Summer is (finally) here with fresh produce, festivals, and fun. Don’t let it slip away. Cross out some time now for free concerts, picnics, hiking, camping, swimming, hammock naps, and all the myriad opportunities this season offers. It’s up to you to make the most of it.
I will be teaching several classes at the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival this month. A great time in a truly gorgeous location. Check www.crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com for info on a wide array of classes and events
Denver Botanic Gardens Lavender Festival, Saturday, July 20, 9am to 5pm. $7, $5 member
Free admission for children 13 and younger. https://www.botanicgardens.
More than 2,000 lavender plants set the scene for this family-friendly celebration of Chatfield Farms' Lavender Garden. There will be music, entertainment, demonstrations, food and drink vendors, garden and farm tours, and featured artists. My Cooking with Lavender class is sold out but there are plenty of other diversions. Come enjoy a fragrant day at the farm.
Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference, Vashon Island, Washington, September 20 – 22. www.
I will be teaching at this weekend conference on lovely Vashon Island celebrating Herbal Roots and Ancestral Wisdom. There will be over 40 workshops and intensives focusing on women’s health and nourishment, herb walks, plant wisdom and more. $425 registration includes the conference, rustic lodging and meals from Friday dinner to Sunday breakfast. The conference is held at Camp Stealth with 400 wooded acres that include beachfront, walking trails and fire circles. Come celebrate, make new friends and immerse yourself in the wise woman ways.
The Herbalist’s Happy Hour – Crafted Cocktails and Tapas from the Garden is the perfect book for summer. A great reference for cooking up easy, fresh, delicious drinks, cocktails and appetizers for entertaining and enjoying.
You want this book! Get it here. https://www.amazon.com/
Fun Things to Do
Rodeos abound in Greeley, Brush, Steamboat Springs, Gunnison, Deer Trail, Estes Park, Montrose, Salida, andColorado Springs.
Cherry Creek Arts Festival, July 5 - 7, Fine art, food, music, and art activities. http://
Greely Stampede, going on now through July 7, www.greeleystampede.org/
Evergreen Summerfest, July 20 and 21, 10am to 5pm, msic, arts, and crafts, https://evergreenarts.org/
Winter Park Jazz Festival, July 20 and 21, playwinterpark.com
Check out www.colorado.com for lots of ideas all over the state.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science – Tuesday, July 2
Denver Art Museum – July 6
Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, Tuesday, July 2, York Street, Wed., July 10
Four Mile Historic Park, Friday, July 12
Hudson Gardens – free every day
Herb of the Month – Mint
Mint is one of those plants that enable a love/hate relationship. As a cook I love it, as a gardener, mint is usually pushing the boundaries. It is a great groundcover for cool, wet places. There are several different mints available these days. Lemon, lime, chocolate, peppermint, and spearmint to name a few. They all have a delicious scent and make wonderful teas and culinary garnishes.
Mint is easy to grow, perhaps a little too easy. It is one of the Napoleons of the garden, seizing new territory whenever possible. For best results give it its own bed or pot in part shade with moderate water. Mint tea has been used for centuries to soothe an upset stomach; it also helps with fevers and freshens the breath.
I use mint to liven up salads, serve with fruit, and make beverages including refreshing mint teas, lemonade, mojitos, and mint juleps.
I love to crystallize chocolate mint; it tastes like those foil wrapped after-dinner mints without the calories. Below are some recipes to help you enjoy this delicious, fresh, and fragrant herb.
With the high temperatures and low humidity make sure your garden is getting enough water. My favorite time to water is after dinner. It gives the plants a chance to really soak up the moisture and start fresh the next morning.
If you haven’t mulched, do it now. It will cut down on watering and weeds. I started mulching all my pots with Spanish moss which helps the containers retain moisture. You can find it in bags in the artificial flower sections of craft stores. I have also found it at dollar stores in the craft section.
Cut back spent flowers and rangy plants to keep them tight and full of blooms. If the garden is looking a little weary, give it a shot of fertilizer to perk things up.
Replant basil and cilantro every 3 or 4 weeks to keep a fresh, vibrant supply. Time to start drying your herbs for your winter pantry.
Recipes of the Month
Ginger Mint Mojito
Ginger Mint Simple Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons peeled fresh ginger, grated
- 1 cup tightly packed fresh mint leaves, you can also use lemon balm, keep some on the side to muddle.
In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, 1/2 cup water, and ginger to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn heat down low and simmer, covered, for an hour. Remove from the heat, add the mint leaves, stir to combine, cover and let sit overnight. The next day strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer and store in a glass container.
Mojito – 1 drink
- Fresh mint – 2 sprigs
- Juice of ½ lime
- 1 tablespoon ginger mint simple syrup, (more or less depending on taste)
- 1 oz rum
For the mojito, muddle 2 sprigs of fresh mint in the bottom of a glass, add the juice of ½ lime, syrup, rum and ice, top with seltzer, stir well and top with a slice of lime. Refreshing as a virgin drink also.
An easy, fresh salad for summer meals.
- 1-2 cups croutons
- 1 head of romaine lettuce chopped, or other greens of choice
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 2 medium cucumbers, chopped
- Red bell pepper sliced thin
- 4 radishes sliced thin
- ½ red onion, sliced thin
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
- ¼ cup fresh chopped mint
- Any other veggies you would like to add, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- grated lemon zest from one lemon
- 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together dressing ingredients until well blended. Put salad ingredients in a bowl and toss with the dressing. You can add shrimp, chicken or feta cheese for a more substantial meal.
Summer Melon with Mint Soup
Refreshing and cooling for those hot summer days.
- 3-4 cups cubed, seedless melon – cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, etc.
- ½ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
- ¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mint and lime for garnish
Put 1 cup of the melon into a blender. Add mint leaves, lime juice, honey, and seasoning. Blend until smooth. Add the remaining melon and blend again. Pour the melon mixture into a bowl, chill. Ladle the soup bowls put dab of yogurt in the center and garnish it with slice of lime and a sprig of mint.
Crystallized Leaves and Flowers
- Egg white powder diluted according to directions. Called Just Whites in the baking section of the grocery store.
- Small paintbrush
- Small bowl of extra fine sugar (To make this you can put regular sugar in a blender and process. If you process too much you get powdered sugar.)
- Edible leaves and blossoms for crystallizing, chocolate mint leaves are my favorite.
A few hours before you plan to do this, or the night before, go out in the garden and lightly spray off whatever you intend to crystallize. When you are ready to crystallize, set out all your ingredients and accouterments and pick your flowers or leaves.
Using your brush, apply diluted egg white to a leaf or blossom, coating well. Sprinkle all sides with sugar, shake off extra, and dry on a wax or parchment paper lined baking tray. Once completely dry, (about 3-5 days here in Colorado), carefully peel off, layer in wax paper in a storage container and store in a cool, dark place. Use crystallized flowers to decorate cakes, tarts, fruit salads and more. Great summer activity for the kids.
One of my standbys, especially after a shopping spree at the farmer’s market.
- 1 precooked pizza shell
- Pesto – enough to cover the bottom of the pizza shell
- 2 small to medium zucchini – slice into small disks
- 1 bell pepper, julenned
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes – drained if necessary and chopped
- 2 cups fresh, baby arugula or finely chopped kale
- 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced thin
- ½ - 1 cup goat cheese, shredded asiago or other cheese of choice, grated if necessary.
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
You can go two ways with the veggies.
Method 1: Heat enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a sauté pan. Add zucchini, peppers, salt, and pepper and stir occasionally until softened. Remove. In the same pan sauté mushrooms with salt and pepper until lightly browned, add to other vegetables.
Method 2, (my favorite): Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put mushrooms, zucchini, and peppers in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking tray and roast until tender, about 10 - 15 minutes.
Spread pizza crust with pesto, layer on arugula, veggies, and sun-dried tomatoes, top with cheese. Put in the oven at 425 until cheese is fully melted and it is warmed through.