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Blueberries are cool in this cocktail

Recipe: Fresh fruit beverage also can be nonalcoholic

Pink-purple cocktail in glass with mint sprig
Now doesn't that look refreshing? Blueberry Smash, coming right up. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

No, no, no, no and nope -- not going to turn that oven on. Not until the A/C is fixed, anyway, and that's a week off. (Another pandemic effect.)

In the meantime, all these gorgeous blueberries are out there. How to use them in a new way that does not involve baking?

Well, I found a great little cocktail recipe that makes the most of the fruit, and also lets me use the excellent cocktail shaker than my son gave me last year. (I taught him to cook, but he's way ahead of me on cocktail making.) If you don't have a shaker, use a small deep bowl or glass measuring container to mix this in, and have a wire strainer at hand.

I used bourbon as the alcohol base, but vodka, tequila or white rum also would work -- whatever floats your boat. Or, for a nonalcoholic version, skip the liquor addition, and finish the drink with ginger ale, club soda or Italian lemon soda.

Blueberry Smash cocktail

Serves 1

Blueberries, lemon slices and mint sprigs ready
Just a few ingredients needed for this drink. Having a mint
plant or two in pots is a nice addition to the kitchen garden.
Ingredients:

1/2 of a lemon, sliced into thin wedges (mine in the photo were too thick)

1/4 cup fresh blueberries (check for stems before using)

8-10 fresh mint leaves (basil would make a good substitute)

2 ounces bourbon, vodka, tequila or white rum

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) simple syrup* or agave nectar

Ice

Optional garnishes:

Mint sprig, blueberries on a pick or a lemon twist

Instructions:

Place the lemon wedges and blueberries in the shaker, then sprinkle the mint leaves over them. Using a muddler or the thick handle of a wooden spoon, muddle (crush) the mint into the blueberries and lemon wedges until the berries are smooshed and the lemon wedges are broken down.

Add the bourbon, simple syrup, and 6 or so ice cubes to the shaker. Replace the top and shake until it's cold, about 30 seconds. (Stir like crazy if you're making this in a bowl.)

Fill a cocktail glass with ice. Shake the shaker one more time, and using the built-in strainer or a mesh kitchen strainer, strain the drink into the glass. (Add soda here if making it nonalcoholic.) Garnish as desired and enjoy.

*Simple syrup is easy to make in the microwave: Place equal parts granulated sugar and water in a microwave-safe container (glass measuring cup is perfect), zap for 2 to 2-1/2 minutes, then allow to cool. Save any extra in a closed container in the refrigerator. It also can be made by boiling the sugar and water on the stove until sugar is completely dissolved.


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RECIPE

A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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