Thursday, August 16, 2018

Shrimp Louis on the Water

By Cal Orey
Feeling the chill in the air at dawn almost lured me into baking a pre-autumn apple cake. But hey, it’s still summertime so Fuji apples sufficed. Instead of me baking for you, I’m dishing up some more clean food to keep us energized and happy. And that spells greens and shellfish.
Ever notice how your favorite foods spawn memories? 

Well, this week on a late summer afternoon when I made this West Coast classic dish, my mind took me back to a past chapter in life. Enter Santa Cruz Mountains... I was living in an amazing home amid towering redwood trees, and the gourmet kitchen boasted a view of the San Lorenzo River. One glitch, though—my next-door neighbors were the landlords and their dog didn’t get along with my Lab. I thought I could mend the problem without a fence and dinner invite. I fried chicken, put together a Shrimp Louis, and baked an apple pie. The food was pricey (which I couldn’t afford) and the meal went well. In fact, the following week the couple reciprocated and served me a meal. It was a casserole dish of mystery meat and canned beans. The end result: Our dogs never got along and within six months my life on the river was washed up and I moved back to the flat land. Blame it on the no name casserole, definitely not my fish fare!
This week I’m treating you to a Shrimp Louis, the kind I savored in San Francisco. I put a fresh spin on it and you will have the name of each ingredient.  
Louis Dressing
¾ cup mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons scallions
2 tablespoons bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh Italian herbs
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
6-8 ounces jumbo shrimp, cooked
2-2 ½ cups baby spinach lettuce, chopped
½ cup avocado, slices
½ cup tomatoes, slices
Lemon slices (for garnish)
Parmesan cheese shavings (optional)
In a bowl, mix all salad ingredients. Keep it chunky after folding in eggs. Chill in fridge for at least one hour. When ready to make your shrimp salad, add remove tails from shrimp (get from your butcher) and add to dressing. Mix well. Place spinach on plates, top with shrimp. Place avocados, tomatoes, avocado, tomatoes nicely around the mound. Garnish with lemon and cheese. Serve with slices of warm artisan French bread. Serves 3-4.
Iceberg lettuce is more classic but spinach is better for you. This salad with roots in California by a variety of chefs, is easy to put together and truly fail-proof, whether you’re trying to impress your neighbors with a good meal or make yourself smile while the weather is still warm and that summer feeling is still lingering in the air. After your fish salad, dish up sliced apples  with iced tea and citrus slices to keep it healthy. Yes, decadent  baked goods are coming soon as fall arrives!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Chill with a Fresh Summer Catch

As we’re edging into fall it’s still too warm to cook and bake. The thing is, I’m a bit tired of no-cook meals: salads, salads, salads. But this month, to turn on the oven is just not happening. The dilemma is, I’m a bit jaded on rabbit food. So, I decided to stir things up a bit in the kitchen for you and me.
This Stir-fry meal takes me back to a time when I was in grad school. I went on a cooking strike (again) while studying for oral exams during Indian summer in the San Francisco Bay Area. I digress. One night I opened up the freezer door and instead of being greeted by ice cream, I got a head’s up. A dozen boxes of Lean Cuisine quickie microwave pasta meals greeted me...
...It was a sign. Images of the film Sleeping with the Enemy come to mind (the scene where all the canned food is lined up in a row).  My mate left the nondescript food and was leaving on a jet plane for work to go to fun by-the-water places while I stayed home and hit the books (not unlike now while I write books for a living). Each night, day after day, as I nuked and consumed the dinner-in-a-box I was envious of not being free and on the road, living real life and savoring real food. But I survived.
Fast forward to present-day. Instead of eating frozen food, I can and do whip up the real stuff. While the heat is on it’s time to turn to pasta and summertime vegetables. Not only is this easy breezy dish easy to create, it’s fast and fresh. Translation: You can get out of the kitchen and  leave cooking and baking for autumn when the air is crisp.
2 cups cooked Whole Grain Penne pasta (or Tri-Color Penne)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon European-style butter
2 tablespoons red onion, chopped
¼ cup green bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup zucchini, chopped or sliced
¼ cup Roma tomatoes, sliced
¼ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, shavings
Fresh basil (garnish)
In a saucepan, cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil and butter in large sauté pan or wok over high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and tomatoes. Stir-fry until all ingredients are hot, vegetables tender. Cook for no longer than 5 minutes. Drain pasta. In a large dish, place pasta (you can drain or not) fold in vegetables. Top with cheese. Drizzle with olive oil. Serves 4.  *If you want to add lean protein, try 8 ounces jumbo shrimp, cooked, rinsed. Add to the vegetable mix and stir-fry along with the colorful bunch.
This quickie real food hits the spot for lunch or dinner. Add slices of herbal bread from your favorite local bakery. And don’t forget iced tea with fresh lemon slices. Go ahead and treat yourself to a scoop of cold gelato (chocolate chip with mint sprigs) for a treat after. So, this is how we do in the summertime on the South Shore. No time to bake indoors when there’s plenty left to do outdoors as the dog days of summer (and walking the dog) linger on. 
--Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, and Superfoods) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is .

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Cornbread with a Sweet 'N Savory Summery Surprise

By Cal Orey
It’s August and I’m still on a baking strike due to the heat wave. Well, sort of. Lately, this summer I’ve been tormented by the aroma of bar-b-que around me outdoors. While I’m a vegetarian, it doesn’t mean those carnivore cravings don’t pay me a visit, from time to time.
During the last hottest month around the Lake (I Googled it), I am also sad because Marie  Callender's on Highway 50 is no more. (I called like ringing up an ex-mate to prove they’re really gone.) As one who eats rabbit food, that was a hot spot for me. Instant gratification. I’d walk in and immediately be greeted with an elderly woman (I guess she was supposed to look like Marie), ice water, a mini loaf of the famous home-style cornbread and little cups of honey butter. Then, I’d walk over to the salad bar and for bunnies, like me, it was heaven at its best. Vegetables galore and different dressings.

I know I’ve dished on Marie in the past. So instead of whining and going down nostalgia lane, I went to the kitchen (three fans were on; four counting the ceiling one) and I whipped up a batch of cornbread for you and me. I changed it up a bit and added fresh herbs and lemon. It’s quick to make and bake. (I suggest doing it in the morning, not afternoon for comfort’s sake.)

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ cup white granulated sugar
1 brown egg
½ 2% low-fat milk
¼ cup Honey Greek yogurt
1/3 cup European-style butter
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon rind
1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon mixed herbs, fresh or dried (basil, rosemary)
Honey Butter
Mix half and half ratio of raw local honey and European-style butter. Chill in refrigerator until solid.
In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and sugar). Add wet ingredients: egg, milk, yogurt, and juice. Fold in rind and herbs. Pour batter into a lightly butter greased 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Do not over bake. Remove from oven and cool in room temperature. Cut into squares.  Makes about 9 to 12 servings. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. Serve warm or cold with honey butter.

The best part is this recipe is fail proof. The squares cut nicely—no sticking to the dish. They look oh-so pretty with the tart lemon rind and green herb mix. Spreading honey butter on a square of cornbread will tease your palate with sweet and savory bites. Yes, yes it will go perfectly with chicken, chili, and the m-word. Also, you can do what I do—pair it with a kale and spinach salad drizzled with olive oil and red wine vinegar.  I miss Marie so much I’m tempted to go buy a pie in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store. Nah, I’ll wait and bake one from scratch come this fall.
Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, and Superfoods) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Blackberry-Orange Juicing for Summer (with a Hint of Fall)

By Cal Orey

Heat wave! On the West Coast summertime is here and it is hot. No way will I go to the kitchen to cook or bake. It's a no-cook week. That means juices, smoothies, salads, and water. During our short summers in Lake Tahoe, we usually get thunderstorms. This year, less than more. Blame it on climate change.
This week, I went swimming yesterday and will do so tomorrow. Sadly, I can't live in the pool, Back home instead of cooking, I made a quick smoothie with fresh summertime blackberries.
1 cup blackberries, fresh, sliced
½ banana, fresh
5 small ice cubes
½ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup vanilla gelato
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sweeten with honey to taste (local preferably)
Add nutmeg and cinnamon to taste (ground from cinnamon sticks is best)
Mint (garnish)
In a blender, combine fruit, ice, juice, and gelato. Blend until smooth. (All the better if your blender has a "smoothie" button.) Add vanilla, honey and spices; blend quickly. Pour into a large milkshake glass. Top with whipped cream, nuts and serve with a straw and spoon. Serves one or two. 
The texture of a smoothie, like this one, is thick and creamy, naturally sweet.Its mix of fruit and spicy flavors are like summer's wild berries with a hint of spices to remind me autumn around the corner. *More smoothies and juice recipes in all of the Healing Powers Series. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Catch a Tuna (Salad) Fish

It’s hot, hot, hot and is not the season to bake bread or fry up fish. If you ask me, it’s the time to reach for a cold tuna fish sandwich, also aka tuna salad sandwich. One version appropriate for summer at the Lake is called the “tuna boat” (served on a roll). So, come along and see how we dish it up mountain style.
Several summers ago, a former surrogate mom-type neighbor of mine was in need of a little help from her friend for dinner. She knocked on my door, and when I opened it she asked, “Do you have an extra can of tuna?” Since I’m a 95 percent vegetarian, canned tuna sat on the bottom shelf in my pantry (usually I have it for Y2K disasters). I handed her the fish (my kitty adores a small piece on rare occasions if used) and she left.
Since we grew up from different generations, I sensed the tuna sandwich would be the salad-less type made with generic mayo, salt, and black pepper. It would be spread on white bread, cut in half and suffice for a nondescript dinner.
This week I turned to tuna (fresh from the butcher would be nice) because during a heat wave the last thing I am going to do is slave over a hot stove. Nor should you! But I can change up a traditional tuna sandwich so you’ll enjoy it. I’m talking about stuffing a sandwich with fresh, organic greens, tomatoes, herbs and spices, and a baguette from your favorite bakery.
1 3-ounce can tuna, albacore packed in water
4 tablespoons mayonnaise with olive oil
2-3 teaspoons red onion, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons ground pepper and fresh herbs (your choice) to taste
½-1 cup kale and romaine salad mix
½ cup Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 or 2 slices of Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
1 fresh French artisan baguette (whole grain or herbal is preferred)
In a bowl, mix tuna with mayonnaise, onion, spices and herbs. Keep it chunky. Chill in fridge for at least one hour. When ready to make your tuna delight, cut a baguette in half. Spread with lettuce, tomatoes, and tuna. Top with a slice of cheese. Serves two open face sandwiches. * You also can slice a baguette and top each one to make a Subway-type sandwich. Serves two. Or you can slice the baguette in diagonal slices to make more than less. And simply double the recipe if you have more neighbors, friends, or family to feed.
Pre-Order at bookstores online
for Fall!
This tuna sandwich isn’t what I was served as a kid. I, like my neighbor, ate tuna on plain white bread (cut in triangles). It was basic without the frills.  Truth be told, if you make this new, improved version with a twist, you may be pleasantly surprised. Plus, not only are you getting lean protein, vegetables, and grains—you’ll get plenty of flavor without the sweat of cooking a hot meal. Don’t forget the iced tea or water with slices of lemon for the chill of it.
--Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, and Superfoods) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Granola Energy Bars and Tea for Summer!

By Cal Orey
Here come the granola bars, a must-have snack in the mountains year-round. These bars, which are a mix of oats, honey, sugar, dried fruit, and nuts molded into a bar are convenient, and taste crazy good, especially if they’re made at home!
These chewy and sometimes crunchy bars go back to the sixties, a time of adventurous on-the-road, financially challenged hippies, often vegetarians. But the ready-made energy bars are still available in grocery stores, health food stores, and online. And you can always whip up a batch so they’re freshly baked and custom-tailored with your favorite ingredients.
Our summers at Lake Tahoe are known to have unforgettable thunderstorms. One dark, warm afternoon the quietude, lightning, thunder (repeat), rain, and hail followed. Inside the cabin I knew what was next. A power outage hit. For hours without a computer, TV, music, or stove (mine is electric) I tried to go with the flow. After hours I opened up the pantry and was greeted by a brand name box of granola bars. They were doable as I was going into camping mode with the dogs and cat, but, but, but—the packaged bars lacked flavor and were hard. I vowed to get creative and make my own bars (when the lights came back on). And I did. This time around, though, I switched up my go-to recipe for a bit of novelty.
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts, rough chop
½ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons European style butter
¾ cup honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup each dried cranberries, apricots, crystalized ginger or golden raisins
1 teaspoon European style butter, melted
In a pan place dry ingredients (oats and nuts). Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Remove. Set aside. In a saucepan, combine sugar, butter, and honey. On medium heat stir and hat until it boils, remove. Add vanilla and cinnamon. Stir. Fold in dried fruit. Butter a square baking dish. Bake in a 300 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in room temperature. When firm, use a spatula underneath the granola mixture and turn out on cutting board. Cut into bars. Makes about 10 to 12. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. *If you like your bars super soft, put in microwave for several seconds. Like 'em chewy? You got it!
Your kitchen will smell heavenly like a cookie store. You’ll love munching on the granola bar with your name on it. Pair it with iced tea or homemade lemonade (lemon juice, water, sugar to taste, and ice). Keep in mind, you can add any ingredients, including seeds, coconut, other dried berries, and even chocolate chips. If you want to get fancy melt white chocolate (a premium bar is best) in the microwave (about 30 seconds, watch and stir) and drizzle on top of the bars. Homemade granola bars are wholesome year-round, but during a summer storm makes them taste like you’re cozy indoors at home with or without electricity.
Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, and Superfoods) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Healing Powers Series Author INTERVIEW

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.
Gift Size (mass market)
3rd ed. Released Dec. 18, 2018
Tell us about your book? 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!

32 color photos included
Anything else you’d like to share?

Ah, patience. You must be like a cat waiting to catch a mouse in the writing world. 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 2017, The Healing Powers of Tea was published—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.
Fast-forward to the new book, The Healing Powers of Superfoods will be unveiled December 18, 2018. This book is very close to me and I am excited to see the proofs and advanced reader copies due out in August 2018.
— 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