The most relaxing thing I have ever drank in my life is surprisingly not gin and tonic. Or a Tom Collins. It includes no alcohol in the least.

People who know me would then guess that tea is the most relaxing thing I have ever drank, but that’s not quite it either. While I profess a love for tea and follow it devoutly when I’m not drinking coffee to keep myself on a time table of epically challenging proportions. If I mapped it out, it would probably look like a two year old’s rainbow-colored scribble drawing. I would insist it was an elephant despite being nothing more than an incoherent network of haphazard lines. Apparently, this is just how the female brain works. It makes sense that my schedule, which revolves so heavily on my thought process to make and meet it, should resemble a tangle of yarn. Right? Tea smooths most of the kinks over and helps people unwind… or wakes me up if I’m drinking English Breakfast Tea. But in truth, the properties of tea, much like those of soup, are sometimes not enough to get the truly tough tangles out.

At times like that, I think of lavender, and I’m not talking about the smell.

Sure, lavender soap is awesome, and although there are more exposed nerve endings in the nasal cavity than there are anywhere else in the body, there are other ways of taking it in.

My hometown has a limited number of local tea and coffee establishments. Like many suburban towns, we are composed mainly of golf courses, subdivisions, strip malls, and fast food chains. I used to frequent one about twenty minutes away until their customer service went down hill. After three years of being looked down on for being a minimum wage worker at a pizza restaurant, I expect to be treated like a human being when I am being served at the very least. One of life’s greatest challenges is to respect people who cannot be bothered to at least make an effort to respect me. I personally don’t care if my server is old enough to be my mother. I am a paying customer. I had to put up with plenty of high school students as a pizza slave, disrespectful kids and people whose parents called me demanding to know why they were overcharged (and in the instance I am thinking of, I took the right amount of money; the parents simply assumed that I was wrong… but do I get to tell them that they’re dumb-asses? No! Instead, I have to act professionally and calmly explain that their son paid with the roll of quarters I supposedly. At least they admitted I was right, but still… stuff like that sticks like cheese sticks to the soles of shoes, filling all of the crevices. That kind of thing changes a person). I know friends who have had to deal with the same thing in reverse, middle-aged people who throw temper tantrums about stores being sold out of the television on sale when the flyer says, in fine print, “Limit 4 per store.”

In the hub of this tea shoppe, I discovered lavender lemonade. It was relaxation in a cup, a tranquil taste that followed me all night at work while I was dealing with the evening rush and the chaos at the counter and the testy customers.

At times, lavender lemonade is not practical for instilling a calming sense, particularly at the end of the semester, and particularly when it has to be portable. The conundrum I faced was transforming this relaxing substance into something class-appropriate. Of course, I didn’t have to bring something “British” to Victorian Literature, but since I’ve spent the past four years dabbling with it, studying it, savoring it, absorbing it–hell, living it, I figured I should live a little British on the cooking side as well.

With the help of the internet (my greatest sous chef aside from my three-quart aluminum sauce pan) and a little ingenuity, I found the answer in comfort food.

I’m talking biscuits. British biscuits.

To this day, the language differences between American English and British English fascinate me. The oddest of the bunch for me is the “jumper” (American: sweater) because I have always thought of Oshkosh when I hear the word “jumper” due to spending most of my very early childhood in them. I’ve very seldom been to the theater with friends, but I frequent the theatre, a spelling difference so minimal that it has become a habit. Others, I acknowledge without that little twinge of discomfort that jumpers cause, like the “x” in “connexion” and the “u” in “colour.” And, despite having family in the South, this semester in Victorian Literature educated me on the original meaning of “biscuit” (American: cookie). Not the most valuable lesson I learned in the course, but interesting enough to sprinkle on a blog post like sugar.

Since I had already made bread for my Writing Center coworkers and minestrone for my creative nonfiction course, I plotted something sweet to finish the week off with, a relaxing biscuit form of the beverage that soothed my troubled mind. Of course, eating lavender doesn’t appeal to everyone; in fact, after trying a sip of Maye’s pear and lavender martini, Caity told her (and later me) that it tasted like bath soap to her. I can’t rightly call it an acquired taste; it is just something that I happen to enjoy, sort of like the act of writing itself.  I went in with reservations and left with a new appreciation for something that I didn’t originally consider edible.

Now, if only I could have that same mindset with seafood…

Lavender Lemon Shortbread Biscuits
(Adapted from this recipe)

Close-up

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter
  • ¼ cup and 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp dried lavender flowers (most likely available at your local organic food store for a reasonable price)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cream butter and sugar with a fork in a bowl.
  3. Combine flour and corn starch in a separate bowl.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add lemon juice. Mix. I found it effective to use my hands in combining them.
  5. Add lavender.
  6. Flour work surface and knead dough 5 to 10 times.
  7. Pam the pan. Insert dough into pan and press into a uniform thickness of about ¼ inch. (Trust me… this is easier than rolling it out.)
  8. Prick shortbread with fork.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, carefully tap pan against the side of the oven to deflate it. Bake additional 10 to 15 minutes until cookies are golden brown.
  10. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Let cool for 5 minutes. Slice cookies.

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