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Orange and chocolate are delicious partners

Recipe: Quick buttermilk bread includes plenty of zest

You can't tell from the picture, but this bread smells
delightfully of fresh orange. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Pairing orange and chocolate is my kind of delicious. I've always loved See's orange creams, chocolate-dipped orange peel and Swenson's Swiss orange chip ice cream. I know not everyone appreciates the marriage of chocolate and fruit; it's a personal preference.

But I also feel that if orange is supposed to be a prominent flavor in something, it really needs to stand out. Orange is so sweet that it can easily be overwhelmed by spices or other ingredients. So in adding chocolate to this quick bread, I made sure the orange flavor wasn't wimpy: The bread has zest from two entire navel oranges.

The recipe is based on a terrific basic buttermilk quick bread from ; the writer Emma Christensen offers 10 other variations , and ideas to made your own favorite combination.  So if you'd prefer coconut, or chopped nuts, or crystalized ginger with your orange, or no orange at all, jump in there. I'll stick with my very orange-y chocolate chip loaf and be quite happy.

Orange chocolate chip quick bread
Adapted from
Makes 10 slices

Ingredients :

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated

The oranges are from my tree. I like to use mini chips
in baking because they don't sink.

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
Zest from 2 medium or large navel oranges

1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Powdered sugar for topping, optional

Instructions :

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir or whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and orange zest.

Use a light hand when mixing this or
indeed any quick bread.

In a medium bowl or glass measuring cup, stir together the buttermilk and the egg until blended, then stir in the melted butter and the vanilla extract.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Carefully fold in the mini chips -- you don't want to overmix this batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and even it out into the corners. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing it. If desired, dust the top with powdered sugar before slicing.


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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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