February Herb Blurb – Quell your spring fever

Spring will soon start appearing with the first blooms of snowdrops and crocus. Time to peruse your seed catalogs and quell your spring fever with a class or visit to a garden center or garden and home show.  Soon the winter adventure season will be a memory. Get out there and ski, ice skate, go sledding or just take a walk in the stillness of a winters snowfall.

February 1st is Imbolc, an ancient festival celebrating Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of fire. She imparts inspiration, healing, poetry and divination. Light a candle during this time of growing light and take some time to find out what inspires you. What lights your fire? This is a time to celebrate new beginnings, set an intention and plant your seeds for the future.


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 [email protected] for more information.

Art of Pressed Flowers – Denver Botanic Gardens, Saturday, February 11, 10am to noon, , $49member, $54 nonmember, http://www.botanicgardens.org/programs/art-pressed-flowers
Discover how to collect and preserve those summer flowers and fall leaves for use in creating your own floral masterpieces. Learn the best flowers to grow and how to press for optimal color, durability and longevity. Participants will make beautiful bookmarks, cards, a dipped candle and floral votive container to take home. All materials and handouts are included. Easy and fun!

Mexican Fiesta, Cooking Class and Lunch
Thursday, February 23, Denver Botanic Gardens, Sold Out

Spring Tonics and Cleansing Mini Retreat  – Denver Botanic Gardens, Saturday, March 18, 10am – 1:30pm, $64 members, $69 nonmembers, http://www.botanicgardens.org/programs/spring-tonics-and-cleansing-mini-retreat
Spring is a time of renewal and reawakening. Treat yourself and take some time off to discover herbal tonics, health boosting super foods and natural skin products you can make yourself. Learn simple self-care practices to regain balance and vibrant health. Bring home a soothing skin salve, a cleansing face mask and a reviving herbal tonic along with recipes and lots of new ideas to jump start your spring. Super foods lunch and all materials included.


Fun Things to Do

Colorado Garden and Home Show, February 4 – 12. The big guy with gardens, demos, classes and aisles of new ideas.  http://coloradogardenfoundation.org/colorado-garden-home-show

Loveland Fire and Ice Festival, February 10-12, Ice sculpting, fireworks and more.  www.lovelandfireandice.com

Grand Lake Winter Carnival, February 11. Teapot curling, bed sled races and human bowling. What more could you possibly want? www.grandlakechamber.com

Denver Restaurant Week, February 24 to March 5.  Hundreds of Denver’s top restaurants offer multi-course dinners for tasty prices. Make reservations early, the 6-8PM spots fill fast. http://www.denver.org/denver-restaurant-week/

Free Days
Denver Zoo – Thursday, 2/ 2, Sunday, 2/12 and Monday, 2/13
Denver Art Museum – Saturday, 2/4
Denver Botanic Gardens – Chatfield Farm, Tuesday, 2/7 and York Street, Monday, 2/20
Museum of Nature and Science, Monday, 2/27


February 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. 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 25 is their annual New Gardener Boot Camp, a full day of classes to get you ready for the season.
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
Elderberry Ginger Tea
I made lots of this over the holiday season to give to friends and all my relatives who came down with the cursed cold and cough. Tasty enough for kids and great for before, during and after you’re sick.

  • ½ cup dried elderberries
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger root, sliced thin, no need to peel.

Add elderberries and ginger to a saucepan with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down low and simmer, covered, for an hour. Without removing the cover, turn off the heat and let steep for an hour or two, then strain. You now have a decoction, a concentrated tea. To make individual servings, dilute concentrate with an equal amount of water and reheat. Add sugar and lemon to taste if desired. Refrigerate leftover concentrate. You can double or triple this recipe. I make a big batch so I have it on hand for those winter woes.

Super Easy Tomato Soup
Nothing like a bowl of warm soup on a dreary day. This is fast and easy.

  • Olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbs tomato paste, get the squeeze tubes, much easier to store leftovers.
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes, I like the fire roasted Muir Glen brand.
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dash of honey or sugar to balance the acidity.

Heat the butter and oil in the bottom of a soup pot. Add onions and sauté until tender. Add garlic and sauté for a minute or two. Add tomato paste and stir, then add the tomatoes and juice, squishing the tomatoes between your fingers as you add them, watching for squirts on your shirts. Rinse hands and add chicken stock and seasoning. Cover and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Blend with an immersion blender or blend in batches in a regular blender. Serve with crusty bread slices, perhaps topped with melted cheese.

Easy Chicken Cassoulet
I love French food and this version is quite tasty while not involving all the work of a traditional cassoulet.

  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 3 cooked andouille or kielbasa sausages, cut in half.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 large onion, diced small
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped small
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups cooked Northern white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 cup chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and dry the chicken, season with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, over medium-low heat, cook the bacon and remove to drain on paper towels but leave the fat in the pan. With heat on medium-high add the chicken, skin side down. Brown the chicken on both sides, giving them room, and remove. Drain off most of the fat in the pan leaving a coating of it on the bottom. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and thyme and sauté until tender. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Stir in the beans, bay leaf and thyme. Add the chicken thighs and crumble the bacon into the pot. Add the chicken stock, beans and sausage, cover and bake in the oven for an hour. Serve with a big salad and a crusty baguette. Yum!

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