Shellfish, potatoes, and sorbet are three of my favorite foods in the summertime. I could have slaved in a hot kitchen and created fried jumbo shrimp, scalloped potatoes and home-made sorbet, but a shortcut seemed more sensible. My mom used to make stuffed tuna tomatoes and twice-baked and stuffed potatoes, and ice cream sandwiches. This week my dishes are a spin-off of these '50s foods with a fresh 21st century update.
I moved to the South Shore on July 12, 1999. It was a "Grapes of Wrath"-like journey. My former senior companions, Dylan, a 9-year-old Brittany, and Alex, a 12-year-old orange-and-white cat, weathered the 105-degree heat traveling through Sacramento. Shakespeare, my 2-year-old beloved blue betta, did not make the journey. There was no air-conditioning in the Ford Bronco that died in Strawberry. But, before dark, the movers made it to Tahoe and we were saved by AAA. I opened the door to the cabin I never had seen inside and was pleasantly surprised, like indulging in stuffed foods. Dead tired from the move and heat, my first meal the next day was a shrimp salad with cherry tomatoes, bottled Thousand Island dressing, a microwaved baked potato and an ice cream. Sitting in the living room with my devoted dog and cat, and a panoramic view of pine trees, I felt at home. These foods I ate as a kid made my life in the Sierra feel safe.
Today, in 2012, while I'm getting ready to input another book, "Secrets of Soul Mates," awaiting the release of two books in July, and busy booking a book tour for late summer/fall, cooking isn't in my vocabulary. But the cool taste of shrimp, hot taters and a frozen dessert were calling out my name. So, I went on a fun, stuffed foodfest. I stuffed my fridge with this trio for an early dinner. It was like my mother's dishes, sort of. I opted for shrimp instead of tuna; organic milk rather than whole; and sorbet, not ice cream, made me feel like a natural woman living in the mountains.
Shrimp Salad Stuffed Tomatoes
1/3 pound peeled cooked shrimp, tails removed, chopped
1/2 stalk celery, finely diced
2 tablespoons red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh basil
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
2 large fresh tomatoes, cored
Fresh grated parmesan cheese
Romaine lettuce (garnish)
In a bowl combine shrimp, celery, onion, mayonnaise, herbs. Chill in fridge. Hollow out each tomato, fill will shrimp. Top with cheese. Place on a bed of lettuce (optional). Serves 2.
Wash and bake two large russet potatoes (leave skins on) in microwave. Cool. Scoop out potato and place in bowl. Add organic reduced-fat milk and sour cream (1/4 cup each), and 1 tablespoon European style butter. Place mixture into potatoes. Top with a slice of premium cheddar cheese. Nuke again for about 2-3 minutes. Top with fresh chives. Serves 2.
Cut off tops of two lemons. Hollow out each lemon. Use an ice cream scoop (1/4 cup) and place two scoops of all natural premium lemon sorbet into each lemon. Put in ramekin dishes. Sprinkle with sweetened shredded coconut. Garnish with mint. Keep in freezer. Serves 2.
I applaud my mom for raising three kids, working full-time, and cooking dinner seven nights a week. This pre-summer meal was a heads up that I forgot to have babies - I nurture fur kids and deliver books - all my children. It wasn't in the stars for me to be a traditional mom or cook. The fishy tomatoes, stuffed, cheesy potatoes, and lemony dessert showed me that I can make a wholesome dinner and break the rules with a touch of class. When you follow your passion, and use your creativity, the end result is a surprise, like stuffed superfoods: tomatoes, potatoes, and lemons a la sorbet. Sweet.
Motto: Tune into your gut instincts and follow your heart. Nature's foods offer a variety of ways to nourish your body and spirit to fit the seasonal change, especially if you have fun like a child doing it.
- Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. "The Healing Powers of Coffee" and "Animal Attraction: A Collection of Tales & Tails" will be released this summer. Her website is www.calorey.com.