Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tea with Little Green Apple(s) Tart for Springtime

Spring into a Fresh Apple Tart

A typical French Apple Tart boasts a custard and cake-like shell for the fruit. However, in the 21st century many chefs take another route and forego the heavy filling and cake. Instead, a simple pie crust, plain apples, and a glaze give the dessert tart a rustic look, like the French treat, but it’s easier to make and it can be healthier, too.
Visitors often like to drop by to see me and the fur kids in the summertime but not during late March with our unpredictable snow and rain. I recall one spring night a friend drove over the hill to pay me a visit. She brought gifts. My two dogs were spoiled with squeaky toys and bones, and my cat was busy investigating his new cat tree. In the morning she was gone. An hour later there was a voice on the doorstep.  “Knock, knock.” I said, “Who is it?” “Land shark.”  “Land shark who?” I asked laughing while opening the door.  It was my best friend with her arms full of a bag stuffed with pastries, like the ones we ate at hotels during my earthquake book signing tour in California. I dedicate this semi-homemade fresh fruit tart to my gal-pal with the heart of gold and the Golden State, a place touted for its fruit orchards and nut groves.

California Apple Tart

1 store bought single pie crust 
5 Granny Smith apples, firm, cored (or use Fuji apples)
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
½ orange, juice
½ cup apricot jam, organic
1 tablespoon water
Confectioners’ Sugar for dusting
½ cup walnuts, rough or fine chop
Vanilla or vanilla caramel gelato

Book covers arrived, new TEA book at
printer for galley...#6 in
Healing Powers Series
Place the refrigerated pie crust roll on the counter for about 20 minutes. Put it into a pie dish.  Crimp the edges with your thumb to give it a rustic look.  On a cutting board, quarter apples, leave skins on, cut into thin slices and put in bowl. Mix the apples with sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Squeeze juice over the mixture and fold it in.  Assemble apple slices in a circle around the pie crust and repeat until the apples cover the pie dish. Layer until the fruit reaches the top.  Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and apples are bubbly.  Cool for about 10 minutes. Warm up jam with 1 tablespoon water and spread over apples.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Dust with sugar and sprinkle nuts on top.  Serves 8-10.  Optional: Add a small scoop of gelato.


A double crusted apple pie is more for autumn and winter, whereas, an apple tart is lighter for spring with the apricot sweetness on top of the green apples. The savory spices give it an earthy flavor and are a perfect treat as we slide into a new season but have snow and rain with winter’s chill. It’s a versatile tart and can be served for breakfast with coffee, an afternoon snack paired with black tea, or dessert at night. Enjoying hotel and coffee shop pastries are good, but the scent of apples baking in your oven, and taking the first bite of a tart you made is great for you, your family, and unforgettable friends who make the trek to Tahoe year-round.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spring is in the Air!

20 Tips to
Welcome Spring Into Your Home
Spring has sprung. It’s time to lighten up, with cleaning and feng shui--the ancient Chinese art of placement. By embracing springtime and bringing inside changes you can feel peace and harmony. Read on--you can enjoy renewal by changing things up room by room in your home for the change of seasons--and don't forget to put on a pot of tea and enjoy spring flowers.
Kitchen
1 Use Earth-friendly or green cleaners. Think vinegar and olive oil. It's time to clean your kitchen from top to bottom to be clean like a clean beehive. If you keep it eco-friendly it will provide you with better health and energy.
2  Declutter your kitchen counters. Remove everything and wash down with white vinegar and water.  Getting rid of things you don't use will up your energy. You will feel lighter with less kitchen baggage.
3  Clean out the pantry. Check out the expiration dates of cereals, oils, dried and canned goods. Out with the old and replenish with new items to pair with lighter, spring dishes…
4 … Add fresh salads, sandwiches, and smoothies, and tea--which can help you lighten up in mind and body for the new season when we shed winter weight and wear lighter clothing.
5 Clean the refrigerator, stovetop and oven. This is a chore, but it feels clean and fresh once you tackle each job. Use vinegar and water.
Dining Room/Living Room
6 Boost your mood with plants. To help wipe out pollutants in your kitchen--like beekeepers do with their colonies--fill your window sills with healthy, hardy, happy plants (i.e., cactus and philodendrons).
7 Fish, fish, fish. Goldfish can bring you good luck and prosperity. In fact, nine is the lucky number (and so are eight)…
8 Refresh the water and do a partial fish aquarium cleanup. It will provide positive energy in the room as well as keep your fish happy and healthy. Replace the filters, and add new rock.
9 Bring out the fresh fruit and vegetables. Keep healthful seasonal fruits on display and ready to use. Citrus (such as lemons and oranges) are good for the kitchen counters and artichokes for the dining room and green apples look nice in the living room.
Bedroom(s)
10 Replace darker colored sheets and comforters with a lighter color and material. Fresh white or light grey cotton with a high thread count can boost your mood and help you get better sleep.
11 If there is clutter, remove it. Clean counters give a space a cleaner feel, a lighter mood.
12 Switch framed artwork and photos with more of a springtime look. Think flowers, and colors like green, white, and blue instead of darker hues.
Study
13 It’s the perfect time to replenish your work room with new items. That means refresh this room into a sanctuary. Add fresh paper, pencils, pens, and cartridges for your printer. Clean up your desktop on your computer…
14 Clean the desk and keep it simple. Add a vase and put branches with springtime blossoms in it for a fresh, fragrant look and scent.
Bathroom
15 Switch dark colored towels with fresh, fluffy white, blue, or green ones.
16 Also, you may want to change your bath mat to a lighter material and color, perhaps a natural, grassy texture.
17 Open the bathroom cabinets and like the kitchen pantry, toss out any old items and replenish with new shampoo, cream rinse, and soaps… Springtime makeup should also be updated to new, seasonal colors.
Outdoors
18  Hang wind chimes to hear the wonderful sounds when spring winds blow…
19  Bring out the patio furniture. Add fresh pillows or seat cushions to give your yard a new, fresh look…
20  If you have a deck, sweep, hose down, and paint to give it an update and clean feel for the new season…and get a bird feeder hanger, fill with bird food.

Most importantly, it’s the time to get rid of cob webs, do a thorough vacuuming in every room (move the furniture), dust. and wash windows inside and outside, open them to let the sunshine and fresh air indoors. Then, sit down, exhale, enjoy your clean, decluttered surroundings and renewal of springtime!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Chocolate Bliss for Saint Patrick's Day

By Cal Orey



Welcome to chocolate mousse – a rich and decadent French delight. This sophisticated dessert is incredible when ordered at a restaurant.  Yet, making it yourself it can be tricky. Some recipes use raw eggs which make me think twice of the risks without baking it. A few years ago, I made chocolate mousse with instant chocolate pudding, milk, and real chocolate bits. It was doable. This time around, I switched it up and used the right ingredients and enjoyed the right texture. The best part, it’s easy and fast to make, and you can give it a healthy kick, too.
When putting together this do-over chocolate mousse, it took me back in time when I stayed at South Shore decades ago. I was young and in love. One day frolicking and sunbathing on the beach and running into the water with my significant other chasing me (like a scene out of Hallmark channel movie), I recall an ice cream shop. I chose a creamy chocolate vanilla chip ice cream cone. It was heaven scent. When the tall, tanned girl scooped the speckled ice cream she looked at me and our eyes met.  I said, “One day, I’m going to live here.”  I’ll never forget her smile when I walked away waving goodbye. She recognized my infatuation with the resort town and sweet dessert. I was hooked.

This new version of the memorable chocolate vanilla dessert takes me back to that special day when I fell in love with Lake Tahoe—the Lake, trees, wildlife, and four seasons. And, of course, I want to share it with you.

Chocolate Vanilla Mousse
1 cup Cool Whip Whipped Topping, Creamy (or use real whipping cream)
½ cup cream cheese, whipped
½ cup sour cream
1 capful pure vanilla extract
2-2 1/2 tablespoons premium unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
½ cup whipped cream (cool whip or real whipped cream)
¼ chocolate bar (milk or dark), grated for garnish
½ cup strawberries, fresh, sliced (or blackberries)
Mint leaves, fresh (garnish and optional)
In a mixing bowl combine whipped topping, cream cheese, and sour cream. Once creamy add vanilla, cocoa powder, and sugar. Spoon into ½ cup ramekins (I used oval shaped ones) or small glass parfait glasses. Put into refrigerator for one hour. Frost with whipped cream (you can pipe for a fancy look). Sprinkle with grated chocolate Add strawberries on top or on the side. Serves 2-4 (more berries, less mousse). *Chocolate cream and/or whipped cream are good for piping to provide a fancier look. (For St. Patrick's Day sprinkle top with green sugar candies or fresh fruit such as apples or kiwi.)

This semi-homemade chocolate mousse is yummy but portion control is a must for its sugar, fat, and calories. It’s rich and thick like cheesecake but the fluffy whipped cream on top offers a lighter taste that’s perfect paired with the chocolatey flavor and tart berries. It is a romantic adventure, a bit like the first time visiting Lake Tahoe, falling in love, and appreciating the essence of chocolate vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Meet the Healing Powers Series Author


Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I grew up in the suburbs. It as a safe middle-class neighborhood with a mom, dad, two siblings, and a Dalmatian named Casey. Once in my teens, however, my imagination soared and in class my autobiographies were always read by the teachers who said I had a gift for creative writing.
As time passed, I took to the road with a dog and traveled across America and Canada. Once back in the Golden State I earned two degrees in English (Creative Writing), and ended up being a health journalist. Then, in 1999 I packed up my stuff and left the Bay Area and moved to the mountains. It was goal to write books and live at Lake Tahoe amid towering pine trees and near the water. I graduated to being the author of the popular Healing Powers Series published by Kensington and inspired by Mother Nature.
 
Tell us about your book series. How did it get started?
As a contributing editor for a health magazine I was told by my editor that a publisher needed health book authors. I called an editorial consultant and was offered two choices: I could ghostwrite a book for a cardiologist or write a book on vinegar using a twist. I chose the latter. And The Healing Powers of Vinegar became number one of six books in a series. In the third edition, it show anyone who doesn’t know any better, that versatile vinegar can be used for so much more than Easter eggs and salads.

As a post-hippie girl from the West Coast, a natural, health-oriented lifestyle has always been around me. I’m talking a holistic way of eating and living. It turns out during my book research for the vinegar book that the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle is what I was doing—and I incorporated it into my series.  And it’s timeless. Just the other day I read this diet is ranked number one in plant-based diets and number three in healthful diets throughout the U.S. Here, take a quick look...

From Folk Medicine to 21st-Century Favorite—Discover the Amazing Powers of Vinegar!
Revised and updated, this comprehensive book draws on the latest scientific studies and interviews with top health researchers to reveal how apple cider and red wine vinegars—as well as balsamic, fruit, rice, and herb-infused vinegars—can help you stay healthy. You’ll also find proven home health cures, innovative cosmetic secrets, lively anecdotes, and environmentally friendly household hints—from making countertops sparkle to cleaning up kids and pets.
Take advantage of vinegar’s natural therapeutic, antioxidant, and culinary virtues as this 5,000-year-old healer evolves in new uses and products—from sipping vinegars to home-cooked foods.
Learn how vinegar helps lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and bone loss.
Discover how vinegar’s acetic acid kills bacteria, and may help prevent tuberculosis and combat antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Create home cures to treat allergies, arthritis, toothaches, sunburn, swimmer’s ear, sore throat, and other pesky ailments.
…and discover much more in this invaluable resource to help you slim down, shape up, and enhance longevity!
Anything else you’d like to dish?
Ah, patience. You must be like a cat waiting to catch a mouse. I have persevered for almost two decades to get the project on the topic that is close to my heart and soul—tea. At the end of next year, I should have advance copies on my doorstep. The book is currently in production and entitled The Healing Powers of Tea—and this makes me smile because stories throughout my life are woven in each chapter to give it a dose of reality and originality. Yes, my paw print is on every page.
 
— Cal Orey, M.A.  is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.)  Her website is www.calorey.com

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Perks of Coffee for Spring

Wake Up to the Perks of Irish Coffee

Saint Patrick’s Day—an event from centuries ago--is a time for celebrating the 17th of March around the South Shore. Family, friends, and tourists wear green, eat green foods, and savor Irish brew, including beer, whisky--and Irish coffee.  It can include rum or whisky, brown sugar, cream and/or whipped cream. As the legend goes, the drink was created in Ireland after serving it to people on a boat one wintry evening in the mid-20th century. A chef added whisky to the hot beverage, and he coined it Irish coffee.
As a kid, my mother (Patricia, Irish and Catholic) would dutifully make a big pot of traditional corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, and a key lime pie or cupcakes with green fluffy frosting would be dessert. After dinner my parents would enjoy copper mugs filled with Irish coffee. But that wasn’t the end of java and Saint Patrick’s Day memories for me.

Several years ago, on a snowy March morning, I followed my morning routine. I brewed a cup of hot flavored coffee. I poured a cup of French Vanilla Roast into a 12-once mug and brought it back to bed with me. Warm, cozy, and mentally energized I started to retrieve e-mails on my laptop. I queried my editor and suggested a new book on tea. He dished out another idea—coffee. I was happy and even happier near Saint Patrick’s Day when I was assigned The Healing Powers of Coffee--my fifth Healing Powers Series book. Before my late morning swim that same day, I celebrated with a Starbucks latte. Since then, I’ve learned how to whip up coffee drinks in the comfort of my cabin.



Irish Coffee

2 cups coffee, freshly brewed (I used Starbucks vanilla flavored)
1 cup organic low-fat milk or half and half
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1 cup rum or 2 teaspoons rum extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup coffee gelato or premium ice cream (optional)
1 cup whipped cream
A dash of unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, or nutmeg
Pour hot coffee into a bowl. Add milk, sugar, rum (or extract), and vanilla until mixed.  Pour coffee mixture into four 8-ounce mugs. Then, add a ¼ scoop of gelato into each mug. Put a top layer of whipped cream, swirl. Dust with cocoa powder, cinnamon or nutmeg. Add a straw or cinnamon stick to each.  *Extra: Serve with store bought biscotti or butter cookies. Dip half of each one in white or dark chocolate (melt bar chunks or chips in the microwave—30 seconds, stir, repeat and watch). Sprinkle with green colored sugar sprinkles. Serves 4.

I almost made scones and a pot of Irish Breakfast. Instead, this time around, I wanted to share this easy but ridiculously delicious beverage complete with sugar, spice, and coffee buzz. It is festive and can also be enjoyed iced in the warmer months ahead. On a final note, after 17 years right before the day of four leaf clovers, I received the final book cover copy of my forthcoming book, The Healing Powers of Tea. I admit it. I am a believer. A toast to a bit of Irish luck.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Irish Soda Bread & Tea for Saint Patrick's Day

By Cal Orey

When I was in my twenties, one summer I purchased a paperback book on traveling to Europe (like my mom did in her thirties). It was my dream to visit Ireland, a place famous for its authors. I dog-eared pages about Dublin and Belfast. I could taste fish and chips, and see the lush green countryside. I’d sing out to friends and family, “I’m going to Ireland. I can do it for five bucks a day with hostels, hiking and a backpack.” The result: I ended up staying home with my fur kids, human mate, and finished graduate school. While I never got to Ireland or the UK, earthy Irish cuisine will always be with me – even at Lake Tahoe.
As an adult, I still acknowledge St. Patrick’s Day, but my choice of Irish foods are a bit different from my mom’s dishes. This year, I turned to an Irish soda bread made with flour, baking soda, and buttermilk. It is ideal paired with a cup of Irish breakfast tea. 
Irish Soda Bread with Blueberries
21⁄4 cups all purpose flour or cake flour
1 cup buttermilk
3⁄4 cup light brown sugar
2 brown eggs
1⁄4 cup European-style butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup blueberries, dried, currents or raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Confectioners’ sugar

In a medium-sized bowl, combine dry ingredients. Then, add mixture of eggs, butter milk and blueberries. Mix well. Pour batter into a 9″ by 5″ bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool. Dust top with flour or confectioners’ sugar to give it that fresh sierra snow flair. Garnish with fresh green mint and leftover blueberries. Serves 12.


The luck of the Irish wasn’t on my side and this recipe called for a redo. The first version sunk in the middle like the Titanic. So, I zapped the orange juice, added more flour and baking powder and less blueberries. I blamed the collapsed bread on the high altitude. The second time around, I covered the bread with foil to allow it to bake evenly. It worked like a lucky charm. This quick bread (without yeast or kneading), is not a super moist cake, so topping it with orange-blossom honey or a pat of real butter can give it a superb texture. So, here I sit in my Sierra cabin, amid green pine trees and enjoying a warm slice of Irish soda bread and cup of Irish breakfast tea. Cheers. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Slim Down, Shape Up with a Bit of Chocolate

From the author of 

The Healing Powers of Chocolate...

As we edge into pre-spring with days full of rain and snow, a traditional brownie is not to be ignored.  A brownie is a square baked  treat that can be cakey or fudgy...The brownie was a household word in America back in the 20th century. Brownies are often enjoyed as snacks, also popular in restaurants and coffee shops.  On the South Shore, I’ve purchased brownies at Starbucks, baked them from a brownie mix, and ordered brownies online. This time around I made a batch from scratch.

Several years ago, my former neighbor, best friend, and pet sitter watched my senior Brittany and cat while I went to Reno to shop.  I bought framed art, clothes, a standing mirror, and gourmet brownies.  I wasn’t used to living in a place without malls. I was like a kid in a candy store and brought home all the goodies with a smile on my face. When my gal-pal looked at me with her soulful eyes and said, “Do I get one?” I placed a large chocolate square on a plate. She added, “What about Ed?” I couldn’t say no and two large brownies were a gift.  After all, this senior woman, a surrogate mother to me, taught me throughout the years that Tahoe locals are self-reliant and DIY became an acronym, and part of my vocabulary. She deserved the brownies.
As time passed, like my mom, I began to bake and cook more and buy ready-made food less. Despite writing a book on chocolate, this was the first time since I was a child that I made brownies from scratch—and I sit here wondering, “Why did I wait?” Baking brownies is easy as making it from a mix in a box.  Sometimes going back to nature is best.




Mediterranean Chocolate Chip Brownies
1⁄2 cup European style butter   
1 cup brown sugar
3 brown eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons premium coffee, brewed
½-3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup milk or dark chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Whipped cream for garnish
Toppings: Nuts, berries, chocolate curls, vanilla, coffee, or Mediterranean Mint gelato for pairing with brownies.

Use an 8” by 8” glass baking dish and lightly grease with the butter. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream melted, butter with sugar. Add eggs, beaten, vanilla, and coffee. Mix in cocoa powder, flour, and baking powder till smooth. Fold in chips. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Do not over bake or these brownies will not be chewy. Cool, place in refrigerator, for about an hour to help make the texture less cake-like. Before serving dust with sugar and cut into rustic chunky squares. Serve with whipped cream and/or toppings. Makes about 16-20.  (They freeze well plain if put in an airtight container.)


These brownies are worth making all by yourself because you can add good chocolate, and real butter and exclude artificial ingredients. Less is more (there is sugar and fat), and adding nutritious nuts, berries, and calcium-rich gelato gives it Mediterranean diet flair. The rich, chocolaty flavor of these moist brownies are decadent and guaranteed to make your kitchen smell like a bakery. While my good neighbor has since moved, maybe I’ll whip up a new batch for the new neighbors arriving this spring.