Let’s Cook: Lilacs
The choices we make, make us. For example, taking time to do something as simple as a neighborhood stroll has great benefits. Relaxation is certainly one that comes with a leisure walk in our locality. Enjoying the beauty that is within your neighborhood is inspiring. It is the two for one special that offers exercise and nature’s beautiful canvas. Each season brings forth new views and something to appreciate.
I stood by the garage with a lilac bush in bloom its fragrance abounding and the light of a full moon bringing forth images of silvery art across our backyard. It caused me to stop and think how sometimes the finer things in life are just steps outside our door. It was a beautiful moment to drink in devastatingly pleasant aroma and to realize that this rebirth of earth is moving and yet very calming.
Lilacs are one of my favorite flowers. While living in Rugby, I looked forward to their violet leaping at the end of Third Street SW. In Underwood, my daily spring walks to school through the alley way had them featured like bookends on each side. Seeing these lilac stars each morning in shades of lavender and white was like seeing the eyes of friends. While living out East, I had the delight of visiting the lilac capitol of the world, Rochester, New York. My journey there was to visit the Kodak Center and seeing the many shades of purple lilacs against yellow Kodak signs was pure rapture. The city presents a lilac festival that showcases their many flowering bushes along with enjoyable springtime activities.
Each spring one can see in the countryside long sweet grasses around clusters of random lilac bushes. It is a reminder that at one time this area was maybe a homestead. Long gone are the buildings, but the steady and long living lilac acts as the light post to a bygone era. They are true northern plants, they thrive in the cooler, drier air of our upper midwestern and New England States. When the winters are cold and the snow is deep, you can be sure that their flowering season of three weeks will bring a purple slipcover across farms, tree rows, and villages.
Lilacs originated in Eastern Europe and Asia and were brought over to America by colonists in the 17th century. They were an instant hit and remain popular to this day with gardeners. Lilacs have been involved in politics as they were favored by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The lilac is the official state flower of New Hampshire and represents these “hardy” New Englanders.
We can say the lilacs are social because they also enjoyed time with Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet who depicted their beauty on canvas. They are social butterflies, and when in bloom, hummingbirds and butterflies take up company with them.
We most often see white and purple lilacs. White lilacs represent purity and innocence, while purple lilacs symbolize spirituality. Lilacs can bloom in shades of blue which symbolize happiness and tranquility. Magenta, pale yellow and dark burgundy lilacs are becoming more popular. These shades are compelling when arranged in bouquets with other spring flowers such as irises.
This past winter was hard on many plants including the lilacs. Usually we see full, heavy blooms everywhere – but not this year. There are still many to behold so take some time to seek them out. Note to self: Take time to meet a few lilacs of spring. If so inspired, set up your easel, take out the brushes and paint their beauty. If you are going to be photographed by purple lilacs, wear the direct complimentary color of yellow, and you will look smashing.
Maybe picking a bouquet of lilacs and arranging them in a vase is your style. Why not try a sprig in your hair while strolling about? What is not to admire about a little soul knocking at your door and handing over a sweet lilac bouquet? Take time to enjoy this short season of inspiration from lilacs. Remember, the choices we make, make us.
Here is a lovey refreshing spring dessert that does feature the complementary color to purple lilacs. This recipe originally came from Ella Anderson of rural Ray. It has been a life-long favorite of Jan’s. The lemon flavor is just the right touch for spring and summer.
Lemon Fruit Freeze
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup sugar
7 cups rice or Corn Chex crushed to make 3 cups crumbs.
Melt butter. Add sugar & crumbs. Reserve 1/3 cup crumbs for topping later and press the rest of the crumbs in pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 12 minutes.
1 can Eagle Brand milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 can lemon pie filling
1 can well-drained fruit cocktail.
Mix and spread over baked crumbs. Cover with 2 cups whipped topping. (Whipped topping may be mixed into the lemon mixture, if you wish, before spreading) Top with reserved crumbs. Freeze. Before serving, remove from freezer and place in refrigerator for about two hours of thawing. Garnish, if you like.
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