Monday, June 28, 2010

Chill with Heart-Healthy Chocolate Graham Crackers

By Cal Orey,

The Writing Gourmet

Ah, it's hot outdoors--in the 80s today--at the sierra. Yes, at Lake Tahoe our summer has arrived. As a busy worker bee--I'm working on the forthcoming honey book--but whipping up a hot, home-cooked meal seems like too much work. The Brittany duo and kitty Kerouac are whooped from the heat, too; but they don't have to work for a living in a resort town like I do...
Speaking of work, I received emails today touting new research showing dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure. That's no news to me--I put it in my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010). Of course, I feel eating a natural Mediterranean diet and getting a move on to keep your weight in check also are keys to maintaining lower BP numbers. Read: Yesterday, I swam outdoors. The pool was bliss. It was calm--all mine. Considering taking the plunge into the cold lake to chill--after a decade of avoiding swimming in it, it may be time to take a dip. Or not. Wasn't there crocodiles in that film Lake Placid?
On the topic of good health, the other day I had the pleasure again to speak with Wendy, owner of Enjou Chocolat . We chatted about heart healthy dark chocolate and I raved about her dark chocolate dipped graham crackers. I just ate one as I sip cold, spring water. These cookies are awesome--something to write home about or send home to for a gift to savor. They took me back to childhood graham crackers but they have a sophisticated grown-up twist. And if you're looking for something crunchy to pair with iced tea or a cold glass of calcium-boosting milk (also known to help you stay heart healthy and lower those cholesterol numbers)--these special crackers are better and more soothing for humans while dealing with the ongoing sound of firecrackers (and spooked companion animals who don't like loud noises) for the forthcoming Fourth of July. With a gourmet touch these scrumptious grahams are your ticket to chocolate nirvana in the hot summertime.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's Summer--Time for Chocolate Olive Oil Ice Cream

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

Living in a tourist town has its ups and downs. Personally, I am an autumn gal and my mantra is "fall, fall, fall." I have been writing articles for mags getting ready for the season of gray skies, leaves changing colors, cooler air, crackling fires, warm sweaters and jeans, cozy comforters, and baking food. I know my choice of seasons will come again. But now it's time to chill and go with the flow of it all. Summer has arrived...

And that means it's time for less clothes, gardening, windows open--night and day--homemade lemonade and iced tea, seasonal fruits and vegetables, lighter eating--and cold, creamy ice cream. Chocolate is the flavor of flavors, naturally.
So, while I--Ms. Introvert--gets into the swim of seasonal change--tourist overload, no indoor spa pool/hot tub, noise with a capital N, warmer temperatures, crowded roads, the beaches and stores filled with kids 'n' parents--I crave feel-good chocolate to make it all feel better.

* * *
Chocolate Olive Oil Ice Cream

2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup Hershey's dark chocolate chips, melted
1 small orange in segments, banana, peach, or fruit of your choice
2 teaspoons vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)
1/2 cup sugar
In a blender add all ingredients; blend until smooth. Pour into an ice cream maker; follow manufacturer's directions. The olive oil is a substitute for unhealthy fat.

One more thing. I know tourists love Lake Tahoe and locals love tourists for self-preservation. But many residents do look forward to off season--me for one--because of its quietude. It is a challenge to write a book and stay focused while so many people are away on vacation or here playing in our resort town. But I can do this--with ice cream and swimming in a new, improved place (it's a secret) and did I say ice cream? Three little months. "Fall, fall, fall."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Top-Notch Chocolate(s) for Father's Day

By The Writing Gourmet
"He has enough ties. Give him beer and chocolate." --Vosges-Haut Chocolat

As the author of my latest book The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010), I'm often asked the question: "What's the best brand of chocolate?" Today, I'm thinking of three of my fave companies that made me smile during research--and can make the dad in your life smile on June 20. So, here you go--a quickie list of the chocolate worth writing home about and keeping some for yourself!...

Lake Champlain Chocolates: To decide which product I enjoyed the most would be an arduous task. The day I opened the box of chocolate products, I was overwhelmed. Every item was impressive to the eye and palate. For a gal who was eating Hershey's Special Dark chocolate bars, biting into an Organic Spicy Aztec Chocolate Square put me in another class of chocolate. I was hooked on spicy flavors in chocolate, thanks to the Lake Champlain Chocolates Seelection, in an impressive green box with an image of a lake surrounded by mountains--much like Lake Tahoe, my home. the epicurean nutty-tasting Chocolate Peanut butter Cup had me at the first bite. I was ready to move to Vermont.

RICHART Paris: I chose the citrus selection out of the family of seven flavors offered by RICHART. It was an exotic experience to bit into a burst of the Grapefruit Ganache fruity delight. I discovered it has a healthful 74 percent cocoa content. Its small size made me recall why the French who practice the traditional Mediterranean diet and lifestyle do not get fat. It's all about savoring superb food, including fruity chocolate, and practicing portion control. (There was only one Grapefruit goodie in the box of chocolates, and I was left craving another one.)

Vosges Haut-Chocolat: The Italiana collection was my choice of a box of exotic truffles. The Rooster: combined with Italian taleggio, organic walnuts, Tahitian vanilla bean, and bittersweet, dark chocolate--a spicy and nutty truffle to love. The Balsamico is a truffle to remember: 12-year aged balsamic vinegar from Modena mixed with dark chocolate and roasted Sicilian hazelnuts. Nor will I forget Olio d' Oliva, with extra virgin olive oil and white chocolate topped iwth dried Kalamata olives. It was like a box of European delights custom mad for the author who wrote the "Healing Powers" series, including vinegar and olive oil.

So, there you go. You've got time to get to these chocolates and give 'em to the father(s) in your life. One more thing. Grab a copy of my chocolate book and give it to that guy--tons of health-oriented stuff that'll keep him healthier and happier.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Blueberry-Chocolate Scones for Worker Bees

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

Here I sit organizing compiled work--tons of papers (all kinds) from interviews to brochures, books, products in the pantry, bathroom and around the cabin--to finally begin the new, sweet book: The Healing Powers of Honey (Kensington, October 2011). Read: I'm blocked big time. (I wonder if worker bees get blocked?)...
I tried to swim but the water was too cold. Walked the dogs. The sky was gray--the way I like it. Wrote the "What's Cookin' at Callie's Cabin" for Friday and the July Earth Changes "I Feel the Earth Move" (page 32 for June: The End Game: Doomsday Films) columns. And now it's a friendly visit to my blog. Translation: I'm doing everything imaginable but go to the desktop computer and begin to use my imagination and pen my new book for the "Healing Powers" series. I just got the idea if I bake up a batch of scones--with nutrient-rich blueberries and dark chocolate--it may boost brainpower. Or not.
* * *
Blueberry-Chocolate Scones

2 1/2 to 3 cups 100 percent natural whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup European style butter (cold cubes)
1 brown egg
3/4 cup 2% low-fat buttermilk
1 cup low-fat all natural vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon rind, grated
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup dark chocolate chips (Ghirardelli 60% cocoa content)
organic raw sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spice. Add chunks of butter, sliced in small squares. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, yogurt, egg, vanilla and stir till a dough like mixture forms. Drop spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush tops with buttermilk. Bake till brown, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Makes 16. Serve with cream cheese and/or all natural blueberry honey.

Two more articles to write. Deadline June 10. The new book? I vow to the world to begin writing IT this week. I am so blocked. It's a terrible feeling. Imagine you are able to do anything and everything but the one thing you should be doing.Or think being stuck in traffic or a line at the store. Not fun. It's time to hit the kitchen. Or maybe I'll watch the rest of Armageddon. (I wonder why we can't hire a Dream Team to take care of the BP oil spill?) It would be more soothing to view the action-oriented film--and real-life coverage of the oil catastrophe going on day 40-something--with a homebaked scone fresh from the oven with a cup of tea(or 20). Make that chamomile.
P.S. For the record, I'm not always a victim of the block. An interview with me in the Books2Mention literary magazine about my work was published today. It had to be the chocolate that got me through the block for my past books for a decade.