Spring has definitely sprung and everything is starting to leaf out in a glorious display of color. I’m sure there’s a storm or two waiting in the wings, perhaps tomorrow. In the meantime get out and smell the spring bulbs and blossoms.
Herbal Home and Garden Workshop
Denver Botanic Gardens, Sunday, April 12th, 10 am – 2 pm, $64 member, $69 non-member, register online
A fun and creative class to learn about all the ways you can use these easy to grow, fragrant plants to enrich your home and lifestyle. Plant a garden full of plants that do double duty in the kitchen, medicine cabinet, spa and cleaning cupboard.
We’ll take a tour of the herb garden and cover the planting, growing and harvesting of top, easy to grow herbs. Discover culinary teas and seasoning blends, herbal scrubs and body and bath care, first aid and green cleaning. We’ll have an herbal cooking class and lunch featuring Roasted Tomato Gazpacho with Parmesan Crisps. Herbed Chicken Salad with Green Goddess Dressing and Rosemary Rhubarb Cobbler.
From an herbal ingredient buffet, make and take home your own herbal seasoning blend, tasty tea blend and infused vinegar, exfoliating body scrub, soothing lip balm and all-purpose cleaner. Discover the fascinating world of herbs! Lunch, extensive handout with growing instructions and recipes included
Cooks Herb Garden
Denver Botanic Gardens, Thursday, April 16, 6pm – 8pm
$42 member; $47non-member, register online,
Discover the numerous health and taste benefits of growing your own herbs! Learn how to grow, harvest and use in cooking by looking at seven of the most popular culinary herbs including marjoram, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, chives and basil. Participants make an all purpose, garden seasoning blend and enjoy a gourmet herbal dinner. Take home an herb blend and an extensive handout with recipes and growing instructions.
Wild Foods Gourmet
Denver Botanic Gardens, Saturday, May 16, 10am-1pm, $52 members, $56 non-members,
Explore the fascinating world of wild edibles. We’ll begin with an herb walk, identifying local wild edibles. Discover the optimum nutrition and delicious tastes provided by plants you usually weed and toss in the compost pile.
Back in the kitchen we’ll prepare a delicious meal using common wild plants, including nettle, chickweed, dandelion, lambs quarters and more. Learn how to make conifer needle vodka and enjoy a cocktail as we prepare an appetizer, fresh greens salad, a savory cream soup, and a delicious pesto for our wild foods pasta. Explore all the ways you can add wild edibles to your current recipes to boost nutrition and flavor. Recipes, cocktail and meal included.
Discover the fun and benefits of eating on the wild side!
Estes Park Wild Plant Weekend
Denver Botanic Gardens, Friday, May 29, 2015 – 3 p.m. to Sunday, May 31, 2015 – 1 p.m.
Held at Estes Park, CO. Double occupancy: $353 per member, $373 per nonmember
Single occupancy: $442 per person, $462 per nonmember, info here
Become immersed in the fascinating world of wild edibles and medicinals in this weekend getaway. Learn how to rejuvenate yourself with wild herbs for the body, mind and spirit. Explore the ancient art of making restorative teas, salves and soothing natural remedies while you relax in Rocky Mountain splendor. info/registration here
Things to Do
Are you getting that garden fever? Check out the multitude of garden classes at the Denver Botanic Gardens and local garden centers and nurseries including O’Tooles,Tagawa, Paulino’s, Echtors, Jareds and Timberline. Several are free.
Earth Day is Wednesday, April 22. Plant a tree, take a class, volunteer, check out a festival. Earth Day Denver in civic center park has all kinds of things to explore. After a day at the fair see an inspirational film, Arise, at the Denver Botanic Gardens and check out the gardens in spring bloom while you’re there. info here
Go enjoy some blood tests at 9 Health Fair this month. See how you’re holding up for a very reasonable fee. www.9healthfair.org
The kids might enjoy the Tulip, Fairy and Elf Parade on the Pearl St. Mall on Sunday, April 26. tulip and fairy festival
Free days this month include;
Denver Art Museum – April 4
Molly Brown House – April 15
Denver Botanic Gardens –April 22
Denver Museum of Nature and Science – April 25
Herb of the Month – Dandelion
That’s right, dandelions. Dandelions are plentiful and tasty right now.
Taraxacum officinale, dandelion, happens to be one of the top five most nutritious vegetables, ahead of broccoli and spinach. It contains Vitamin A, calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin and trace minerals. Europeans have been eating dandelions for centuries and you can find them here in upscale markets and restaurants, not to mention the back yard.
Medicinal plant properties include its use as a liver tonic and mild diuretic. All parts of the plant are edible. Dandelion leaves can be used in salads, egg dishes, casseroles, soups, and vegetable dishes. Pick young leaves in the spring before they flower and turn bitter. They can be used to replace spinach in recipes. The fall roots can be chopped, roasted and used as a healthy coffee substitute.
You can use the flowers for vinegars and wine. Pull out the flower petals and blend into butter and cheese spreads, or as a bright garnish for salads and other dishes. The flowers are a source of a natural yellow dye and are an important pollen source for honeybees.
So don’t scorn this generous, sunny little plant. Pick it and use it to give yourself a healthy spring boost. Interested in all the ways you can use wild plants? Check out the Estes Park Wild Plant Weekend or the Wild Foods Gourmet Class in May, info under upcoming classes above.
Time to get that garden ready. Get out the weeds and add compost. Divide your overgrown perennials, and decide what you want to add and delete this year. Focus on quality and beauty over size; we are a lot more enthusiastic in April than we are in the heat of August. For awful soil, put in raised beds. It saves a lot of work.
You can put in your cool weather crops, kale, spinach, salad greens, onion sets and strawberries. Put out some pansies and primrose to compliment your spring bulbs. I love to plant them in containers set by the door. Make sure any early spring plants you buy have been hardened off before planting outside.
Cut back grasses, roses, perennials and dead wood in shrubs. Make your list for annual veggies and flowers, then go outside and decide where you are going to place them. This will help prevent those May shopping frenzies, when you can’t resist getting just one (or ten) more.
Recipes of the Month
The fresh produce season begins. Sweet! Add fresh greens, artichokes, spinach, asparagus, radishes, peas, rhubarb and strawberries to your spring menus.
Artichokes with Lemon Butter
Artichokes can be intimidating for the beginning cook but they are truly easy and quite delicious!
- 2 artichokes
With a sharp, serrated kitchen knife, cut off about one inch from the top of the artichoke, removing the sharp tips. Remove the stem close to the base of the artichoke along with the tough bottom leaves. Rub the cut portion of the artichoke with the juice of a fresh lemon to prevent it from browning. Put the artichokes in a pan with a steamer insert and steam, refilling the water as necessary, over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes until the leaves are softened and the bottom of the leaves are tender enough to scrape off with your teeth. Remove and serve with lemon butter sauce.
Lemon Butter Sauce
Melt 3-4 tbs butter and combine with 2-3 tbs of fresh squeezed lemon juice.
Baby Bok Choy and Strawberry Salad – serves 4
- 6 Baby Bok Choy, rinsed and dried then thinly sliced (including leafy greens)
- ½ cup shredded carrot
- ½ cup broccoli florets
- 1 pint strawberries, rinsed right before serving, sliced
- Thinly sliced red onion
- 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
- Sesame soy vinaigrette – recipe follows
Lightly dress the Bok Choy and carrots, toss together well to coat, and divide equally among plates. Top each portion with strawberries, broccoli, onion slivers and a sprinkling of the sesame seeds. Enjoy!
Sesame Soy Vinaigrette
- 1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced
- 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tbs honey or agave
- 1 tbs shoyu or soy sauce
- 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbs toasted sesame oil
- 3 tbs olive or canola oil
In a small bowl, add all of the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk together until well combined.