[what I ate for breakfast today: one egg, beet greens, jasmine rice, sriracha...also known as "the usual."]

That's how many degrees it was today. Eighty-six degrees Fahrenheit! In the very middle of February.


So warm Kamal decided he'd eat his orange outside. In his underpants.

We finished planting our earth boxes, shoveled some compost for our garlic beds, and let our chickens out to hunt bugs. They're ruthless predators, chickens. 

The mint figures it must be June and is growing up in every little patch of dirt it can claim. One of my favorite summer drinks is iced mint tea. Nothing is so straightforwardly refreshing after a long, hot day of gardening. Even if that day is February 15.

Conventional wisdom cautions that you should always plant your mint in a pot; otherwise, it will take over your garden the way it has ours. I don't mind it so much, though.

Here's the recipe. Couldn't be simpler! 

1) Get a great big stockpot. 

2) Pick and wash an armload of fresh mint.

3) Put your armload of mint in the stockpot and then fill it with water.

4) Bring the water to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer for about twenty minutes. You'll want to stir every few minutes and make sure all the mint stems and leaves are submerged. 

5) Add about a half cup of sugar or honey for a large stockpot. The tea should taste barely sweet.

6)  Turn off the heat. Strain out leaves. Chill and drink. 

Today's Bread

 [what I had for breakfast today: the company of a lovely friend and her magical baby and Kamal, who "read" the baby a book; griddled soda bread with ricotta, farmer's cheese, sauteed beet greens and an over-easy egg.]

I've been loving making this sunflower seed bread from the King Arthur website. I've made just a few adjustments--using part whole-wheat flour, increasing the salt very slightly, and using molasses instead of sugar because both Kamal and I are crazy about the flavor of molasses in our breads. 

Oh, and I doubled the recipe, too. Not only because the bread is so delicious you'll regret only making one loaf the moment you take the first bite, but also because this bread freezes well and makes the BEST toast. 

2 and 2/3 cup white flour
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
4 tablespoons chia seeds (or you could do 6 tablespoons of sesame seeds; I like doing half black sesame seeds and half white)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons honey
3 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups warm water (should feel like comfortable bath temperature)

Mix all ingredients (with either a wooden spoon or an electric mixer on low speed) till cohesive and coming off the sides of the bowl. Let sit five minutes. Then oil your hands and knead (or mix in mixer) five to ten minutes, just until the when you gently poke the dough, it feels like the adhesive on a post-it note when you touch it--like it starts to stick to you but lets go really easily without leaving any residue. 

Having a good baker's helper makes all the difference in the world.

Lightly oil a big clean bowl and a sheet of plastic wrap. Put the dough in the bowl and cover with the wrap. Let rise till puffy. It's taken about 90 minutes in my kitchen on these cool February days. 

Grease (I use coconut oil, and it works perfectly) two glass loaf pans. Divide dough into two equal portions--a scale is helpful for this step. Gently pat each piece of dough into a log that fits in the loaf pan. Bake at 325 degrees F till golden brown and an thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 190 degrees F or higher.