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Lime and mint combine in an easy tea bread

Recipe: Zest and herb combination also works in muffins

Lime-mint bread is spectacular with coffee or tea. The mint sprig on the plate is from a lime mint; it also makes excellent tea itself.

Lime-mint bread is spectacular with coffee or tea. The mint sprig on the plate is from a lime mint; it also makes excellent tea itself. Kathy Morrison

This is an off year for my orange tree, but my lime tree has made up for the citrus gap. The fruit is ripening quickly, so I'm trying to use it up. (Can't give it away, unfortunately, thanks to the Oriental fruit fly quarantine.)

three-limes-ripening.jpg
Limes turn a greenish yellow when ripe.

I hit on putting lime and mint together in a quick bread, and found an easy Betty Crocker recipe to adapt.  I used a mint actually called lime mint, but just about any mint would work -- spearmint probably better than peppermint. Sub lemon for the lime if you want, or try 1 teaspoon orange zest in place of half the lime zest.

I baked my tea bread in two disposable aluminum pans, because I planned to take it to a potluck. The two smaller loaves take less time to bake and are easier to cut for serving. But use whatever good bread pan you have available.

This recipe also makes spectacular muffins, baked for about 20-25 minutes.

Lime-mint tea bread

Serves 16

Ingredients:

1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar, organic if possible

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil 

2 teaspoons grated lime zest, from 1 large or 2 small limes

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided

Handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (about 2 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon granulated or confectioners' sugar, for brushing

Instructions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 9-by-5-inch bread pan or two small disposable pans. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl or large measuring cup, combine the egg, buttermilk, oil, lime zest, 1 tablespoon of the juice, and all the mint.

Stir the liquid mixture into the flour mixture until moistened. Some lumps may be visible, but that's OK -- quick bread should not be overmixed.

Bake until the top starts to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes for a standard loaf pan, 40-45 minutes for the smaller pans.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of juice with the remaining granulated sugar or the confectioner's sugar, whichever you're using. (It will be a thin mixture, not like cake glaze.) When the bread comes out of the oven, brush the mixture over the top. Let cool 10 minutes on a rack, then remove from pan(s) and allow to cool thoroughly before cutting and serving.

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Garden Checklist for week of June 16

Summer officially starts Thursday. The good news: No triple-digits – at least until next weekend.

* Warm weather brings rapid growth in the vegetable garden, with tomatoes and squash enjoying the heat. Deep-water, then feed with a balanced fertilizer. Bone meal or rock phosphate can spur the bloom cycle and help set fruit.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, melons, radishes, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

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