October is here with kaleidoscope colors, harvest festivals and the first snows. The Front Range will be turning into a dazzling array of color so make a visit to Denver Botanic Gardens, Hudson Gardens or a local park or bike path and experience the beauty of the fall season.
We are in the bounty of the harvest season with apples, corn mazes, and great opportunities for hiking and biking in the cool, crisp air of autumn. Halloween festivities will begin with haunted houses and ghost tours. It’s the last harvest month. Pumpkins, apples, pears, kale, and all the cooler veggies are in season. Get family and friends together and celebrate a harvest feast
Warming Winter Soups and Chowders
Savory soups are easy, inexpensive, rich in vitamins and easy to freeze. Learn how to make a delicious lemon soup with lamb meatballs; a creamy fish chowder with bacon and exotic Indian chicken stew with vegetables and lentils. Dinner, bread and a sweet are included, along with take-home recipes. info and registration here
Fun Things to Do
Elk Fest, Estes Park, October 3 and 4, Bugling elks, fall colors, seminars, bus tours and arts and crafts. more info
Cider Days, Lakewood, October 3 and 4, Lakewood Heritage Center. Music, history, tractor pulls, pie eating contest and more. more info
Crafts Spirit Festival, October 23-2, Breckenridge. Creative cocktails, small batch distillers, seminars, sampling and great views. more info
Halloween Happenings, Great fun from cemetery tours, zombie crawls, Victorian horrors at the Molly Brown house and fright fests. Check out Halloween Happenings for all the options.
Denver Art Museum – Saturday, October 3
Denver Fire Fighters Museum – Saturday, October 10
Denver Museum of Nature and Science – Monday, October 19
Clifford Still Museum – Friday, October 9, 30
The time for procrastination is over. Snow will fall, tomatoes will freeze and probably fairly soon. Get those houseplants in, the herbs and produce harvested, any perennials in your pots transplanted into the garden and your ceramic pots dumped out and stored for winter. Put in some fall bulbs for your spring show and plant some pansies and mums to brighten up the yard.
Mound up some soil over your tender perennials and wait until spring to cut back your roses and grasses. I usually let all of my perennials stay unpruned and just cut back the messy dead annuals. I feel the extra foliage adds protection and makes for some winter interest. Then it’s time to relax, those garden chores are over for a while.
The Cold and Flu Season Cometh
Whenever there is a change of seasons there seems to be a rise in illness. Natural methods for prevention include taking a good multivitamin/mineral daily along with 2,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 daily. I also try to get enough rest, wash my hands frequently, restrict skin contact in public places, eat a whole foods diet and limit sugar which lowers immunity.
If you or someone in your household does get sick, wipe down keyboards, lights switches, TV remotes, doorknobs and other frequently touched places with vinegar. Relieve congested sinuses and chests with a tea tree or eucalyptus essential oil steam. Eat lots of organic veggies and hot foods with plenty of garlic and onions. Skip the smoothies, dairy products and cold salads and go for spicy hot vegetable curries, stir frys and soups. Get enough rest and drink plenty of hot tea. I like elderberry or sage tea with lemon and honey.
Dress for the weather. It makes me crazy to see little kids with deep, rattly coughs and runny noses out in cold, wet weather without hats, scarves or coats. They shouldn’t be out in the first place, nor should you if you’re sick. Remember to sneeze and cough into your sleeve or elbow, not your hands! Grab a good novel, a cup of tea, take a long hot bath and go to bed!
Herb of the Month – Elderberry- Sambucus
Elderberry has long been a subject of legend and lore. It was placed over doorways and carried as amulets for protection against witches and evil spirits. This pretty shrub is easy to grow. Elderberry likes a loamy soil, part to full sun and moderate water. It blooms with clusters of white flowers in the spring followed by blue/black berries in the fall. Plant the blue berried variety as the red berries can be toxic. The blue berries should be cooked or dried before eating to avoid stomach upset.
The flowers and berries are used medicinally. The blossoms are used in body care treatments and make a nice addition to cleansers, salves and balms.
The berries are mildly diuretic and laxative and used to stimulate the immune system. Enjoy them in teas, wine, jams and jellies and tinctures. Sambucol is a commercial brand of elderberry extract if you want to leave the berries for the birds. You can buy dried elderberries in bulk at your local herb store.
- 1 cup fresh or ½ cup dried elderberries
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup honey
Place the berries in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on low for 45 minutes. Smash the berries and strain through a fine mesh strainer, add 1 cup of honey. Bottle the syrup and store in the fridge where it will keep for 2-3 months. A remedy your kids will love.
Recipes of the Month
As the cool weather descends it’s time for some hearty dishes including soups and chilies. Here is one to try. For an in depth experience, enroll in the soups cooking class above.
Butternut Squash Soup
- 2 tbs butter
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 medium potatoes, cubed
- 4-6 cups chicken stock
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tbs grated peeled, fresh ginger root
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 medium butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 1 small can coconut milk
Melt the butter in a large pot with the oil, and cook the onion, carrot, potatoes, squash and seasonings for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Pour in enough of the chicken stock to cover vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 40 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender. Add more stock as necessary.
Transfer the soup to a blender, and blend until smooth. Return to pot, and mix in any remaining stock and coconut milk. Heat through and serve with a dollop of plain yogurt.
Toasted Pumpkin and Squash Seeds
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Take rinsed pumpkin or squash seeds and blot dry with a dish towel. Put into a bowl and add olive oil to coat. Stir in seasonings of choice. I like salt, pepper, onion and garlic flakes and some cayenne. I’ll sometimes add cinnamon and brown sugar for a sweet, spicy taste. Put in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 25 – 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool and eat whole, yum!
Quick Pickled Jalapenos
Love those pickled jalapeno condiments? Make some of your own to warm you up! These will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge. Jalapenos with a bark like texture on the outside will be the hottest. Pickling them removes a lot of the heat. Use this brine to pickle other veggies such as red onions, grated daikon radish or cauliflower.
- 8-10 jalapenos, sliced into rings
- ¾ cup water
- ¾ cup vinegar of choice, you can use wine, rice or apple cider
- 1 tbs kosher salt
- 2 tbs sugar
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Pack jalapeno rings into glass canning jars. Bring all the other ingredients to a boil, Pack the vegetables into a glass jar and cover with the vinegar mixture, cover, cool and store in the fridge. Great on nachos, burgers, sandwiches, all your Mexican meals.