Thanksgiving reminds us of the ancient harvest celebration. What do you have to be grateful for? Studies have shown that giving thanks is healthy for our brains, attitude and general life experience. Consider taking a moment at the end of each day and listing the things you are grateful for. It will provide better sleep, better thought patterns and more appreciation for all the good things in your life. So often we are focused on what’s wrong with our lives. Switch it up and get a whole new outlook on life.
The holiday season starts with a vengeance this month as we are barraged with slogans of buy, buy, buy. Leave the mass marketing behind and make this the season you strive for quality, not quantity. Prepare a harvest feast with apples, squash, kale, cider, pomegranates, and other seasonal foods. The shorter days and longer nights encourage us to pull inward. Have a fire, put on some music, sip cocoa while you read a good book. Take time to release all the shoulds that clutter our days, slow down and take time for the moments that matter.
I have started taking news breaks and am surprised at how that has affected my mood and concentration level. The constant barrage of bad news tends to keep me in a state of low-level anxiety and irritation. Shutting it down for a day or two does wonders and keeps my profanity outbursts to a minimum.
The Herbalist’s Happy Hour – Crafted Cocktails and Tapas from the Garden is out on Amazon. A great reference for cooking up easy, fresh, delicious drinks and appetizers for entertaining and enjoying. A great gift for anyone interested in herbs, cooking, and artisanal beverages. Get it here.
Scrumptious Holiday Appetizers, Cooking Class and Dinner, Denver Botanic Gardens, Thursday, November 15, 6 – 8:30 pm. $59/ $54, members. info here
Take the stress out of the holidays and add some pizzazz to your entertaining with these easy, elegant offerings. We will make Baby Crab Cakes with Chive Aioli, Tamari Pumpkin Seeds, smoky Baba Ghanoush, creamy Queso Fundido with Chorizo, Lemon Rosemary Olives and savory Veggie Flatbread. Recipes and generous tastings provided. Be the hit of the holiday season!
Gifts from the Herb Garden, Denver Botanic Gardens, Saturday, December 1, 9:30 am to noon, $59, $54 member. info here.
Spend a fun morning crafting enchanting gifts to delight friends and family. Make and take-home chocolate delights including delicious chocolate nut clusters and irresistible chocolate dipped candied ginger and orange peel. Learn how to make spicy/sweet cocktail nuts, a soothing lavender lip balm, a pressed-flower glass candle holder and pot up some narcissus for fragrant blooms. We’ll have chai tea and scones to keep that creative juice going. Recipes and all materials included. Treat yourself!
Denver Arts Week – November 2 -10 Get your culture on. Loads of free and discounted events for museums, theater, dance, music, art walks and more. https://www.denver.org/things-to-do/denver-arts-culture/arts-week/
Eighth Annual Pumpkin Smash, Saturday, November 1, Idaho Springs, noon to 4pm, Shelly/Quinn Baseball Fields. info here Bring your old jack-o-lantern and smash away or watch the local experts annihilate the pumpkins. Food, contests, and composting and sustainable living presentations. Free. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pumpkin-smash-10th-annual-tickets-48305395739
Hungry? Make reservations for First Bite Boulder, November 9-17. More than 40 of Boulder’s top restaurants offer a 3-course menu for $34 per person or a $19 tasting menu. I love to peruse the menus for cooking inspiration. https://firstbiteboulder.com/
Towards the end of the month all the Christmas festivities will begin in earnest. Light shows at the Denver Zoo and Denver and Littleton locations of the Denver Botanic Gardens start on November 23 and run through January 1. Zoo lights start on December 1. One of my favorite holiday traditions. Go early on a weeknight to avoid the crowds.
On a budget and looking for something to do? Free days this month in Denver include:
Denver Art Museum – Saturday, November 3.
Denver Botanic Gardens – November 3, York Street, November 6, Chatfield Farm.
Denver Zoo – November 9 and 12.
Molly Brown House – November 9.
Four Mile Historic Park – November 9.
Herb of the Month – Rosemary
Rosemary is an easy to grow, tender perennial and one of the few herbs that does well when grown as a houseplant. Give it plenty of sunlight and airflow and water when dry.
Rosemary is the traditional herb for memory. The piney scent has been used for centuries to help revive and recall. Used as a popular cooking herb, rosemary is also antimicrobial and can be used in teas and skin washes.
Rosemary is a stimulant, improving poor circulation and digestion. A rosemary hair rinse is great for treating dandruff and adding shine and luster. Rosemary was added to dream pillows to prevent nightmares and used in wreaths to protect the household from bad energy.
Rosemary works great with pork, chicken, game meats, and winter squashes, potatoes, beans, and greens. It has a strong taste so use in moderation.
Rosemary Hair Rinse
Take ¼ cup of dried or fresh rosemary and cover with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and cover, let sit overnight. To use: strain out the rosemary and to ½ cup of the concentrated tea add ½ cup warm water. After shampooing, wring out excess moisture from hair and pour the rosemary rinse over hair. Massage into scalp for a minute or two and squeeze excess out. Store leftover concentrate in the fridge for later.
Recipes of the Month
Basic Pimiento Cheese Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 1 4-oz. jar diced pimiento, drained
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1- 2 teaspoons finely diced onion or shallot
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 1 8-oz. block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
- 1 8-oz. block cream cheese, shredded
Mash together ingredients in a bowl. Serve with crackers or use as a topping for potatoes, broccoli, or as a bottom layer for a grilled cheese. Yum!
Citrus Rosemary Thyme Olives
- 4 cups mixed olives of your choice
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary removed from stem and chopped, can substitute with dried
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 3 cloves garlic minced fine
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Combine olives, thyme, rosemary, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, oil, and pepper in a medium bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days to blend flavors, stirring several times. Bring to room temp before serving. Makes a nice hostess gift.
New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp
- 1-pound raw shrimp, tails on
- ¼ cup Worcester sauce
- 2 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tsp Cajun Seasoning
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 stick butter cubed
- French bread to accompany
Combine shrimp, Worcester, lemon, seasoning, and garlic and cook in a skillet over medium heat just until shrimp turn pink, reduce heat and a stir in butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly and adding more as butter melts. When completely melted place shrimp in a bowl and serve with bread for dipping. You can also serve over rice. Rich and delicious!
Garlic-Roasted Green Beans with Shallots and Walnuts
- 1 lb. fresh green beans trimmed
- 4 shallots peeled and cut into thin slices
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup parsley chopped
- 1/4 cup crushed walnuts.
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Preheat oven to 425 F. Toss first five ingredients in a bowl and put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Roast 15-20 minutes, until tender with shallots and garlic lightly browned.
While beans cook, toss together chopped parsley, walnuts and lemon zest. When beans are done, toss hot beans with parsley/lemon/almond mixture and serve immediately.
Add 2 tbs butter to this recipe, see below, or if you are feeling particularly decadent, bacon fat. Steam beans until barely tender, remove and shock in a bowl with ice water to halt cooking, drain. Melt 2 tbs butter in a pan, add shallots and garlic and stir until soft and lightly brown. Add beans back into pan, stir gently and season. Add parsley mix and heat through.
Cauliflower Salad with Ginger Lime Dressing
- 3 cups chopped cauliflower, (could substitute with broccoli)
- ½ finely diced carrot
- ½ cup red bell pepper, diced into small chunks
- ¼ cup sliced basil
Lightly toss above ingredients, add dressing, and enjoy.
- 2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 teaspoons honey or agave
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
In a bowl or bottle, whisk or shake together the oil, lime juice, ginger, honey, and seasonings.
Oatmeal Chocolate Raisin Cookies
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 3/4 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually beat into butter mixture. Stir in oats, chocolate, and raisins. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)