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Bright, tart and bubbly, a beverage worthy of a toast

Recipe: Blood orange mimosa completes a festive brunch

Pink cocktail with orange slice
How pretty is this? Blood orange juice is a special
addition to this mimosa. Pulp in the juice creates
the decorative ring when the sparkling wine
is added. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

More gray, more rain. Little things help brighten the winter days. If you're hosting a brunch, or just fixing breakfast for two, a mimosa is a lovely addition to the menu.

I took the citrus element one step further by using blood orange juice. Blood oranges are a little smaller and a littler tarter than navel oranges, but they produce gorgeous reddish-purple juice and the prettiest beverage this side of a Shirley Temple. And make the version with sparkling cider if you want a nonalcoholic cocktail; the simple syrup and orange liqueur are both optional with that one.

Make a simple syrup quickly to lightly sweeten the tartness: Mix 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons tap water in a Pyrex measuring cup. Microwave for 1 minute on HIGH. This produces simple syrup for several servings of this drink.

Blood orange mimosa

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

Juice of 1/2 a blood orange, about 1-1/2 tablespoons juice

1/2 teaspoon simple syrup (see above)

1/2 teaspoon orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier (optional)

Chilled Prosecco or another white or rosé sparkling wine, or nonalcoholic sparkling cider

Blood orange slice, for garnish

Blood orange cut in half on green cutting board
To get the best color juice, look for blood oranges
with at least some red on the skin.

Instructions:

Strain the blood orange juice if desired. A regular wire mesh strainer will leave some pulp, as in the photo above; a fine mesh strainer will remove nearly all the pulp. (But don't strain it into the sink, as I did the first time!)

Pour the juice into a fluted glass. Stir in the simple syrup and, if using, the orange liqueur. Fill the rest of the glass with the sparking wine or cider. Add the garnish, and enjoy. Happy New Year!

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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