Jessica Bo Bessica

I started this blog way back in August in hopes that I would actively update it with my various projects, adventures, and ramblings. But after one half-hearted entry about a trip to San Diego, I pooped out. I blog for a living, so sometimes it’s understandably hard for me to come home and blog some more.

But a news story this week lit a fire under my blog writing butt. A story about my dear city, Fresno.

You may have heard that Forbes has declared Fresno the “Dirtiest City In America.” I read the article and my brain almost immediately exploded with frustrations:

1. Fresno actually has a lot of good things going for it!

Compared to other California wonders, the Central Valley may seem insignificant and lame. I get that. We’re not trendy like “the City” or exciting like Los Angeles. But then again the same goes…

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I am thankful for one of the most amazing people I have ever known – my grandmother. From her, I get my snark, my (dry, and sometimes seemingly non-existant) sense of humour, my passion for animals, my love of baking, and even my occasional outbursts of cynicism.

I learned the basics of swimming in her pool, she helped foster my love of reading and my creativity, she taught me how to make koulourakia (my favourite cookie!), and, for the last 27 years, she has inspired me to be a stronger, better person.

She lost her battle with cancer on Sunday, and I am going to miss her so, so much.

Gramma. On her way to chemo. 2011. In my Warrior Dash hat.

Calling all Vegan bloggers!

Calling all Vegan bloggers!

Vegan Bloggers Unite is looking for vegan bloggers to submit posts this week.  Click the link above for more information.

Vegan MoFo; taking a break

I’m terribly sorry for not being able to keep up with Vegan MoFo this year. It really is my favourite time of year. Unfortunately, due to an illness in the family, I will be taking a break from blogging.

I am happy to say that I am testing recipes for Joni Marie Newman’s (of Just the Food) next cookbook, and I do hope to post photos of the awesome food I’ll be testing and eating.

I will leave you with a picture of my killer halloween costume:

Headless Marie Antoinette

And the gorgeous cake I just finished for a friend’s wedding:

Vegan MoFo Day 25; Spicy Pepper Jelly

Every year, our pepper plants are more prolific than we expect, and every year, we plant way too many of them. My absolute favourite way to use up excess peppers is in pepper jelly. I especially love to put it on top of a bagel & Better Than Cream Cheese. I also love to just dip crackers into it. Or spread it on crackers… whichever.


This recipe makes a lot. 12 half pint jars. Actually, I think I got 12 4oz jars and 7 half pint (8oz) jars. You’re going to want to make at least this much. Trust me.

The beautiful thing about jelly is that if you don’t have the means to water bath your jars. You can still do it. Once you’ve put the hot jelly into the warm, sanitized jars, make sure your lids are on tight, and flip them upside down. Let them stay that way 24 hours. They seal almost every time.

You’ll need:

2C chopped green bell pepper

2/3C chopped jalapeno

4 chopped habenero peppers

12C sugar

3C apple cider vinegar

2 boxes Sure Jell pectin (yes, it’s Kraft brand, and they’re terrible for any number of reasons, but, it’s all I can find locally. If you choose not to use it, you’re going to need 3.5 oz dry pectin)

Pulse your peppers in a food processor until finely minced (just leave them chopped if you’d rather have big chunks of peppers in your jelly, or do half and half, it’s up to you)

Combine peppers, sugar, and vinegar in a large pot. Bring to a rolling boil (It took me a good 15 minutes, but, I’m at a high elevation. I’m willing to bet, if you live near sea-level, it’ll only take 5-10 minutes)

Stir in pectin.

Add to jars, leaving about a 1/2 inch head room.

If you’re using a water bath, process for 13 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes in bath before removing. Let sit 24 hours before storing.

Vegan MoFo Day 23; Peach Pie Filling


So, after pickling all those peaches last week, you’ve still got a tree full of peaches. What do you do?

Make pie, of course!


This filling is great for pies, or, if you’re feeling too lazy to make a pie crust, make a crumble.

1 quart is perfect for 1 pie or crumble/crisp

You’ll need (per quart):

3lbs peaches

3/4C brown sugar

1/4C lemon juice

2T tapioca pearls (not quick-cooking, because you’re canning it for later use, regular is just fine)

1/2tsp vanilla

3/4tsp cinnamon

1/2tsp nutmeg

shake of salt

Combine ingredients. Pour into prepared quart jars. Process 15 minutes.

Vegan MoFo Day 17; Dehydrating

I can’t believe it’s already day 17 of Vegan MoFo! Where has the month gone? I feel terrible about not blogging as much as I have in the past for Vegan MoFo, but, it’s been a busy month, and, honestly, when I signed up, I wasn’t sure I’d get more than a post a week in. 😦

So, this one’s a quickie. Dehydrating is pretty easy, and you can dehydrate anything.

I usually store dehydrated goods in an airtight container in the fridge, if it’s still moist; in the freezer, if I plan on keeping it a while; or in my pantry, if I know I’ll probably be using it quickly, and there isn’t much moisture left in it.

A few dehydrating tips:

1. when foods are still warm from the dehydrator, they’re going to be more flexible than they will when they cool down.

2. try to cut your food into chunks or slices that are about the same size. That way, they’ll all be done at the same time.

3. If you’re dehydrating different foods at the same time, remember, they may not all be finished at the same time. Keep them on separate trays, so, when one is finished, you can easily remove it.

Today, I started my second-favourite dehydrated food – watermelon. It tastes like candy. You should all do it. Just remember, the watermelon will shrink to less than half its original size.

Tomorrow’s post, more peaches! Stay tuned!

Vegan MoFo weekend two; Chopped Challenge

Happy weekend, foodies!

This weekend’s challenge is a “Chopped” challenge. In our baskets this weekend, we have:

Butternut squash, popcorn, fresh rosemary, and apricot preserves

The challenge is a brunch challenge, so we have to make brunch with these four ingredients. I was totally worried at first. I’ve never cooked with popcorn before. And I certainly never would have thought to put these flavours together.

I decided to go with one of my favourite brunch/breakfast/snack items – muffins. I can’t get enough muffins. Especially if they’ve got a crumb topping.

I give you – Apricot Filled Butternut Squash Muffins with Caramel Corn Crumb Topping.

Roast a small squash (you’re only going to need a cup of mashed squash). Once it’s roasted, spoon out the inside and smash it up. Set aside.

For the caramel corn:

3 quarts popcorn (pop 1/3 C kernels in 1T coconut oil)

1/2C coconut oil (measured solid)

1C brown sugar

1/4C dark corn syrup

1/2tsp salt

1tsp vanilla

1/4tsp baking soda

melt coconut oil in sauce pan. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it’s at a boil, let it boil 5 minutes without stirring. Take off heat, add baking soda and vanilla.

Pour over popcorn, mix well. Spread popcorn over a baking pan. Bake at 250* for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the muffins:

1/2C your favourite vegan shortening

1C sugar

1/2C non-dairy milk

1C mashed butternut squash

a 2 inch sprig of rosemary

2C flour

3tsp baking powder

1/2tsp salt

3T apricot preserves

Take leaves off rosemary stems and smash them up really well in a mortar. Add to squash.

Cream the shortening and sugar. Add non-dairy milk. Add squash/rosemary mixture.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to sugar/squash mixture.

Fill greased large muffin pan halfway. Add 1/2 tsp apricot preserves to each muffin. Top with remaining dough.

Bake at 375* for 30 minutes. Top with chopped caramel corn, and bake another 5 minutes to melt the caramel onto the muffins.

Makes 6 giant muffins, or 12 regular sized muffins.

Vegan MoFo, Day 12; Pickled Peaches

Sorry for the very long delay in getting this awesome peaches post to you! Trust me, it’s worth the wait.


Our peach tree doesn’t always produce peaches. When it does, there aren’t very many of them, they’re usually not tasty, and are mostly pit. One year, we got peaches the size of softballs. It was awesome, but, it hasn’t happened in about 10 years. So, this year, we were shocked to see peaches growing everywhere on this thing. Seriously, everywhere. A huge branch broke off the tree because there were so many on it. And they taste amazing – perfectly sweet, great texture. All-in-all, great peaches. Oh, and they’re about the size of apricots. Tiny. Two or three bites tiny. Perfect for lunch boxes (If you’re going to pack six…), perfect for on-the-go, and perfect for pickles.

Never had a pickled peach? They’re great on bundt cake, ice cream, cheesecake, oatmeal, cereal, or straight out of the jar.

They’re a lot of work. Especially when you’ve got peaches as small as mine – it took 30 peaches to fill three and a half 8oz jars. Woah. That’s a lot of peeling for very few pickles. Is it worth it? I think so. But, not all the time. Maybe even not every year. It’s a great once-in-a-while treat to put together on a weekend day you want to spend in the kitchen.


You’re going to need:

6 pint jars (or 12 half pint, aka jelly, aka 8oz, jars)

For the syrup:

3 cinnamon sticks

6-8 whole cloves

a knob of fresh ginger, sliced into a few rounds

3 1/3 C apple cider vinegar (while I’m a big fan of raw ACV everywhere else, don’t use it when canning)

5 C sugar

For the peaches:

1lb of peaches/pint – so, for this recipe, you’re going to use about 6lbs – ideally, you’re going to use small peaches, but, I know they’re really hard to find. If you can’t find them, no big deal, just get what you can

enough water to cover the peaches (about 8 cups) – and squeeze the juice of one lemon into it

Throw your spices into a reusable tea bag (large), cheesecloth pouch, or big tea diffuser. Bring spices, sugar, and ACV to a boil in a large pot (you’re going to have to fit all your peaches into it later) Turn off heat, let sit while you process the peaches.

Peel and halve each peach (if you’re using big peaches, quarter them) and put them in the lemon water.

Once you’re finished with the peaches, bring your syrup back to a boil and add the peaches. Return to a boil, and turn off heat.

Add peaches to prepared pint jars, leaving about an inch of head-space. Top with syrup, leaving a half inch head-space.

Once jars are full, process for 20 minutes. Once done, turn off heat and let jars sit 5 minutes. Place them on cooling rack and let sit 24 hours. As always, refrigerate any jars that don’t seal.

Vegan MoFo Iron Chef Challenge; 1st Weekend: Beetroot!

Okay, so I was going to take a weekend break from Vegan MoFo blogging, as I’m running out the door to go camping. However, when I saw that beets are the secret ingredient, I couldn’t just leave it alone. One of my favourite pickled foods is beets. They’re even better if you pickle them with radishes. They’re great on sandwiches, veggie burgers, salads, and all alone. Make these.

Roasted Pickled Beets and Radishes

You’re gonna need:

6 pint jars
10 beets (about 3lbs)
4 cups radishes
1/3C sugar
1T canning salt
2 3/4 C vinegar
2 1/2 C water

Roast beets in foil for 45 minutes. Let cool, then peel. Once peeled, cut into wedges.
Cut radhishes into wedges.
Prepare your canning equipment.
In a large-ish pot, combine sugar, salt, vinegar, and water. Bring to a boil. Let it boil for about a minute. Add beets and radishes and let it all simmer until heated through. Remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to tightly pack the beets and radishes into the jars – you’ll want to leave about an inch of headspace. Once packed, pour liquid in jars – you’ll want to leave about a half inch of headspace. After removing air bubbles, add more liquid if necessary. Place lids and rings on jars
Place jars in pot and return to a boil. Process for about 30 minutes. Once finished, let the jars sit in water for about 5 minutes. Transfer jars to a cooling rack and let sit for 24 hours. Refrigerate (and enjoy) any jars that don’t seal.

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