missjunebug has been thinking about growing pumpkins for a long time. A few years ago she tried a little plot down by her barn and had some healthy vines with beautiful yellow-gold blossoms thriving for the briefest while: gophers took out the roots and dashed all mjb’s hopes for homegrown pumpkins. Sigh.
This year she tried again with a clever internet idea (Thanks, Google! The question: Can I grow pumpkins in a pot?). The answer, yes! But despite the promising prodigious growth of leaves and vines and blossoms from her Home Depot 2″ pot pumpkin plant, missjunebug’s less-than-bumper crop was tiny x 2.
Mr.JB thinks most of the blossoms didn’t get fertilized. missjunebug thinks most of the blossoms weren’t ever open long enough to get fertilized due to the sometimes shady spot she placed the pot.
No matter. She will enjoy the two she grew this year and try again next year in a raised bed that’s gopher proof. Happy Fall! Happy Halloween!
missjunebug is late to the smoothie craze, but people smarter than she have finally convinced her it’s a fine way to fine tune her nutritional intake. She took the plunge on AmazonSmile.com (so a % of her purchase goes to One Acre Fund!) and selected a Vitamix Professional Series 300! What. a. machine!
In mere minutes missjunebug whipped up some coconut milk for future smoothies. It’s actually really easy to make your own coconut milk.
Here’s a simple recipe to try:
missjunebug’s Homemade Coconut Milk
Bring 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of unsweetened coconut. Stir and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes. Then Vitamix it until smooth (30-60 seconds!) Strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, squeezing out the last drop of milky goodness. Store in a glass jar in the frig for 3-4 days or freeze into cubes.
With that success under her little bug belt, missjunebug moved on to smoothie making! Fun times!
After reading a bunch of recipes, she decided just to wing it with this concoction.
missjunebug’s Completely Unoriginal Very Berry Smoothie
2 cups of Baby Romaine
1-2 cups frozen berry medley (raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
3-4 ice cubes
1/2-3/4 cup coconut, almond, or soy milk. (you choose!)
Pour in 1/2 the milk. Then layer in the greens first, then the berries, then the carrot, topping with the ice cubes. Add milk to keep the Vitamix mixing until the smoothie is, well, smooth! Probably makes two servings, but mjb drank both!!
missjunebug may be late to the smoothie party, but she’s overcome her prejudice against pulverized greens and is ready to mix it up!!!
“Je t’aime, je t’aime toujours, Monsieur B. Louie!” says missjunebug.
All her ladies-who-lunch dreams came true recently at 700 South Grand Avenue where Bottega Louie holds court over downtown Los Angeles. The physical space is large and white; the atmosphere, lively and inviting. For just a brief moment, missjunebug thought she had been transported to Paris, especially when she got a good look at the patisserie. Row after row of exquisitely decorated desserts and pastries, creamy, fruity, flaky, fabulous!
Just take a look:
Of course, Bottega Louie presents more than pastry. The café has salads, soups, pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches. missjunebug delighted in the Caprese salad (tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, fleur de sel, cracked pepper & extra virgin olive oil) and the Asparagus and Poached Egg small plate. Believe missjunebug when she says the flavors were not small, nor the portions! missjunebug’s lovely companion (who introduced her to Bottega Louie on their recent field trip) enjoyed the savory Club sandwich.
Happily, mjb and her dear friend saved room for dessert from the très jolie patisserie! Imagine whipped cream, flaky pastry, vanilla, caramel, and more! Fruit tarts! Eclairs! Beignets! Macarons! Here’s what they enjoyed:
Note the prayerfully folded hands of mjb’s dear friend! Yes! They were thankful to God in heaven for these heavenly desserts!
Brave the 101 and the 110 and get yourself downtown. missjunebug promises you will be transported to another world in of all places downtown L.A. Things are looking up in the City of Angels!
mjbTip: check out Bottega Louie’s welcoming website for further details: www.bottegalouie.com
missjunebug has a love of all things nutty and apricoty. When the two are in combination she’s twice as happy. If you find yourself occasionally craving some carbs, try this sweet little tea bread on for size. missjunebug thinks you’ll find it fits your appetite perfectly!
missjunebug’s Apricot Nut Bread
2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 tablespoons Canola oil
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup milk
4 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 cup chopped dried aprictos
1 cup chopped pecans
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan (9x5x3inch or two mini loaf pans). Measure all dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and chopped fruit and nuts. Mix well with hand mixer or Kitchen Aid, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes depending upon the idiosyncrasies of your oven! Check the doneness of the loaf with a toothpick–it should come out clean when inserted in center. Cool on a rack for about 15 minutes, then invert pan and remove loaf. It should come out easily!
Serve warm, cold, or toasted. Slice thin and smear with butter or cream cheese or apricot Stilton cheese spread!! Divine!
mjbTip: Make some tea bread today! It’s super easy and super delicious!
missjunebug had a fine time recently at Underwood Family Farm in Moorpark playing Farmer-for-the-Day! It’s black-eyed pea pickin’ season and the good people at Underwood have rows and rows of bushy black-eyed pea plants just waiting for pick-your-own peeps to drop by and fill up their bags with these beautiful peas famous in the South. They even have a restaurant named after them! Yes! The Black-Eyed Pea! A pretty decent place to eat all your southern faves when you’re in the South: cornbread, okra, collard greens, black-eyed peas (natch!), fried chicken, and, well you get the idea.
missjunebug donned her straw hat, hiking boots, old jeans, hiking shirt, and super bright orange garden gloves in preparation for taking on row after row of pea plants. She garnered four bags full o’ peas ripe for the shelling. Picking is really the easy part. Once she got home, she had to start the labor intensive task of shelling each individual black-eyed pea pod and popping out those beautiful peas. Fun times!
She’s still got a few (hundred!) to go, but she’s managed to Zip-loc lots of peas for the deep freeze. missjunebug will have plenty to eat on New Year’s Day 2014, making sure she covers her year with good luck by eating black-eyed peas that day, one for every day of good luck! Okay, not really. A bowlful will do. She might explode if she actually ate 365 peas in one sitting.
Here’s a simple recipe from missjunebug’s Aunt Mary that pleases the pea palate!
Black-Eyed Peas that Please
1 1/2-2 cups of shelled fresh black-eyed peas
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 slices uncooked bacon for flavor
1-3 shakes Tabasco
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Place peas in a saucepan. Cover with water. Add chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, sliced bacon, Tabasco, salt and pepper. Stir. Heat on medium heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat for a continuous simmer for about 20 minutes or until peas are slightly firm, not mushy. Adjust seasonings. Enjoy.
Eat with cornbread, over rice, or just on their own with the delicious soupy juice they are cooked in! You might have to have some serious Southern roots to enjoy these beauties, but keep an open mind and give them a try. They are delicious, nutritious, and lucky!
missjunebug got back into the country from the Land Down Under just in time to start baking pies for Thanksgiving! She’s sticking with the traditional tried and true Libby’s Pumpkin Pie and Karo Syrup Pecan Pie. You can’t go wrong with the classics! She throws in a Harvest Pie for good measure that provides a mouthwatering mouthful of Granny Smith apples and Ocean Spray cranberries. She’ll share that recipe as soon as she makes her trip to the market to gather the necessary ingredients…absolutely the hardest part of the whole process!
Speaking of desserts, please God don’t let Hostess go out of business! That’s just wrong! Life without the occasional Twinkie or handful of Donettes–powdered sugared or chocolate iced–is not worth living!
missjunebug wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving! It is far and away the best holiday of the year. The focus of Thanksgiving remains where it should: on friends, family, feasting, and fun. What more could a holiday merrymaker ask for except maybe another slice of pie, please! My oh my missjunebug loves pie!
missjunebug is not much of a fan of that Julie Andrews song from the treacly Sound of Music--was that really Best Picture??–my! how tastes have changed. Anyway she still likes the idea behind the song: enumerating favorite things can be fun and useful. So here are a few of missjunebug’s current favorite things this time of year:
The Somis Nut House–the most awesome place to buy holiday candy, fruit, and nuts in Ventura County, SoCal. Located in an unassuming building reminiscent of a big shed, you’ll find an array of candy favorites vintage and new as well as nuts amped up with spices, sugars, and smoke. She even found a spicy little mix called Samurai whose name speaks for itself! There are the usual sweet suspects: cherry sours, licorice, a virtual gummy zoo of shapes, malted milk balls on steroids, English toffee that’s pricey but so worth it, and many other chocolatey and foil-wrapped Christmas favs. And nuts and dried fruits galore. Mr.JB’s fav? Dried Kiwi fruit! Pale green disks of sugary sweet fruity goodness that look perfect as the centerpiece of a Christmas gift box. Where is this delightful house of delicacies? 4475 East Los Angeles Avenue Somis, CA 93066-9616 Call them at (805) 386-1211 or check out their website at www.somisnuthouse.com. You and your sweet tooth will be thanking Somis Nut House (and missjunebug) the rest of the holiday season!
Pandora Radio set to Christmas Jazz. If you are a little tired of Jingle Bells barked by dogs or the Vienna Boys Choir somber Latinate songs of the season or the mellifluous but slightly depressing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” crooned by various old school musical masters like Bing and Tony or updated by Michael B. then try the instrumental and upbeat Christmas Jazz stream playing right now on Pandora. missjunebug recommends it as the best possible music to decorate a Christmas tree or bake cookies to. For a slightly edgier mix try setting your Pandora to Mannheim Steamroller. That will definitely get your Christmas groove on.
Spritz Cookies! What would Christmas be without these little pressed wonders so sparkly and buttery! missjunebug knows you remember she already gave you the recipe for those cookies in a previous blog post. If you don’t believe her just search her very accommodating site for it under Semi-Healthy Mega-Delicious Recipes! And make some! If you can’t find the time to do that and you still crave sugar cookies, try to make it to Royal Bakery in Ventura for some delicious Christmas sugar cookies that are so worth the drive! Green trees! Red stockings! Black and white cows! Okay, so the cow cookies are not particularly seasonal, but they are delicious!
A fresh-cut Christmas Tree from the Men of the Elks Lodge or other such helping organization! These dedicated white-haired gentlemen provide funding for so many worthy charitable enterprises in local communities, you’ll feel practically holy buying a tree from them! And the piney fragrance is worth every penny! So bite the bullet, dole out the cash, and inhale the green freshness of that very noble Nobel Fir!
A Kiva Gift Card to help support small business entrepreneurs throughout the world. This is the quintessential gift that keeps on giving. As soon as the global entrepreneur pays back the loan, guess what? You can re-lend it again! And again! missjunebug has helped finance a Kenyan moto man so that he could buy some new tires for his burgeoning motorcycle taxi transportation service, a Rwandan woman who needed to procure beauty products for her salon, and another Rwandan woman supplying her clothing business with some fresh fashions! It’s never been more interesting to provide a hand up, not a hand out! Check out this super worthy enterprise at www.kiva.com!
Now missjunebug has an important question for you: What are your favorite things of the season? Shopping? Eating? Watching Christmasy movies–(actually, missjunebug should have included this one, too). Figure it out! Get busy doing them! And do as Julia says,”I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”
Read the recipe through for the list of all the ingredients.
Homemade crust or Pillsbury Pie Crust (just unroll and you’re ready to go!)
1 cup Half and Half
1 cup whipping cream
1 T. flour
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Whisk up the above ingredients and set aside while you assemble the quiche savory components.
1 bag baby spinach
1/2 chopped onion
1 T. olive oil
Cook baby spinach in a skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until cooked down. Drain vigorously using paper towels–wrap and squeeze out the liquid, then chop.
Heat olive oil in a skillet or dutch oven. Toss in the chopped onion and saute until onion is translucent. Add the drained, chopped spinach and combine with onion. Saute together a minute or two, just long enough to blend flavors.
Now prepare these ingredients:
6 pieces bacon, fried until crisp (missjunebug loves Farmer John’s) and crumbled
1 1/2 cups Jarlsberg Swiss cheese, grated
2-3 T. goat cheese, cut up into tiny pieces
Place pie crust in 9″ or 10″ pie plate. missjunebug prefers ceramic ones, but glass or metal will do just fine, too.
Sprinkle in a layer of grated Swiss cheese, then a layer of crumbled bacon. Repeat until you use up all the Swiss cheese and bacon. In one layer, place the spinach/onion saute on top of the cheese/bacon layers. Finish off with the tiny pieces of goat cheese. This part is a little messy since the goat cheese is a soft cheese, but do the best you can.
Pour the custard mixture evenly over the ingredients in the pie plate. Bake on the lowest rack in a 375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, until quiche is golden brown on top and firm in the center.
Cut into generous slices and serve with a fruit salad of cut up Gala apples, mandarin orange segments, and raspberries! Delicious!
missjunebug is on mission to reform her diet, especially after the tasty Thanksgiving detour she recently took. With Mr.JB out of town and Christmas trappings to joyfully distribute around the Hacienda, she didn’t want to waste time cooking for one. What to do? What to do?
Her answer: Deli Salads!!! Oh. my. yes. After her monthly appointment to flush her cath-port (another story, another time), she swung by Gelson’s to pick up food for the week in those handy little #1 containers. Such variety. Such deliciousness. And simple, simple, simple.
missjunebug had a tough time deciding but she finally settled on Wild Wheatberry Salad, Jessica’s Super Antioxidant Chopped Salad, Jessica’s Chopped Vegetable Barley Salad, Homemade Potato Salad, and Vegetable Greek Salad with Feta! And guess what? missjunebug bought enough little salads to get a #2-sized container of Fresh Fruit Salad for FREE!! Truly, life is good.
Okay, missjunebug knows what you’re thinking: Any indulgences? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, there was one. She also got a #1 container of Cornbread Stuffing. Since she suffers from a dearth, actually an entire absence of Thanksgiving leftovers, having enjoyed Thanksgiving at Mr.JB’s sister’s in Wisconsin, she had a leftover craving for Cornbread Stuffing. Yum. She ate that in place of the meat course! Brilliant!
The moral to this little food story? When you find yourself on your own, have a healthy food party for one with delicious deli salads! This is the kind of indulgence you can absolutely afford!
missjunebug drives by this not-so-fresh-fruit sign everyday. It points to a fruit stand long since closed. Fitting signage for a defunct roadside attraction. These too-happy three strike missjunebug as slightly off, a little creepy, and more than a modicum manic. Who painted this thing and what were they thinking? missjunebug can only imagine. But the result is Bad Fruit.
missjunebug thinks the lazy days of summer call for lazy desserts like her missjunebug’s Not Key Lime Pie, a cool and citrusy dessert that’s…well…as easy as pie!
Here’s all you need to do to make a delightful summery dessert that’s fresh and delicious!
Graham Cracker Pie Crust
1 pkg. graham crackers (1 Â¼ cups)
3 T. sugar
5 T. butter, melted
Rolling pin the graham crackers into crumbs in a large Ziploc bag.Â Pour into 9â€ pie plate. Add sugar and blend with crumbs. Add melted butter and press down into pie pan as well as up the sides of the pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes.
Not Key Lime Pie Filling
3 eggs yolks
1 can Carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk
Â½ c. lime juice (Larger Persian limes work just fine for Not Key Lime Pie!)
2 tsp. lime zest
Beat egg yolks with hand mixer until smooth and creamy looking, about 2-3 minutes.
Add condensed milk slowly, using hand mixer to incorporate, about 3-4 minutes.
Blend in the lime juice and zest. Pour into pie filling and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until firm.
1 cup Horizon Organic Heavy Whipped Cream
2-3 T. granulated sugar
Whip up the cream with a hand mixer. Gradually add the sugar and whip until the cream forms soft peaks. Slather on top of the Not Key Lime Pie and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Last year around this time missjunebug was eulogizing her Tomato Sadness. Only half of her homegrown tomato looked good enough to eat. The underbelly was ulcerated and grim and looked like something she might find on the kitchen counter of TinyJB’s former abode (recently cited as a nuclear waste hazard).
But this year is different!
missjunebug has found Tiny Tomato Happiness growing cherry tomatoes! (Thanks for the tip, lovely r.h.!) The one pictured above is the runt of the litter, but it’s a perfectly round and healthy runt! mjb is looking forward to a full harvest of cherry tomatoes that are just the right size.
In the meantime, missjunebug plans to add this tiny tomato to her Collection of Tiny Things! That is, until she adds a little s&p and pops it into her mouth!
missjunebug knows what you are thinking. Beets?? Puhleeze. Brussel sprouts? She has got to be kidding. But trust her. This is one of the tastiest vegetable side dishes you will ever eat. Alone beets can be a little hard to take. And those little green mini-cabbages can sometimes be a little bitter. But with a light hand, a little olive oil, a handful of sliced shallots, and toasted almonds: VoilÃ !! You have just created an extraordinarily tasty and colorful sidedish! missjunebug won’t even mention how healthy it is for you!
Try this little photo recipe on for size and flavor! You won’t be sorry!
missjunebug’s Golden Beets and Brussel Sprouts (adapted from an online recipe from missjunebug can’t remember where)
10 or so medium-sized golden beets
12 or so brussels sprouts
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
2-3 Tbsp sliced almonds, toasted
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Roast the beets in the oven at 350Â°F for an hour or so. Roasting will allow the flavor of the beets to develop fully. After roasting, let them cool enough so that you can easily peel them. Then chop into 1 x 1/2 inch chunks.
2. Peel outer leaves of the brussel sprouts and trim stems. On the stem mark a little X with your knife to ensure even cooking. Parboil brussel sprouts in a small saucepan of boiling water for 3 minutes. Test for doneness by cutting one in half. They should be not quite done. They will finish cooking when they are added to the beets. Cut each sprout in half and set aside.
3. Slice the shallots then grab a good-sized skillet. Heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat and add the shallot slices. Stir and cook until the shallots are translucent. Add one more tablespoon of the oil and turn up the heat a just a little.
4. Gently toast almond slices in a skillet on the stove top at medium heat. Stir frequently until lightly brown. Set aside to cool.
5. Add the brussel sprouts and beets to the skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another minute or two, then add those delicious almond slices for the finishing touch!
missjunebug encourages you to say “Yes!!” to vegetables, even the strange ones like golden beets and brussel sprouts!