The Herb Blurb January 2018

Happy New Year to you and yours! What will you create and experience this year?.

Though I always make New Year’s resolutions, over the last two years I have toned it down to what I really think I want to accomplish, as opposed to what I should. It seems to work out better. So for SMART goal setting your goals must be:

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Relevant
T = Time-bound

And of course it helps to write it all down and check in every once in a while to see how you are doing. My current favorite program for doing this is He has a great  book out, The Art of Non Conformity, which helps to clarify what makes an authentic life.

Two resolutions that have really opened up my life are trying something new every day and minimizing time in front of a screen. I make the first one easy, a new recipe, a new food, a new yoga pose, a new Spanish word, a new way of dealing with something. Anything qualifies as long as I haven’t done it before. It’s amazing how many things I’ve experienced since I started this resolution.

One of the most common complaints I hear (and use) is “I don’t have enough time.” The average American spends from 8 to 11 hours a day in front of a screen, including TV, cell phone or computer. That’s a lot of life. Is this really how you want to spend it? Unplug for a day or a week and luxuriate in all the extra time you have. Notice your addiction as you twitch with the need to “just check for a minute”. Keep a time diary for one of your average days and see where all that precious time goes. It can be very enlightening.

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 send me an email @ [email protected]. The website is undergoing some renovation, should be done soon.

Delicious Vegetarian – Denver Botanic Gardens, Saturday, January 27, 10am – 12:30pm. info and registration
Discover the scrumptious side of international vegetarian cuisine! We’ll begin with a savory salad and continue with a delicious butternut squash curry, a spicy cashew veggie stir fry, a pesto and roasted veggie pizza and end with a sweet. Eat your veggies and love doing it! Recipes and full meal included.
Price: $60, $55 member


Art of Pressed Flowers – Denver Botanic Gardens, Saturday, February 3, 9:30 – noon, info and registration
Discover how to collect and preserve those summer flowers and fall leaves for use in creating your own floral masterpieces. Learn the best flowers to grow and how to press for optimal color, durability and longevity. Participants will make beautiful bookmarks, cards, a dipped candle and floral votive container to take home. All materials and handouts are included. Easy and fun!
Price: $55, $50 members

Soothing Salves, Oils, & Balms – Tagawa Gardens, Saturday, February 10; 2:00-3:00pm, $5, info and registration
Discover how easy it is to make your own high quality herbal oils, salves, and balms from inexpensive ingredients and plants you can grow yourself. Wonderful for dry skin, chapped lips, messy cuticles, and first aid for burns and skin repair. Take home recipes and a soothing herbal lip balm!

Mexican Fiesta Cooking Class & Dinner, Denver Gardens, Thursday, February 22, 6-8:30pm, info and registration
Discover the ease of preparing delicious dishes from south of the border! Learn how to master the classics: salsa, guacamole and chipotle crema and use them for garnishes for a Mexican meatball soup, creamy chicken with pumpkin seed sauce and zesty fish tacos. Wash it all down with hibiscus/lime tea and chili chocolate cupcakes. Recipes and dinner included.
Price: $57, $52 members.


Fun Things to Do

Fireworks on New Years Eve in Denver on the 16th street mall. Going off at 9pm and again at midnight. Bundle up and blast in the New Year.

Musicfest at Steamboat, January 5-10. 6 days, 40 bands, ski slopes, lots of fun and music. info here

National Western Stock Show, January 6-21. Put on your cowboy hat and check out the big guy for all things western. Parade downtown on Thursday January 4th. Check groupon for discount tickets.

Ullr fest, Breckenridge, CO, January 10-13. Shenanigans abound on this winter party weekend. info here

Estes Park Winter Festival, January 13 and 14. Wine and beer sampling, outdoor activities, music, lodging discounts and more. info here

Denver Brew Fest, January 26 and 27. Live music and keggers full of craft beer at Mile High Station. info here

Free Days
Denver Art Museum –January 6
Denver Zoo –, January 11, 19, 20. Time to get to the zoo!
Denver Botanic Gardens –January 2 at Chatfield Farm, January 15, York Street.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science – January 8 and 28.

Herb of the Month – Oats

Oats are nourishing, calming and fortifying. Oats contain iron, vitamin B complex, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A and C. High in fiber and protein, a steaming bowl of steel cut oats makes the perfect warming winter breakfast. Oats help lower cholesterol, assist in circulation, and they have a soothing effect on our nervous systems along with a calming and moisturizing effect on skin. Eat, drink and bathe in oats for delicious, nourishing winter support.

Oatmeal Bath
Soothing and moisturizing to irritated or inflamed skin.
1/2 cup oatmeal
Clean cotton sock
Calendula petals, lavender buds or rose petals (optional)
Mix oatmeal with herbs and put into clean cotton sock. Insert sock over bath faucet and secure in place with a heavy duty rubber band, the thick blue kind they use on produce. Start running water slowly until oatmeal and sock are completely wet and then you can turn up the pressure. After you have run the bath, take the sock off of the faucet and tie a knot in it and massage your skin with the sock. Relax and rinse afterwards.

Best Ever Granola
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
1/4 cup brown sugar (you can moderate this to whatever you want)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
2 cups oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup coconut
1 cup walnuts
In saucepan cook honey, brown sugar and vanilla over low heat until melted. Combine with dry, mixed ingredients and bake in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet for about 25 minutes at 325. Cool and enjoy. You can add any kind of dried fruit to this mixture after baking, I like cranberries.

Recipes for the Month

Beet, Feta and Blood Orange Salad, serves 4-6

4 small to medium beets, roasted, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
4  blood oranges, regular oranges will also work.
3  ounces crumbled feta or goat cheese
Cilantro garnish (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste.

Roast the beets by rubbing with olive oil, sprinkling with salt, and enclosing them in aluminum foil. Bake until tender, about an hour, at 375. Cool and rub the peel off with a paper towel. You can also steam the beets until tender, about 15 minutes, though I find the roasted more flavorful.
Cut the beets into easy to eat slivers. Peel the oranges, removing  as much of the white pith as possible to reduce bitterness. Separate into individual sections.
Add the oranges to the beets, add the dressing, gently tossing to coat, top with the cheese and garnish with cilantro.


1  tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1  tablespoon champagne or rice vinegar
1/2  teaspoon honey
1?4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the vinegar and honey.
Whisk in the olive oil until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Butternut Squash and Veggies Mac n Cheese, serves 6-8
No comparison to the boxed variety, creamy and delicious and you can hide the veggies from the kids.

8 ounces elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
Olive or avocado oil
1 cups coarse breadcrumbs, you can use panko breadcrumbs for this
1  cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped onion or shallot
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup kale. chopped into small pieces
2 1/2 cups precooked, roasted butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch chunks
2 cups milk
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
Dash of nutmeg

Roast the whole, uncut squash on an oiled baking sheet for 40-50 minutes at 350 until  soft, peel and cut into pieces, set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375?F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish.

In a large pot, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Turn off the heat and add the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Stir to combine. Remove from the pot and set aside.

Add water and salt to the pot, no need to wash, bring to a boil and add the pasta. Cook for 4-6 minutes, stirring once or twice, until softened but somewhat firm, then drain and set aside in a bowl.

Melt the remaining butter and a splash or two of oil to the bottom of the pot. Add kale, onion and garlic and saute until softened. Add the squash, milk and seasonings. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until heated through, watching to make sure the mixture does not boil over. Cool slightly. Puree in 2 batches in a blender or food processor. Put the puree back into the pot. Add the Gruyere, and the remaining 1 cup Parmesan and stir until the cheese has melted  Add the pasta and stir to combine.

(Easy way, not concerned about hiding the veggies? Skip the blender part and just add the cheese to the sauce.)Pour into the buttered baking dish and sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture.  Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until breadcrumbs are browned and it is heated through.
You can add in prosciutto, sausage, sauteed kale, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, Swiss chard, bell pepper, spinach, whatever you like before baking to add more protein and veggies..


Upstate Minestrone Soup serves 6-8
One of my favorite winter soups. Hearty, warming and tasty!

1 lb Italian, Kielbasa or sausage of choice, sliced sideways into ½” pieces
Olive or avocado oil
1 cup diced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1 bell pepper, diced
2 small zucchini sliced
1 can 16oz, tomatoes, pureed by hand (squeezed to mush) or chopped
4 cups chicken or veggie broth or Better than Bouillon diluted concentrate
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
2 cans white beans, navy or great northern, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste, dash of red chili flakes, thyme and marjoram, dash of sugar or honey
Shredded parmesan

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a deep stock pot. Add sausage and brown lightly, remove. Add garlic, onions, carrots and zucchini to pot drippings, sauté for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, chicken broth or bouillon, cabbage and seasonings, cover and simmer until carrots are tender. Add drained, rinsed beans, dash of sugar or honey and cooked sausage, heat through and serve. Add more water or broth if necessary. You can top with fresh parsley and shredded Parmesan. You can also use small meatballs in place of sausage.

Wishing you and yours a prosperous, healthy and magical 2018!


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