Thursday, July 9, 2020

Bread Rises to the Pandemic--It's Back and Hot!

By Cal Orey

The pandemic has got me, and perhaps you, too, hooked on bread like everyone else around the Lake. It’s a comfort and cheap food you can bake at home to beat cabin fever blues, sort of. As a devout proponent of quick or fast bread aka a staple without yeast and with self-rising flour (no baking soda or baking powder required).  Quickie breads are often called cakes or loafs, too. The cool thing is, lemon bread can be made in one easy peasy all-in-one bowl. It’s versatile (served for breakfast, brunch, or dessert) and simply summerish.
This week as I write an article about traveling during a pandemic (a painful task as I miss my solo adventures to feel connected to humanity). I find myself longing for going on a book tour like I enjoyed in the past. I recall one Barnes and Noble discussion and signing in Seattle, Washington. After the busy event with a full audience (no masks or social distancing needed) instead of talking more with the locals I, the introvert, escaped to the Pike Place Market. It’s a tourist trap, packed with people, and a farmer's market rich in produce. I got a lemon and berries, and bought a few slices of fresh nut bread from a baker.

This lemon loaf is inspired by my trip to the Northwest, a place I have flown to numerous times – and miss --- but now this treat will have to suffice and take me there vicariously.

West Coast Lemon Bread
½ cup salted butter (save 1 tablespoon for greasing loaf pan; I cannot find European style variety 
because rumor is all the town bakers get it first)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
¾ cup buttermilk
2 cups self-rising flour
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon rind
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar
Fresh blueberries, almonds, sliced, thyme for garnish

Summer Sale 2.99
Grease 9” x 5” loaf dish. In one large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, and buttermilk.  Mix in flour. Add juice, stir. Fold in rind and poppy seeds. (These are good for you, look nice like a poppy seed bagel, but they can get caught in your teeth.) Pour batter into a butter greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until golden brown, Remove from oven and cool before taking out of loaf pan. Serves 8-10. Before serving, sprinkle with sugar. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs, berries, and nuts for more flavor, varied texture, and eye-catching presentation. Pairs with coffee or tea. Freezes well in an airtight container.
Mid-week, when it was cool in the afternoon, I baked a batch of this citrus quick bread. The aroma of sweet and tart energizing lemons lingered in the kitchen and living room. This bread is super moist and dense like a buttery pound cake I enjoyed as a kid. The thyme, blueberries, and nuts give it a sophisticated healthful West Coast flair.

So, I settled for a slice of lemon delight and watched the local news. I fantasized about booking a flight late fall to Emerald City.  But now it’s bread, tea and thou with a Pacific Northwest vibe enjoyed on the south shore of Lake Tahoe.

— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, and Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. The Healing Powers of Chocolate is featured by Newsmax. Her website is

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Watermelon Pizza Pizazz

By Cal Orey

‘Tis the season for tree pollen around the lake that can cause seasonal allergies. Achoo! Nature’s superfoods – yogurt, fruit, nuts, and honey -- come to the rescue. Not only do they taste good – they’re good for you.

After a past Independence Day trip to Victoria, British Columbia, images of the hotel’s breakfast buffet (plenty of watermelon balls), lingered on my mind. I thought about adding fresh melon to my summer diet. Once back home when I saw those cute mini-watermelons at the supermarket, I changed it up. I made one of those melon bowl salads.

This year, I do miss being able to whisk off to Canada (the borders are closed as we survive the pandemic); so, I decided to bring food memories here to you on the south shore.  I created a watermelon pizza (my new spin for the thrill of it) inspired by unforgettable journey.

½ cup Greek honey vanilla yogurt
2 large round slices watermelon (about 1-inch thick, cut from center of melon)
½ cup berries (blueberries, raspberries)
½ cup hazelnuts, chopped
2 to 3 teaspoons honey (local)
Fresh basil or mint leaves

Spread 1/4 cup yogurt mixture on top of each slice of melon. Top with berries, nuts and fresh herbal leaves. Serves 4-6.

One afternoon this week I tried this recipe. Wow. It is so easy and quick to do. The cool thing is, the “pizza” and slices look super elegant!

And the honey? Every July when the yellow pollen arrives like an uninvited visitor at Lake Tahoe, I hold a tissue in one hand and am on the phone to a pharmacist with the other. Proponents of honey tell me that your immune system will get used to the local pollen in it (it should be within a 50- mile radius). So, drizzle it on! And, of course, you can use any fruit and nut toppings you’d like – just like a take-out superfood pizza!

— Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.)  Her website is .

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Aloha Fudge!

Ah, breakfast. Yep, it can be a bowl of whole grain cereal with milk, sliced bananas, and a glass of OJ. But sometimes, it’s okay to break the rules. After all, rules are made to be broken, especially when the world is still unpredictable and we need a feel-good change for the thrill...

I remember during a trip to Kauai; one morning I awoke to the scent of fresh brewed coffee. It was dawn – bright sunshine, birds chirping, and dozens of cats outdoors by the swimming pool. I got up and joined my gracious host at the breakfast table. We nibbled on pieces of dark chocolate, some with nuts, and ate fresh berries. I felt guilty, sort of, because this wasn’t a traditional breakfast. It was sinful and a time to forget I was on an assignment for work and go with the flow.
This year, due to the ongoing roller coaster pandemic, flying to the Hawaiian Islands isn’t happening for me, or perhaps you either. But this decadent fudge – with macadamia nuts, a popular treat and superfood in Hawaii – may give you a taste of that exotic vibe.


14 ounces sweetened condensed milk (I used an organic brand)
10 ounces Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Chips
8 ounces white chocolate chips
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped (rough chop)

In a pan, on medium heat milk and chocolate until mixed well and smooth. Remove from stove top. Add vanilla, and fold in pecans. Use parchment paper and line an 8-inch by 8-inch glass dish. Pour fudge into it and spread evenly. Cover with foil and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours. When the fudge is set, place on cutting board and peel off paper. Top with macadamia nuts. Cut into squares. Makes 16 servings.  Or cut more to enjoy mini squares. (It freezes well. Wrap each square in foil and place in an airtight plastic container with a lid.)
The texture is super smooth and super creamy complemented by a nice crunch from the two types of nuts. Savoring a piece with fresh raspberries or strawberries is sweet, naturally. One square is perfect and will provide you with a feel-good jolt. And note, dark chocolate contains mood-enhancing compounds, including caffeine, endorphins, and serotonin. Go ahead -- pair a square or two with a cup of hot java in the morning or iced coffee (or tea) in the afternoon. It’s not Hawaii but it will transport you there in flash without a long flight or jet lag – just happy.

— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, and Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. The Healing Powers of Chocolate is featured by Newsmax. Her website is

Monday, June 22, 2020

Coffee Has Perks

Lose weight, fight cancer and help your heart. The author of The Healing Powers of Coffee tells why a good ol' cup of Joe is being recognized as a hot new health food.

In her new book, The Healing Powers of Coffee, Cal Orey pours over the research to brew up some incredible facts about these magical beans. Here, she sits down for a little coffee Q&A, where she shares insights and tips on how coffee can wake up your wellness routine, helping you to not only stay trim, but also reduce your risk of chronic diseases--even substantially lowering your risk of a heart attack and even help you shed those unwanted pandemic pounds!.

Q: What inspired your interest in coffee?
A: I have penned the Healing Powers series--books on superfoods. Since coffee gets a bad rap, I thought it would be fascinating to write about a vice that has gone to virtue. The health benefits of java are controversial, but groundbreaking research shows that it's got perks. Coffee has been touted as the "newest health food."
Q: What gives coffee its many health benefits?
A: Coffee's amazing antioxidant power is what makes it special. Two mighty antioxidants--chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid--have been given credit for its health benefits. Coffee boasts other health-boosting antioxidants, including benzoic acids, flavonoids and proanthocyanidins.
Q: Do certain types of coffee have more benefits than others?
A: Drinking freshly ground coffee from whole beans can help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
Q: What about the benefits of green coffee beans?
A: Green coffee refers to the new or unroasted [beans] of Coffea fruits. It has been praised for its weight-loss benefits on the popular "Dr. Oz Show." One study published in January 2012 in the Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity Journal shows 16 adults using green coffee bean extract lost an average of 17 lb in just 22 weeks. It's believed that chlorogenic acid slows absorption of fat from food intake and also boosts metabolism of extra fat. Evidently, it may be a better source of chlorogenic acid than traditional brewed coffee.
Q: What's an interesting fact about coffee that most people don't know?
A: You can cook and bake with coffee. You can incorporate coffee in recipes like Cappuccino Biscotti, Thai Coffee Spiced Chicken Sates, Coffee Cheesecake and Maple Espresso.
--This text refers to the paperback edition.


"Cal Orey delivers a tour de force in coffee culture revealing the health benefits and discovering news trends along the way. She does all the work so you can reap the benefits." --

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Sweet Pandemic Getaway

By Cal Orey

It’s time. We are now in a new season and it’s time to lose those unwanted pandemic pounds. Summer is when we take it off – less clothes, less food. And when it comes to making a pie that means single crust not a double crust. Enter homemade single crust rustic apple pie.

Two summers ago, in the early summer I escaped to Victoria Canada. The trip was one I had postponed because of fear of flying on the CRJ700 that would take me to the island. But there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and no rough air.  

Swimming daily and enjoying a picturesque panoramic view of a boat harbor in the 22nd floor hotel suite was heavenly. One afternoon I was walking on a dock next to the water and befriended by a single otter. It was a surreal connection that made me feel welcome. Then, sitting on a bench, I treated myself to an iced tea and an apple tart. This rustic pie is Victoria-inspired with a taste of Tahoe.

Single Crust Apple Pie
1 store bought pie crust, deep dish
1 egg (use egg white water for blind baking the crust)
5 Granny Smith apples, peel, cut in thin slices
¾ cup white granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon apple pie spice or allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup organic half-and-half
2 tablespoons European style butter
Confectioners’ sugar (for dusting)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a fork and prick holes into the bottom of the pie crust. Brush top of crust with 1 egg white mixed with a few tablespoons water. (This will seal the crust so it’s not soggy.) Bake the crust for about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside in the fridge. In a bowl, combine apples, sugars, flour, and spices. Put into cooled pie crust. Pour half-and-half on top. Drizzle the apple mixture with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until crust edges are golden brown and apples are bubbly and soft. Remove. Let cool. Tip: If you put it into the fridge it will guarantee perfect slices when cutting. Dust with sugar.

Okay. So, the deal is, this pie wasn’t like the apple tart I savored in Victoria. But, the fresh homemade apple pie at dusk here in our town was the next best thing. After all, the borders to Canada are still closed. Sometimes we don’t get what we want but we get what we need. And yes, this pie did whisk me away to a Zen place without going anywhere but home.
-- Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

COVID-19 DIARY: Doctor, Doctor--I've Got the Pandemic Blues

By Cal Orey

Dear Diary,

I'm jaded. Lockdown fatigue. It's been over a month since I've come to you. I fantasize about booking a trip. Not so fast. If I go to Alaska it's mandatory to take a virus test three days prior and/or enjoy a 14 day quarantine. Today, the CAD-US borders are going to shut for another month. Read: Cabin Fever is high. And I am losing hope.

Face Masks and Bunny Slippers
You know it's bad when receiving two new black face masks and cozy slippers are in the post box -- and you smile. My life as I knew it is gone. No swimming (the pool is closed). No flying off to wherever I go. No hard copy advance copies of my new book -- it will be sent in digital format.  And I woke up at 2:30 A.M. and watched reruns of the world unraveling.

I Am Legend Coming Soon
At the end of June boaters from around the nation will arrive in my home -- a tourist hub. Translation: We are a petri dish and more people will get sick. So, my plan is to prepare like a wildfire is coming or a great earthquake. Note to self: More bottled water, chocolate, tea, pet food, dried fruit, nuts, and grow herbs. 
I will not leave the cabin until it's safe. And after viewing people -- tourists and locals -- without masks and no social distancing it's anything but safe.

Treats for Me and the Dog
On the upside, I did get my teeth cleaned, the pup's teeth cleaned, went to the dermatologist. (I had a pimple under my nose. No, it wasn't cancer. It was a zit from the face mask. I did get antibiotic cream and antibiotics -- this is good in case I get sick from the virus. Better than hydroxy and it makes your skin so smooth. Actually, this med is used for pneumonia so if it gets bad -- I have a little blue pill that may save me. Or not.
What's more, puppy got a bath, nails clipped and me? I finally let go of the hair stylist and found a new grays, pale yellows and my curly locks are back. The canine is happy because I am happy and not going anywhere because travel is not an option -- for now. Cabin fever is driving me seriously crazy. I want to book that Fairbanks trip and go do a book signing. But I do not. 

Lose Belly Fat
CAD Borders Closed
Ironically, the next article topic chosen by my editor is about pudge around the tummy. Good choice. When lockdown began many moons ago in March I lost 10 pounds. Now, it's time to healthy up. So even though I've written about this subject before, a brush up coarse couldn't hurt. And I sense if we go in lockdown two -- it won't matter. The less you eat, the flatter you tummy is. Good to know.

Doctor, Doctor Tell Me the News
In my imagination I want to call my gp and say, "I'm sad. I can't go to Canada." He knew that. I know he knew that when I asked him months ago. I asked, "Will I be able to go north this fall?" His eyes got big (I could see them widen on the computer screen during our quick telemedicine call) and there was silence...

We will be in a second wave during autumn -- I know that. I guess I will get the flu shot despite the fact I never get the flu or shots. God, I'm feeling down. So much toxic energy around the globe. And there is nowhere to escape.

Civil Unrest, Virus(es), Political Chaos
T.V. footage reminds me of the Viet Nam protests and body counts. As a kid, I didn't like social unrest and war, nor do I like it now. So I'm trying to escape. I am painting the front deck. I bought and planted trees. I have been spring cleaning. I have tried to make the cabin full of oasis-like places to get through the insanity of it all. It works, sort of. But I'm too sensitive. Observing everyone fighting, getting sick, dying -- and acting like it's normal. It's crazy. Images of movies where people wait to die haunt me at night and when I wake up and turn on the news. Wonder if there is an anti-pandemic blues pill.  If so, I need it. If not there should be.
The fact remains, it's not over -- and it may not have even started. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Pandemic Protests - Unmasked

As I predicted, June would be the month we'd experience a sense of normalcy since lockdown in my Northern California tourist town, in America, and around the world. So, how does it feel? Well, it’s kind of is liberating, sort of. After all, we’ve been cooped up inside our homes like birds in a cage. We wanted to go outdoors and enjoy the fruits of freedom like we had before the COVID-19 pandemic.
 But the protests for re-opening -- perhaps too soon – adds fuel to the hope, hype and hysteria fire. Worse, during the pandemic, the loss of George Floyd gained even more protests and riots (against another pandemic of racism and police brutality). Despite the danger of mass gatherings and tear gas (which causes coughing to spread the virus) people march. In San Francisco to New York City, Seattle and Atlanta and dozens more cities, even around the world people (some wear masks, others do not) gather in crowds to fight for civil rights amid a contagious virus that is still spreading around the world. And medical experts are concerned.
 Politicians and epidemiologists are worried about a new spike. But health workers were worried about new spikes during “lockdown fatigue” (due to loss of jobs and freedom) protests. So, the questions remain: Is there hope the virus will fizzle -- and the hype and hysteria fade like in the ‘80s during the HIV/AIDS epidemic? Or will a second wave of the deadly virus revisit like in 1918 during the fall-winter? 


Every day we hear news about therapeutics and a vaccine by the end of the year. And now, with relaxed restrictions paired with people who fought for going back to work, getting a haircut to a beer – we’re seeing hope of saving our economy. However, there are more spikes in virus outbreaks. Still, people are divided on believing the virus is big and bad. Others say we’re in between a rock and a hard place – we choose between making money or taking chances with our health? So, life goes on and we hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
Since the pandemic began in my town, I've noticed two groups: The Cautious Cats, or the CCs and Freedom Fighters, or the FFs who are the folks who say the virus is just a cold. Locals and tourists want to pack the casinos, hotels, vacation home rentals, restaurants and beaches. But the CCs know our hospital has a mere 60 beds and being a tourism hub, we could get overwhelmed like we watched on TV – New York City, the epicenter of people dying. We hope it won’t be like that here.
As the sibling, dog, and I drive around town it is different. The Lake is quiet and campgrounds are empty. The grocery stores are filled with people--half with masks, half without. There is controversy about the good of wearing a mask.  I feel better wearing one. I do it like wearing a protective condom. And I hope the cotton cloth helps me stay well or if I am a carrier, I hope it keeps me from infecting someone.
The locals have a different vibe. Half the folks still believe there is no virus and refuse to wear masks. The other half know we are like a petri dish – and hope we don’t get sick. Our hospital, food, and supplies will not be able to take care of our own – and interlopers. We hope we stay at zero deaths. But many locals are hungry and fed up. We want to go back to pre-pandemic days – a time of no fear of people and a contagion. Both locals and tourists complain about shut down businesses, lost a job or endure a pay cut and wonder if a Great Depression is in the works. Is it hope or hype since the news is inconsistent and trust is shaky?


Life during the new normal is abnormal. Skyler, my beloved Aussie got his nails clipped. The protocol is to drop off the dog to a vet tech at the car. No pet owners are allowed inside the office. The techs wear masks and gloves…
Next, I kept my dental cleaning appointment. It was a very sterile experience. At the dental office I announced my arrival via phone in the car. I used a paper towel to open the door. Walking into the vacant waiting room I was wearing a mandatory mask. Then, my temperature was taken. I was asked if I had been sick, in contact with anyone sick or if I had traveled. After rinsing twice with peroxide, I sat down in the dental chair. Everything was wrapped in plastic. The hygienist wore a face shield and gloves. No hazmat suit, just scrubs. I removed my mask and the procedure began. And it was done.
Can I get my roots done yet? The pricey light brown hair powder I bought online hides the grays. Three months without a hair appointment, I called a salon and was greeted with price gouging. Uh, more than 300.00 for a root touch up and a few highlights?  And yes, both stylists and clients wear masks – and temperatures will be taken.


The media has kept us abreast of the different re-opening phases. Once Nevada opened their golf courses and restaurants, my brother raced across the state line for a taste of normalcy.  The next day, I soon learned he golfed with a buddy. No separate cars and no masks at the burger café. So, due to an abundance of caution I put us on the new anti-virus plan: masks, gloves and social distancing for 14 days. Repeat as necessary. It is self-preservation because I do not want to get sick.
I'm not ready for pools or indoor dining. The word is, most of the country is still too skittish to hit crowded bars, restaurants, theaters or gyms in June. It doesn’t matter if state and local officials are giving us the green light.

Each time I go to the Delta airline website to book a fall flight to Alaska, the prices are either low or sky high. Virus cases in Anchorage (now the busiest airport in the world) and Fairbanks are spiking. Will it be safe? I have flight miles saved up and want that human connectedness and adventure I get when traveling out of my comfort zone. FFs say, "Go!" but CCs say, "It’s not safe.” Some airlines are packing in people on those 737s -- and to full capacity.  Worse, I discovered if I go to Alaska tomorrow a 14 day quarantine is mandatory. So, that would be almost 1000 for the dog kenneling and more than 3000 lodging -- and no northern lights this time of year. All alone in a room in Fairbanks. Not in the stars.
During the fear of COVID-19 spreading and finding a cure, will there be an “I Am Legend” vaccine backlash turning people into zombies?  The unknown is haunting virology and vaccine experts about releasing the miracle shot too soon. Scientists caution there is no wiggle room for mistakes. Vaccines take time to make to lower the risk of side effects that can be more deadly than the disease. But there are those people who will wait in line for the shot -- and the anti-vaxers (like me) who will use social distancing, bolster the immune system, naturally, with vitamin D, C, and zinc as well as a nutrient-dense diet, healthful lifestyle and a bit of luck. And then everyone will hope for the best during hype and hysteria.

      The final word: The world is still living and dying in a pandemic – and new hot spots are popping up every day – Brazil and Latin America are the hottest ones and there are spikes in the South and West due to the protests. But we can learn to live with the novel virus – with the promise of therapeutics and a healthy lifestyle -- as we have done with HIV/AIDS. And, of course, another superbug will pay us a visit. Hopefully, humanity will blossom and we will work together to fight the enemy – with or without a vaccine. Meanwhile, I am preparing for Lockdown II -- 80 percent odds we will see it in California this year.

-- Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

Thursday, June 4, 2020

'Tis the Month for Iced Tea

June is National Iced Tea Month in the U.S.
It picks you up and calms you down, warms you and refreshes you. With black, white red, green, and herbal varieties, there’s a tea for every taste, and now this time-honored superfood is trending as the drink of choice for health-conscious people of all ages and cultures.
It’s the Season: Once winter days are almost over, it’s time for renewal and to make your home and body lighter for warmer days ahead. It’s common for me to brew a pot of white tea in the afternoon and a chamomile flower blend at night to welcome sleep during the Daylight Savings Time change. Healthful sandwiches paired with teas, vegetarian entrees, and green salads with tea-infused dressings come into play. It’s the ideal time to shed extra unwanted pandemic winter pounds and get a move on with lighter fare.
Healing Seasonal Teas: Detoxifying green tea and citrus tea (hot or iced) are popular during this time of lightening up. Organic spring jasmine, chamomile citrus, organic white peony, and rooibos blends are superb springtime teas that are perfect for the season of fresh beginnings. Superfoods with Tea: Apricots, artichokes, carrots, and spinach.
It’s the Season: Summer is a time to get a light touch and change of linens, clothes, opened screen windows, and fresh air, it’s time I relax in the morning with a cup of flavored black tea (for the caffeine boost) so I can get more physical and be more active in the longer days and nights of summertime. Iced tea makes a splash during this season of sun and frolic. Brewing black tea and infusing it with fresh citrus including limes, oranges, and lemons, in a pitcher filled with ice is a must-have. Pairing a glass of iced tea with summer fruit mini scones or cucumber tea sandwiches and fresh vegetable and fresh fruit salads to grilled fish is ideal. 
Healing Seasonal Teas: Fruit teas (such as blackberry and strawberry), white peony with fruit notes, and iced black tea are summer favorites to help the body cool down and feel energized. Other fruity profiles include blood orange, citrus hibiscus herbal, mango black, and peach fruit teas are ideal for the summertime. Superfoods with Tea: Blueberries, peaches, pineapple, and tomatoes.
Iced Tea with Citrus and Mint
This recipe is California-inspired from when I was in my twenties and lived in Fresno, a farming region in the central state where orange groves are plentiful. During the hot summer afternoons I’d drink iced orange pekoe  -- a grade of orthodox black tea  -- to get energized o I could enjoy riding a ten-speed bicycle accompanied by my soulmate with paws, a young and healthy black Labrador retriever, Stone Fox, who had dark brown soulful eyes and a smile to melt your heart. He’d run free through orange groves, and we’d race until we were whooped. From my backpack, I’d treat myself to cold tea in a plastic container and let my dog drink water from a hose or fountain outdoors to refresh ourselves.
4 cups water (fresh tap or filtered)
5 tea bags, orange pekoe
Granulated white sugar or honey to taste
Lemon or orange slices
Fresh mint
Bring 2 cups water to boil and pour it over tea bags. Cover and brew 3 to 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and add 2 cups cold water. Stir. Pour into chilled, ice filled tea mugs. Add sugar or honey to taste. Garnish with lemon slices and mint. Serves 4.
Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Tea 2018. All right reserved. Reprinted with permission from Kensington
Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, and Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

California Quiche without Reindeer

By Cal Orey

Hello quiche. This French dish uses eggs and rich milk or cream mixed up and put in a pastry like a pie. Recipes can include ham, bacon – and vegetables. As a kid, my mom first introduced to me this sophisticated European-inspired gooey yellow mixed pie. My ten-year-old palate preferred scrambled eggs. Once in my twenties, I re-discovered quiche at artsy cafes in San Francisco. Also, vegetarian versions grabbed my attention.

Last December when I traveled to Anchorage, I recall the sobering awakening to the fancy hotel breakfast menu. I couldn’t get past the Reindeer Skillet. Now the Crustless Quiche seemed doable (but I was afraid a piece of Bambi could be in it) so I settled for buttermilk pancakes. I should have taken a chance on the egg dish. To this day I swear the rubbery flat short stack was from a frozen batch – not fresh. And the syrup wasn’t the maple kind I fell in love with when in Quebec. (Yes, I am suffering from cabin fever and foreign adventures.)

As I sit in the cabin ready to book a late fall trip to Fairbanks for those northern lights I must see – I wait to see if it’s safe to go due to the new normal in our world. While an Alaskan quiche without crust seems romantic – I made it here at home, my way. This herby quiche is inspired by a friendly herb-savvy store man who I spoke with on the phone but didn’t get to meet due to the erratic weather (icy roads paired with surreal fog).

Herby Spinach Quiche

1 cup organic half-and-half
3 organic brown eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon red onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
A dash each of ground pepper, nutmeg, sea salt
1 (9-inch) premium store-bought refrigerated pie crust
1 egg white
1 cup all natural, premium organic mozzarella, shredded (save ¼ cup for top)
½ cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cup spinach, baby, chopped
1 tablespoon European style butter

Eggs and Vegetables -- Superfoods
In a mixing bowl combine half-and-half and eggs. Add onion, thyme, and spices. Set aside. Bake pie crust covered in foil for 10 minutes in a 400-degree oven. Brush with a mixture of egg white and 1 tablespoon water. (This keeps it flaky.)  Chill in freezer for about 15 minutes. Remove. Top pie crust bottom with cheeses, spinach (rinse, dry well), and pour milk and egg mixture on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Stir lightly so it's even. Drizzle with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes or till firm and crust is light golden brown. Do not over bake. Cool for at least 30 minutes. You can serve warm or chilled. Makes 6-8 servings.

For some reason, like pizza, quiche can taste better cold than hot. The flavors have time to blend and the texture is amazing. I did have a slice in the early evening – but I knew it would be my breakfast. Go ahead – try it both ways. Sure, crustless quiche could be simply delish in Alaska but it’s welcoming on the home front at south shore, too. I give credit to the flavorful herbs and spices.

— Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, and Essential Oils) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.)  Her website is . 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Almost-Normal Garden Salad -- Mid-Pandemic

Almost-Normal Garden Salad

Kale mix, flowerets of raw broccoli, sliced tomatoes, sliced hard-boiled egg placed in mounds with Thousand Island Dressing for a Chef’ Salad. Top it off with small chunks of cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack cheese. It’s a down-to-earth delight with California roots. This is the vegetable version – hold the meat and fowl this time around. And that’s how we do after a longish three months cooped up indoors.

As we begin to open our doors and breathe in fresh air and a sense of normalcy, it’s time for renewal with nature’s foods. Flashback to March 7. I wrote in my journal: “I'm sensing our tourist town may be one where we must be forced into home isolation. As an introvert you'd think I'd be chill. Not so much. I already have cabin fever but going to stores, casinos, even to the vet seem a bit off. People are on edge. I feel it.

“For now, it's "I Am Legend" time. I've got the treadmill for me; hopefully the dog will not have to use it since we still go outside. I’ve got healthy food. I'd like to think this is all a nightmare and when I wake up in the morning it will be back to normal. Sadly, this is the beginning of my new normal. I'm trying to stay in the present but keep moving forward in my mind and think "what if?" 

Well, we got through food challenge like a wild roller coaster ride. I recall empty food shelves, stocking up, rejoicing to find my favorite brand of eggs, and craving a sit-down meal at a restaurant. But now, we are coming back. And many of us need to healthy up – and savoring an immune-boosting fresh garden salad is a perfect place to start!

California Cool Chef’s Salad

2 cups kale mixed greens (the darker, the better)
1 large tomato, sliced
½ cup broccoli and carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons black olives, sliced (optional)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese or feta, chunks
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced or cubed
2 teaspoons each chives and scallions (fresh)

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing:
¾ cup mayonnaise with olive oil
2 teaspoons ketchup
1/2 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red onion, chopped (optional)
½ teaspoon garlic (fresh or dried)
Ground pepper to taste
1 lemon, sliced (garnish)

In a large bowl, place a bed of greens. Toss in salad stuff in the order of the ingredients. For dressing, in a small bowl, whisk ingredients and put in fridge until serving. The salad serves two to three.

A Chef’s Salad, like this one, is a reminder of a wholesome plant-based diet that isn’t always available during tough times. Fresh greens and vegetables are rejuvenating – from the store or garden. Pair it with iced tea or a glass of wine. During this spring, I, and perhaps you, too, have learned how precious our freedom is – whether it’s a quick run to the supermarket or eating inside a café. Well, I have learned gratitude for what we had -- and are slowly getting back. And this classic salad with a twist is symbolic of new beginnings -- and a refreshing summer season.

-- Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Pandemic Bittersweet Bites

By Cal Orey

After awakening to the early morning strong earthquake last week, I got up and brewed a big cup of joe. Scanning my pandemic stocked pantry, it reminded me of the Reno quake swarm of 2008. Tahoe-Reno locals were on edge and preparing for a stronger shaker. We indeed got it. But I was prepared  -- and we survived.

Fast forward to 2020. As the days linger into getting a good vibe of semi-normalcy, my  stockpile is a reminder of shaky times. After the tremors fizzled, bit by bit, I ate the food – my favorites. The rest of the boring canned goods were never used. I learned to stock healthy stuff that you’ll eat before, during, and after a shake-up.

This week I wrote an article about energizing drinks – clean and green . Then, I was in the mood for getting more get-up-and-go. These energy balls are a mix of the past.  No-bake cookies called Bourbon Balls, are a forties delight. It’s believed they were popular because they didn’t need butter or a lot of sugar (both scarce and rationed during World War II). Then, in the sixties – Granola Bars made a splash, thanks to the back to nature hippie movement. Think dried fruit, nut, and oats. In the seventies, Energy Balls were a California popular good-for-you combo of both these cookies and bars.

As we edge into Memorial Weekend Holiday, it’s a reminder that things change but also stay the same.  These energy balls are the perfect recipe. (You probably have most of the ingredients – or should) to get your groove back.

Super Peanut Butter Energy Balls

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup honey (I used organic)
½ cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup cranberries, dried
¼ cup white, milk or dark chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips (I used Reese’s)
2 teaspoons sea salt

In a large bowl, combine peanut butter and honey. Stir well. Fold in nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips (mini size is best). Put into refrigerator for about 30 minutes (it makes it easier to make balls). Shape into 2-inch balls, then roll in peanut butter chips. Sprinkle with sea salt. Store energy balls in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.  Makes about 15.  Serve with iced tea or coffee for the feel-good caffeine buzz.

The different colors and textures of these energy bites are chewy and creamy. Plus, the mix of nuts and honey with a bit of sea salt gives you both a sweet and savory treat. Some recipes add rolled oats (I decided to leave it out). You can change it up and add your favorite dried fruit and nuts. The best part is, these nostalgic energy balls are a reminder that we bounce back -- no matter what life’s challenges are tossed our way.