Friday, April 28, 2017

A Taste of Honey, Berries, and Tea for Spring

Strawberry shortcake is a popular dessert. In the 20th century I savored this treat with store bought round angel cake, strawberries, and whipped cream from a can. It’s a dish with ties to the Deep South—a place where biscuits are common as strawberries are in Northern California, often from Watsonville. And pairing homemade biscuits and fresh strawberries from our Golden State is a way to make this shortcake be a cut above the cake in a box.
Several years ago, during the summer I was stung by a wasp here on the South Shore. It came from the under the steps under the deck. A pest expert came out to the cabin but he didn’t find anything. I insisted there had to be a nest. After what seemed like eternity, the man found a wasp shell the size of small watermelon. But the welt on my arm hurt for the afternoon. Strawberry shortcake (store bought pound cake) made me feel a bit better as did putting Manuka honey on it. (It’s a type of honey with medicinal effects for skin.)

This week I am not tending to painful stings but dealing with tree pollen and sniffles. I discovered eating local honey can help lessen symptoms of seasonal allergies. So, a visit to Grassroots and I now have local honey from Carson City. What’s more, I whipped up a 21st century old fashioned strawberry shortcake for old time’s sake with fresh biscuits made from scratch for a rustic, mountain appeal.

Tea Biscuits with Strawberries and Cream

1 ¼ cups self-rising flour
1 tablespoon granulated pure sugar
¼ cup European style butter
½ cup buttermilk or organic half & half
Extra flour for biscuit dough
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh orange rind
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
2 teaspoons honey
1 cup vanilla gelato
Confectioner’s sugar (for dusting)
Real whipped cream (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine flour and sugar. Add cold cubes of butter. Mix well. Pour milk into mixture. Using your hands, mold dough into a ball. Place onto a floured cutting board. Knead dough and form into a rectangle. Using a biscuit or cookie cutter cut out biscuits. Place biscuits into 8” by 8” baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon and rind.Bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes or until light brown on top and bottom.  Remove and cool for a few minutes. Slice in half. Place in small round or oval ramekin. Top bottom biscuit with a scoop of gelato (or whipped cream), put top on. Add strawberries. Sprinkle with sugar. Serves 4.

This sweet dessert pairs nicely with chamomile tea (it has anti-inflammatory benefits for stings and bites) spiked with honey and a bit of all natural lemonade. Flying insect to pesky pollen is part of the great outdoors. Using honey, however, can help make these outdoor challenges seem small and the strawberry dessert will help you exhale and enjoy, too. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Olive Oil Author Dishes on Pasta Plate

Pasta Primavera 
from Author of 
The Healing Powers of Olive Oil 

By Cal Orey
Pasta can be a filling and perfect dish for springtime. Pasta primavera—pasta with vegetables--is a bit more sophisticated than spaghetti with marinara sauce. The history of pasta primavera traces goes back to Northeastern Canada and New York City. The pairing of lightly cooked pasta and vegetables (usually with a sauce) is popular today as it was back in the seventies and eighties.
When I was in my thirties, I was a green reporter on the beat for national magazines. I was assigned a story on two well-known entertainment celebs in San Francisco. One night after the interview, they took me out to an Italian restaurant in North Beach. I nibbled on French bread while the duo ordered Pasta Primavera for everyone. They told me a surprise was coming to dinner. It was Warren Hinckle, a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. I didn’t know who he was, nor was I familiar with the pasta dish. But I was charmed by both man and food. The next day I learned who I broke bread with and I never forgot the pasta plate either.
This week I made the dish inspired by my past adventure. This quick and budget-friendly recipe is fun to cook and fun to eat. Not to forget a plant-based meal with nutrient-rich vegetables including heart-healthy olive oil is as good as it gets for your health and waistline. It is not as rich or fattening as Fettuccine Alfredo but it is memorable.

Spaghetti Primavera Sierra-Style

2-3 cups cooked whole grain thin spaghetti
2 cups cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, carrots and cauliflower), chopped
2 tablespoons each extra-virgin olive oil and European style butter
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 large Roma tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (four cheese mix)
Ground black pepper to taste
Basil, fresh, chopped
½ cup pine nuts
In a medium-size pan, cook pasta per directions. Add cruciferous vegetables after 3-4 minutes, boil till al dente, drain (but keep about 1/3 of the pan water to keep pasta moist). Pour into colander.  In a large frying pan, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add garlic and tomatoes. Sauté  a few minutes till hot and tender and then fold into pasta vegetable mixture, and add the pasta water. Top with cheese, pepper,, basil, and nuts. Serves 4. Pair with fresh, warm whole grain bread or a baguette (sliced vertically) with butter or drizzle with olive oil. And this flavorful pasta plate pairs well with a berry dessert.

Blackberries and Chocolate Gelato

2 cups chocolate gelato
2 cups fresh blackberries or raspberries
Whipped cream or Greek honey-flavored yogurt (optional)
4 teaspoons dark chocolate, grated (garnish)
Mint leaves (for garnish)
Gather 4 small ramekins. Place ½ scoop of gelato into each one. Top with ½ cup berries and a dollop of whipped cream or yogurt. Garnish with chocolate. Serves 4.

This light Italian-type meal can be served for lunch or dinner. It will thrill guests and fill up family, friends—and is fine for one. It is fail proof and your kitchen will smell divine with garlic lingering. Don’t forget to savor a glass of wine or iced tea with your pasta in the sierras and you’ll feel like the city came to you.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Lighten Up with Gingerbread and Berries for Springtime

Ebook sale 2.99,, 3.99
By Cal Orey

Gingerbread is a semi-dense single-layer sweet cake that calls for syrupy molasses, brown sugar, and a myriad of spices. History tells us that it has a popular European history that goes back centuries. It made its way to America and is still a winner, especially during the holiday season. While it’s often served for Christmas and New Year’s Day for good luck, its dark color and sweet and savory flavor makes it an ideal goodie for spring, too. But it's time to lighten it up with fresh berries--blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries.

One autumn when I was on deadline working on my olive oil health-cookbook, 2nd edition,  I baked gingerbread (but it was semi-homemade since I used a box mix and added my own ingredients).  But later, I made gingerbread cake from scratch. My mother would be proud. And it was so much better not to forget the scent in the cabin.

Rustic Gingerbread Cake with Fresh Berries

  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • ½ cup European style butter (1 stick), melted (save a tablespoon for greasing baking dish)
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 organic brown eggs
  • 1 tablespoon each olive oil and  European style butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup crystallized candied ginger
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Berries (your choice)
  • Honey for berries
More rustic recipes
Pre-Order TEA
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, molasses, butter, and eggs. Stir until smooth. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and spices. Combine dry and wet ingredients. Add water.  Mix thoroughly. Using the extra butter and oil mixture grease an 8” by 8” square baking dish. Pour batter into it and spread evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or till the top is firm.  Cool.  Makes approximately 12 servings. Garnish with a dollop of store bought whipped cream (or make your own by using heavy whipping cream and sugar and beat until creamy). Top with springtime berries.

Once I put the gingerbread cake into the oven and turned on the light I knew this recipe was easy as pie. It’s quick to make. It’s an easy recipe. It’s a keeper. When it was done, I sliced a small square without cooling it and it came out perfectly. The thing about this cake is that it’s versatile. Eating it plain, with whipped cream, or topped with 1/2 cup of fresh berries drizzled with honey is festive.  Don't forget a pot of tea!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Tea and Chocolate Scones

At Tahoe in April brewing tea, making a fire, enjoying a light
snowfall is not unusual
Scones and tea are popular in England and America, including Northern California... Triangle scones, big and small, can be found at coffee shops abound like our Starbucks—and you can make these semi-biscuit treats yourself, too. This time around, I switched it up and gave my scone recipe a makeover. I changed some basic ingredients, and used different add-ons for a new, springtime Easter flair.

Pre-Orders at amazon, kobo,
barnes and noble, late fall release
Two years ago, the day before Easter Sunday, I was booked at the Roseville Barnes and Noble bookstore for a lecture/signing. I offered a giveaway of Easter candy chocolate eggs and bars; I bought scones for my Easter treat. In between talking to customers, I longed to be with my two dogs kenneled through the holiday.  After a few hours, I fled and played beat the clock. Traffic was heavy.  I called the attendant and begged. “Please wait. I think I can make it in time.” It was close. I sensed the challenge was worth the effort. At six p.m., I ran to the back door. Mission accomplished. I did it. I rescued my happy canine duo, both Brittany and Aussie wagging their docked tails and smiling. The reward: I’d be with my boys on Sunday; I recall savoring leftover scones from the bookstore in the company of my two best friends. 
  Ready made scones are good but homemade scones are rustic good. At the store I saw a bag of self-rising flour and wanted to try it and see if it makes the scones thicker and tender. Accidentally, I grabbed a package of premium white chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate—but it was meant to be for a lighter flavor and look.

Orange White Chocolate Scones

2 ¾ self-rising bleached flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 cup European style butter (cold, small cubes)
1 brown egg
1 cup reduced fat cultured buttermilk, 2 % milkfat
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh orange rind, grated
2 tablespoons juice from 1 orange
3/4-1 cup choc-au-lait vanilla milk chips
¼ cup all-purpose flour
Enjoy a chapter on pairing honey and tea
Half and half, organic, for brushing 
Raw sugar for sprinkling
Marmalade, jam, cream cheese, or honey for topping

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, mix flour (sift or whisk), granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Add chunks of butter. In another bowl, combine egg, buttermilk, vanilla, orange rind, and juice. Combine dry and wet mixtures. Fold in chocolate. Place ball of dough on floured cutting board. Shape into round circle, flatten, and knead several times. Once the disk is a 1 inch circle cut in half, repeat until you have several triangles. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush tops with half and half, sprinkle with raw sugar. Place in freezer for about 30 minutes. Bake till golden brown, about 20 minutes. Makes 8-10. Serve with orange marmalade, organic strawberry or apricot jam, cream cheese or honey. Pair with black or herbal tea—hot or iced.

I’ve made fruity and savory scones but vanilla milk chips and citrusy notes are perfect for the season of renewal. The self-rising flour did indeed give these scones height and a fresh  chewy cookie texture with a light crispy crunch. This Easter I’ll be with the dog and cat, and enjoy these special scones with coffee in the morning and herbal tea in the afternoon.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring into Salads and Skinny Fries

By Cal Orey
It is the new season for lighter foods, including fresh salads 
Enter the garden salad. A wide variety of greens can be used, including arugula or baby spinach. A Garden salad is perfect for brunch, an appetizer, side dish or main entrée salad for a light dinner.  And potatoes, especially French fries, can make slim-down rabbit food filling and fun meal.
Salads in The Healing Powers of Vinegar and Olive Oil ebooks
help you to lose winter weight
Speaking of joy, last time I was in the Pacific Northwest, I craved a spinach salad and baked potato. The restaurant I chose served me a Garden salad with fresh fruit and a basket of over-cooked curly fries. It wasn’t my fantasy. Memories of my hitchhiking days in the Deep South haunted me. When I ordered yogurt and bagels for breakfast I got the same treatment. My server looked at me like I was a creature from another planet. She offered grits and sausage. I passed as I did with the funny salad and taters. Both times I longed to be home where I could eat and enjoy familiar Golden State food without being judged.
The funny thing is, after I returned from my trip to Seattle, I began to crave the Garden salad I was served.  So, I put together a salad with a California twist. I added a gift of heart healthy walnuts from our central state.  I learned that you can acquire a taste for different foods —but sometimes mixing up the new and old work best.

Garden Salad with Spring Fruit

2 cups Spring Mix (mix of baby lettuces, greens and radicchio)
½ cup Roma tomatoes, diced
¼ cup cucumber, sliced
¼ cup fresh strawberries, sliced (other choices: raspberries, plums)
¼ cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup premium blue cheese, crumbled
Balsamic vinaigrette (store bought)

In a bowl, toss vegetables, fruit with lettuce. Top with nuts and cheese. Drizzle with vinegar. Serve salad with fresh warm whole grain French bread slices dipped in extra virgin olive oil or spread with European style butter. Serves two.

Thick Home Sweet Potatoes are good too

Sweet Potato Skinny Fries

2 sweet potatoes, sliced thin (leave skins on)
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons European style butter, melted
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chives, fresh, chopped
Ketchup or malt vinegar for dipping or drizzling

            Place potato slices in a baking pan or on a cookie sheet. Top with garlic, butter, salt and pepper. Put in a 400 degree oven. Turn mixture three or four times. Bake for about 25-30 minutes so fries are golden brown but not overcooked.  Top with chives. (As a kid I didn’t like mushy sweet potatoes but as fries with herbs they’re full of flavor and crispy texture.)

A Garden Salad, like this one, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette instead of a blue cheese dressing or thousand island is different but in a good way.  While it took me a while to warm up to fruit and nuts in my salad—it works. And crumbled blue cheese is nice switch. Of course, I included chamomile tea to complete the springtime recipes. It was a fresh delight to savor in the Sierra and tossed together just the way I like it.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Woman's Best Friend Can Cure the Mind and Body

8 Things Woman's Best Friend Can Cure

America loves dogs. And dog and cat lovers will tell you canine and feline companions are affectionate, smart, and loyal. Here’s the lowdown on how caring for a dog and cat can be one of the healing things you do for yourself—and your health. 

In my Healing Powers Series, tales and tails of both dogs and cats are noted. Throughout the decades of my life, not only vinegar, olive oil, chocolate, honey, coffee, and tea have played a role-- but so have woman's best friend. Animal companions are like superfoods and can add to a healthy lifestyle. Read on--and see just what they do to keep our mind and body happy!

They Help Us Relax. Researchers say dogs and cats can help reduce anxiety and stress by providing “the relaxation response”—in other words, a physiological state of deep rest.

Fighting Heart Disease. Canines and felines can help us slow down. In doing so, blood pressure is reduced, which in turn, lowers one’s risk of heart attack or stroke.

Boosting Immune System.  Devoted dogs and cats can have a positive effect on the immune system by lowering stress hormone levels and raising antibodies that fight off disease.

Conquering Loneliness. Not only do dogs and cats keep us calm and healthy, dog-human relationships seem to lessen the health-damaging effect of being alone.

Staying Active and Happy. Dog walking and playing with a cat
is also great physical activity for you and your best friend; getting regular exercise helps provide feel-good endorphins.

Opening up Communication. Having a four-legged friend around when people visit makes socializing much easier and helps create a friendly atmosphere.

Extending Longevity. People who live a long and happy life know about feeling needed—and how a canine and/or feline companion keeps them going. One of each can give humans the best of both worlds.

A Friend for Life. A constant relationship with a beloved pooch or purring kitty is fulfilling and good for your heart and soul, too.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Coming Soon! The Healing Powers of Tea: A Complete Guide to Nature's Special Remedy

By Cal Orey

Nearly 20 years ago I wanted to write a book on the topic of tea. It wasn't the right time. So, I fell into the world of vinegar. Olive oil, chocolate, honey, and coffee followed. Finally, my goal to enjoy Tea Land was met. I took the plunge and discovered amazing things about this superfood to write home about--and I savored every minute of research inside and outside my cabin with tea. 

Here is a quick synopsis (from Kensington) of the sixth book to be included in the popular Healing Powers Series. Coming to you this year just in time for the late fall/Christmas holiday celebration of 2017 and on into the New Year. Not to forget January 2018 is National Hot Tea Month! So, readers will be ready to sip and savor their favorite cuppa of brew.Time goes by fast and soon this special book with a fresh perspective on tea will be in your hands to enjoy.

Meanwhile, I'll be visiting a special tea room (or two) in Canada; and I promise to share my experiences with you as The Healing Powers of Tea: A Complete Guide to Nature's Special Remedy is in the final stages of production before it's tea time for you.

Wellness in a Cup—Discover the Benefits of Tea for Your Body and Mind!

The Healing Powers of Olive Oil 
2.99 ebook Spring Sale for April
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. 

This fascinating book boils down the rich history of tea—as well as the ever-expanding list of health and weight loss benefits found in its leaves. 
*Discover how black and white teas are heating up the beverage world with antioxidants and nutrients that lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and fight off inflammation, viruses, and bacteria.
*Learn how age-defying spa treatments made from tea can soothe your skin, soften your hair, and give you an all-over glow and peace of mind.
*Get the latest knowledge from top medical researchers and tea experts on how the superfood can tackle digestive problems, depression and anxiety, aches and pains, and add years to your life. 

*Stir up over 50 home cures to give yourself more energy, less stress, treat the common cold, insomnia, and more!

*Enjoy comforting and tea-licious recipes like Warm Scones with Jam and Devonshire Cream, Assorted Finger Sandwiches, Scrumptious White Tea Scallops, and Russian Tea Cookies paired with the perfect brew – hot or iced.
Better health is just a sip away. With The Healing Powers of Tea (sweetened with lively stories) you’ll learn the hottest tips to improve your health, boost your brain power, and even clean your house!

Product details

  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Citadel (December 26, 2017)
  • Publication Date: December 26, 2017
  • Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
  • Language: English

Pre-Order at and

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Honey Granola is Good Stuff

Back to Nature Honey Granola

Back in the sixties a popular hippie health food was granola...

It’s a cereal mixture of baked oats, nuts, and dried fruit. As time passed, this good-for-you snack made its way to health food stores and now in the 21st century it’s touted in TV commercials and found in bags, boxes, and bins at grocery stores.
Decades ago I was a health-conscious nomad in between semesters at college. Paired with a boyfriend and dog we camped out in gold mining country--for a summer. Before we were evicted (due to lack of cash flow and having a canine) from our apartment in the San Francisco Bay Area, I made a big batch of granola and stored it inside a big plastic container and stored it inside our ice chest. The first morning I awoke to our new home-- a van parked on the shore of Tuolumne River in Calaveras County.  Clad in a bathing suit, basking in the sunshine, munching on crunchy granola before taking a swim was going back to nature, carefree and happy.

Good Grief! Homemade Granola

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup walnuts, rough chop
1/2 cup premium shredded sweet coconut
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 stick of European style butter, melted
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons premium organ maple syrup
1 cup raisins

In a pan place dry ingredients (oats, nuts, coconut, and sugar). Set aside.  Mix wet ingredients (butter, honey, syrup) and combine with dry ingredients until all ingredients are coated. Bake in a 300 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. Stir a few times. Remove, cool, add raisins. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. Serves 8. *Serve with milk as cereal or with plain Greek yogurt, slices of fresh fruit, and tea.

The kitchen will smell like a cookie store. A few tips I’ve learned include: Less baking time makes a chewier granola; adding dried fruit when baked is best; easy on the coconut since it’s high in fat; and vegetable oil can be used instead of butter. Eating less is more because the contents are rich in sugar and fat but paired with organic yogurt (plain contains less sugar, more protein) or low fat milk makes it a healthy breakfast or snack. You can buy granola but making it yourself is easy, fun, tastes fresh, and you have the luxury of adding your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruit to savor wherever you are during seasonal changes that come with rain, snow or shine.