in and out of bloom

I’ve been tracking the summer’s passing in the coming and going of some of my favourite blooms (or the ones I recognize, which, to be fair, are not very many). The lilacs in my parents backyard were some of the first to show off before I noticed their perfume all over town. Next there were the tulips, the peonies, the apple blossoms…all of them seeming to peak and fade before I stopped to smell them.

Then, I was lucky enough to take two classes at Blumenstudio (my dad and I had the same idea when it came to birthday gifts for my mum, apparently). We made dreamy little succulent terrariums and learned about throwing together garden bouquets. When Kat opened her second Blumenstudio in the west end of town, I wrote about it for Ottawa Magazine – and so I happily spent a lot of time around her pretty plants and Klaus the dog.

Then, there were lush little gardens lining streets in Montreal, beautiful blooms on the farm, and tiny doggy flower crowns.

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Then, one of my best friends got married. One of the bridesmaids, Michelle, happened to have worked as a florist for many years (she’s also a brilliant scientist and communicator, there is nothing this girl can’t do) and so she took on doing all of the floral arrangements for the wedding. This also left her responsible for leading the rest of us bridesmaids through making our own flower crowns, something we were super excited about.  Once we actually started, though, I was struck with analysis paralysis (was I making it too heavy on one side? Did the colours clash? Was I crushing delicate blooms?). Over mimosas and Top 40 tracks we crafted our crowns, left them to stay fresh in the beer fridge during last minute prep, and then our friends got married! The wedding was absolutely beautiful and our flower crowns lasted a whole night of dancing – I don’t think I’ve ever cried so many happy tears, or taken so many selfies.

THEN, as I went for a run along the canal yesterday evening, brown leaves fluttered on to the path in front of me and suddenly summer seemed like a blur. There are still another 20 days of summer left on the calendar, so there’s still time to squeeze out every last humid, sweaty drop (and that means pumpkin spice everything can wait!).

thumb_DSC01233_1024After drinking a cocktail with lilac syrup earlier in the spring, I was determined to bake something “floral”. After a little googling to make sure that lilacs in cookies weren’t a terrible idea, I went ahead and swiped some from my parents’ tree and threw them in to a sugar cookie dough.

Lilac season has, of course, long finished (the amount of timely blogging/recipe sharing has been pretty abysmal this year), but maybe file this one away for next spring…

Lilac Sugar Cookies (recipe adapted from “The Joy of Cooking: All About Cookies”)

Makes about 36 cookies

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1 large egg yolk (save the white to use as a wash!)
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups of lilac flowers + a handful more to decorate

  • Have all ingredients at room temperature.
  • Pick the lilac flowers gently from their stems and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed until very fluffy and well blended.
  • Add egg yolk and beat until well blended, then add the egg and the vanilla until well combined.
  • Reduce speed to low and beat in the flour until combined. Add the lilac flowers and beat only until they are evenly distributed.
  • Divide dough in two disks, cover in plastic wrap and leave the dough in the fridge for about an hour (or up to a few days, as long as it is wrapped tightly!).
  • Remove dough from the fridge, and roll to about 1/8 inch thick.
  • Cut shapes as desired.
  • Lightly beat the egg white and brush over the top of the cut cookie dough. Place extra lilac flowers on the brushed cookies. Bake at 375F for 6-8 minutes. (For the cookies to hold their shape better, put the tray of cut cookies in the freezer for 5-10 minutes before baking.)
  • Let cookies cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Store in airtight containers for a few days at room temperature and for 4-6 weeks in the freezer!

…I feel like I just wrote a “what I did on my summer vacation” post with far too many flower pictures and links to Instagram-evidence. Alas. Hope your summers have been wonderful, too!

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