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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

Blood orange cut in half on green cutting board
The pulp of blood oranges varies from deep red-purple,
as above, to mostly orange with just a hint of red. Look
for fruit with at least some red on the skin.

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

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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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