to slow down

hanging lavender

I like the kitchen best when I’m alone, usually at night, when the house is quiet and the phones aren’t ringing and I can take as long as I want to chop, stir, clean up. It’s comforting, this opportunity to organize, create, make something delicious and satisfying from a mix of individual ingredients. And it’s relaxing, as I can just go at my own pace and enjoy the process.

It’s like the way some people feel about knitting. Or running. Or maybe, I don’t know, bird-watching. Cooking is repetitive—the gathering of ingredients, the combining things together, the putting into the oven and waiting; and it’s reliable—a cookie recipe will, most likely, give you cookies, at least if the recipe’s any good at all; yet it’s also surprising, almost magical, that such wonderful results come out of such a little bit of time and energy. I’d imagine that’s kind of what a bird-watcher could say, too: that he likes sitting, sitting, waiting, waiting—these predictable actions become familiar. And sometimes, when life feels complicated, overwhelming, fast maybe, it’s nice to have something familiar, even if it’s simple, routine, just plain regular, to come home to.

Friday night, after I ran to the store for a few ingredients, I set out my ingredients near my KitchenAid mixer and turned on the season finale of Psych within view of the counter space. {I don’t know what your thoughts are on Psych, if you find the idea of a pretending-to-be-psychic kid and his best friend solving crimes boring or funny or weird, or if you even know what I’m talking about. But I will say this, it’s entertaining and silly and, most importantly, not-at-all work, which is just what I wanted at the end of The Long Friday and probably on most Fridays, in fact.}

purple sage and flour

I had picked fresh lavender (*Or, I’ve been told, maybe purple sage?) a few days earlier, hanging it to dry with some yarn on a door. So on a cutting board Friday night, I gently pulled off the flowers from their stems and measured them into four tablespoons of dried flowers, to be the crowning glory of my latest cookie recipe.

In terms of texture and overall comparisons, this cookie is a subtler version of the rosemary cookie, obviously without rosemary and also without the sugared edges. It’s softer, without the punch of the rosemary cookie, but it’s got a slightly chewier texture. And in my opinion, a fragrant flower is the perfect addition. I mean, isn’t lavender always in those stress-relieving lotions and sprays? Isn’t it the most wonderful thing to take a whiff of?

These happy, light little cookies are easy, flavorful and interesting. You really should try them, whether or not you have a flowering bush in your backyard and whether or not you are the type to enjoy an evening in the kitchen. I’m just saying: two baked tray-fulls on my counter and three sweet cookies in my belly later, the world seemed like a much better place.

lavender cookies

Lavender/Purple Sage Cookies
Adapted from Taste of Home

1/2 cup shortening (I am a big, huge (!) fan of Spectrum, available at Whole Foods; gives cookies a great consistency every time)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons dried lavender or purple sage flowers
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening, butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extracts. Combine the flour, lavender, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls two inches apart onto baking sheets lightly coated with cooking spray (or your Silpat mat).

Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for two minutes before removing to wire racks. Store in an airtight container.


  1. Rachel says

    so I just started watching Psych–going through season 1. crazy funnny to me and entertaining yes :) hah. mmmm… lavendar reminds me a nice long nap. perhaps these cookies are best at bed time?

  2. says

    i adore the way you describe cooking – i find that it has the same effect on me… most of the times, as long as i have the time to indulge in it as a craft and not just as “must make dinner now”.

    thank you for sharing…

  3. Kelley says

    I don’t suppose you’d send me a larger version of that first lavender photo? It’s breath-taking (and relaxing!). I want to look at it for a long time on my desktop. :)

  4. says

    Rae: So glad I’m not alone in my Psych appreciation. :)

    Amy: What a nice thing to say–thank you!

    Kelley: Just e-mailed it over to ya! Enjoy!

  5. says

    i adore lavender in cooking! granted, i’ve only used it twice before, once just recently. i searched the city for lavender, none of the whole foods had it but i finally found it and i bought more than i think i’ll ever need or can use before they lose their effect. like you i like the kitchen best at night, when i’m alone but i also find early mornings to be rather soothing too. i turn on some crime drama (Numb3rs, CSI, NCIS) and go to town with whatever i’m making.
    these cookies look great!

  6. says

    I love the kitchen at night too. There’s something so soothing and almost therapeutic about washing, chopping, stirring when you’re on your own and can enjoy each step uninterrupted…


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