Herb Blurb September 2018

I love fall, it is my favorite season,  Harvest festivals, turning leaves,  the farmer’s markets overflowing with fresh fruits and veggies and cooler days  all add up to a marvelous month.

It’s time to start stocking up for winter. Collect the garden harvest, dry herbs for teas, seasoning blends and kitchen remedies, and prepare the garden for its winter rest.

 

The Herbalist's Happy Hour - Crafted Cocktails and Tapas from the Garden is officially out. Get your copy here or if you are coming to an upcoming class I will have them available to purchase. For a fresh, healthier take on beverages, teas, cocktail mixes, delicious appetizer recipes and more, this is the book for you!

Upcoming Classes

Workshop - Beauty of Pressed Flowers, Thursday, September 6, Denver Botanic Gardens, Sold out

Workshop - Edible Flower Feast, Denver Botanic Garden, Saturday, September 8. Sold out

Things to Do

Boulder Creek Hometown Festival, September 1-3, arts and crafts, live music, food court and beer garden, zucchini race and more. http://www.bceproductions.com/boulder-creek-hometown-festival  

Colorado State Fair, The big guy in Pueblo with big-name entertainment, rodeos, food, carnival, and exhibits. Now through September 4, http://www.coloradostr.comatefai/.

Yampa Valley Crane Festival, August 30 - September 2, Steamboat Springs. Watch the cranes feast and dance before the big migration. http://www.steamboatchamber.com/annual-events/yampa-valley-crane-festival

A Taste of Colorado, September1-3, Food, food and more food. Cooking demos, arts and crafts marketplace, carnival rides and 6 stages of free entertainment including top headliners nightly. Denver’s end of summer blowout. http://atasteofcolorado.com/

43rd Breckenridge Gathering at the Great Divide Art Festival, September 1-3, ranked number 13 in the top 200 national fine art festivals. Over 100 artists in a wide range of mediums.
http://www.mountainartfestivals.com/festivals-calendar/2016/9/9/40th-annual-gathering-at-the-great-divide

Salida Wine Fest, Saturday, September 1. Colorado wines, food, and art. http://www.salidawinefest.com/

Longs Peak Highlands Festival, September 6-9, Estes Park. Jousting knights, bagpipes, music, food and more. http://www.scotfest.com/

Denver Octoberfest, September21-28 and 29-30, Games, food, and music in the ballpark neighborhood. Voted best Octoberfest in the US by USA today.  thedenveroktoberfest.com

Mountain Harvest Festival, September 27-30, Paonia. Music, arts and crafts, farm tours and grape stomps. www.mountainharvestfestival.org/

Free Days
For more free days check out scfd.org.
Denver Art MuseumSaturday, September 1 and 8
Children’s Museum, 4-8 pm on Tuesday, September 4
Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Sunday, September 12 and 30
Clyfford Still Museum - every Friday from 5-8 pm
Hudson Gardens - free admission daily

Herb of the Month - Sage

Sage is a savory seasoning for poultry, pork, winter squash, pear and apple dishes, cheeses, stews, and chowders.
Antiviral and astringent, sage has long been used as a healing herb. Sage leaf rubbed on unhealthy gums will help tighten and disinfect. Sage tea is a delicious remedy for sore throats, will help with menopausal hot flashes and assist nursing Moms when weaning. Sage is high in bio-available calcium and trace nutrients and helps the digestive system to deal with fatty foods.

Legend has it that where a vigorous sage plant grew, the woman ruled the house. Go sage! It is an easy to grow perennial, a must for every herb garden. Put it in a sunny spot and don’t over water and enjoy this useful, beautiful plant.

Now is the time to harvest your sage. Cut the stems, bind with a rubber band and hang upside down until dry. Store the whole stem and leaves in a glass jar and keep in a cool, dark place and be ready for those winter nasties with a steaming cup of sage tea.

Sage Tea
Put 4 tbs of dried sage in a teapot and pour 4 cups boiling water over the sage. Steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain and add honey and lemon. Delicious and wonderful for colds, flu and sore throats. Refrigerate the leftovers and reheat in a pot on the stove as needed.

Sage Molasses Glaze

  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 4-6 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped, or 2-3 tablespoons crumbled dried sage
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Spray the bottom of your cooking pan generously with oil before adding ingredients. Use the sauce to glaze turkey breasts, chicken, Cornish hens, pork chops, roast or ham. Apply liberally before roasting then add more halfway through cooking. You may need to pour a little bit of water in the bottom of the roasting pan to avoid the glaze dripping and scorching.

Harvesting Herbs

Harvesting HerbsSeptember is the month to get those herbs dried or frozen for your winter pantry. Harvest your herbs in the morning or evening when it is cool. Bundle cuttings in a rubber band, rinse, slip a scrap of paper with the herb name into the band and hang upside down, out of direct light, until dry. You can use separated paper clips to hang on lengths of twine. Once dry, remove the rubber band and store whole in labeled glass containers in a cool dark place.

Basil, cilantro, parsley and chives do not dry well, though chive flowers do. For these herbs, make a paste in your blender or food processor with olive oil and freeze in ice cube trays. You can also put tablespoon mounds of the paste on cookie trays lined with parchment paper. Once frozen just peel off and store in freezer containers.

Herb Vinegar
Another great way to preserve that herbal flavor is in vinegar. You can use my favorite, organic apple cider vinegar or wine, champagne or rice vinegar.

To make your vinegar, stuff a glass mason jar full of fresh, clean herbs, pour vinegar over the herbs, completely covering them, and cap with a plastic coated canning lid. Place the jar on a shelf for 2-3 weeks, strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter and voila! the vinegar is ready to use. You can store in decorative bottles from a winemaking store or use the original mason jar. No refrigeration is necessary. Herbal vinegar can be used in salad dressings, salsas, stir-frys, marinades, and sauces.

Here are some combinations that I have found to be quite tasty:
-Lemon thyme, lemon balm, lemon grass, and lemon peel.
-Summer savory, basil and minced garlic.
-Opal basil, chives, marjoram, and oregano.
-Dill, lemon thyme, rosemary, and minced garlic.
-Nasturtium, lavender, peppermint, and minced ginger root.
-Basil, chives, chili pepper, and garlic.

Herb Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup herb vinegar
  • 2/3 cup avocado or  extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of agave or honey
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

Combine in a glass container with a lid (used glass bottles work great) and shake well.

Garden Herb Blend- dried herbs

  • 1 part parsley
  • 1 part garlic flakes
  • 1 part thyme
  • 1 part granulated onion
  • 1 part oregano

A part represents anything from a teaspoon to a cup depending on how much you want to make. Blend some or all of the above herbs and store in glass containers. Substitute whatever herbs you like. Use in soups, casseroles, marinated cheeses, butter, roasts, chicken, and veggies.

Herb Cheese and Butter

  • 8 ounces cream cheese or butter at room temperature, could also use goat or feta cheese
  • 4-5 cloves of roasted garlic (optional)
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chives
  • 2 teaspoons herb mix or fresh herbs of choice
  • 2-3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

Mix together and serve, decorate with fresh edible flowers and herbs.

Recipes of the Month

Overwhelmed with CSA and garden produce? Here are some recipes to use them up or freeze for future use.

Gazpacho

Roasted Peppers
Wash peppers. Place directly on grill over high heat, turning until all sides are charred. Place in a paper bag or covered bowl and seal for 10 minutes. When cooled remove skins and seeds. To roast peppers inside, put in a 500-degree oven and repeat above process. Add fresh marjoram, parsley and chives, or whatever you have on hand, a drizzle of oil, and refrigerate or freeze.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Preheat oven to 275. Cut fresh tomatoes in half and place in a bowl. Season with a pinch of sugar, olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs of choice and minced garlic. Toss gently. Place tomatoes on a rimmed cookie sheet in a single layer and drizzle with any leftover oil. Roast 2-3 hours until soft and sweet. Use on everything, desserts excluded.

Caprese Salad
Simple and delicious!

  • homegrown tomatoes, sliced
  • slices of fresh mozzarella to alternate with tomatoes
  • fresh basil cut with a sharp knife into ribbons
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • balsamic vinegar reduction
  • coarse salt and pepper

Alternate the tomato slices and fresh mozzarella on a serving plate. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle lightly with balsamic reduction and olive oil and garnish with basil ribbons.

Balsamic Reduction
On low heat, simmer 1 cup good balsamic vinegar down to ¼ cup. Should be like a syrup. Nice on salads, chicken, fruit and cheeses.

Greek Salad with Lemon and Oregano
Add chicken or shrimp for a full meal deal.

  • 1 medium cucumber chopped into small cubes
  • 1/2 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or more to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced, fresh, oregano
  • 3 oz feta cheese cut into thick slices, or use cubed if you prefer

Toss cucumbers, pepper, tomatoes, olives and onion together. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings, add to vegetables and toss lightly.. Serve with sliced or cubed feta on top of each serving.

Green Beans with Garlic and Walnuts
My favorite way to have green beans.

  • 2 cups fresh green beans, cleaned – (stem tip snapped off)
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Steam beans until tender but still slightly firm. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Set aside on a kitchen towel or paper towel to dry off.
In the same saucepan, heat butter until melted, add a drizzle of olive oil to keep the butter from burning. Add nuts and garlic and stir until garlic is tender and fragrant. Add drained beans back in, toss to coat and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. You can serve with some freshly grated parmesan for extra flavor.

Stuffed Zucchini
Great luncheon or side dish.

  • 4 medium zucchini, save the overgrown, woody ones for compost ornaments.
  • 1 – 1 ½ cup day-old breadcrumbs
  • 1 small onion diced
  • ½ cup diced red pepper
  • 3-4 cloves garlic diced
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings – salt, pepper, dried thyme, marjoram, dill, pepper flakes, parsley, whatever you have on hand.
    Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Halve zucchini and remove inside core, a grapefruit spoon works great for this, leaving the shell intact. Chop zucchini core into small cubes. Sauté onions, peppers, zucchini cubes and garlic in oil until soft, add bread crumbs and seasonings, put back into the shell and cook for about 20 minutes in a 350 oven, take out and top with grated parmesan and cook until melted.

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