missjunebug has been doing some interesting reading lately. She came across a quotation in Roger Rosenblatt‘s book of personal meditation entitled Kayak Morning reflections on love, grief, and smallboats that is not only worth sharing, it is worth living by. Read it and believe. Then act on it!
Be kind, for everyone you meet is carrying a great burden.
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!
So as missjunebug’s doctor once said a few years ago after viewing a pathology report that didn’t bode too well, “You have a little more work to do.”
Turns out missjunebug had a lot more work to do over the next few years, and honestly, she’s just happy to still be here, but she’s not so happy to have to go back in the hospital, that most confounding of locations to try to rest, to heal, and to get well!
So many pokes, prods, sticks, interruptions in sleep and machinery beeps! Food? Forget it. Ice chips only on the menu. Sleep? Not a chance. Vitals are checked around the clock. Blood work clocks in nice and early, too! Too bad for you, missjunebug!
But missjunebug has a plan! Thanks to wise words of Dr.O’, she knows exactly what to do: Welcome Distractions!
missjunebug will forego all those challenging book club reads (Wolf Hall–no way Thomas x 3–so confusing! The sequel?? Bringing Up the Bodies ack! No more Mantel! , Anna Karenina–catch that train later!–so depressing) and stick to the escapist fiction she craves–Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, here missjunebug comes!! Then she’ll segue straight to Netflix for a binge watch worthy of a week-long hospital sequester. Rom coms! Noir thrillers! Historical sagas! PBS Masterpiece Classics!
Eyes like buttons? Then how about a little Art Studio work on her iPad. The thrill of painting sans mess! Yeah, that’s the way to while away time transfixed. Then onto the pile of WSJ “Personal Journal” sections she’s been saving for weeks. So much fun to read to keep a finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist. Crosswords? Yes! Sudoku? Absolut! Facebook updates? What’s the latest? Stumble Upon? Certainly!
What do all these things have in common? They allow missjunebug to indulge in some pretty pointless distractions that keep her mind off the tubes (a pox upon the NG!), IVs, compression stockings, blood pressure cuffs, and thermometer readings temporarily imprisoning her like a bug in a bell jar. Oh, and the pain, too. They keep her mind off the pain. Of course, the meds help do that, too!
Indulgent distractions. No guilt.
missjunebug can be productive another time. With enough mindless distractions, she just might make it through ovarian cancer recurrence part deux.
missjunebug is beginning to recover from her Christmacoma. She’s eaten her way through the Christmas ham, the New Year’s flank steak, the sweets and treats downed by the occasional Old Fashioned (Let’s here it for Maker’s Mark Bourbon! Cheers!) Mr.JB is back at work (reluctantly), ElderJB is back in Rwanda (happily) with his latest transfer of as many American products as he can fit into multiple (read 6) oversized duffle bags, TinyJB is recovering (slowly) in Miami from the devastating loss of the Irish to the Crimson Tide and may be recovering from other things as well, like too much food and drink in their awesome Club level seats at the Discovery Stadium he and his girl enjoyed until the Tide rolled. Touchdown Jesus clearly had better things to do last night than ensure an Irish win. To loosely quote the Scot: The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men and football teams gang aft a-gley.”
Well today missjunebug has better things to do than cry over what might have been. She’s ready for a makeover! She’s re-established contact with her gym and had the head trainer take her through the machines one by one that might help her salvage her muscle mass most of which withered away in her way-too-long stay in the hospital last year. She’s also enlisted the help of a walking buddy: Spoonbug, her dear Labradoodle who loves to walk when given the opportunity! To keep her on track her dear neighbor and friend Maria waits for missjunebug and Spoonbug at the top of a tough hill for a Monday through Friday uphill walking workout! Whew! It’s tough but good and the best part is the talking therapy that goes on where Maria and missjunebug solve all the problems of the world, including a few of their own.
The best thing about exercising a little more is that missjunebug finds she wants to make better food choices, too. What a concept! With a little help from Weight Watchers online, missjunebug can track her intake and help herself to a stronger, better, healthier her! The fact that missjunebug already ate every speck of the Christmas cookies, New Year’s cake, and gifts of candy she received helps keep her on track!
Seriously, missjunebug is planning her makeover one step at a time and hoping to be her best new self by mid April when she and Mr.JB head to Paris! They are hoping the TravelingProfessor.com website will attract a few more Francophiles for the spring trip the Professor has planned! The Prof needs 8 to make the trip a go! Check out his fab site and consider coming along (that means you, JBBro and JBSis-in-Law!!!) Of course, ElderJB and TinyJB are always welcome but missjunebug hears they have other plans!
missjunebug wishes you a Happy New Year and a New New You if you need one!
No, this is not a post about the best place to imbibe alcohol during the holidays! missjunebug wants to share with you her recipe for fruity and nutty Holiday Bars. If you never got into fruitcake but enjoy dates, raisins, and walnuts, this holiday cookie is for you. Mega Delicious and Semi Healthy describes this bar perfectly. Easy to make, easy to freeze, easy to take to any party or cookie exchange, and very, very easy to eat!
missjunebug’s Holiday Bars
(adapted from an ancient but beloved cookbook entitled Cookery for Entertaining)
1 (8-oz.) package Sun Date California Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup raisins, Trader Joe’s golden or SunMaid regular or a mix of both kinds
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup sugar, divided
1 stick butter (1/4 lb.), room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, organic
2 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons orange juice
Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 375°. Grease 2 baking sheets (or use Silpat liners or parchment paper); set aside. Stir together in a large bowl dates, raisins, walnuts, orange peel, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup sugar until the fruit is well coated; set aside. In a separate bowl or Kitchen Aid mixer (best choice!) cream butter and the remaining sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Whisk together in a small separate bowl the flour, baking powder, salt, and orange juice. Then add this flour mixture to the sugar and egg mixture. Add the dates, raisins, and walnuts mixture and stir until blended. The dough will be stiff.
Divide dough into four equal portions and shape two logs (12″ x 2″ x 1/2″) on each prepared baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes until slightly brown. The logs will feel soft but they will firm as they cool. Cool for 15 minutes. Cut diagonally into 3/4″ bars. Dust with powdered sugar. These freeze well in Zip-loc freezer bags or cookie tins. Makes approximately 64 delicious bars!
After you make these, you can head to your fav holiday bar and celebrate! Cheers!
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 watched a very interesting documentary last night on her fabulous instant view Netflix account. Fathead takes on the Super-Size Me documentary and pretty much dismantles its pseudo-science as well as its anecdotal portrayal of a guy who overconsumes McDonald’s intent on proving how heinous fast food franchises are. According to the Fathead documentary that’s just a bunch of bologna! Tom Naughton’s experiment of one month of fast food contributed to a lowering of his cholesterol (the bad LDL) and bringing his weight down by over 12 pounds. His doctor couldn’t believe it and yet, there it was. The throwback to a carb inhibited, high fat, high protein diet a la Atkins made for a slimmer, healthier Tom N.
missjunebug will leave it to you to decide which camp you’re in, but her take away lesson from Fathead andthe entertaining nay-sayerÂ Tom Naughton is that fast food isn’t the problem. Run amok carb consumption is.
As the universe would have it, a day after watching this funny but cogent documentary, missjunebug tuned into Dr. Oz today where Gary Taubes was taking apart limb by limb, or should missjunebug say carb by carb, Dr. Oz’s low fat, low calorie, complex carb-based diet that is the mantra of many these days. Taube’s book Good Calories, Bad Calories embraces the theory that insulin spikes from carb consumption grow fat cells and keep people from losing weight who are sensitive to carbs. The calories in/calories out just may not explain everything after all.
So what’s a junebug to do? This must she knows for sure, the sugar’s got to go and Dr. Gott probably had it right all along with his No Sugar, No Flour Diet. She plans to err on the side of less sugar rather than more and to save those delicious French baguettes for special occasions. Or at least she can try. Meh.
Happy Thanksgiving! missjunebug loves this holiday and hopes you do, too! Savory food and family and all that pie! And so much to be thankful for!
Turns out that’s a really good thing to be: thankful. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Grateful people are happier, healthier long after the leftovers are gobbled up.”
The benefits of gratitude are legion: more of all the good things we want as human beings: optimism, energy, social connections, money (!), exercise, sleep, and even resistance to viral infections!!
missjunebug encourages you to cultivate gratitude daily in a gratitude journal, in daily prayer, in meditation, or in your own special way. missjunebug writes her thanks on those little iPhone post-it notes and in her Moleskines and she concludes each evening with her Dear Lord, thank you for this day prayer. Keep it simple. Make it grateful. Amen to that!
missjunebug has been busy lately reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Being a true-blue fan of self-help books, mjb was happy to pick up The Happiness Project having read a one-page preview of its precepts early on in Real Simple magazine (one of mjb’s favs). She’s even sent copies to her two sons ElderJB and TinyJB and she’s discussed some of its precepts with Mr.JB.
To give you a better idea of Gretchen’s approach, let missjunebug fill you in on her plan for Â November. That’s the next to last chapter that missjunebug is in the middle of right now and very close to the final page of the book. The theme for November’s happiness pursuit is Keep a Contented Heart and missjunebug definitely hearts that idea!
Gretchen hopes to meet these happiness “challenges” in November: Laugh out loud. Use good manners. Give positive reviews. Find an area of refuge. Neat ideas, Gretchen! In the course of the chapter, she learns to listen fully and engage in a full belly-laugh response when the joke is deserving instead of rushing to do the talking. She begins to value kindness and being kinder especially in her conversational style which at times can be a bit peremptory and one-ups man. She also comes to terms with the dark desire of humans to play constant critic, instead of doing the braver thing: to embrace joy. Her Barry Manilow example is well worth the price of the book. She finishes off the chapter with her very helpful idea of seeking out mental areas of refuge that can be as simple as mentally visiting a few things, people, and places that never fail to provide little packets of joy.
missjunebug thinks these very personal but powerful connections are the perfect push toward greater happiness in a rough and tumble world. And this terrific book looks at such connections to happiness in each of its other month-entitled chapters, January through December, all chock full of happiness wisdom earned the hard way by Ms. Rubin’s own personal trial and error. And believe missjunebug when she says, if Gretchen doesn’t get happy doing the particular happiness activity or process she sets for herself, she’s the first to jettison it and move on. Smart move, G.
The secret to missjunebug’s happiness in reading this very savvy, atypical, and highly recommended self-help book The Happiness Project is that she will be able to share her takeaways from it with the three shiny, happy people in her blessed life: Mr.JB, ElderJB, and TinyJB!