What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Tahoe-Style Chinese Fest | TahoeDailyTribune.com

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What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Tahoe-Style Chinese Fest

Cal Orey

In my young, carefree and penniless days, I found myself amid good friends with good dreams. During one of our road adventures we visited a hot Asian restaurant in San Francisco. One money-minded individual of our group ordered tea for all of us. When the waiter took his order of stir-fried seafood and vegetables, chop suey, wonton soup and egg rolls – we asked for six dishes and explained our plan was the share plan. The waiter folded his arms, provided a dramatic pregnant pause, sighed, mumbled some words I couldn’t understand, but ended up serving us a Chinese cuisine feast to divvy up and love.

These days, countless people, like me, and perhaps you, are crunching numbers to make ends meet. Don’t despair. Do-it-yourself brown rice, stir-fry vegetables, green tea and Chinese cookies come to the rescue. It can all be made easy and fast in the comfort of your home. The perks are that it’s healthful, budget-friendly and can be created for one, two, four or more. And tasty leftovers for a winter lunch or dinner are part of the Tahoe-Style Chinese Fest.

As we edge into pre-spring, these Asian foods are good for the body and spirit. Rice and veggies are full of fiber and antioxidants. Green tea can enhance your health and well-being. The Chinese cookies are sweet and small – and a fine snack, especially if you use whole wheat flour and heart-healthy almonds. So, I enjoyed the light weekend snow and made a batch of Chinese Almond Cookies.

1 cup brown rice

1 1/2 cups fresh vegetable mix, washed (broccoli, carrots, snow peas, mushrooms)

chopped, or pre-cut and packaged

Jumbo shrimp, pre-cooked (about 3 1/2 ounces shrimp per person)

2 tablespoons orange or lemon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon ginger (optional)

fresh garlic and onion, chopped (optional)

pepper as desired

Simply follow the cooking rice instructions on the package. Saute vegetables in oil. In another pan, saute shrimp for about two minutes on medium heat. Top cooked rice with vegetables and fish. Lightly toss. Serves two or three. Simply double the recipe for four. Scallops may be substituted for the shrimp.

1 1/2 cups 100 percent whole wheat flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup Mediterranean style butter

1/2 teaspoon Mediterranean sea salt

2 tablespoons organic half and half

1 brown egg

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1/2 cup ground almonds (chop in blender)

In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, soda and salt. Cut in butter. Add beaten egg, extract and almonds. Mix it up. Chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Roll into petite, 1-inch balls. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Press a sliced almond on top. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes. Cool. Glaze with a mixture of powdered sugar and milk (about 1/4 cup each) and 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

Did you know traditional Chinese cuisine can be low-fat and low cal, especially when you can control the ingredients? That’s right, rice veggies and small amounts of seafood are a dieter’s best friend. To stay healthy and get ready for a springtime body, stay clear of Chinese foods high in fat, including fried chicken wings, moo shu pork, spare ribs, and sweet and sour pork.

Cal Orey is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate) published by Kensington. Her Web site is http://www.calorey.com.