First Signs of Spring – February 2014

Herb Blurb February 2014
crocusFebruary brings us the first signs of spring. Before you know it spring bulbs will be peeping out of those snow drifts. These cold winter months are an excellent time to plan your dream garden. Will you have edible flowers? Savory herbs? Designer vegetables in container gardens? Get some books out of the library, send off for some catalogs and take some classes. Local garden centers are offering some free of charge and the Denver Botanic Gardens has a variety of garden classes available year round.  Get that dream garden underway!

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.

Mexican Fiesta, Cooking Class and Dinnerclip_image004
Denver Botanic Gardens, Wednesday, February 5, 6–8pm, $42 member; $47NM,, 720-865-3580, [email protected]
Discover the ease of preparing delicious dishes from south of the border! We’ll prepare the classics, Salsa, Pico de Gallo and Guacamole and use them for garnishes for our Spinach and Cheese Enchiladas, Chicken Tortilla Soup, and Baja Citrus Fish Tacos. Wash it all down with some Horchata and Jamaica tea and we’ll finish with a sweet. Recipes and dinner included.

clip_image006Folk Remedies and Kitchen Cures
Denver Botanic Gardens, Wednesday February 19, 6- 8pm, $42 member; $47NM,, 720-865-3580, [email protected]
For centuries people have relied on safe, effective remedies handed down through generations. Discover your own traditions as you ease discomfort from sore throats to hair loss with inexpensive ingredients from the garden and kitchen cupboard. Join herbalist Susan Evans as she shares her favorite remedies. We’ll have a delicious immune strengthening soup and herb biscuits. Light dinner, recipes and handout provided. Please bring a place setting.

clip_image008Warming Winter Soups and Chowders
Denver Botanic Gardens, Thursday, February 27th, 6-8pm, $42 member; $47NM, 720-865-3580, [email protected]
Savory soups are easy, inexpensive, rich in vitamins and easy to freeze. We’ll make delicious Lemon Soup with Spinach and Lamb Mint Meatballs, Creamy Fish Chowder with Bacon and Exotic Indian Chicken Stew with Vegetables and Lentils. We’ll sample it all with bread and a sweet. Recipes and full dinner included. Yum! Please bring a place setting.

Things to Do

clip_image010(1)Passport to Paris Art Exhibit at the Denver Art Museum ends on February 9.  Check it out now that the crowds have thinned.

Colorado Garden and Home Show, February 15-23. The big guy with gardens, demos, classes and aisles of new ideas.

Denver Restaurant Week, February 22-28. Try a multi course meal for 2 for $60 at that posh restaurant you’ve wanted to try. Make reservations early, the 6-8PM spots fill fast. Check out menus and venues at

Road Trips
clip_image012The cold winter months are a great time for a hot spring getaway. Soak and relax in healing waters and get a massage or facial while you’re at it. Nearly all of these offer lodging and spa services. Some of my favorites are:
Indian Hot Springs– just a short drive up I70 in Idaho Springs, private and public pools.
Glenwood Springs – Olympic size pool and plenty to do in the area. Make it a weekend and take the train.
Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa – Twenty one pools with varying temps north of Granby.
Joyful Journey Hot Springs and Spa in the San Luis Valley with a great view of the Sangre de Cristos. Yurts and rooms available.
Ouray Hot Springs – There is a main pool in town and several resorts featuring their own private facilities. Gorgeous setting in the “Switzerland of America”. /
Mt. Princeton Hot Springs – wade in creekside, hotel and restaurant by Nathrop.
Cottonwood Hot Springs, up the mountain outside Buena Vista.

Free days
clip_image014Denver Art Museum – Saturday, 2/1, does not include Passport to Paris
Museum of Nature and Science – Sunday, 2/2
Denver Zoo – Sunday, 2/2, Monday, 2/3, Thursday, 2/20
Four Mile Historic Park – Friday, February 7
Molly Brown House, Saturday, 2/22

Recipes of the Month

Pear and Blue Bites

clip_image016A nice blend of savory and sweet. Feel free to sub in goat cheese, feta or Roquefort for the blue cheese.

  • 1 medium head endive
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • ¾ cup diced pears, cut small
  • 1/2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbs olive oil

Wash and trim the ends off the endive, remove the leaves and set aside. Gently mix the remaining ingredients and place a spoonful of the mix in each endive leaf. Serves 6-8 as an appetizer.

Stuffed Chicken

clip_image018This is a super easy recipe that looks elegant and tastes great. Feel free to substitute different ingredients like mushrooms, pesto and sundried tomatoes. Serves 4.

  • 4 chicken breasts, skin on
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ onion, chopped small
  • 1 tbs butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp dried chives, thyme and paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter over medium heat, add a good dash of olive oil to keep it from burning, add onions and garlic and sauté until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool. Combine cream cheese with herbs and seasonings, add garlic Add a salad and some steamed broccoli and you have an easy, elegant meal.

Cheaters Toffee

clip_image020Easy to make candy. Enough to fill a small cookie tin.

  • Saltine crackers
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup butter
  • 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • chopped pecans

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a covered cookie sheet that has sides with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Cover the cookie sheet with Saltines, arranged close together. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter and add the brown sugar. Bring to a boil and let cook without stirring for 4 minutes. Pour mixture over the crackers and spread to cover. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips over the toffee/crackers. Let sit for 4-6 minutes while the toffee hardens and the chocolate melts. Spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Cool, and when it has hardened, break into pieces and store in a covered container.

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