Callie’s Cabin: Pumpkin French Toast (Recipe)

One autumn on a trip away from the South Shore, I experienced pumpkins lining the cobblestone sidewalks in Quebec City, Quebec. A pretty pumpkin patch in the Apple Hill area of Placerville greeted me another Indian summer. And, I’ve enjoyed admiring pumpkins, all sizes, at our local grocery stores.

Last year I bought a huge pumpkin at our friendly Safeway. It was my intention to carve it, put a candle inside, and enjoy it on the deck. Well, the pumpkin did sit on the deck for a while. But it was faceless. Then, I brought it in and placed it by the fireplace. No happy or sad face. Time passed and the pumpkin without an identity ended up sitting on the dining room table amid orange and white candles. Finally, I put the orange ball without a personality (like Wilson in the film Castaway) on top of the fridge. I was going to repurpose it, by removing the seeds for homemade pumpkin seeds.

But days passed and then weeks and the poor pumpkin sat solo. One day I noticed an odor. It was the pumpkin that never was celebrated. Sadly, it was tossed in the garbage like a Christmas tree after the holiday season.

So, this year cans of pumpkin puree sit in my pantry. Instead of a pumpkin pie, scones, or fudge, I’m warming up to making Pumpkin French Toast. It’s a fine treat that will get eaten and no waste, right?

PUMPKIN FRENCH TOAST

1 teaspoon European style butter

2 eggs, large, brown

½ cup low-fat organic milk

¼ cup pumpkin puree

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice

½ teaspoon cinnamon

4 slices French bread (thicker, the better)

Local honey

Butter, extra for topping

In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt butter. Set aside. In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, pumpkin, vanilla, and spices. Mix well. Dunk bread slices (both sides) into the egg mixture. Place each slice into the pan. Medium heat is recommended. Cook for a few minutes and turn over. Repeat till golden brown. Serve hot. Add a pat of butter, drizzle with honey. Serves 2.

This recipe is easy to put together. Not only is it quick it’s versatile. It is good for breakfast, especially paired with chunks of seasonal fruit, and a cup of hot pumpkin spice flavored coffee or tea. But it can suffice as a late-night snack, too. The pumpkin touch is fall-ish. The best part: It won’t be tricked, like the South Shore pumpkin that came to my cabin and never lived a full life.

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 www.calorey.com.

Callie’s Cabin: Jackpot Scrambled Eggs (Recipe)

Ever notice how living at Lake Tahoe changes yet stays the same? This week I passed by a former neighbor’s home. She moved back to Southern California several years ago. But feel-good memories at the home linger. I miss the fun and convenient home away from home right around the corner.

One chilly late fall afternoon I brought my late Brittany Spaniel over to her home for a play date with her Rat Terrier. We left the fun-loving dogs and drove off the hill to run errands. Then, we stopped for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. I ordered my favorite tostada, chips, and salsa. I ate half and saved the rest for later.

That night the boys continued to rough house, I munched on my spicy meal, and we watched the disaster film “10.5.” A soak in the hot tub followed. At midnight under the full moon I walked my dog home. It was a perfect day for two dog women and two canines.

These days, I’m still working on books and have a different dog. But neighbors come and go in this mountain town. I confess that I miss many of the folks, including the warmhearted, rugged Polish man, down-to-earth surrogate mother, and mom young enough to be my daughter.

So, this homemade quick vegetarian tostada recipe is for my friend with a friendly dog; and my memorable South Shore neighbors who were like family.

Tahoe-Friendly Tostadas

2 flour tortillas, whole wheat honey oat

1 teaspoon European style butter

1 cup kale mix, pre-shredded and packaged

2 tablespoons red onion, chopped

Olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste (3 to 1 ratio of oil to vinegar works well)

1 Roma tomato, chopped

½ cup cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower)

¼ cup cheese, Monterey Jack, shredded

1/2 cup salsa (Fresh Killer Salsa available at Safeway)

1 lemon

Parmesan shavings (garnish)

Sour cream (garnish)

Place tortillas on a plate. Drizzle with butter. Heat for 1 minute in the microwave. Remove and turn tortilla over. Repeat. It should be crispy. You can oven bake or fry but this is easy and works. Set aside. In a bowl combine kale mix, onion, tomato, and olive oil and vinegar. Set aside. Nuke crucifers in the microwave for a few minutes (or stir fry with a bit of olive oil in a skillet). Place tostadas on a plate. Top with salad mixture. Top with cheese, salsa, and squeeze a bit of lemon juice on each tostada. Top with a shavings and a dollop of sour cream.

Yep, I’m a vegetarian/semi-vegan. You can add chicken or fish to this recipe. Or not. Also, if you have neighbors that you love to hang with, this recipe can easily be doubled. To make it more versatile add more toppings and put them in bowls. Let everyone choose what they want for their tostada. Also, go ahead and buy store bought tortilla chips. Dip ‘em in my favorite Killer salsa to live for — it’s that good.

So, yeah, that saying, “You are where you are supposed to be” makes sense to me. But sometimes, I get a bit nostalgic for the friendly neighbors with hearts of gold that were once here… and now have moved off the hill. But this familiar warm meal and vivid recollections fill the cool autumn air of the neighborhood.

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 www.calorey.com.

Callie’s Cabin: Jackpot Scrambled Eggs (Recipe)

Ten years ago, I posted this breakfast recipe on my blog. I was writing The Healing Powers of Chocolate. Now I am half way through finishing book number nine in the Healing Powers Series. And number eight will be launched in December.

But while all is good writing in Foodland, I’m feeling on edge like I did during the Great Recession. This year the R word has me, and some folks on the hill, wondering “what if?”

When I was the age of Tahoe’s youngish millennials, it was me and my dog Stone fox, hitching and hiking across America.

I did pass through Lake Tahoe. I was penniless, munching on granola and peanut butter. I owned a sleeping bag and knapsack. And memories of those lean and carefree days are coming back to me.

I can’t help feeling like the world as we know it may be scrambled — like eggs. But rich or poor, this dish hits the spot if you use superfoods, herbs and spices.

Jackpot Scrambled Eggs

2 brown eggs (at room temperature)

1/2 cup 2% organic low fat milk

1 Roma tomato, chopped

Black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, shredded

Parsley, basil or thyme sprigs, fresh (for garnish)

Whisk eggs and milk. Pour into a nonstick frying pan. Cook on medium heat. Stir as needed till eggs are cooked and fluffy. Add tomatoes. Sprinkle with pepper. Grate fresh cheese on top. Garnish with herbs. Top off with whole grain toast. Serves one or two.

On the upside, eggs are not pricey. Pair it with whole grain toast and fortified OJ, for the extra good-for-you stuff like calcium and vitamin D. Yeah, bread is budget-friendly, too. Coffee? I confess mine is delivered to my doorstep. It’s gourmet stuff. So, this wholesome breakfast is ideal for autumn with its mix of earthy colors. It’s also a feel-good, energizing meal, whether you’re in the money. Or not. Ah, maybe I’ll play the slots this week. You never know when Lady Luck will be cut you a break.

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 www.calorey.com.

Callie’s Cabin: Sweet Sierra Fries for Autumn

It’s chilly outside as we are feeling the signs of autumn. I’m craving hot sweet and spicy baked apples. It’s the perfect seasonal fruit and you can buy it on the cheap wherever you shop around town. Instead of apple cake or muffins, I thought, “Why not dress up the fruit and embrace it for the Fall?” It’s apple time!

Back in the 20th century, my mom used whatever kind of apple we had on hand. After all, baked apples aren’t rocket science. No bells and whistles for my family in suburbia. A bit of cinnamon and white sugar and the apples were stuffed into the oven.

Once baked, a dollop of whipped cream was the special touch. Done. After all, it was a different era. Convenience food was big, whereas, home-cooking was put on the back burner except on the weekends.

This week I changed it up a bit. I used Fuji and Red Delicious apples. I stuffed each one with stuff in the pantry. Here’s my European-style remake of mom’s baked apples I ate when I was a kid.

Stuffed Baked Apples

2 Red Delicious Apples

Divide for each apple:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2-3 tablespoons brown sugar 3 tablespoons European style butter

½ cup oats, uncooked

1 teaspoon cinnamon ¼ cup walnuts, chopped ¼ cup golden raisins

Vanilla ice cream

Chocolate shavings or chips, milk, dark, or white

Rinse and cut apples in half. Scoop out seeds, making a hole. Set aside. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter, oats, cinnamon, nuts, and raisins. Stuff each apple crevice with the mixture. Place apples in a baking dish. Fill with 1 inch of water. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender. Serve right out of the oven. Top with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings or grate chips. Serves 2.

It was a fun experience. A blast from the past. Eating a warm baked apple with ice cream topped with chocolate is decadent. The Red Delicious apple is soft and mushy like a baked apple should be, whereas the Fuji is crunchy. I suppose Granny Smith apples, the kind apple pies are made of, would be simply perfect. The season is young. One more thing: Save the crisp, fresh Fuji apples to munch on as is.

— 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 http://www.calorey.com.