Summer is finally here! Festivals, road trips, outdoor concerts, swimming in freshwater lakes and all sorts of activities abound. Take out your calendar and cross out dates to take a garden tour, attend a food festival, hike a mountain and see a concert in the park. You won’t have memories of the extra work you did or the TV series you caught up on. Make some plans now to celebrate this favorite season.
Garden to Glass: Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tapas
Friday, June 10, 5:30 – 8:30 PM, Denver Botanic Gardens, register here
Learn the secrets to refreshing summer thirst quenchers and great mixers for cocktails and mocktails. Discover how easy it is to make simple syrups, artisan infused liquors, bitters, mixers, tonic shrubs and spritzers from fruits, veggies and herbs from the garden.
For our tapas tasting you will learn how to make delicious Stuffed Peppadews Wrapped in Prosciutto with a Port Gastrique, Smoked Salmon Mousse with Chive Cream and Capers, Goat Cheese, Pistachio and Apricot Truffles, Citrus Herbed Olives, and Arugula, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto with Manchego Cheese.
We will sample non-alcoholic mocktails, sippers and mixers along with tasty tapas. Take home a fruity shrub concentrate that you will make in class and orange bitters. Add some pizzazz to your summer beverages and cocktail hour.
Price: $69, $64 members, $29 included for materials
I will be teaching at the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival happening from July 11 to 23 in the wildflower capitol of Colorado. A great time in a truly gorgeous location. Check http://www.crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com for info on a wide range of classes and events.
Fun Things to Do
Garden tours – Tis the season. A great way to spend a morning and pick up lots of ideas for current and future projects. Check out http://www.coloradogardening.com/calendar.htm and scroll down for a full list.
Pueblo Boats, Bands and Barbecue Festival, June 10 and 11 –BBQ and live music. Summer fun on the riverwalk. http://puebloriverwalk.org/bbq
Capitol Hills Peoples Fair, June 4 and 5, starts at 10am, Civic Center Park, Denver. Bands, art, food and lots more! www.peoplesfair.com
Juneteenth Music Festival, June 18, 5 Points, Denver. http://juneteenthmusicfestival.com/ Great music, food and cultural exhibits celebrating diversity.
Evergreen Rodeo, June 17-19, parades, cowboys, food and fun. http://www.evergreenrodeo.com/
Denver Art Museum – Saturday, June 4
Denver Museum of Nature and Science – Sunday, June 5
Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms – Tuesday, June 7
Four Mile Historic Park, Friday, June 10
Denver Botanic Gardens – Thursday, June 23
Hudson Gardens – Monday, June 27
Garden Centers still have a great assortment of plants which will go on clearance as the heat escalates. Don’t have room or time for a garden? Go with containers. You can grow everything from vegetables and herbs to fragrant flowers and stunning foliage. Try some gallon size sweet 100’s, a few basil plants and some edible flowers like nasturtiums. I like to buy supersized pots of annuals and plant them in interesting combinations in a large container. Voila! Instant garden. Container gardens don’t take a lot of time, planning or weeding; just make sure you have good drainage and quality potting soil.
Herb of the Month – Basil – Ocinmum sp.
Basil seems to be the cook’s favorite plant. It is an annual in Colorado and grows best in moist, rich, well-drained soil with plenty of sun. It’s not crazy about cold temperatures so an area that will retain some heat at night, up against a house or cement wall, is ideal.
The classic basil is Genovese basil, growing up to 3 ft. and featuring white flowers. This is the one you’ll find most often at your grocery store. Fantastic in Italian, Mexican, Thai and Asian dishes, salads, pastas or just ribboned over fresh tomatoes with a dash of good olive oil. There are also purple and burgundy varieties, including Dark Opal, African Blue and Red Rubin basil. Not as flavorful but pretty in vinegars and against silver foliage.
The bush basils which are smaller with tiny leaves include Spicy Globe and Greek Mini. They have great flavor, are wonderful for borders or containers and are easy to grow. There are also the scented basils, including lemon, lime, cinnamon and licorice to name a few. They all impart a distinct flavor, the cinnamon and licorice basils great in Mexican cooking and fruit salads. The citrus basils are great with fish, poultry, veggies and fruit and wonderful in summer drinks.
Basils are best preserved frozen. Wash, air dry, then blend with olive oil and a fresh garlic clove in a food processor or blender to form a paste. Freeze in mounds on wax paper or in ice cube trays. Once frozen store in a zip lock. Add cubes to soups, veggies, pasta or wherever you would normally use your basil.
Recipes of the Month
- 2 cups cubed fresh watermelon
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup ice cubes
- 1 tbs. fresh lime juice
- 1 tbs honey or agave
Blend in mixer and enjoy!
Chilled Melon Soup with Basil
- 1 medium honeydew, cantaloupe or other melon, seeded with rind removed
- 3 tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
- 2 tbs Greek yogurt or sour cream
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place melon, basil and lime juice in blender. Process until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a dollop of yogurt topped with a fresh basil leaf.
- ¼ cup toasted walnuts
- 1/3 cup olive oil, if sauce is too thick, add more.
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese. 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic
Blend in a blender or food processor until smooth. Use on pastas, sandwiches, roasted vegetables, potatoes and more.
- 1 1/2 cups dried green lentils, rinsed and picked through
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 4 cups fresh cherries, about 1 pound, pitted and halved, or ½ lb dried cherries.
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- ½ cup chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tsp)
- Chopped cilantro, mint and/or parsley (optional)
Combine lentils and 5 cups water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, partially covered, until just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.
In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, herbs and garlic.
In a large bowl, combine lentils, red onion and dressing, toss until coated. Let cool to room temperature; refrigerate if not serving immediately. Toss with cherries, almonds and basil just before serving.