February 2013
The Herb Farm

Back to Work (Play)

Seed from Johnny’s and plants from Alabama Grown will be the source of my tomatoes and peppers again this year.

Please accept my apology. The world did not end on the Winter Solstice last December and I missed my deadline. Therefore, while enjoying my last supper (or so I thought), I was unknowingly skipping the chance to tell you about my latest gluten-free cookie recipes. There will be one at the end of this column.

For 2013, I decided to shake things up a little bit and plant more varieties of vegetables and herbs than try to choose one or two new ones from each category.

For example: Last year I chose the best-producing varieties of tomatoes from the previous year (Roma, Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter) then added two varieties I had never tried (Yaqui, Amsterdam). Both new varieties failed. It seems I have the most success with the old standards and the new types I experiment with either fail or don’t produce enough fruit to justify their existence in the garden, let alone the fertilizer it takes to keep them growing.

Chili peppers and sweet peppers are a different story. I’ll grow the ones that have produced for me the best over the years and just add one or two new and different in small numbers.

Hot chilies include jalapeño, Tabasco and cowhorn for pickling; cayenne, habanero and Bhut Jolokia for dried hot powders; and serrano, Peter and chili pequin for salads and general cooking. A friend brought me some Mexi-bell seed the last time he traveled south of the Rio Grande. I’m looking forward to snacking on those this summer.

 

From left clockwise,Renee sent me some seed to try here in the herb garden; this one is a salad mix.  My friend John gave me these Mexi-bell seeds and I can’t wait to harvest the fruits. He said they will produce a medium bell pepper with a little heat. The chili pequin makes an almost shrub-like bush loaded with color. They may be small, but they're hot!

Sweet peppers include Cal Wonder, Golden Cal and orange bell for stuffing and general cooking bell types; sweet banana, Anaheim and poblano for grilling, salads and snacking; and pimento for pickling or drying to make paprika powder.

If I add any varieties at all to the mix, it will be ornamentals for potted plants and any other unusual type I have not yet grown.

My old standard French lavender began to die out a couple of years ago. The plants were so old, though. The roots and main trunks had become large and woody. I will be replacing them with Otto Quast and Goodwin Creek cultivars. Both are great bee plants.

 


Oops! I almost forgot to take the picture. Dark chocolate peanut butter salted cookies and milk are just too tempting sometimes!

Additionally, I want to add some new cultivars of rosemary. Arp is a tall shrub-type that grows to as high as five-foot tall. Salem is a shorter cultivar that only grows to about three feet, but has a great flavor. A friend gave me some prostrate rosemary last year and it seems to be doing well in a hanging basket. I think it’s time to take cuttings and make a few more.

Now, let’s talk cookies! This gluten-free cookie is my favorite and is simple to make. Just be sure to have all of your ingredients together before you start.

Gluten Free Salted Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Pecan Cookies

1¼ cups gluten free all-purpose flour
½ cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons Red Mill Vegetarian Egg Replacer + 6 Tablespoons water
¾ cup crunchy peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces dark chocolate chips
½ cup pecans, chopped
Kosher salt, for sprinkling 

Preheat oven to 350° and grease baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter, peanut butter and sugars about three minutes or until light and fluffy. Slowly add eggs and vanilla, beating well. Scrape sides and slowly add flour until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Drop dough on sheet 1½ tablespoons at a time, spacing about 1½ inches apart, sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt on top of each. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven, leave cookies on baking sheet 1-2 minutes (they will bake a little more as you do this). Carefully transfer onto racks to cool completely.

We’ll have more on culinary herbs and another recipe in March.

Until then, watch your salt and sugar, drink plenty of pure water and breathe!

Thanks for reading!

For more information, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Be sure to find me on Facebook at Herb Farmer-The Herb Farm.

As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using any herbal remedy.