Friday, March 23, 2018

Tea Time for the Tea Book Author

Over the decades I've been an author at dozens and dozens of book signings. 

Some book events I've teamed with well-known people featured in my books.  We were greeted by TV cameras, radio station hosts, a microphone and rows of people in the audience. Others, guide dogs to adoption cats upstaged me, the author, and nobody wanted me to speak out or sign a book. You just never know what's going to happen at a book signing--and the thing is, I continue to get booked and go on the road for the thrill of the unknown...

Last weekend on Saint Patrick’s Day, for instance, I took a leap of faith and drove over the mountain (with my dog in tow and survival food) to attend a book signing. The roads were icy, cars were moving at a snail’s pace, and a couple of times I mumbled, “I’m turning back.”
Knowing I was stocked up on granola bars, salt and vinegar potato chips, bottled water, and canine chow seemed a bit calming for a snow day raining on my parade. While there were a few close skidding out of control moments, no “Misery” car crash for this food book series author. 
On the way home, I wondered, “Why didn’t I bake chewy cookies and bring tea?” 
Back in the cozy cabin I brewed a fresh cup of hot chamomile (two cups, actually), and cuddled with my action-oriented Aussie and zen-like Siamese. After a day of adventure, cravings for fresh coconut macaroons were on my mind. 
After all, it’s still winter-like weather in the Sierra and a home-baked cookie (filling the house with a sweet aroma) paired with an over-sized cup of calming beverage is comforting. This recipe is inspired by my new tea book with soul, thanks to pro chef recipes and heartwarming stories, and tearooms I visited both in and out of the country during research in Tealand.

Snowflake Cookies

5 tablespoons whole wheat flour (good for high altitude so cookies don’t spread in the oven)
¼ cup granulated white sugar
6 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 capful each almond extract and pure vanilla extract
7-8 ounces (approximately 2 ½ cups) sweetened coconut, premium
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon lemon or orange rind (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar (for dusting) (optional)

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, milk, extracts and coconut. Set aside. In a mixing bowl beat egg whites until stiff. Fold in coconut mixture. Add orange rind. Use 1/3 cup ice cream scoop or 1 teaspoon (shaped like a Hershey’s chocolate drop), and place cookie dough on a cookie sheet (parchment paper is nice to use to avoid sticking). Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes or till bottoms are golden and cookies are firm. Remove immediately. Dust cookies with confectioners’ sugar. Makes about 10-12 cookies; depending on size.  Store in airtight container and put in fridge or freezer.
(Tip: I cut the recipe in half because these cookies do contain sugar and fat. If you love chocolate, melt white or dark chocolate chips in the microwave for about 30 seconds, stir, 30 more seconds till melted. Dip on one side of the cookie or on the bottom.)

While the drive in a post-snowstorm wasn’t as horrific as I had thought it could be, the chips were super stress reducers, but calming hot tea and warm homemade cookies would have been more soothing. Next time around during a drive in the snow or rain, I’ll pack a thermos of tea and snowflake cookies.

--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, March 22, 2018

Healing Powers Series Author--Who is She, Anyhow?

Today we're talking to Cal Orey, the author of the Healing Powers series, including The Healing Powers of Tea and The Healing Powers of Honey (now available in mass market gift size format).

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in San Jose, California. It's changed due to gentrification aka (King Kong stomped on Mother Nature and now it's a metropolis). I moved to Lake Tahoe to get back to nature. Ironically, history repeats itself. More changes, including killing healthy trees (I'm a granola girl/tree hugger) and vacation homeowner invasion like Stephen King's Langoliers, especially in the summertime. I am a journalist-author. That's what they (my editors) call me. 

How and when did you become a writer?
I got my first poem "School Days" published when I was in third grade. My teachers told me I had a "gift" when I wrote papers. So, I ended up majoring in English (Creative Writing) in college. I hold a bachelor's and masters in these topics. But I flunked math. 

What genre do you write?
I'm known as a health author. I have had thousands of articles published on different subjects, including relationships (I flunked this topic, too, in real life), pets, Earth changes, and just about anything (even sex).

How would you describe your writing style?
Lately, I like to write in the morning (thanks to my cup of Joe), research after swimming in the afternoon. Late at night I brainstorm and write notes. When working on a book like now it's similar to having renters in your brain. I'm trying to go with them, this time. Overall, it's cool. Think visitors that can be amusing, thought-provoking, and inspiring but pesky at times. They don't sleep!

What makes you different from other writers?
I like to put my personal paw print on each piece of work. In other words, I prefer to write in a chatty, down-to-earth first person narrative. Love to say things people are afraid to say, kind of like baring your soul or disrobing in front of the world. I lose the inhibitions for my best stuff. 

Who inspires you?
My dog is my mentor. Nah. I adore Stephen King. In grad school for my oral exams I chose my three authors: George Eliot, John Steinbeck, and Edward Albee. And people in real life also make my works come alive.

How did you come up with the title of (your book you want to talk about)?
I fell into the Healing Powers series. It was the title of the first book back in 1999. The Healing Powers of Vinegar paved the way for books that followed into a sequel, then a trilogy but my editor corrected me and called it a "series."

Who is your favorite character in (your book you want to talk about) and why?
A returning character is an elderly woman who is someone who helped me a lot when I was a struggling magazine journalist. Read: I scrubbed toilets for the well-to-do to make ends meet. She traveled abroad many times. Now I travel to Canada. A lot. It gives me my fix of culture, diversity, England and France. I have a sense of belonging in Quebec to British Columbia. Psst! I am wearing a maple leaf necklace I got back in July when I paid a visit to Victoria. So calming that trip was for me. 

We live in divisive times. Should your religion/politics influence your writing?
As a Catholic I admit in my books this fact does come out a bit...but I shy away from politics. Too heated these days. But between you and me? I am an Independent, former Democrat, and closet Republican. This is probably because I'm a middle child; dad a Republican, mom a Democrat. And I was the rebellious hippie chick growing up in the seventies.

What are you working on now? 
Ah. Number seven of the Healing Powers series--SUPERFOODS (January 2019). It's awesome. I'm time traveling back in time and share my stories on the road. Not to forget it is a health-cookbook, of sorts. Surprise topic. I will share a bit later. 

Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Good news! My number eight Healing Powers book, ESSENTIAL OILS is in progress. I feel like the Misery author, sort of. But I vow not to kill the characters or series. It is home.

Advice for young writers? 
Live life! Your experiences will take you where you are supposed to be in the writing world.

For more information about this author check out the following links:, ;

Monday, March 19, 2018

Lemon Tea Cupcakes for Spring & Easter

By Cal Orey
Spring is in the air... It is a time to eat lighter, clean house, lose winter weight, gain energy with longer days, and enjoy tea and treats with a light touch! Enter a delicious recipe to get you started!

Honey and Lemon 
Green Tea Cupcakes

1/2 cup boiling water
1 green tea bag
2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice (1/4 cup) of one lemon
1/4 cup buttermilk 
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup orange blossom honey
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour boiling water over tea bag and steep 3 minutes. Remove tea bag and allow tea to cool. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Combine green tea, lemon zezt and juice, and buttermilk; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, until fluffy. Add honey; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time. Add half of the reserved dry ingredients to the butter mixture; mix on low until just combined. With mixer running on low, slowly add the lemon tea mixture. Add remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Fill paper-lined muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove to wire rack; cool.  Makes 12-14 cupcakes. 

Dust with confectioners' sugar or frost and decorate with Honey Lemon Frosting. A mild flavored honey such as clover may be used. Recipe available on page 119 of the new gift size book The Healing Powers of Honey. (Recipe Courtesy: National Honey Board)

Spring into a Slimmer You with Detoxifying Lemon Tea

Tomorrow is the first day of spring. It's time to start eating clean and fresh foods. What better way to jump-start your regime by sipping tea! Try a herbal tea and lemon potion.  It can help you to dump that unwanted winter weight, energize, and give you a rejuvenating boost!

Ginger Lemon Honey Tea

Ginger and lemon go together like salt and pepper—two of nature’s finest superfoods with an immunity boosting and detoxifying effect that can keep you healthy this spring and all year-long. Plus, drinking this potion can help fill you up not out to help curb your appetite and eat lighter for the new season.

2 cups water
10 thin slices ginger root, fresh
1 lemon sliced
3 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup lemon juice

Bring water, ginger root, and lemon slices to a boil for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove from heat, steep 10 minutes, strain. Stir in honey and lemon juice. You can also add apple peel, a piece of onion, and one or two tablespoons of chamomile.

(Courtesy: Gemma Sanita Sciabica)   

Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Tea 2018. All rights reserved. Reprinted with 

permission from Kensington .

More recipes and mini-fasts in the new books: The Healing Powers of Tea and The Healing Powers of Honey.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Barnes and Noble Signing--Author's Trek in Snowstorm

By Cal Orey

Today, on March 17, Saint Patrick's Day I took a leap of faith and drove over the mountain in the Sierra to attend a book signing after shoveling snow in the morning.

Yes, the roads were icy, roads not groomed, a bit crowded on the way out of Lake Tahoe (drivers coming into town despite reports advising to no drive) and sci-fi spooky. Regrets of not doing a will for the Siamese kitty in my life hit while driving on the winding road--both ways. An adventure without The Rock to rescue us. Images of the author in the film "Misery" came to mind. But no, I did not crash and slide off a ravine. (I even packed blankets, survival food, and water just in case!)

Due to the highly contagious canine flu, my Aussie couldn't be kenneled and got his first shot. As we wait for the booster shot the dog was in tow to Reno. A bit of another challenge once it began to snow. Feeling like characters in the "Contagion" movie the trek was made... had to keep my canine in a bubble, sort of. This made me nervous. I didn't want to leave the dog in the car. (It was cold, canine flu is an issue, it didn't seem humane, me selling books and dog left to suffer.)

On the upside, the TEA books sold--a lot--a few days ahead without me--the author. So I was on a mission to replenish with more books since the weekend was nearing. 

But the dog outside in the snow flurry bothered me. Pet sitters weren't an option; kennel was not opening doors until shot takes effect. Stuck. What's a dog-loving, hardworking author to do? I stayed for an hour...but if the books sold on their own I sensed more would sell. The challenging elements--snow and dog won. 

So the day was an event--one I won't forget...and plan to likely return June, National Iced Tea Month--or I may be in Canada at the Fairmont Hotel gift shop where TEA and HONEY books are available.
Another storm is on its way, more rain than white powder, before Spring arrives next week.  Once back home, I made a fire, brewed a fresh cup of tea, cuddled on the sofa with puppy. Another day in the life of the Healing Powers Series author.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Pizza Love with a Mini Twist

Welcome to amazing Pizzaworld on the South Shore. I’ve ordered take out at Blue Dog and Domino's and other hot pizza spots around the Lake.  I’ve bought O Organics Organic Roasted Vegetable and Cheese Pizza at our local Safeway and Digiorno, too. And I’ve been treated to a custom-ordered pesto and spinach pizza stone-baked in wood-fired oven at an Italian restaurant.
Many moons ago, I met a man from the Internet at a Pizza Hut in town. When I arrived neither of us savored an “ah ha” moment since there was no love connection. Oddly, he had a sausage pizza delivered to his table. My fave dish was boxed up ready to go for one--him. Nope, it wasn’t a romantic Lady and Tramp slurping a slice of pizza scene I took home. But good pizza can be a treat if you do it yourself (and give a tidbit of cheese to your canine companion).

This week I am still on the spring season health kick as we feel the winter chill and see the white powder. So, I put together my own version of a semi-homemade pizza—with fresh ingredients.  It is surprisingly easy to make and delicious with the right amount of gooey cheese, olives, and other pizza stuff that’ll fill you up not out. This recipe is good to go without the wait of the pizza guy or gal or effort it takes to create pizza dough.

2 pita pockets or bread rounds, wheat (thick, Greek style preferred)
½ cup store bought marinara or pesto sauce (optional)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (or crumbled feta cheese)
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced or diced
¼ red onion, sliced thin
¼ cup black olives (fresh from your favorite Deli)
1 cup baby arugula or spinach, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Ground black pepper to taste
Sea salt to taste (optional)

Place pita pockets on a dish for the microwave or nonstick cookie sheets for oven at 350 degrees. Top with cheese. Heat pita rounds until hot and cheese is bubbly. Remove from microwave or oven. Top with tomatoes and onion. Pop back into oven or nuke them for a few minutes. Take out again and place on cutting board. Top with olives and greens. Drizzle with olive and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Slice like you do a pizza. Serves 2. Double or triple the recipe or have a pizza bar and put toppings in little bowls. Make the pita rounds with cheese and allow guests to make their own pita pizza.  You can add other toppings, including bell peppers, mushrooms, and cooked chicken.
The olives, and olive oil give these mini pizzas plenty of good monounsaturated fat and flavor that you’ll love. These pita pizzas with a Greek flair are wholesome and can be dished up for lunch, a snack, or dinner. Pair it with a cup of strong flavored tea like Irish Breakfast for extra mind and body energy.  You’ll wonder, “Why haven’t I made Greek Pita Pizza until now?” Well, now you can say, “Good to know” and enjoy your pizza anytime you like without the wait.
— 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 .

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Spring Fever
By Cal Orey

Spring has sprung. But the question is, is the flu and cold season over? Often when April arrives the transition of cold and warmer temperatures can wreak havoc on your body and mind. Read on—discover how home cures with tea(s)—a superfood--from your kitchen may be just what the doctor would order to help beat colds, allergies thanks to pollen and other allergens, miserable seasonal affective disorder and winter weight gain, and even a second wave of the flu.

1.      1.    Colds: During late winter months, cold season can linger like an unwanted house guest. But, if you are under stress, a cold can pay you a visit year-round, especially if you’re traveling. If your immune system is under attack, a cold can be prevented or the severity lessened with tea.
What Tea Rx to Use: Drink one 8-ounce cup of black tea (hot or iced) with or without 1 teaspoon honey two to three times per day while symptoms last.
Why You’ll Feel Tea-rrific: Tea researchers believe it’s the compound antigen (a molecule capable of inducing an immune response) in black tea that bolsters the body’s immune system and may help guard against colds. Known for being rich with antioxidants, tea also contains tannins which may help to stave off viruses like a cold.
2.         Coughs: Coping with a cold can be annoying but coughing (either from a cold or allergies) can be pesky and make your throat and chest ache.
What Tea Rx to Use: Opt to brew one 12-ounce cup of black or white tea. For an extra throat soother, add 1 teaspoon of local honey is especially good for allergies!). Repeat as necessary.
Why You’ll Feel Tea-rrific:  Tackling a cough takes a bit of sleuth work to discover why you are coughing. If allergens are the issue, for instance, it’s time to get an air purifier, vacuum and dust more, and add tea with local honey to your diet repertoire.
3.        Flu: Catching the flu, just when you thought flu season was over, which can come on suddenly, drags you down and into bed. Viruses come in all forms and can give you anything from a 24-hour bug to a stubborn virus that’ll hang on for weeks.
What Tea Rx to Use: Take 2 cups of tea (black, green, or white) and 1 cup of your favorite vitamin C-enhanced herbal tea– such as hibiscus.
Why You’ll Feel Tea-rrific: It’s no surprise that tea is chock-full of antioxidants—the good guys that can keep your immune system healthy and stave off germs you could encounter. By drinking tea and a vitamin-rich tisane teamed with a nutrient-dense diet, you’ll be keeping your immune system strong.
4.        Seasonal Affective Disorder:  Feeling down and sluggish with SAD? Seasonal depression is yet is another monster to face in the colder months. I have tackled the symptoms with an arsenal of remedies—and tea is on the list come late fall through early spring.
What Tea Rx to Use: Brew 1 cup of green tea. Steep for 3 minutes. Repeat 2 times per day.
Why You’ll Feel Tea-rrific: Green tea has 45 milligrams of caffeine (which can give you a physical and mental burst of energy). But also, green tea contains L-theanine—a compound that enhances brain chemicals including serotonin and that can give you a calming sense of well-being.
5.        Sore Throat: A sore throat is a telltale sign that a cold or allergies are looming, so rather than run to the pharmacy for medication every time, why not take an alternative route and turn to tea first?
What Tea Rx to Use:  Dried oolong leaves combined with rose hips or hibiscus can be a perfect pairing. Put 1 teaspoon of tea leaves and 1 teaspoon of the herbal tea of your choice in 1 cup of hot water. Steep for a few minutes, then strain. Add honey to taste.
Why You’ll Feel Tea-rrific: Oolong tea may reduce swelling and inflammation, due to flavonoids. Also,local  honey boasts anti-inflammatory benefits and contains pollen to help balance allergies.

Ginger Lemon Honey Tea

Ginger and lemon go together like salt and pepper—two of nature’s finest superfoods with an immunity booster and detoxifying that can keep you healthy this spring and all year-long. Plus, drinking this potion can help fill you up not out to help drop unwanted pounds for spring!

2 cups water
10 thin slices ginger root, fresh
1 lemon sliced
3 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup lemon juice
Bring water, ginger root, and lemon slices to a boil for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove from heat, steep 10 minutes, strain. Stir in honey and lemon juice. You can also add apple peel, a piece of onion, and one or two tablespoons of chamomile.
(Courtesy: Gemma Sanita Sciabica)
Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Tea 2018. All right reserved. Reprinted with permission from