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Lavender Shortbread

Lavender has been traced back to ancient times, and while it was known by many names (including the Biblical “Spikenard”) it was the Romans, who used the flower to scent their baths, who first called it “Lavender” from the Roman (Italian) word lavare, which means, “to wash”. Used in jellies and other foods, as a perfume, aphrodisiac (Cleopatra is said to have used its scent in seducing both Caesar and Mark Anthony) and insect repellent, it is a plant that traveled with the most civilized societies, from the Egyptians, to the Romans to the French and English, eventually finding it’s way to the new world. Today most commonly associated with southern France (i.e. Herbes de Provence) and English country gardens, its sweet fragrance evokes a sunny summer day in a simpler time.

When cooking with lavender it’s important to use only organically grown herbs, or those purchased specifically for cooking, from a reputable market or health food store.

lavender shortbread
Find Kelley Epstein’s recipe for these gorgeous shortbread cookies on her blog, www.mountainmamacooks.com

Kelly Epstein writes for the food blog,  www.mountainmamacooks.com. Click the link below to find her fabulous Lemon and Lavender Shortbread recipe:

Printable Lavender Shortbread Recipe

Enjoy these delicious cookies with a cup of tea or glass of milk…or pair them with our Lavender Marmalades and Jams.

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Ladies’ Useful Accessories

From Mamma– A Mariner’s compass
From Aunt– A silver Vinagrette
From Augusta– A gold twisted ring
From Miss Ramsey– A leather purse
Emma Austen Leigh, 1815

During the Regency, friends would exchange small gifts at Christmas or Twelfth Night. These tended to be useful items or homemade tokens of remembrance. They might be accompanied by a riddle or short poem, like the needle bag Jane gave to a friend in 1792:

This little bag, I hope, will prove
To be not vainly made;
For should you thread and needles want,
It will afford you aid.

And, as we are about to part,
‘Twill serve another end:
For, when you look upon this bag,
You’ll recollect your friend.

Chatelaine
Chatelaine, 1765-1775 Victoria and Albert Museum no. C.492:1 to 7-1914, Wikimedia Commons

Jane’s neice, Emma Austen Leigh, kept a diary list of all the gifts she was given over a period of years. It included jewelry, purses, knitting boxes and workbags along with a selection of fashionable accessories and mending tools.

The chatelaine is a device which clips to the waist band or belt of a dress for holding such items as the mistress of the house would need with her throughout the day. It might include her seal, watch, scissors, thimble, a vinaigrette, and a key holder.

Chatelaines were worn by men and women and might be made of silver or steel. They could be as plain or as decorated as the owner wished. The term originally meant the mistress of a large estate or Castle and literally means “the keeper of the keys.”

A vinaigrette is a little tightly sealing box with a second pierced lid inside to contain a bit of gauze soaked in vinegar, lavender water, or other scent. Sniffing the contents were meant to revive someone feeling faint or give relief from unpleasant odors. It might be kept inside a reticule or be equipped with a loop and hung about the wearer’s wrist or from a chatelaine. Vinaigrettes were made by silversmiths specializing in boxes so they usually also made snuffboxes. There were smiths in London who did this type of work, but most boxes were made in Birmingham.

Treat your friend to a Georgian style gift at our online shop – click here!

Reprinted with persmission Sharon Wagoner, Curator of The Georgian Index. Visit this site for a historical tour through Regency London!

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English Lavender Water – History and Recipes

English Lavender Water – History and Recipes

Martha left you her best Love; she will write to you herself in a short time; but trusting to my memory rather than her how, she has nevertheless desired me to ask you to purchase for her two bottles of Steele’s Lavender Water when you are in Town.”
Jane Austen from Steventon to Cassandra at Godmersham
14 January 1801

 

To the Victorians, Lavender meant “Devotion”, however, it’s symbolism and popularity stretch back to ancient times. French Lavender was most probably that referred to in classical Roman times as a bathing scent, and it is from this that the plant is said to have derived its given name from the Latin lavare, to wash. In the Middle Ages, Lavender was attributed with the properties of Love. Records indicate that Lavender wasn’t cultivated in English gardens until around 1568, it’s popularity grew rapidly, once introduced though, and it was included in the listed plants the Pilgrims brought with them to America. Since the Elizabethan era Lavender has been widely used in potpourris and sachets to fragrance and freshen linens and the home. Continue reading English Lavender Water – History and Recipes