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 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Italian Pasta Salad and Iced Tea--Summer Must-Haves

By Cal Orey
Hello Pasta salad, with a Mediterranean flair. Nothing says summer like a quick-cook and make cold noodle salad chock-full of colorful vegetables. It is a salad with cooked pasta (served cold), often mixed with a vinaigrette or Italian dressing. It can be an appetizer, side dish, or entrée (especially with more than less protein).  Pasta salad is often regarded as a summertime meal, but it can be served year-round.
Rotini, shell, penne, elbow or bowtie pasta shapes are the most traditional. Add-ins include crucifers, cheeses, nuts, herbs, spices, poultry, or seafood. Broccoli, carrots, olives, onions, and Parmesan and/or hard cheeses can also be found in this salad served at picnics to buffet bars.

"Nothing says summer like a cold noodle salad chock-full of colorful

One summer the love of my life paid me a visit. On this particular day we were out of sync. This is the place, paradise amid pine trees and a Lake, where we’d interview subjects for magazine articles, gambled at casinos, hiked on trails, went to midnight movies in Reno, strolled by the river, and ate at Reno-Tahoe Sizzler(s) savoring the favorite salad bar with its Pasta salad(s). When he asked, “What do you want to do?” He looked bored. He was distant. A few hours later, after few words in between, he drove off the hill at dusk to the flat land. Ironically, I had stuffed the fridge with our favorite foods, including store bought Italian Pasta salad. That night I grabbed the plastic deli container, sat with my dog on the deck and munched on the chilled, familiar noodles. While the pasta was good as always--a constant--it was apparent the romance in my world was stale.
So, while love comes and goes, some foods, like Pasta salad is there waiting for us, like a warm and furry loyal canine friend, always there during the best and worst of times. After time passed, I learned how to make homemade Italian Pasta salad, inspired by the Bay Area, my home.
2 cups Rotini and/or other small pasta, cooked (multi-colored)
1 cup broccoli and cauliflower florets, steamed or boiled (do not overcook)
½ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup black olives, sliced
¼ cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
½ cup cheese (crumbled blue or Monterey Jack)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup Vinaigrette or all-natural premium Italian store bought dressing
In a bowl combine vegetables, cheese, nuts, herbs, spices, and poultry, or seafood. Set aside. Boil pasta. Remove from stove top. Mix in chosen ingredients. Add dressing, fold in gently. Chill in refrigerator. Makes 3-4 servings.
This salad can be pre-made. To make it more fun you can make a chilled Pasta salad bar much like a potato or ice cream bar. Dish up the pasta with dressing. Add spices. In small dishes provide a variety of ingredients, including vegetables, cheeses, nuts, and lean protein—all chopped. Let your guests make their own salad. Not only is it oh so good, especially with the tang of artichoke hearts and olives (these can be found fresh in the deli at the grocery store) and filling with cheeses and summery vegetables. Pair it French bread and iced tea with a twist of berries. The best part is, mixing it up so everyone loves noodle salad with people or solo.
-- 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, June 28, 2018

Banana Berry-Nut Bread Rocks for the 4th of July

Banana Berry-Nut Bread That Rocks

By Cal Orey
I have a thing for banana-nut bread, have had since I was a kid. Of all the recipes I’ve used, this one, dedicated to the festive holiday, is one I especially like. Traditional banana-bread calls for ripe bananas. When making this particular quick bread this week it was strange because I got a banana flashback to 2006.
During a book tour with the late geologist Jim Berkland we had an unforgettable earthshaking debate about bananas. (He’s the man who predicted the San Francisco Earthquake that rocked the Earth on October 17, 1989 during the World Series.) We had time to pass before our Barnes and Noble Bookstore signing in Walnut Creek. So, he decided to drive us to Mount Diablo (an amazing geological region he pointed out to me, curve by curve; and it was one of the four places did predict earthquakes to happen every month). I was getting mega motion sickness. He graciously offered a banana—it was too ripe. He didn’t get it that I like my bananas fresh without any ripe nature to them. I resisted.
While making this bread, I added the dry ingredients to the pureed ripe bananas and recalled our drive, the signing (it was crowded and he got a lot of attention), and our other book tours (even one at our former South Shore bookstore), radio gigs, and visits at his home and mine. So while we bickered like father and daughter over the overly ripe banana, this time around in my kitchen the mushy banana was accepted--it made a super bread. So here, this banana-bread of mine may rock your taste buds like it did mine with its extra flavor.

Blueberry Banana-Nut Bread
1 ¾ cup sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup European style butter
½ cup sugar (I used granulated white)
2 organic eggs
¼ cup organic half-and-half
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
½ cup fresh blueberries, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, half-and-half, and vanilla. Stir in fresh bananas and berries. Fold in nuts. Spoon batter into a bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour until golden brown and firm on top. Cool. You can leave in pan and cut slices. Serve 8-10.
This banana-bread is ideal for breakfast, brunch, a snack, or dessert. For a pretty look, you can sprinkle confectioners’ sugar on top, or with a dollop of whipped cream. Topped with fresh strawberries (and blueberries for the Fourth) makes it special. I still like my bananas almost green and very firm, but ripe bananas are phenomenal with strawberries and will make your home-style bread rock.
-- 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, June 21, 2018

Pesto Pasta is a Summertime Superfood!

By Cal Orey

Welcome to a Pesto Pasta, a scrumptious summery hot (or cold) dish that has a history that goes back to the ancient Roman era. It is a green paste put together by mixing basil, garlic, salt, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and olive oil.  Pine nuts to walnuts have been included. Mint leaves as a garnish and even grape tomatoes served on pasta make it complete as a side dish or light meal.
This week I was talking with an acquaintance who said to me, “My move was a horrific experience! You have no clue.” I listened. I took a deep breath, biting my tongue so I wouldn’t snap back. Later, while munching on a dish of cold homemade Pesto Pasta I went back in time.
During the summer of 1999, I took the leap of faith, packed up my stuff including a senior dog and cat, and moved to the mountains. It was 105 degrees driving through Sacramento, the SUV’s AC fizzled, and I lost my dear fish Shakespeare. The moving men dumped my belongings on the deck at dusk to make it down the hill before dark. But I made the trek and embraced novelty.
Back to present-day, I realized the change forced me to be more self-reliant. As I finished the pasta I thought, “Gosh, years ago I’d buy the deli type.” And so it goes. Experiencing newness is good but getting there is well, spooky, kind of like making a dish you haven’t made before.  But once you dive in like swimming in a pool or lake, and just do it you may be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to do.
So, here is an extremely easy budget-friendly pesto pasta plate to create in the comfort of your home. It’s San Francisco Bay Area-inspired since I used to order it hot at my favorite Italian restaurant and cold at the grocery store deli.
DIY Pesto Pasta

1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced 
Pepper and sea salt to taste 
Whole grain pasta, cooked (spaghetti or rotini, preferred)
½ cup Parmesan cheese 
Fresh mint or parsley sprigs
In a blender or food processor, chop and puree basil, garlic and olive oil. Blend well. Add spices, fold in tomatoes. Top ½ cup pesto on top of a serving of pasta. Toss with pasta or leave as is. Sprinkle with cheese. Garnish with mint or parsley. Makes 4. Serve with fresh French bread with European-style butter of olive oil. Sometimes almonds or walnuts are used instead of pine nuts. The flavor of pesto is different than tomato sauce. When I first tasted it (my godmother made it) I developed a love-hate relationship with green noodles. But as time passed, my palate grew up and the rest is history. Pairing juicy tomatoes, cheese with a nutty taste make it even more pleasing and something to write home about.  Don't forget the iced tea and lemon!
I’ll never forget the move to the Sierra, something that came to fruition since I was in my twenties, bit by bit, until I made it happen. Whether it’s a major move or changing your eating style and cooking up a dish you never thought you could do yourself—it’s real life. Go ahead hit the kitchen and get to know pesto pasta. You’ll be glad you did.

-- 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--pre-order for Fall!) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Surprise Twist on Trail Mix for No-Cook Summertime Fun

By Cal Orey
Here comes the sun and summer. It’s a time to celebrate fun and no-cook foods. Grilling fish, poultry, and vegetables outdoors is popular but so is enjoying an abundance of fresh fruit (such as berries and melons) and vegetables (salads and corn  on the cob) and fun finger foods without a lot of fuss.
Enter trail mix and ice cream with a twist. Trail mix or “gorp” is a word not uncommon to hiking fans. This mix of nuts and dried fruit goes back to seventies. It was touted as a popular energy snack for hikers and health-conscious granola guys and gals, like me. Its wholesome ingredients can include dried fruit, nuts, and seeds. As the season is changing around the Lake, I’ve learned that by enjoying fun foods, like trail mix, can make summertime fun at work and play.
Last summer when I was traveling to Victoria, B.C., I’d munch on trail mix (the pricey kind you buy in a bag at the airport). Once in Canada I followed the plan to swim in the morning, savor the harbor and boating in the afternoon. One day when walking on the wharf, I was taking photos of a lone sea otter that made me feel welcome like I was in San Francisco. After the unique bond, I treated myself to an ice cream cone. Sitting down on a bench overlooking the water, I reached into my purse. A bag of trail mix fell out. I thought, “I’m going to sprinkle the nut and fruit mix on the ice cream for a nice crunch.” Not only was it a twisted treat, to this day the combination of trail mix and ice cream are two treats I like and take me back to that special day I loved. So here, go ahead and enjoy my Canada-inspired summer fun fare.
Summertime Trail Mix
¼ cup golden raisins or dried pineapple
¼ cup ginger (crystalized)
¼ cup cashews
¼ cup white chocolate chips
¼ cup banana chips
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup sweetened coconut or popped popcorn (optional)
In a plastic container, combine the dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, banana chips, and seeds. Serves 4. You can eat it by the handful as a snack or top it on granola or oatmeal for breakfast.
Trail Mix Ice Cream Cone
2 cups premium gelato or ice cream
4 ice cream cones (your choice of type, organic, preferably)
½ cup Summertime Trail Mix
Put ½ cup of ice cream into each cone. Top with trail mix. Or if you’d like, you can simply put the trail mix into the cone without ice cream. Serves 4.
This trail mix combination is ideal for warmer days. The ingredients in the mix are lighter than what I use in fall or winter. The superfoods boast a summer-ish slant. And the ice cream or gelato (chocolate chip or vanilla bean are super) are decadent and even good for you in moderation. So, as summer arrives go ahead and mix it up for the thrill of it whether you’re working or playing hard.
-- 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