Yep, it’s finally here, gorgeous, unpredictable spring. Feast on asparagus, artichokes, radishes, berries, dandelion, and chickweed. Not sure about those last two? Expand your epicurean borders and cross to the wild side. Check out the Wild Foods Workshop below.
Time to clean out and prepare your garden beds. Pack away all your long johns and dig out those spring pastels. Motivated to do some spring cleaning? Recipe for a DIY natural cleanser below.
Time for longer, warmer days and the sweetness of spring. I’ll be heading out for my annual spring road trip so the next newsletter will be in June.
Spring Self Renewal Mini Retreat and Luncheon
Denver Botanic Gardens, Saturday, April 7, 10 AM to 1 PM, $69, $64 members. info here
Spring is a time of renewal and reawakening. Take some time off to discover herbal tonics, health-boosting superfoods 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 detoxifying spring tonic along with recipes and lots of new ideas for becoming your best self. Superfoods lunch and all materials included. Treat yourself!
Herbal Home and Garden Workshop
Denver Botanic Gardens, Saturday, April 14, 9 AM to 1 PM, $79, $74 members. info here
Learn how to create a garden full of plants that can be used in the kitchen, medicine cabinet, spa and cleaning cupboard. Discover herbs for culinary teas and seasoning blends, spa body and bath care, first aid and green cleaning. Enjoy an herbal 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 an herbal seasoning blend, tea blend, 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 are included.
Edible Wild Foods Gourmet: Identification, Harvesting, and Use of Wild Plants
Denver Botanic Gardens, Saturday, April 21, 9 AM to noon. $55, $50 members. info here
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 usually weeded and tossed in the compost pile.
Back in the kitchen, participants prepare a delicious four-course meal using common, nutritious wild plants, including nettle, chickweed, dandelion, lambs quarters and more. Enjoy an appetizer, wild salad buffet with chicken and veggie options, a savory soup, and a delicious wild foods pesto with pasta. Explore all the ways you can add wild edibles to your current recipes to boost nutrition and flavor. Recipes, lunch, and drink included
Discover the fun and benefits of eating on the wild side!
Special Instructions: Some of the class will take place outdoors; please dress accordingly for weather and bring water and sunscreen.
Good Medicine Confluence
May 16 to 20, Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO info here
I’ll be teaching at this conference which includes over 140 classes on a wide range of subjects including medical herbalism, herb walks, cooking with wild plants, gardening, arts and crafts, fermentation and a lot more. Go to http://planthealer.org/intro.
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, and Jareds. Several are free.
April 22nd is Earth Day. Plant a tree, take a class, volunteer, check out a festival. Do something to honor your Mama Earth.
9 Health Fair Go enjoy some blood tests. See how you’re holding up for a very reasonable fee. www.9healthfair.org.
Ready for a food and wine fair?
Taste of Pearl in Boulder on Sunday, April 22nd, for wine, food, and galleries, https://www.boulderdowntown.
Taste of Vail for some mountaintop dining, April 4-8. http://www.tasteofvail.com/
The kids might enjoy the Tulip Fairy and Elf Parade on the Pearl St. Mall on Sunday, April 8. boulderdowntown.com.
Cinco de Mayo Festival and Parade, food, fun and culture downtown – May 5 and 6, http://www.cincodemayodenver.
Five Points Jazz Festival, great food and fantastic free music, May 19 https://www.denver.org/event/
Denver Arts Festival, May 26, 27, Stapleton. Art, music, and fun!
Free days this month include:
Denver Art Museum – Saturdays, April 7, April 29 and May 5
Denver Botanic Gardens – Sunday, April 8
Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Monday, April 9 and Sunday, April 29
Four Mile Historic Park, Friday, April 13 and May 11, noon to 4 pm
Molly Brown House – Tuesday, May 1
Urban Farm at Stapleton, Saturday, May 19
Check out scfd.org/ for more deals
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 backyard.
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 as older leaves or leaves from flowering plants are bitter. They can be used to replace spinach in recipes. The fall roots can be chopped, roasted and used as a healthy coffee substitute.
The flowers, steeped in water, make a fine face wash, herbal bath, or steam. You can also use the flowers for vinegar 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.
The crucial item for a successful garden? Soil. I add compost to the garden beds every spring and fall. Check out www.dug.org for free composting classes. No space for a garden? DUG also has garden plots for rent.
Now is the time to divide your overgrown perennials and get all those weed seedlings out. Go on an herb walk to find out which ones make a tasty addition to dinner.
I like a garden that features fragrance, herbs, veggies, edible and cut flowers for the house. Drought tolerance, long bloom, and easy maintenance are also essential. Check out your local county extension service for pages of information on the best choices for gardening in Colorado. Curb your enthusiasm and don’t plant more than you are willing to maintain in the dog days of August.
You can put in your cool weather crops now including kale, Swiss chard, spinach, salad greens, peas, onion sets, strawberries and more. If you have seed starts from inside, make sure your plants are hardened off before planting out in the unpredictable spring weather. Put out some pansies and primrose to compliment your spring bulbs. Cut back grasses, roses, perennials and dead wood in shrubs. Resist the urge to buy tender plants too early. If a late frost doesn’t kill them, it will definitely stunt them.
Ready to get the winter cobwebs out? Fill up some boxes with all that stuff you have accumulated and never used and recycle it at the local thrift store. For inspiration read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.
For an irreverent parody that also has good info check out “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do” by Sarah Knight. Two ways of cleaning house.
Multipurpose Spray Cleanser
- 1 cup liquid soap blend, I like Dr. Bonners or Meyers Clean Day
- ½ Tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. lemon, lavender or eucalyptus essential oil
- 1 cup witch hazel or rubbing alcohol.
Shake together in a spray bottle. Add a cup or two of water. For use anywhere you would use 409, sinks, counters, floors, etc.
Recipes of the Month
The fresh produce season begins. Sweet! Add fresh greens, spinach, asparagus, radishes, peas, rhubarb and strawberries to your spring menus. We’re going to focus on strawberries this month, one of my favorite berries.
- 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 6 fresh basil leaves
Gently toss the strawberries with the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Let sit for 20 minutes. Stack the basil leaves and with a sharp knife cut into slivers. Serve the strawberries over ice cream, honey yogurt, pound or angel food cake. Easy, elegant and delicious!
- 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. Slices of avocado are nice too. Enjoy!
- 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 avocado oil
In a small bowl or small mason jar with lid add all of the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk or shake together until well combined.
Strawberry/Rhubarb Crunch – serves 6-8
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 tbs flour
- 1 lb strawberries, sliced
- 3 cups diced rhubarb
- 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- ¾ cup flour
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 stick butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375. Mix filling ingredients in a bowl and place the mixture in a greased 8×8 baking dish. Mix oats, brown sugar, and flour together for topping, cut cold butter into chunks and use a pastry cutter or a fork to add to oat mixture and work into a crumbly texture. Disperse evenly on top of the fruit mixture. Bake 45 minutes or until crisp and golden. Top with whip cream or vanilla ice cream. Yum!
Artichokes with Lemon Butter
Artichokes can be intimidating for the beginning cook but they are truly easy and quite delicious! If these directions don’t do it for you check out youtube for a tutorial.
- 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.