The First Breath of Spring

Herb Blurb March 2018

The First Breath of Spring
March is one of those volatile months where you never know what nature is going to throw at you. The first bulbs are blooming, the days are getting longer and even though winter surely has a few more tricks up its sleeve, the glorious season of growth is on the way. March is Colorado’s snowiest month. I always stock up a few extra provisions for the inevitable power outages and road adventures.

Upcoming Classes

Spring Self Renewal Mini RetreatSpring Self Renewal Mini Retreat, Luncheon included.
Saturday, April 7, 10am to 1pm, Denver Botanic Gardens, $69, $64 members. Info and registration
Spring is a time of renewal and reawakening. 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 detoxifying spring tonic along with recipes and lots of new ideas for becoming your best self. Super foods lunch and all materials included. Treat yourself!

Herbal Home and Garden Workshop and Luncheon
Saturday, April 14, 9am -12:30pm, Denver Botanic Gardens, $79, $74 members. Info and registration
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 and 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 Crisp. 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 and extensive handout with growing instructions and recipes are included.

Edible Wild Foods Gourmet Workshop and LuncheonEdible Wild Foods Gourmet Workshop and Luncheon
Saturday, April 21, 9am to 12:30pm, Denver Botanic Gardens, $55. $50 members. Info and registration
Come 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!

 

Fun Things to Do

Take a road trip to Monte Vista to witness the return of the cranes at the annual Crane Festival. Held March 9-11 for all you bird lovers. http://mvcranefest.org

Bring out your green for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade downtown on March 17. http://www.denverstpatricksdayparade.com/

Denver Home Show, National Western Complex, March 23-25. Dreaming of a remodel or need some ideas for that new deck? Here’s the place to find it.
https://homeshowdenver.com/

Denver March Powwow, Denver Coliseum, March 23-25, Music, dance, crafts, food. All things Native American.
http://www.denvermarchpowwow.org/

colorado free daysFree Days
Denver Art Museum – Saturday, 3/3
Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, Sunday, 3/4
Colorado Railroad Museum, Thursday, 3/8
Four Mile Historic Park, Friday, 3/9, noon to 4pm
Denver Botanic Gardens –York Street, Thursday, 3/22, Chatfield Farms, Tuesday, March 6
For more info check  http://scfd.org/p/free-days-calendar.html

Gardening

March is when we can start thinking about gardening in earnest. Check out the seed selection at the nurseries and garden centers which will be gearing up for spring with free classes and events. Seed varieties I like include; reneesgarden.com, Colorado based Botanical Interests, Territorial Seeds, and Seeds for Change.
You can start your seeds inside for cool weather crops and annuals like kale, Swiss chard and salad greens. By late March, if the soil has warmed up, you can put in bare root fruits, trees and shrubs.

Herb of the Month 

Chickweed – Stellaria mediaOne of the first plants out in spring, this hardy little plant makes a great ground cover for cool, moist, shady places. In mid-March I’ll find it peeking out of the snow on the north side of the house. Chickweed has small leaves, sprawling stems and tiny white flowers.  It’s not crazy about hot temperatures, by midsummer it has usually turned brown, but it returns in the fall once cooler temps prevail.

Chickweed leaves and flowers are a tasty edible plant, full of B complex vitamins, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. It is a cooling herb, great for soothing both internal and external inflammation. It has been used as a blood cleanser, a remedy for rheumatism, skin disorders, sore throats, stomach ulcers and as a poultice to draw out fluid from abscesses and boils. I used it for conjunctivitis (pink eye) when my girls were young. I would bruise the freshly washed leaves, pack them in some cheesecloth and place over their eyes. Also good for soothing tired, reddened and irritated eyes.
I use it fresh in salads, eggs, and casseroles, just like spinach. A delicious, nutritious spring green.

chickweed saladChickweed Salad

  • 1 cup mixed baby greens
  • 1 cup washed chickweed, loosely chopped
  • ¼ cup crumbled blue, feta or goat cheese
  • ¼ red onion, sliced thin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing

  • 2 tbs fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • 2 tbs olive or avocado oil
  • 1 tsp of agave or honey

Whisk together dressing and lightly dress the salad ingredients using the cheese for topping. Serve cold. You can also add grapefruit or tangerine sections, radish, avocado and colorful bell pepper slices.

Recipes of the Month

Apple Chutney Recipe
Apple Chutney RecipeChutney is a wonderful accompaniment to all your favorite dishes. It also goes well with the boursin cheese recipe that follows.

  • 3 large tart cooking apples (such as green Granny Smith) peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, cored and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup raisins or dried currants (optional)
  • 1 tbs grated orange peel
  • 1 tbs grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring often. Add water if it becomes too thick. Uncover and simmer over low heat for a few minutes more to cook off excess liquid; let cool. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 2 ½ cups.

Homemade Boursin
This is easy and delicious!

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 8 oz butter – room temp
  • 16oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 4 tbs freshly grated Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh or dried herbs of choice. If fresh they should be minced. I like chives, marjoram, thyme, basil, dill and/or red pepper flakes but use whatever you have on hand. Use enough to nicely speckle the cheese.

Put into a bowl and blend with a fork until smooth. Put in a small, colorful bowl and serve with crackers and chutney, with smoked salmon and capers, or use to stuff a chicken breast.

Chickpea, Chicken and Roasted Garlic Soup, serves 6-8
Chickpea, Chicken and Roasted Garlic SoupThis is a wonderful, nourishing soup, tasty enough for company and great for boosting the immune system at the tail end (we hope) of the cold and flu season. Substitute whatever vegetable you have on hand, omit the chicken for the vegetarian version.

  • olive oil
  • 1-2 cups precooked chicken, diced. This can be leftover or from a rotisserie chicken. You can also use raw chicken breast, sauté until cooked through in olive oil and then set aside.
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato or yam chopped into small pieces, and/or use 3 carrots
  • 1 smal turnip, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup mushrooms, sliced, can use button, shitake or crimini
  • 1 bunch kale or chard, stems removed and chopped, leaves chopped
  • 1 bell or Anaheim pepper, cut into small, bite size pieces
  • 1 can cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large head roasted garlic (see recipe below)
  • 2 quarts chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbs seaweed, I like arame (optional)
  • 1 tbs dried herb blend (equal parts marjoram, parsley, thyme)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan, optional

In a soup pot, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped onions, carrots, peppers, turnips, mushrooms and kale stems and sauté for 10 minutes until softened. Add seasonings, chicken stock, chopped kale leaves and beans and simmer covered until carrots and sweet potatoes are softened, about 20-25 minutes. Add chicken and squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves. Serve topped with a little fresh grated Parmesan and some crusty bread.
Optional step for a stew consistency.  Before adding cooked chicken transfer 2 cups of soup into a food processor or use an immersion blender to puree for thickening. Add the chicken, return to the pot, reheat and serve.

Roasted Garlic Recipe
Antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, great for the cardiovascular and immune system garlic is a true super food. Make a couple extra and have on hand for garlic butter or to add to other dishes.

  • 1 large garlic head
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

reheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the head of garlic crosswise into 2 halves. Place open halves on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Put halves together, twist up aluminum foil so that it is enclosing the garlic head and roast at 350 for an hour. Removed the garlic from the oven and allow to cool. Squeeze all the garlic out of the skins into a small bowl. If you are going to do more than one head of garlic, put in separate wrappers and place on a roasting tray.

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