February Herb Blurb – First Signs of Spring

winterFebruary brings us the first signs of spring. Soon those first spring bulbs will be peeping out of the snowdrifts. Tulips, hyacinths and primrose are starting to appear in garden centers and grocers and longer, warmer days are interspersed with snowstorms. Enjoy skiing, sledding, skating and all that frosty beauty before it melts away.

Upcoming Classes

Private cooking, crafting and garden classes, garden consultations and herb walks are available for you or your group or organization. Call Susan @ 303-697-6060 or email sevansherbs@gmail.com for more information.

 

Mexican Fiesta, Cooking Class and Lunch
pepper
Saturday February 20th, Denver Botanic Gardens,10:00am – 12:00pm, $42.00 member; $47.00 non-member, info and registration.
Discover the ease of preparing delicious dishes from south of the border! Learn how to master the classics: salsa, guacamole and chipotle crema and use them for garnishes for a Mexican meatball soup, creamy chicken with pumpkin seed sauce and zesty fish tacos. Wash it all down with hibiscus/lime tea and chili chocolate cupcakes. Recipes and dinner included.

 

Spring Detox and Tonics for Vibrant Health
Saturday March 19th, 10:00am – 12:00pm, Denver Botanic Gardens, $45. member; $49. non-member, info and registration.
Learn the secrets to losing winter weight and improving energy and vitality: the traditional spring cleanse. Discover super foods, herbs and tonics for creating vibrant health. Enjoy a delicious lunch and take home a purifying tea and cleansing herbal tincture to get you started. All materials, recipes and lunch included.

 

Fun Things to Do

Colorado Garden and Home Show, February 13 -21. The big guy with gardens, demos, classes and aisles of new ideas.  info here

restweekDenver Restaurant Week, February 26 to March 6. Try a multi course meal for 2 for $60 at that posh restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. Make reservations early, the 6-8PM spots fill fast.

info here

Free Days

Denver Art Museum – Saturday, 2/6
Museum of Nature and Science, Sunday, 2/7
Denver Botanic Gardens –York Street, Monday, 2/15
Denver Zoo –Thursday 2/18
Clyfford Still Museum, free Friday evenings in February from 5-8pm.

 

Gardening

gardeningFebruary is a great month for planning that garden. Will you have edible flowers? Savory herbs? Designer vegetables in container gardens? It’s also a great month to order seeds. Catalogs are here and the selection is great. It’s easy to get carried away so you need so do some planning. Take out a piece of paper, make a rough sketch of your garden and then fill it in with your selections.

Take some classes. Garden Centers are gearing up and many offer free classes on everything from growing seeds indoors to what fruit trees to plant. Check O’Tooles, Echtors, Tagawa Gardens and other nurseries for special events, classes and deals. Denver Botanic Gardens has great classes year round. Saturday, February 27 is their annual New Gardener Boot Camp, a full day of classes to get you ready for the season. Classes are a nice fix for your spring fever.

A great resource for free, expert advice is your local county extension office. Master Gardeners and horticulturists are on staff to answer questions and dispense with helpful handouts.

Need some color? Pick up a primrose. These sweet little flowers can be planted outside in spring if you can keep them alive indoors until then. They like it cool with evenly moist soil. Pick off fading blooms (make sure you take the stem too) to keep it in flower. Smell before you buy. The yellow ones are especially fragrant.

 

Recipes of the Month

 Parmesan Crisps
Addictive and a great condiment for soups, stews, chowders and salads.
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or more depending on how many you want to make.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan onto a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet and lightly pat down. Repeat with the remaining cheese, spacing the spoonfuls about a 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool. You can also do them in a non-stick skillet, same process; just remove with a spatula when crisp. Store between sheets of wax or parchment paper in a covered container in the fridge.

 

Cream of Roasted Garlic Soupgarlic soup

  • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2-3 heads of roasted garlic, garlic cloves pressed out. Recipe follows. You can also buy pre-roasted garlic cloves at the pickle/olive bar at Whole Foods and Sprouts. Get about ¾ cup.
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • ½ cups stale French or Italian bread, torn into 1/2″ pieces
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 1 tbs thyme and parsley

In a soup pot, sauté the onions in the butter and oil. Cover and cook over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Add the roasted garlic, chicken broth and herbs and bring to a boil. Stir in the bread cubes and simmer for 10 minutes, until the bread is soft. Purée the soup in a blender or; you can use one of those hand-held blenders and purée it right in the pot if you like. Reheat and whisk in more chicken broth if the soup is too thick for your taste. Add the half and half, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Nice topped with parmesan crisps.

 

Roasted Garlic with Rosemary and Thymegarlic
Take 1 or more heads of garlic, cut in half. Place in an ovenproof dish and pour olive oil over the halves, coating the inside of the cloves. Add a sprig or two of fresh herbs or some dried herbs if you like. Put the halves back together and bundle together in a package of aluminum foil. If you are doing more than one head of garlic, and why wouldn’t you? package them individually in foil. Put on a tray and bake in the oven at 350 until tender, about 40-50 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, squeeze out the roasted garlic. Excellent in butters, soups, gravies, sauces, anywhere you would use garlic.

 

Choco Chili Cupcakes
Easy, different and delicious, 3 of my favorite words.
Prepare a muffin pan with cupcake liners; spray exposed metal with oil for easy cleanup

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbs (or more depending on your heat preference) chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients in bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extracts. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water, (batter will be thin), Pour batter into muffin pan, no more than half full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. When cool enough to handle, cool completely on wire racks and frost.

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • milk

In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to achieve desired spreading consistency.
* For extra pizzazz you can add chili powder to the frosting or dust the top.

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