Friday, September 11, 2015

Drinks with Reads: JA Jance & Prickly Pear Juice

JA Jance joins us today for Drinks with Reads whipping up Prickly Pear Juice to go with her new book that features not only her JP Beaumont character but also Brandon Walker. 

Here's a little about the book:

Two Cold Cases Over 1,500 Miles Apart Suddenly Become Red-Hot…And Connected.

With A Missing Boy’s Life At Stake, Detective J.P. Beaumont And Sheriff Brandon Walker Join Forces To Stop A Sociopathic Smuggler Who Has Eluded Justice For Decades.

Years ago, Amos Warren, a prospector, was gunned down out in the desert and Sheriff Brandon Walker made the arrest in the case. Now, the retired Walker is called in when the alleged killer, John Lassiter, refuses to accept a plea deal that would release him from prison with time served. Lassiter wants Brandon and The Last Chance to find Amos's "real" killer and clear his name.

Sixteen hundred miles to the north in Seattle, J.P. Beaumont is at loose ends after the Special Homicide Investigation Team, affectionately known as S.H.I.T., has been unexpectedly and completely disbanded. When Brandon discovers that there are links between Lassiter’s case and an unsolved case in Seattle, he comes to Beau for help.

Those two cases suddenly become hot when two young boys from the reservation, one of them with close ties to the Walker family, go missing. Can two seasoned cops, working together, decipher the missing pieces in time to keep them alive?

And now for the drink:
Two of the characters in the book, Lani Walker and Gabe Ortiz, drink a variation of this Prickly Pear Juice on their camp out on Ioligam—Kitt Peak in Dance of the Bones. The drink pops up throughout the novel. Now get out your rubber gloves because here's how you make it...

Recipe for Prickly Pear Juice
First of all you have to get yourself some prickly pears. If your local store doesn't have any and you don't have the right kind of cactus in your front yard, never fear. You can order them online here, or several other places. 

Once you get your prickly pears and you get yourself a pair of rubber gloves to protect yourself from the spikes, you are ready to start. 

First you place as many washed prickly pears as you wish to process in a large saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. 

Transfer the fruit to a blender container with a very small amount of water to get the process going (about a fourth cup) and blend until the fruit is liquefied.  Blend long enough to make sure the skins are pulverized to get all those nutrients in the juice.  Place a strainer over a bowl and strain out the juice.  If your strainer has a very fine mesh, that should do it.  If your strainer has large holes, you’ll need to line it with cheesecloth or muslin (a clean square of old sheet would work.)  

If you don’t own a blender, dump the soft cooked tunas (That's what they call the inside of the peeled fruit) into the sieve and mash the fruits with a potato masher until all the juice has drained into the bowl.  

Four cups of fruit, about dozen, should yield one cup of juice.

To make a punch, mix with your favorite fruit juices, perhaps some fruit-based iced tea, and something fizzy.

Adapted from Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants by Carolyn Niethammer (University of Arizona Press, 2011).


  1. Based on the drink I would hazard a guess that most of the action takes place in Arizona, then? I don't think the Pacific NW is known for its prickly pears. :)

    1. Good point LuAnn. The book has characters in both places.