Last True Month of Colorado Summer

1 It’s here, the last true month of summer. How is your summer going so far? Have you gone to a festival? Swimming in a lake? Traveled somewhere new? If you have been too busy to plunder the fruits of summer, your time is running out. So get out there and have some fun! Lots going on this month as the harvest comes in and the festivals, farm markets, outdoor concerts and travel opportunities abound. It’s easy to remain in our old tired routines but make the effort to experience something new, you won’t regret it.
August brings with it a summer bounty of plums, peaches, melons, peppers, tomatoes, green beans and so much more. Get thee to a farmers market and let sweet peach juice dribble down your chin, roast up some delicious sweet corn and make a cheesy, nutty pesto from fresh herbs.


Upcoming Classes
Herb and wild edible walks, private cooking, crafting and garden classes are available for you or your group or organization. Check for topics or call Susan at 303-697-6060.

2Gardens to Glass, Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tapas
Denver Botanic Gardens, Friday, August 21, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. $64 members, $69 NM. info and registration
Must be 21 years old age to participate, info and registration. Create a custom happy hour with herbs, fruits and veggies you grow yourself! Learn secrets to making refreshing thirst quenchers, great cocktails, mocktails and tapas. Discover how easy it is to make simple syrups, infused liquors, bitters, mixers and garnishes. What are cocktails without a savory bite? For our tapas tasting we’ll make 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. Cooking class, cocktail class, plant list with growing hints, cocktail and tapas tasting and take home limoncello and bitters included.

Herbal Pantry
Denver Botanic Gardens, Tuesday, August 25, 6 – 8 pm. $39 member, $44NM <Info and registration
Wondering what to do with all those fragrant herbs languishing in your garden?Learn how to preserve your herbal harvest in elegant vinegars, herb butters, herb seasoning blends, marinated cheeses, robust pestos and spicy salsas. Turn your daily fare into something special. Go home inspired with new ways to implement the healthy and delicious flavors of your herb garden or farmers market bounty. Generous sample tastings, recipes, and growing and harvesting tips included. Get that winter pantry started! Demonstration class.

Creative Condiments, Making Your Own
Denver Botanic Gardens, Thursday, September 10, 2015 – 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. $39 member, $44NM. Info and registration
Discover how easy it is to make fresh, delicious and healthy condiments to add taste and pizzazz to all your meals. From plum barbecue sauce and peach chutney to chimichurri, Romesco sauce and more, refill that refrigerator door with these zesty taste enhancers. Tastings and recipes included. Demonstration class.

3Wild Plant Walk, Identification and Uses of Wild Plants for Food and Medicine
Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, Saturday, September 12, 9 -11 am. Members $24, NM $29. Info and registration
Explore the treasure trove of wild herbs, medicinal plants, and edible weeds common to every backyard. Learn how to make a blood cleansing tea from red clover, a tasty salad from lambs quarters, stop bleeding with yarrow, and much more. Discover the amazing plants you’ve been stepping on all these years! Class will be held outdoors, please dress for the weather.

4Sensational Salsas, Pestos and Tapenades
Denver Botanic Gardens, Thursday, September 17, 6 – 8 pm. $44 member, $39 NM. Info and registration
Explore delicious new ways to use these versatile taste sensations. Experience sassy salsas using fresh fruits, herbs and veggies. Break out of the basil pesto rut. We’ll make scrumptious combinations featuring herbs and greens. Learn how to make savory tapenades from olives, sun dried tomatoes and roasted peppers. Put that wow element in your dishes. Recipes and generous samples provided. Demonstration class.


Fun Things to Do

Denver County Fair
What says summer like a county fair? Check out the livestock, blue ribbon baking, crafts, kitten pavilion and entertainment. July 31 – August 2, at the National Western Complex.!

Colorado Scottish Festival and Highland Games
Bagpipes, food, dancing, competition and kilts. July 31st – August 2. Snowmass, CO.

5Palisade Peach Festival
Experience all things peaches on the western slope. August 14-15.  

Colorado State Fair
The big guy at the Pueblo fairgrounds with a rodeo, carnival, top name acts and the usual big fair fare. August 28-September 7.


Terrific Tomatoes – Recipes of the Month

heirloom_tomatoTomatoes were not widely eaten in the US until the late 1800’s. Belonging to the nightshade family they were considered poisonous. Today we know that tomatoes contain Vitamin C, A, iron and potassium along with lycopene. Lycopene is and antioxidant which helps in preventing cancer. You will absorb more lycopene from cooked tomatoes than raw.

Farm fresh tomatoes will soon be nothing more than a memory. Before that sweet juicy flavor retreats for another year make the most of it with some recipes sure to complement those end of summer meals. Once we’re back to store bought, try these recipes with cherry tomato varieties which give more of that fresh tomato taste in the off season.

Time for easy dishes that celebrate the gorgeous produce of summer.

Caprese Salad7

Simple and delicious!

  • 3 home grown tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 20 to 30 leaves (about 1 bunch) fresh basil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Balsamic vinegar reduction
  • Coarse salt and pepper

Layer the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over lightly with balsamic reduction and olive oil.

Balsamic Reduction

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

Broccoli Bacon Salad – great for picnics!8

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsps cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar, honey or agave
  • 4 cups finely chopped broccoli crowns
  • 1 cup celery, chopped into small pieces
  • 3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 3 – 4 tbs dried cranberries or other dried fruit
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk garlic, mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar and sweetener in a large bowl. Add broccoli, celery, bacon, cranberries and pepper; stir to coat with the dressing. You could also add chopped radishes, cauliflower, shredded carrots and/or cabbage.

Greek Salad with Lemon and Oregano9

  • 1/2 large, seedless English cucumber chopped
  • 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
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 3 oz feta in thick slices
  • 2 tbs olive oil, or more to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 sprig oregano, leaves minced

Toss cucumbers, pepper, tomatoes, olives and onion together. Squeeze half a lemon over it. Arrange feta slices on top. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano. Serve with a slice of feta on top of each serving.


Herb of the Month – Mint

MintGrowing mint? By now I’m guessing you have a bumper crop that seems to be overtaking the garden, yard and has an eye on the neighbors parcel. Yes, mint can be invasive but if you will keep it in a pot or give it its own space to dominate, it can be controlled. It is a wonderful stomach herb, helping with digestion and soothing gas. It smells delicious and is delightful in teas, salads and desserts.

Ginger/Lemon/ Mint Syrupgreat for mojitos!

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger root, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

Put sugar and water in saucepan. Heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add ginger and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Add mint and lemon zest, cover and let steep for an hour or two. Strain and add fresh lemon juice. Store in refrigerator. Use 2 -3 tbs syrup to 1 glass of seltzer and ice, add a squeeze of lemon. Delicious and so invigorating!

Peach Napoleons with Lavender Cream –serves 4

A real showstopper!

  • Cooking spray
  • 12 wonton wrappers
  • sugar
  • 1 cup lavender cream
  • 2 peaches, cleaned, sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice and sugar
  • Powdered sugar, lavender buds for garnish

Spray a large cooking sheet and lay wonton wrappers on it in a single layer. Lightly spray the wontons with cooking spray and sprinkle sugar over them.

Cook in 375 oven until golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Remove and cool.

Layer wonton wrappers, lavender cream and peaches, garnishing the top with lavender buds and powdered sugar.

lavenderLavender Cream

Also great on it’s own.

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. lavender flowers, taken off the stem.

Bring milk and ½ cup sugar to boil. In the meantime, whisk cornstarch, salt, sugar eggs, and milk and add to boiling mixture, slowly, stirring until thick. Add butter, vanilla and lavender. Serve chilled. This can be served over berries, cake, or used as a pie filling and topped with whip cream, berries, and lavender or pansy garnish.


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