February will bring us our first glimpses of spring. Buy yourself some blooming tulips, daffodils, or primrose for your interiors. To be greeted with fragrance and a beautiful pot of color is so uplifting. We need to add touches of wonder to help override the anxiety and hyperactivity all around us. Enjoy the last true month of winter by getting out there and experiencing all its frosty beauty. Be ready for the wild weather of spring with a shovel and extra clothes in the car. We're overdue for a big snowstorm, be prepared.
Upcoming Classes – try something new!
Art of Pressed Flowers
The Art of Pressed Flowers and Spring Mini-Retreat classes are sold out. At this writing, there were 2 seats left for the rescheduled Vegetarian Cooking Class and 2 left for the March 12 Mexican Fiesta. Spring classes also just went up on the website.
Check here for the list.
Consider giving those outside trees, shrubs, and perennials a drink if this warm and dry weather keeps up. Pay special attention to spring bulbs and anything else you planted this fall.
Time to start dreaming about this year’s garden. Whether it’s container gardens on the porch or an elaborate potager, early spring is a great time to plan. Look over garden books, magazines and seed catalogs and design your perfect garden. The library is a great resource for this. Will you have edible flowers? Savory herbs? Designer vegetables in container gardens? Now is the time to make a plan.
Check out the local nurseries for open houses or just a shot of spring on a cold winter day. Take some classes. Garden Centers are gearing up and many offer free classes on everything from growing seeds indoors to what fruit trees to plant. Check O’Tooles, Echtors, Tagawa Gardens, and other nurseries for special events, classes, and deals. Denver Botanic Gardens has great classes year-round. New to Colorado or just starting a garden? Try the New Gardener Boot Camp, info here, to get you ready for the season.
A great resource for free, expert advice is your local county extension office. Master Gardeners and horticulturists are on staff to answer questions and dispense with helpful handouts.
February 1st is Imbolc, celebrating Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of fire. She provides the fire of inspiration, healing, poetry, and divination. Light a candle during this time of growing light and take some time to find out what inspires you. What lights your fire? This is a time to celebrate new beginnings, what seeds are you planting for the future?
Put the phone away, go out in nature, and give it some thought.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Have you always wondered if Valentine’s Day was just another holiday dreamed up to plunder our pocketbooks? It actually started back in Roman times. Valentine’s Day greetings became popular during the middles ages and really took off in Britain in the 18thcentury. From there the retail industry took it to new heights of consumerism, with Valentines accounting for a quarter of all cards sent today.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day by telling someone you love how much they mean to you and why. It doesn’t have to be romantic love. Include some flowers, wine, chocolate, or a nice meal to emphasize your point. We all appreciate feeling loved and appreciated. Give yourself some love while you’re at it.
Fun Things to Do & Activities
Colorado Garden and Home Show, February 22 – March 1. The big guy with gardens, demos, classes, and aisles of new ideas.
High Plains Snow Goose and Heritage History Festival, February 6 – 9, Lamar. Birders and history buffs get together to view the migration of thousands of snow geese. Tours, presentations, and more.
Denver Restaurant Week, February 21 to March 1. Try a multi course meal for 2 at that posh restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. Hundreds of Denver’s top restaurants will offer dinners for $25, $35, or $45. Make reservations early, the 6-8PM spots fill fast.
Denver Art Museum – Saturday, 2/1
Denver Zoo – Sunday, 2/2
Museum of Nature and Science, Monday, 2/10, Sunday, 2/23
Denver Botanic Gardens –York Street, Monday, 2/17, Chatfield Farms, Tuesday, 2/4
Herb of the Month – Chocolate
What’s that you’re saying? Chocolate is not an herb? Well, it comes from plants so we are using the term loosely here. And yes, it is good for you. It contains flavonoids and antioxidants, and it is being researched for its ability to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Dark chocolate is the best choice for benefits, the higher the cacao content, the better.
Chocolate increases endorphin production, which increases pleasure. Does this mean you should have a candy bar instead of a bowl of broccoli? No, but chocolate in moderation is a fine thing indeed. Here is an easy chocolate recipe to get those endorphins going.
Recipes of the Month
I am resolved to experience more plant-based eating this year. Vegetarian may not be the most popular diet out there right now, but if you are eating a lot of non-organic meat and dairy you are filling up with toxins. They are more plentiful at the top of the food line. More plant-based meals, especially organic, will provide you with better health, savings, and less damage to our animals and planet. Start with Meatless Mondays and go from there. Here are a few options to try.
I first tried this at my Mom’s and was quite impressed when she told me she made it. I asked for the recipe and couldn’t believe how easy it was and how delicious! Health food it isn’t, but it sure is tasty!
- 4 ounces saltine crackers
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Oil or Silpat a cookie sheet and line it with saltine crackers in a single layer. In a saucepan combine the sugar and the butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour over saltines and spread it to cover crackers completely.
Bake at 400 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes. Spread melted chocolate with the back of a spoon and top with chopped nuts. Cool completely and break into pieces. Yum!
One-Pot Veggie Ravioli – 2-3 generous servings
- 1 cup chopped, fresh mushrooms
- 1 small zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup sliced bell pepper
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 8 oz package organic frozen ravioli, cheese, veggie, mushroom, or butternut squash
- 2 - 3 cups packed fresh greens, arugula, spinach, super greens or your choice
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Grated parmesan or asiago cheese
- 1tsp. each dried rosemary, thyme, and marjoram
- Salt, pepper to taste
Heat a soup pot, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When it starts to shimmer add peppers, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, and seasonings and sauté over medium heat until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, and greens and sauté a minute or two more, until the greens are wilted. Remove ingredients from the pan and set aside. Fill the pot halfway with water and cook ravioli over medium heat according to package directions. Do not cook them in boiling water, or try to separate the frozen ravioli. They will separate as they cook, if you mess with them the filling will fall out. Strain, add butter to the bottom of the now-empty pan, add precooked veggies and ravioli back in, heat through and serve with Parmesan and crusty bread. Perhaps a glass of wine.
Shishito Peppers with Sriracha Mayo – 2-4 as an appetizer
I used to have these all the time as an appetizer at restaurants. So easy to do at home.
- 1 bag rinsed and dried shishito peppers, ask the produce person, they are usually in the bagged area.
- Avocado or coconut oil
In a heated skillet add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and heat until just starting to shimmer. Carefully add the peppers, don’t overlap, and cook until browned on one side. Turn with a fork or tongs and lightly brown the other side. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add 1 tablespoon of sriracha to ½ cup of good mayonnaise, dip and enjoy. Spicy!
Roasted Beet Salad with Feta and Pepitas, serves 2, easily doubled or tripled
As a child, I hated canned beets and for years avoided them. I now love the taste of fresh, shredded, or roasted beets. So good for you! Don’t be alarmed if the toilet holds some scary color the next day, it’s just the beets, passing on through.
- 2 roasted beets, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces, details below
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- tablespoons shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 2 cups baby arugula or other baby green mix
- A sprinkling of sprouts (optional)
- Lime/Ginger dressing, recipe follows
Roast the beets by rubbing with olive oil, sprinkling with salt, and enclosing them in aluminum foil. Bake at 375 until tender, about an hour. Cool and rub the peel off with a paper towel. You can also steam the beets until tender, about 20 minutes, though I find the roasted variety far more flavorful.
Add the greens to a bowl and lightly toss with the dressing, don’t use it all, just lightly dress. Put on plates. Add the beets to the bowl and toss them lightly with same dressing, put on top of the greens. Add the crumbled cheese, sprouts, and pepitas, enjoy!
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon champagne or rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey or agave
- 1?4 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice with the vinegar and honey.
Whisk in the olive oil until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.