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A Riddle for You… It’s All About Passion

Try using lavender in your next dish for delicious flavor and aroma.

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A riddle for you: What has the aroma of an expensive perfume, the beauty of a flower, the properties of a medicine, a mouth-watering taste, and is fun to use in decorating?

Give up? OK. Here’s a hint. It’s an herb. But which one?

Recently, I was chatting with Joyce (Kilborn) Laitinen, president of the Willamette Valley Herb Society, and editor of their chock-full-of-tips newsletter Willamette Herb. We were at a gathering of schoolmates who had attended Silverton Union High School in Oregon’s scenic and fertile Willamette Valley. What I love about reunions is “re-meeting” old friends and learning about their passions. Herbs are Joyce’s passion.        

I asked Joyce what her favorite herb was. Her answer was quick and decisive. “Lavender. Every part is useful. It’s aromatic, decorative, beautiful, medicinal, and delicious…as in lavender ice cream, cookies, tea, and even…lavender chicken!” 

Lavender chicken? That was a stretch for me, but I admit her list was making me hungry. “Do you chop your herbs…or slice them…squeeze or squish them…or what?” I asked.

“I have a coffee grinder I use only for spices,” she said to my surprise. But then, I think, Why not? When I was 10, I ground up my mother’s roses in her meat grinder, hoping I could make rose perfume…only to discover the juice I got from the mangled petals smelled like ground hamburger!    

Joyce explained how her passion came to her. “When I was a child, my grandmother had a huge cottage garden with herbs and flowers. When I was ill, she dosed me with herbs.” 
Joyce caused me to ask myself: What herbs are in my life? I admit to having a Brown Thumb. But years ago, I stuck a sprig of peppermint in some dirt by the driveway and since then, I’ve been pinching leaves for my tea. On my deck, I have lemony thyme and basil still in their plastic pots, and I enjoy zipping out and grabbing a few leaves to toss in whatever I am preparing salads, soups, or meats. So, why not try lavender?

Herbs aren’t Joyce’s only passion. She baked 300 pies for the booth her church, Camby United Methodist, hosted at the Oregon State Fair this year.

My passion? Eating pies…that’s a worthy passion! Hmmm. How about a lavender pie?     

Feel free to email me your environmental tips and questions!

Members of Willamette Herb Society receive the newsletter, Willamette Herb, featuring Joyce’s “Herb of the Month” and seasonal tips. They also get to hear speakers and attend outings—dues are only $15. You can learn more from Mina.Oregon@yahoo.com.

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