Saturday, May 24, 2014

Springtime Gourmet Lavender Flan

Hello, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I've got a super fun recipe for you. But first... KITTENS.
 A friend of mine rescued a batch of abandoned kittens. This meant getting kitten replacement milk from the vet. (It actually came in a little pop top can. Hilarious.)
 (My friend Lili took this picture of one of her own cats investigating the newcomers. This kitten's viciousness had me howling with laughter. "Easy there, tiger!")
She fed them through the night, every few hours. Come morning, she was realizing... who is going to watch these sweet babies while she's at work?
 So, she calls the stay at home mom and her six home schooled kids.... but we were on the way to Pendleton (about 45 minutes away) for our yearly state testing! I told her we would LOVE to foster the babies, right after we took 3 hours of state academic tests.
 And it worked out! She brought them over as soon as we got back. We fed them with little eye droppers and then took them out for exercise.
 Here's our puppy trying to figure out what they are. The hissing and back arching was pretty hilarious.
 We put the dog back in the house so the kitties could play without having to show off their Ninja skillz. When the day was over, we gave them back. My friend found someone to take them on full time until they were old enough to find forever homes. But we loved being foster parents for the day!
 Sammy learns to feed the babies...
 My friend Barbara brought over a pick nick lunch. Deviled eggs, shredded chicken salad, fried deli chicken, mint chocolate chip ice cream, fresh fruit. YUMMY. And we welcomed her with... kittens. Here she is, helping the little guys feed one of the calicos.
 OK, now on to the recipe. You'll need fresh, organic lavender. Organic because we're going to put it in our food. No pesticides, please! I've had lavender flan before, but wasn't sure exactly how to make it. I decided to take an easy flan recipe and just infuse the lavender into the milk during the cooking. Here goes!
 Now, you'll need 1/2 cup sugar, plus 3 TBS sugar
    4 cups whole milk
ten stems lavender
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
fresh fruit for topping (I was going to use blackberries but my youngest ATE THEM ALL when I wasn't looking)
 Preheat oven to 325F. Combine 1/2 cup and 2 TBS water in saucepan and heat until darkened. This will be the caramel on the bottom. It takes about ten minutes and then remove it from the heat, let it cool, and ladle into the bottom of 6 ramekins.
 Boil the milk with 3 TBS sugar and lavender. Boil for 15 minutes. Let cool. Strain out the lavender. It should smell GOOOD.
 "Watcha cookin' ??"
 Here's the caramel in the ramekins. It wasn't as dark as I wanted, but I didn't want to cook it too long.
 Hm. Smells good, anyway.
Apparently I missed a step with the pictures!
Beat the eggs and the vanilla together in a small bowl. Don't over beat. Add in the cooled milk and then pour over the caramel.
 Fill the dish with about an inch of water. Bake about 35 minutes until set. Remove from the water bath and let cool. 
Since someone ate all the blackberries, I thought a pear might be a good match for the lavender. Mmmm. Not sure the variety, but it's delicious!
 Now's the hard part... let them cool in the fridge for eight hours or overnight. The next day, carefully turn the flan out onto a dish, letting the caramel fill the dish.
The pear was a very pretty color and looked right at home with the caramelized flan.
 All in all, I really thought this recipe was a hit. The little guys loved it because it was tasty, the middle kids loved it because it had "weeds" from the garden in it, and the older kids loved it because of the unique lavender flavor. Very delicate and sweet! For such an easy recipe, I would give this a two thumbs-up for presentation and as a conversation-starter!
 Last week was also my FORTIETH BIRTHDAY. Ugh.... Is it really possible? I feel so young! (Ok, that was a lie.) I was so incredible spoiled. Like these teal, vintage milk glass Pyrex from my friend Christalee. I almost swooned! So cute!
 And my friends Gail and Laurie sent Austen goodies! (Yes, we have been playing with the Jane Austen figure!)
 Google celebrated my big day, too! I felt so loved... When i waved the mouse over the doodle, it said, "Happy Birthday, Virginia!" LOL
My friend Stacey stole me for a movie. I almost never go out, and I realized this called for something special. THE RED CONVERSE.
And my sister came to visit and brought my favorite pie! Strawberry rhubarb. With perfect crust. YUMMY.
Leaving you with a close up shot of the pie! I'm wishing you all a wonderful weekend filled with delicious desserts and unexpected joy!


  1. awwww when did you get a puppy?! and how did I miss that post?! work computer isn't showing all the photos yet but got most! hmm can't imagine lavendar in my flan but I"ll take your word for it! I luv the kitty with the half black and half yellow face! happy late birthday- I want those cups! :-)

  2. I am going to pin the picture of red shirt boy playing with the kittens for when I need a dose of cuteness overload. And the ones where the kittens get all riled? Laugh of the weekend, I'm sure.

    I'm allergic to lavender and kittens but such is the beauty of pictures.

  3. I love your kittens and the pup! We raised a couple of litters of kittens that were dumped at our house, and the attachment was unbelievable! Yours are so adorable.

  4. Wait. You have a puppy and you didn't tell us? Or did I miss it? Not sure how that is possible since I'm dog fixated these days as I'm on the hunt for a forever friend. What is his name? What does Edna think of him?

    Amazing how those feline instincts are just there. Nothing cuter than a kitty hiss. I raised two kittens from two days old. Did the whole up at night feeding thing. Skipped school to stay home for feedings (shhh, don't tell, Nobody knows.) I called them Wuggens and Nuggens. I know...seriously lame, but I was young and into cutesy.

    The lavender flan sounds delightful. I even have lavender in my garden but it's not in bloom yet. I'll have to remember this recipe when I have a summer tea party.

  5. Suzanne, we've had him for about a month. :) We got him from friends who spent too much time out of the house and had younger kids. He's a VERY active dog and just couldn't be in his crate so much. He's in doggy Disneyland here. Lots of play, lots of activity, lots of opportunity to poo OUTSIDE. LOL.

  6. Oh, Julie, they were adorable! Just sweetness. And when they left, the kids were so sad! My toddler said, "We need to find our OWN baby kittens". Yup.

  7. Nikki, how fun that must have been! I really would have volunteered for the full-time fostering except for the, you know, through the night feedings! UGH.

  8. Kav, you didn't miss it! We were sort of cocooning with this little dude. Letting him settle in, letting the kids get used to him.

    What am I saying? They took to him right away! Now that he's relaxed and used to us (and the kids understand the best way to play/pet/love him) I'm taking more pictures. Before, I wanted to be focused on him and the kids, and not worrying about getting a good snap. :D
    I did take a few with my phone, but they weren't great, and for some reason he was scared of being held still. So, now that he can sit and stay, it's super easy to get a nice picture. Before he was just a blur of craziness!!
    He's learning... Had some bad habits and a lot of fear when he came to us. But he's learning that running is good, playing is great, and we all give him as much love as he needs. But there are CONSEQUENCES for bad behavior. Barking at guests, jumping to grab food, and grabbing toys from toddlers will get five minutes of crate time. In just a month he's made huge strides in his behavior.
    The best part? He wants to be loved! He wants to please us. And there's not a mean bone in his little body. :)
    We can work with everything else. It's just learning the rules.

  9. Puppy! Kittens!

    And, best of all, Flan :)

    You've made my day, Virginia!

    Our cat has one of those half-black/half orange faces. We call her "toaster face". As in "Sleep on the toaster, the dog said. It will be fun, the dog said!"

    Have a great weekend!

    Oh, and a tip I learned from dog training class - a squirt bottle with water in it is wonderful for getting rid of bad puppy manners. Every time he barks, squirt the water in his direction with a sharp "no". They hate it, it doesn't hurt, and they get the message loud and clear.

    It's best to work on changing one habit at a time, though. Puppy brains get confused easily :)

    1. Interesting! It's really been so strange to try and figure out what puppy is thinking. My friends have been explaining/ giving tips and that's very helpful.
      For example, I would tell him "no" when he would bark at my husband. (He has a fear of men.) But then he'd come over to me and roll over on his back. (The puppy. Not my husband.)
      I thought he was afraid of me. I thought I was psychologically scarring him.
      My friend explained that he was actually being submissive, saying "hey, you're the boss" and that fear is head down, ears back, tail between the legs.
      OHHHHH. Now I don't worry when he does that. I just give him a tummy rub and move on.

      "Toaster face" made me laugh.

  10. I'm in love! I love caramel flan, it's an old-fashioned favorite that just hits the spot.

    Those kittens.... the dog..... the kids.... Oh, this is a Ruthy book in the making, LOL! All the right elements, Virginia, but we need a Dark, Shadowed Past. I think your kids need you to go ballistic or something so we traumatize them just a little...

    Or we can pretend they're traumatized!!!! BETTER!!!!!

    Great post, I need to make rhubarb custard pie because my rhubarb is threatening to take over the free world as we know it.

    Mmm... rhubarb....

    1. ha! Who says I don't go ballistic every time I see that four-foot-tall pile of laundry? What about the sink full of dishes? The table covered with books? What about the dirty clothes left in the bathroom for a full day? What about that roll of toilet paper left in the sink? (No, really, what about that??)

      And if you ask them they will swear they are ALL traumatized.

      Oh, my sister makes a great rhubarb custard pie, too. YUMMY.

  11. A SECRET DOG??????????

    Oh, there's more to this story, I do recall our Virginia having no desire for a dog last year, I do believe..... And now she's succumbed to the pressure of how fun it is to own a dog and a house full of kids!!!! Oh bless your heart!!!! (laughing at you from upstate, because I know this is probably not what you needed right now, but he's so stinkin' cute!!!! Love him!!!

    1. Actually, I'll upload the picture of my husband's face the first time he saw this guy. He was out when I brought the dog home, so I had time to get the camera.
      Hilarious. Complete disbelief.
      We had just been talking about how bittersweet it is to not have to worry about potty accidents and sleep issues and doctor bills.I told him it's our seventh child.

      Seriously, I'm not a dog person AT ALL, but I see their charm. And I think this particular dog is very sweet.

      (And I realize I sound like my bachelor brother talking about children in general and my children in particular.)

    2. He's cute as can be!! I could not have resisted either. :)

  12. Happy Birthday, Virginia. Sorry I missed this WONDERFUL POST!!!

  13. How did I miss your b-day last week??!! Happy birthday!! It sounds like a good one.

    I love that the kids got rewarded by playing with kittens after their testing. :)