Callie’s Cabin: California dreaming with wildflowers, cornbread

Cal Orey
Special to the Tribune

In December 2019, my pre-pandemic trip to Anchorage, Alaska, didn’t include edible flowers and fresh herb salads. But if I lived there, I could have ordered online dried edible wildflowers.

And here on the South Shore we’ve got fresh greens, vegetables, and herbs year-round. So, humming the classic lyrics: “California Dreamin’ on a winter’s day” I put together a salad and freshly baked muffins to warm me, and you, too.

Here, an edible flower salad inspired by my Central California cooking mentor Gemma Sciabica, who was dishing up flower dishes like this one back in the 20th century the way you can do now in the 21st century.

Salad with nasturtium leaves and flowers. <em id="emphasis-9e020f95eea91d16d33d72662247f5d4">Getty Images</em>

Edible Wildflowers and Arugula Salad

1½ cups curly endive, chopped

½ cup feta and herb cheese, crumbled

1 red pepper, roasted, chopped

2 cups arugula, chopped

¼ cup cilantro

4 sprigs thyme, chopped

¾ cup cherry tomatoes, chopped

¼ to 1/2 cup edible flowers for garnish (I prefer pansies, found online)

½ cup seeds (pumpkin or sunflower)

In a bowl, combine all ingredients except the flowers. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk ½ cup olive oil and 2 teaspoons herbal vinegar (a ratio of 3 to 1 for oil and vinegar). Garnish with flowers and sprinkle seeds on top. Drizzle you’re your fave store bought dressing or olive oil and red wine vinegar (3 parts oil, 1-part vinegar). Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish.

Spicy jalapeno cornbread muffins. <em id="emphasis-7425770a80949fafecd759087e876db2">Getty Images</em>

Sierra Cornbread Muffins

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup honey

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup 2% low-fat organic milk

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 brown eggs

½ cup jalapeno pepper, green, sliced

2 tablespoons fresh garlic cloves, minced

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir till mixed. Add milk, oil, and eggs to the dry mixture. Fold in peppers and garlic. Pour batter into paper lined muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes till golden brown. Makes about 10 to 12 medium muffins. Best warm out of the oven. Spread with a mixture of half European-style butter and honey.

One year since we’ve been coping with the pandemic and I’ve learned to try and adapt to change. So, I’ve given salads a twist with wildflowers. The cornbread? I’ve probably told you all how much I miss our Marie Callender’s. It was a place I’d go and get cornbread to love. But hey, we learn how to go with the flow, right? Pairing this pre-Spring slimming nature’s salad with cornbread muffins and a kick of peppers will feed your body and spirit with a splash of good for you novelty.

Adapted from The Healing Powers of Herbs & Spices: Timeless Treasures

Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.