to boil. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit 5 minutes. Strain and use as part of liquid in reconstituting 2 cans frozen lemonade.

Makes 1 gallon.

-- Madeline Wajda, Willow Pond Farm of Fairfield, Pa.

Gretchen McKay: or 412-263-1419.


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