Blackberry Picking & Refreshing Mojitos

I went on a fun little adventure the other weekend.  My good friends Natalie from Natalie’s Killer Cuisine and Joy from Joylicious invited me to go blackberry picking with them at Duck Creek Blackberry Farm.  They got me all excited about the trip before telling me what time we’d have to leave to make the hour-long drive.  Yeah, they’re sneaky that way…that’s why I love ‘em!  The farm opens at 7:00 a.m. on Saturdays and usually sells out of blackberries by 9:00 a.m.  We knew we’d need to get our tired butts out of bed early to beat the crowd.  And yes, blackberry farms do get a crowd.  We met at a local Starbucks at 6:00 a.m., and let it be known that this Starbucks was not open yet!!  Three early risers with no coffee.  We’re like superhuman or something.  Our mission:  blackberries!!

The vines were filled with huge, juicy berries.  It was so peaceful to be out in the country in the early (not so hot) morning.  The fresh air did me good.  Oh, but I could have done without the bugs.  I don’t live on the 18th floor in the middle of the city because I like bugs.  Small ones I can maybe deal with, but bugs outside of the city are like HUGE.  We’re talking giant yellow and black spiders, wasps, and stink bugs.  I know…I’m making this sound fun, aren’t I?  It really was though, promise.

Along with the bugs, we met some really great people out there picking berries in the early morning light.  We learned that there are lots of u-pick farms in our area.  I’m definitely going to find the peach orchards and blueberry farms next!  We all wandered around talking about what we were going to make with our blackberries.  The possibilities are endless, but most of us wanted dessert.  We were starving around all that fruit with no breakfast in our bellies.

With our buckets full and our foreheads glistening, we said goodbye to the farm and left the country for the bustle of the city.  And when we got back to the Starbucks we found it waiting for us with open arms!  The country was great, but ME NEEDS COFFEE!!

All afternoon I poured over my cookbooks.  I took notes, flagged potential recipes, and listened to my tummy growl for blackberries.  I baked most of the day on Sunday and again on Monday night.  I could have frozen some of the blackberries (and will wish I had in a few months), but I couldn’t resist using them at their freshest.  After baking most of them into rustic desserts (which I’ll feature here in a few weeks time) I used the rest for tasty mojitos.  Craig and I make mojitos a lot because they are so refreshing and crisp.  Plus, rum has no carbs (see, we eat healthy)!  Lots of our local restaurants feature fruity mojitos, but I’ve never had a blackberry one.  It was sweet and tart, and well, delicious!!  Plus, look at the color.  Amazing!

Blackberry Mojitos

6-8 mint leaves (more for garnish)
1/4 cup fresh blackberries (more for garnish)
1 teaspoon light agave syrup
3 oz. light rum
2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
club soda

Add the mint leaves, fresh blackberries, and agave syrup into a cocktail shaker.  Using a muddler or the stick of a wooden spoon, muddle the ingredients until the mint is fragrant.  Add in ice cubes, rum, and lime juice; cover and shake vigorously a few times.  Strain the liquid into an ice-filled glass and top with club soda.  Garnish with mint and blackberries.  Makes 1-2 drinks depending on size of glass.

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