March Herb Blurb – The First Breath of Spring

The First Breath of Spring

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 Tonics and Cleansing Mini Retreat
Saturday, March 11, 10am to 1:30 pm. Denver Botanic Gardens. Lunch included. $64 members, $69 non members, info here
Spring is a time of renewal and reawakening. Treat yourself and 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 reviving herbal tonic along with recipes and lots of new ideas to jump start your spring. Super foods lunch and all materials included.

The Cook’s Herb Garden: The Magnificent Seven
Thursday, April 6, 6-8pm, Denver Botanic Gardens, Dinner included.  $49 member, $54 non-member, info here
Discover the numerous health and taste benefits of your own herb garden. This course covers growing, harvesting and culinary uses of 7 of the most popular culinary herbs including marjoram, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, chives and basil. Make an all-purpose, garden seasoning blend and have a delicious, gourmet herbal meal. Take home an herb blend and an extensive handout with recipes and growing instructions.

Herbal Home and Garden
Saturday, April 8, 9am -12:30pm, Denver Botanic Gardens. Lunch included. $74 members, $79 non-members, info here 
A fun and creative class to learn about all the ways to use these easy to grow, fragrant plants to enrich your home and lifestyle. Plant a garden full of plants that do double duty in the kitchen, medicine cabinet, spa and cleaning cupboard. Discover herbs for culinary teas and seasoning blends, spa body and bath care, first aid and green cleaning. Participants will enjoy an herbal lunch featuring Roasted Tomato Gazpacho with Parmesan Crisps. Herbed Chicken Salad with Green Goddess Dressing and Rosemary Rhubarb Cobbler. From an herbal ingredient buffet, make and take home your own herbal seasoning blend, tasty tea blend and infused vinegar, exfoliating body scrub, soothing lip balm and all-purpose cleaner. Discover the fascinating world of herbs! Lunch, extensive handout with growing instructions and recipes included.

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 10-12 for all you bird lovers. http://mvcranefest.org/

Bring out your green for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade downtown on March 11http://www.denverstpatricksdayparade.com/

Denver Home Show, National Western Complex, March 17-19. Dreaming of a remodel or need some ideas for that new deck? Here’s the place to find it. info here. http://www.homeshowdenver.com

Denver March Powwow, Denver Coliseum, March 24-26, Music, dance, crafts, food. All things Native American. info here

Free Days
Denver Art Museum – Saturday, 3/4
Four Mile Historic Park, Friday, 3/10
Museum of Nature and Science, Monday, 3/13
Denver Botanic Gardens –York Street, Wednesday, 3/22, Chatfield Farms, Tuesday, March 7
Molly Brown House, Tuesday, 3/28

Travel Tips
Leaving in a few days for a week on the Yucatan coast in Mexico. Booked through Southwest airlines in their vacation packages and got an upscale resort for half off. They have great package deals and you get 2 carry on bags free. If you have to cancel your flight there are no cancellation fees. That alone saves you a bundle. Consider traveling to popular destinations off season. Rates in Mexico go way down in April and May.

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.

Recipes of the Month
Artichokes with Lemon Butter
Artichokes are in the markets now. They can be intimidating to the beginning cook but they are truly easy, nutritious and quite delicious! Never eaten or prepared an artichoke? Check out youtube for a vast assortment of tutorials.

  • 2 artichokes
  • butter
  • lemon

With a sharp knife, cut off about one inch from the top of the artichoke, removing the sharp tips. Remove the stem close to the base of the artichoke along with the tough bottom leaves. Rub the cut portion of the artichoke with the juice of a fresh lemon to prevent it from browning. Put the artichokes in a pan with a steamer insert and steam, keeping an eye on the water level and refilling as necessary, over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes until the leaves are softened and the bottom of the leaves are tender enough to scrape off with your teeth. Remove and serve with lemon butter sauce.

Lemon Butter Sauce
Melt 3-4 tbs butter and combine with 2-3 tbs of fresh squeezed lemon juice.

New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp
One of my favorite recipes from the Big Easy. Yes, it’s decadent and quite delicious. Great as an appetizer or main course with rice and a big salad. Serve with lots of napkins.

  • 1 lb raw shrimp, shells 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 it with rice.

Spicy Chicken Corn Chowder – 8 servings
Great for those late winter, snowstorm days.

  • 8 slices bacon (optional, you can just use cooking oil instead)
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast cut in bite-size pieces; you can also use leftover cooked chicken
  • 1  chopped red or green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 poblano or anaheim pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour or substitute
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 sweet potatoes cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 cups corn kernels, can use fresh or frozen
  • 1 ½ cups milk, for a richer soup you can substitute half and half or cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper

Optional toppings can include sour cream, cilantro, avocado, grated cheddar.
In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven cook bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside. Reserve 1 tbs of drippings in the pan. If not using bacon coat bottom of pan with cooking oil. Add chicken to pan. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Stir over medium-high heat until chicken is no longer pink; remove. Add peppers and onion to pan with more fat if necessary. Cook and stir until tender. Add garlic; cook and stir 3 minutes. Stir in flour. Cook and stir 1 minute. Add broth and potatoes. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, covered, until potatoes are tender; stirring occasionally. Stir in cooked chicken, corn, milk and cayenne. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes; stir occasionally. Crumble cooked bacon into soup.  Serve with toppings of choice and warm tortillas or crusty bread.

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