As we grapple with a global pandemic and practice social distancing, the rhythms of Vasanta Ritu or Spring continue. Here at my farm, the peacocks have been seen dancing and digging up the purple crocus, my chickens wandered the hay fields, lost in the tall grasses. Everywhere you look, flowers are blooming, and the tender maple trees are pushing through.
As our social celebrations are curtailed this year, the rhythms of the season pulsate with life and energy. There is hope—we can still celebrate some of these festivals such as Easter, Purim, St. Patrick’s Day, Earth Day, and other ritual significance within our homes with our families. For some of us, riding the Zoom wave, we have to say, “this time, next year.” But in all of them, we can see the significance and need of aligning the flow of our daily lives to the rhythms of nature and the Spring season.
Here at the farm, one of the first fragrance of Spring, are the many delightful deciduous shrubs of lilac Syringa vulgaris. The Beauty of Moscow with soft pink buds burst open to reveal white blooms with just a hint of pink. The brilliant in color and aromatic doubling showy panicles of President Grevy to the enchanting and perhaps my favorite the Miss Kim of beautiful blooms and delicious, overwhelmingly spicy-sweet scent. Spring lilacs will send you to your happy place with one sniff! To capture the fragrance of Spring, try my recipes of Lilac sugar with Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, and Paprika Cookies. You can use the lilac sugar, topped on pies, baked goods, and cocktails.
1 + 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup lilac petals
1 sterilized pint Mason jar
Make sure mason jar is dry.
Add approx—1/3 of the sugar.
Top with 1/2 of the lilac petals and layer by another 1/3 of sugar and the remaining lilac petals.
Top with remaining sugar and seal with lid.
Let sugar infuse for about 2 days, shaking every now and then to help it along.
Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, and Paprika Cookies
Yield: about 16 large cookies
6 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter
1+1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
In an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy—mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture; combine on low speed. Divide dough into thirds; wrap in plastic. Chill for a least 1 hour or overnight.
Heat oven to 350ºF. On a floured work surface, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Transfer to un-greased baking sheets; refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes.
Bake cookies 8-10 minutes, or until crisp but not darkened.
Let cookies cool on wire racks, then topped with Lilac sugar as desired.