October is here with kaleidoscope colors, harvest festivals, and the first snows. The Front Range will be turning into a dazzling array of color so make a visit to Denver Botanic Gardens, Hudson Gardens or a local park or bike path and experience the beauty of the fall season.
Enjoy a corn maze, a pumpkin festival or hiking and biking in the cool, crisp air of autumn. Halloween festivities will begin with haunted houses and ghost tours. It’s the last harvest month. Pumpkins, apples, pears, kale, and all the cooler veggies are in season. Get family and friends together and celebrate a harvest feast.
You will thank yourself for getting those snow tires on early before the mad rush and chaos of the first real snow. Put your window scraper in, I like to add a broom for faster snow removal. It’s also a good idea to throw in some boots, a flashlight, cat litter for traction and extra outdoor wear. You’ll feel ready for anything. Bring it on!
Folk Cures and Kitchen Remedies Workshop
Sunday, October 8, 9-noon, light lunch included. Denver Botanic Gardens, $60 members. $65 non-members, info here
Look no further than the tea drawer, seasoning rack and produce bin for remedies which boost immunity and ease cold and flu symptoms. Discover the thrill of self-reliance as we explore the art of easy, affordable and effective home remedies. Join herbalist Susan Evans as she discusses her favorite herbal remedies tried out over 25 years, what works and what doesn’t. We’ll make a tasty anti-viral syrup and cold and flu tea to take home. Have a light meal of delicious and fortifying immune soup with a side or two. Keep those winter bugs at bay and learn what to do if they arrive.
Gifts from the Herb Garden
Thursday, November 16, 6-8pm Denver Botanic Gardens, $59 members, $54 non-members. info here
Have fun this holiday season giving lovely gifts you have made yourself. Design a beautiful, glass candle votive with pressed flowers. Learn how to make healing calendula/lavender lip balm, ginger/rose hip honey, decadent chocolate chili clusters and an aromatic mulling mix for wine and cider. Put some pizazz in your gift giving! Recipes, light snacks, and generous take home samples included.
Fun Things to Do
Cider Days, Lakewood, October 7 and 8, Lakewood Heritage Center. Music, history, tractor pulls, pie eating contest and more. info here
Pumpkin Festival, October 7 and 8, Four Mile House, Denver. Pumpkin patch, hay rides, food trucks and more. info here
Pumpkin Harvest Festival, October 13-15, Denver Botanic Gardens @ Chatfield Farms. Pumpkin patch, corn maze and more. info here
Crafts Spirit Festival, October 20-22, Breckenridge. Creative cocktails, small batch distillers, seminars, historic and haunted tours, sampling and great views. info here
23rd Annual Emma Crawford Coffin Race and Parade, October 28, Manitou Springs. Parade starts at noon with 70 teams racing coffins down Manitou Avenue. Spirit of the Season. info here
Halloween Happenings, Great fun from cemetery tours, zombie crawls, Victorian horrors at the Molly Brown house and fright fests. info here
Denver Art Museum – Saturday, October 7
Children’s Museum – Tuesday, October 3, 4-8pm
Four Mile Historic Park, Friday, October 13, noon to 4pm
Denver Museum of Nature/Science – Monday, October 16
Yes it’s time to bid adieu to the garden as it settles in for the winter sabbatical. The time for procrastination is over. Snow will fall, tomatoes will freeze and probably fairly soon. Get those houseplants in, the herbs and produce harvested, any perennials in your pots transplanted into the garden and your ceramic pots dumped out and stored for winter. Put in some fall bulbs for your spring show and plant some pansies and mums to brighten up the yard.
Mound up some soil from your emptied pots over your tender perennials and wait until spring to cut back your roses and grasses. I usually let all of my perennials stay unpruned and just cut back the messy dead annuals. I feel the extra foliage adds protection and makes for some winter interest. Then it’s time to relax, those garden chores are over for a while.
The Cold and Flu Season Cometh
To be fully prepared check out the Folk Remedies Workshop above.
Whenever there is a change of seasons there seems to be a rise in illness. Natural methods for prevention include taking a good multivitamin/mineral daily, getting enough rest, washing hands frequently, restricting skin contact in public places, eating a whole foods diet and limiting sugar which lowers immunity.
If you or someone in your household does get sick, wipe down keyboards, light switches, TV remotes, doorknobs and other frequently touched places with vinegar. Relieve congested sinuses and chests with a tea tree or eucalyptus essential oil steam. Eat lots of organic veggies and hot foods with plenty of garlic and onions. Skip the smoothies, dairy products and cold salads and go for spicy hot vegetable curries, stir frys and soups. Get enough rest and drink plenty of hot tea. I like elderberry or sage tea with lemon and honey.
Dress for the weather. It makes me crazy to see little kids with deep, rattily coughs and runny noses out in cold, wet weather without hats, scarves or coats. They shouldn’t be out in the first place, nor should you if you’re sick. Remember to sneeze and cough into your sleeve or elbow, not your hands! Grab a good novel, a cup of tea, take a long hot bath and go to bed!
Herb of the Month – Elderberry- Sambucus
Elderberry is one of my favorite cold and flu herbs. It’s tasty enough for kids, full of antioxidants and great for the cold and flu season.
Elderberry has long been a subject of legend and lore. It was placed over doorways and carried as amulets for protection against witches and evil spirits. This pretty shrub is easy to grow. Elderberry likes a loamy soil, part to full sun and moderate water. It blooms with clusters of white flowers in the spring followed by blue/black berries in the fall. Plant the blue berried variety as the red berries can be toxic. The blue berries should be cooked or dried before eating to avoid stomach upset.
The flowers and berries are used medicinally. The blossoms are used in body care treatments and make a nice addition to cleansers, salves and balms.
The berries are mildly diuretic and laxative and used to stimulate the immune system. Enjoy them in teas, wine, jams and jellies and tinctures. Sambucol is a commercial brand of elderberry extract if you want to leave the berries for the birds. You can buy dried elderberries in bulk at your local herb store or online at mountainroseherbs.com.
Make up a batch of this great tasting syrup for your cold and flu arsenal. This recipe is from Rosemary Gladstar’s, Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, a great little book. I add ginger and spices to mine but this one is easy.
- 1 cup fresh or ½ cup dried elderberries
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup honey
Place the berries in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on low for 45 minutes. Smash the berries and strain through a fine mesh strainer, add 1 cup of honey. Bottle the syrup and store in the fridge where it will keep for 2-3 months. A remedy your kids will love.
Recipes of the Month
It’s apple time, here is an easy chutney which will keep in the fridge for a few weeks or you can freeze. Great with pork, chicken and Mideastern dishes.
- 3 large tart cooking apples (such as green Granny Smith) peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1 small red or green bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbs grated orange peel
- 1 tbs grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 tsp allspice
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring often. Uncover and simmer over low heat for a few minutes more to cook off excess liquid; let cool. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Makes about 2 ½ cups.
Green Tomato Salsa
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 4 scallions, white end chopped
- ½ or more (depending on heat tolerance) jalapeno pepper, minced. Can also use an Anaheim for a milder taste.
- 1 ½ cups chopped green tomatoes
- 2 tbs chopped cilantro (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine and enjoy. If too acidic add a bit of honey or agave, you can also add red tomatoes for a nice color contrast.
Quick Pickled Veggies
Another way to preserve that garden harvest. These will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge.
- ¾ cup water
- ¾ cup vinegar of choice, you can use wine, rice or apple cider
- 1 tbs kosher salt
- 2 tbs sugar
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp oregano, thyme, rosemary and/or dried chili flakes
- 2 cups of washed, cut up chili or bell peppers, red onions, carrots, green beans, cauliflower or broccoli florets, whatever raw veggies you have on hand.
Bring all ingredients other than the veggies to a boil, add veggies and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. Pack the vegetables into a glass jar with the vinegar mixture, cover and store in the fridge.
- 1 small peeled, seeded butternut squash
- 1-2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
- 2 carrots
- 2 large parsnips, peeled
- 10 to 15 garlic cloves, peeled, cut if extra-large into medium pieces
- 1 lb ground beef or buffalo, can also use turkey, chicken or lamb
- 1 onion, cut into medium chunks
- 2 quarts chicken or beef broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tsp of herbs of choice, I like a mix of dried thyme and rosemary, divided
- ½ tsp paprika
Make the meatballs: With wet hands, mix beef, salt, pepper and half of herb mix in a bowl. If too wet add bread or cracker crumbs until you can roll the mixture into small, bite size balls. Refrigerate for a minimum of a half hour.
Preheat oven to 425. Cut squash, potatoes, carrots, garlic, onion and parsnips into small, bite size pieces. Put in a bowl, toss with olive oil and remaining herbs and spread out in a single layer, leaving as much room as possible around the pieces. Roast vegetables on lower rack about 30 minutes or so, or until browned underneath and tender.
Add stock to a large soup pan with roasted veggies. Bring to a simmer and add meatballs. Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with some grated parmesan and a crusty bread.
- 2 tbs orange juice
- 2 tbs lemon juice
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tsp honey or agave
- 2 tbs olive or avocado oil, or if you are feeling decadent replace one of the tablespoons with bacon drippings.
Combine ingredients in a covered jar and shake well to blend.
- 1 lb Brussel sprouts, sliced thin in food processor or with a mandolin or sharp knife, remove the hard core at the bottom first.
- ½ cup toasted cashews, lightly crushed
- 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
- 2 medium carrots shredded
Separate sliced leaves of the Brussel sprouts. Add all ingredients to a bowl and dress lightly with the vinaigrette; you will have some of the dressing left over. Enjoy!
Toasted Pumpkin and Squash Seeds
Don’t toss those pumpkin or squash seeds. Toast them for a tasty treat, or add to soups and salads. Great for fiber, prostate health and parasites.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Take rinsed pumpkin or squash seeds and blot dry with a dish towel. Put into a bowl and add olive or avocado oil to coat. Stir in seasonings of choice. I like salt, pepper, onion and garlic flakes and some cayenne. I’ll sometimes add cinnamon and brown sugar for a sweet, spicy taste. Put in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 25 – 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool and eat whole, yum!