Posted by missjunebug on March 31, 2009
Homemade granola, anyone? Photo by mjb2009
After opening her Arriving Home Ashram in the privacy of her own home about a year ago, missjunebug has been on a mission to improve her diet, to exercise more, to meditate regularly (ok, semi-regularly), and to try out healthier recipes in her Arriving Home Ashram kitchen.
One of her greatest successes so far is a granola recipe she adapted from one on the SmittenKitchen blog which SK says they adapted from Calle Ocho in New York City. So this recipe is an adaptation of an adaptation but she’s pretty sure that’s how things work in the world of online recipes.
This recipe is so much fun to make that peeps who have a taste for granola should be making their own at home. It is that good and that easy. Do yourself a favor and try it. The Arriving Home Ashram and missjunebug remind you, however, that granola is a calorie dense food, so choose a small bowl for serving and don’t fill it up to the rim. Try it with skim or 1 percent organic milk or vanilla almond milk for extra sweetness.
You can even use soymilk, if you want to thread the needle of controversy that surrounds this food product currently. Personally, mjb is off soy for good, but as she is fond of saying, De gustibus non est disputandum. To each his own taste, because there’s just no accounting for it!
Although the assembly of the granola is super easy, the baking is super tricky, so please follow missjunebug’s caveats if you decide to make her Best Homemade Granola. Her learning curve required a dial back of the baking time to no more than 20-22 minutes at 350 degrees, otherwise it is all over but the crying and the scraping of burnt granola bits off the Silpat. Trust mjb, she knows this from personal experience. Watch the bake time! Check at 15 and every 3-4 minutes thereafter.
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup sweetened flake coconut
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup pecans (substitute walnuts if you prefer a little heathier granola)
1/3 cup unroasted pepitas (hulled green pumpkin seeds)
1/3 cup brown sugar (mjb likes dark, but light brown works well, too)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon French Grey Sea Salt (mjb recommends McCormick’s)
1/4 cup clover or orange blossom honey
1/4 cup canola oil
Combine ingredients in a big bowl and stir by hand or with a wooden spoon. Spread evenly on a couple of large cookie sheets. missjunebug uses Silpat-lined ones to make clean up easy. Bake at 350 degrees in the middle rack of the oven. Check after 12-15 minutes, stir occasionally, and watch for the burn at the edges. mjb usually pulls hers out of the oven by 20-22 minutes as she mentioned before, but each oven has its own quirks.
mjb admonishes, “Be vigilant!”
When the granola is golden brown and crisp, remove from the oven and spread out on paper towels to cool. Store in glass jars and add desired dried or fresh fruit only when you serve it. That way the granola stays fresh and crunchy in the glass jars for a couple of weeks. missjunebug re-purposes her Classico Spaghetti Sauce jars into Best Homemade Granola storage containers. (mjbMantra: ixnay lasticpay!)
mjbTip: If you measure and pour the oil first and then the honey, it’s easy to get every drop of honey out of the 1/4 cup measure.
missjunebug’s Best Homemade Granola is a wholegrain way to start the day that will prepare you for almost anything–including weeding! mjb says “Namaste and Bon AppÃ©tit” from the here at the Arriving Home Ashram.
Try some organic milk or almond milk! Photo by mjb2009
Yum. That was semi-healthy and mega-delicious! Photo by mjb2009
Posted by missjunebug on March 30, 2009
mjb's Dog and Friends:Bevo and BradPittBull Photo by mjb2009
Sometimes mjb spends her Sundays worshipping at God’s second altar: Nature (Sorry, Pastor Frank). That was the case this Sunday when the weather was perfect–cool and slightly breezy–the sky was clear, and the weeds bordering the front driveway were whispering, “Bring it, missjunebug. You will not prevail.”Â missjunebug accepted the challenge, grabbed her plastic step-up stool for comfort, her gardening gloves for protection, her dog for company, and her awesome SIGG of Switzerland aluminum water bottle (ixnay lasticpay) for hydration. Armed to the teeth, mjb went at it for about 7 hours, okay maybe it was more like 3 hours, but it felt like 7 to her.
Individually, the weeds didn’t put up much of a fight. The soil gave easily and the roots were intact as mjb did some serious double fisted pulling and piling. She noticed a couple of things in the process. Each of the spindly grass-like strands had a seed packet at the top that promised millions more to come if she didn’t get them out of there, and fast, and into the green trash bin for permanent capture.
What was God thinking when He came up with this heinous design? mjb just didn’t get it. Where she lives weeds that seem innocuous in the wet spring turn into a serious fire threat in the dry seasons that follow. She was doing her little part of a major weed clearance required by the Fire Department by June 1. She remembered last year getting red tagged even after the pros had come in to do the clearing–100 feet from all structures.
How demoralizing seeing that big red tag hanging from the front driveway gate. mjb’s heart sank big time. This year would be different, she had vowed. And here she was doing her bit to get that passing grade. Her contribution would be postage-sized, but still.
The second and more valuable thing she noticed was how meditative the process of weed pulling was. She developed a comfortable rhythm, reaching, pulling, tossing as she watched the piles grow and grow and grow. Her mind was free to roam, reminisce, plan, or just pay attention to what lay before her beneath the weeds,Â the sandy soil, orangey ladybugs, the occasional fellow beetle or tiny brown spiders. In a few extended moments of no-time she suspended thought all together and lived in the now. Now. Now.
Before missjunebug goes too Eckart Tolle on you, she remembers one other valuable thing: connecting with her neighbors. Her dog had a great bark-off with the new dog across the way, a scrappy Jack Russell with a sharp bark and a feisty manner. mjb also had a lovely chat with a dear neighbor friend who was out for an afternoon walk. mjb did some catching up with family news and set a date for a couples dinner out the next weekend. Who knew weeding could lead to an enhanced social life? And mjb gets to pick the restaurant! God does work in serendipitous ways!
So maybe weed pulling wasn’t so bad after all. Okay, there are still about a kagillion weeds to go, but as you can see progress is being made.
One of mjb's compadres Photo by mjb2009
Before mjb Brings It Photo by mbj2009
After mjb Brings It Photo by mjb2009
Posted by missjunebug on March 29, 2009
mjb's menu favs Photo by mjb2009
mjb and mr.jb sometimes follow up a Friday Night Pizza Special with a Super Saturday Breakfast Out. In fact, we did that very thing Saturday morning heading up to Ventura to join the locals at Pete’s Breakfast House at 2055
E. Main Street. mjb was introduced to Pete’s about 6 months ago by a friend.
For that auspicious introduction, missjunebug will be forever grateful.
Pete’s Breakfast Cafe is the best breakfast place in all of SoCal (with the possible exception of The Griddle Cake on Sunset Boulevard if you have a ridiculously huge and decadent appetite or you are exceedingly hung over or both, but mjb digresses and will save TGC for another post).
Pete’s great service starts as soon as you enter the door. If you show up after 9 a.m. or so, you might have to sign in to wait for a table because the house will be hopping by then. No worries. Big blue mugs of hot coffee are set up for you to serve yourself. Have a seat in the little foyer and make yourself comfortable for just a brief wait or you can take a quick peek at the colorful mural in the back of the cafe that provides a whimsical visual summary of the last few decades of American cultural history. The staff are friendly and seem to really enjoy the work they’re doing. mjb got permission from our multi-tasking waitress to take a few photos capturing the casual, laid-back ambiance of Pete’s Breakfast House.
Let’s see. What else? Oh yeah, the food is AWESOME! The breakfast menu offers all the usual favorites and many dishes you’ll only find at Pete’s plus daily specials. You cannot go wrong with any of the menu choices.
That said, mjb is only here to talk about two items on the menu: the perfect waffle and the perfect side of bacon. Why? Because that’s all she ever orders. Why? Because it is the best waffle and the best bacon west of her fav. Waffle House in her beloved Big D little a double l a s.Â And you know what that spells (Dallas, you numnut).
A more tender-crisp waffle there never was. Fill up each nook and cranny with the generous butter cup Pete provides or skip the butter all together. It’s such a good waffle, it doesn’t even need it! But pour on the syrup anyway–only one kind–maple for the true waffle afficianado, not those girlified IHOP flavors-on-crack varieties. Cut up some bite-sized squares and dig in!
As for the side of bacon, it almost qualifies for a main course in itself: four hang-off-the-edge-of-the plate pieces, crisp, smokey, and oops, they’re gone! Yes, they are that good. In the meantime, that coffee in the blue mug is topped off just often enough. The wait staff keeps tabs in a friendly way without being obtrusive or obsequious. What more could you ask for?
A reasonable price? Hell, yeah.
Open for a great lunch? That too.
mjbTip: When in Ventura, do as the locals do: Breakfast at Pete’s Breakfast House 2055 E Main St.
Doesn't she look happy to be working at Pete's? You bet! Photo by mjb2009
Our friendly waitress & happy customer & the nice register guy Photo by mjb2009
Posted by missjunebug on March 28, 2009
T.J.'s Ready to Roll Dough photo by mjb2009
missjunebug and her mr.junebug like to polish off Friday Fun Day (no better day of the week than Friday!) with the Friday Night Pizza Special. It begins with a quick trip to Trader Joe‘s which is THE happening place to be on Fridays between 4 and 6 pm. mjb has a tough time even finding a parking place because everybody, I mean everybody is there laying in supplies for the weekend.
Her latest and best find is TJ’s own brand of Plain or Wheat Ready to Bake Pizza Dough. No doubt the Wheat is healthier, but both are great for making your own homemade pizzas. mjb’s current favorites: Pizza Marguerite with fresh mozarella, fresh sliced Roma tomatoes, and fresh basil (sprinkled on after the bake) and The missjunebug House Special with Trader Giotto’s Fat Free Pizza Sauce (since when does pizza sauce have fat in it?) grated mozarella, pepperoni, red and yellow bell peppers, and red onion. The beauty part of this recipe is that the hard part’s already done by T.J.’s providing the ready-to-roll out dough. No floury mess. No tricky yeast! No mixing bowls!Â It’s so easy!
Take the dough out of frig. Let it rest for about 20 minutes and roll out or hand pat into your greased pizza pan. mjb and mr.jb use the kind of pizza pan with the perforations to keep the crust crisp and tender. Try sprinkling cornmeal on the pan after greasing it. Yes, most of the cornmeal will fall through the holes but what sticks helps keep the crust from getting soggy. Also try baking the crust a bit before spreading on the sauce and the toppings. Anyway you do it, you will not be disappointed. It’s quick, easy, and super-delicious!
When the pizza’s done, serve it with the perfect under $5 bottle of R.C.T.J.W.F. Zinfandel Paso Robles California. It’s a “Really Cool Trader Joe’s Wine Find.” Yep, that’s exactly what the bottle says! Cheers!
Pretty fresh ingredients! Photo by mjb2009
We ARE all Pizza Chefs! Believe it! Photo by mjb2009
Posted by missjunebug on March 27, 2009
A week ago to the day, missjunebug was returning home from her fab book club meeting, minding her business, doing what she thought was maybe a mile or two over the double-nickel speed limit as she headed down a teeny bit of an incline. In the second or two required to dial back her speed to adjust to what she now calls the perfectly natural and inevitable acceleration incline effect, she sees a highway patrol car coming toward her in the opposing traffic lane of the two-lane county road. She doesn’t think a thing of it and continues to toodle down the country lane.
But wait, what’s that she sees in her rear-view mirror? A highway patrol car pulling a Bat-turn, flashing lights blazing, pulling up right behind her. mjb swallows hard and pulls over to the shoulder. Because this is a G-rated blog, she will omit any verbal references to sexual activities the human body is capable of she might have made sotte voce as she watched the officer get out of his car and approach her passenger-side window.
Oh my, did mjb forget her anti-perspirant this morning because by now, she is sweating the big time fear-of-authority-figures-who-carry-guns sweat.
mjb knows you can probably guess the monotoned rest: license and registration please, you were exceeding the posted 55 mph speed limit. mjb’s nonplussed response, Officer are you kidding me? How can you tell coming from the opposite direction what speed I was going? Miss, I am a trained expert in sight recognition of speeders. Coming from the opposite direction? mjb asks now very skeptical, brain working furiously to figure out how to get out of this without getting a ticket.
She reels out a breathless response: But Officer, mjb was going maybe a mile or two over the speed limit and she was coming down a little bit of an incline and you, Officer, must realize she’s a safe and responsible driver and this is her neighborhood and she’d never intentionally speed in her own neighborhood, she has respect for her neighborhood for goodness sake, and she was having a great day and she was just returning home from her wonderful book club and she was driving down an incline which you must know, Officer, produces the perfectly natural and inevitable acceleration incline effect which she would have perfectly adjusted her speed to. Miss, I clocked you at 64. Do you want to see the read-out on my radar? Well, yes Officer.
As a matter of fact, mjb does want to see the heinous radar read-out. Which she gets out of her car to see which shows that yes, for some split-the-atom second of time she was going 64 in a 55 and at that moment she realized her little missjunebug wings were clipped.
mjb modestly proposes with all due respect to Jonathan Swift that before rushing to write out that ticket, a highway patrol officer consider the perfectly natural and inevitable acceleration incline effect if the road’s topography warrants it as in mjb’s case it most certainly did.
Now on to the real reason mjb wrote this post: CAN SHE BEAT THIS DAMN SPEEDING TICKET? She’s has until April 20 to set a court date for defense or pay the man and be subjected to spirit-crushing online traffic school. mjb welcomes all helpful comments regarding this little contretemps.
Posted by missjunebug on March 26, 2009
Before missjunebug launched her website, she spent some time checking out a few of the kagillion blogs out there. She wants to thank Smitten Kitchen, missjunebug’s favorite food blog, for providing a near inexhaustible list of links to some of the most entertaining websites and blogs on the internet. One turned out to be in a class by itself: Stuff White People Like. She said to herself when she came across this one, Okay, I’ll bite and clicked on the link. After scrolling through and reading some pretty hilarious and ridulous entries, she came upon one that absolutely required a response.
As a devotee of the Moleskine notebook in its various incarnations, ruled, blank, grid, watercolor-papered, address-booked, steno-pad styled, soft cover, hard cover, black cover, red cover, missjunebug cannot look the other way when the reputation of the Moleskine is sullied, if only by association.
In this case, its repeated association with decidedly uncreative but deceptively pretentious white people who according to SWPL insist on placing their Moleskines on top of their laptop computers for no other purpose than to create the illusion of being creative when they are not. Whew! mjb is starting to sound a bit like a pretentious, uncreative white person herself. Thank goodness she’s just a bug.
missjunebug wants to present another p.o.v. regarding the usefulness of the Moleskine:
Hers is a portable brain.
All the lightbulb moments, inspirations, notes to self, words to remember, goals to achieve, problems to solve, someday-maybes, and yes, the occasional to do or grocery list go into her tomato-red, elastic-banded, line-ruled, Moleskine. Let her assure you, with it in hand, missjunebug is the one who rules. Take that, SWPL.
mjbTip: Try a Moleskine for yourself and, please God, be creative!
Posted by missjunebug on
Seriously, missjunebug is crazy about American Idol this season: a new judge (she’s dope, as Randy would say), new rules, the judges’ super saver option (thus far wisely not exercised), and mass talent in the top ten minus 1 or 2. Last night’s performances shook up Motown favs with fresh, brash interpretations. Seriously, Adam Lambert doing a Smokey Robinson song in front of Smokey Robinson. The kid’s got game singing Tracks of My Tears with the man himself sitting in the audience. What an even, controlled, brilliant performance. Adam is gifted with a falsetto that makes the cherabim and seraphim cry. I was so moved, I actually voted for him. First time ever for mjb to cast a vote for an American Idol contestant! Seriously.
mjbTip: If mjb were a betting bug she’d put her money on Adam Lambert to take it all.
Posted by missjunebug on March 25, 2009
The view from here: Reagan Library photographed by mjb2009
Yesterday missjunebug took a field trip with a dear friend to the Reagan Library to take a first-hand look at one of four extant copies of the Magna Carta. Despite the tiny print and the Latin text, there was no mistaking the profound impact the document has had throughout Western civilization up to, including, and beyond our own Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.
mjb remembered two salient factoids from her history studies in high school: King John wrote it and 1215 was the year. The place? She couldn’t come up with that. It’s Runnymede, a little meadow alongside the River Thames in the county of Surrey, England where King John and the barons sealed the deal.
King John didn’t like it much, but as mjb says to herself frequently, if it’s hard to do, it’s probably right to do. Props to King John for doing the right thing: guaranteeing protection against imprisonment without cause (habeas corpus), speedy justice, andÂ inheritance rights for widows to name a few.
This “Great Charter” paved the way for advancing the rule of law and human rights. Think this history is just that, history? Think again: The Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Dec. 4, 1996) draws from the principles set forth in the Magna Carta over 800 years ago.
As for the Reagan Library, mjb encourages everyone visiting SoCal to head over to Simi Valley, plop down 12 dollars, and enjoy all the exhibits it has to offer, including the Magna Carta exhibit which is around until mid-June or so. Money well spent.
After your tour, take a moment to have a seat on one of the benches that looks out over the gorgeous chapparel landscape rolling down into Simi Valley. Check out the great shot above this post that missjunebug got on her iPhone. Too cool for school. If you’ve worked up an appetite trapsing through history, have a snack in the new cafe. Great views from there, too.
mjbTip: Field trip it up!
Posted by missjunebug on March 24, 2009
To make the most delicious iced tea you’ve ever tasted try missjunebug’s recipe.You’ll need the following:
- 7 Lipton Tea Bags
- Half a lemon
- 3/4 cup sugar
- A large pitcher of water
Fill the pitcher with water almost to the top (you have to allow room for the addition of sugar later, displacement and all that)
Pour half the water into a pan or tea kettle. Bring the water to a boil and then add the 7 teabags and turn off the heat. Let the tea steep in the water for a good 5-7 minutes.
In the meantime, pour the 3/4 cup sugar into the pitcher and squeeze in the lemon juice and throw in the rind when you’re finished squeezing out all the juice. Trust me, this is the secret of great sweet tea. When the steep is done, pour the tea into the pitcher and stir the sugar until it dissolves. Wait until it cools a bit, then serve over ice in a Texas-sized glass.
If you want to up the ante on the tea’s flavor next time, take some of the tea to make ice cubes so you get full strength tea through and through with no ice-cube-melt-dilution. That’s a little flavor-OCD but you might want to try it if you like a strong brew. Grab your glass and head to the porch.
Posted by missjunebug on March 23, 2009
missjunebug (mjb) takes flight officially today. Rest assured, this is probably the last time mjb will include a picture of an actual junebug. Today on Martha Stewart she featured a knitted lawn replete with grass, flowers, and butterflies. Alas, no junebugs. But it was a really surreal-ly cool knitting project.
mjb loves to knit…not well, but she still loves to do it. She is the queenbee of scarf knitting but that’s about all so far. She’s currently working on a slim, dark blue scarf, garter stitch (her fav), 15 stitches across, size 7 needles, 3 skeins of Debbie Bliss cashmere blend yarn. And take it from her, a knitting project you don’t have to count, or even pay much attention to, that is bliss. It’s meditative and calmingÂ and a way to feel really productive while watching American Idol.
mjbTip: When knitting a scarf, plan for one to be long enough to wrap all the way around your neck because you might be at that Nora Ephronesque age where you “feel bad about [your] neck.” After wrapping (& hiding), make sure you still have plenty of length to hang down the front. That will give you maximum style points and flexibility.