What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: For brunch bunnies in the Sierra
April 17, 2014
Spring break is here and Easter Sunday is on its way. Easter dishes, including lamb or turkey teamed with potatoes and peas are not uncommon. As a tween in San Jose suburbs, I recall one Sunday morning going to church, and after enjoying a coffee ice cream cone. While my mom baked I'd watch and munch on Easter eggs (hard-boiled eggs dyed in bright colors with religious roots), and cold cuts, including carrots and celery until a big dinner. The dinner consisted of honey glazed ham, scalloped potatoes, green salad, cornbread and a coconut bunny cake that would make a rabbit smile.
A few decades ago, when I lived in Santa Cruz Mountains, I made an Easter meal for my landlord couple next door. Overlooking the San Lorenzo River, I served a meal outdoors on the oversized deck amid nature. On the menu: fried chicken, potato egg salad, homemade biscuits, and a store bought carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Ironically, while we ate the food it was our first and last feast. The following day, their tied up dog went ballistic toward my off leash friendly male and female canines. It was the beginning of end days at the home I adored; I moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area.
These days, as a local on the South Shore, I stay near home with the fur kids during Easter weekend. I forget coloring eggs, baking meat or poultry, or making an Easter basket full of sugary treats. In my vegetarian world, the Easter Bunny can healthy up with different fare — healthier options for kids and the kid in you. This week I made a pre-Easter bunny brunch which entailed an egg salad sandwich, and a carrot cake chock-full of nature's sweets.
Hearty Egg Salad Sandwich
4 large organic boiled eggs
2 French sourdough sandwich rolls (or onion bagels), sliced
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¼ cup celery, chopped
¼ cup onion, chopped (optional)
1 cup organic spring baby spinach
½ cup Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons mayonnaise with olive oil
Pepper and fresh herbs (your choice) to taste
In a bowl, mix boiled eggs, chopped, with mayonnaise. Add celery and onion. Put in fridge for about 30 minutes. Layer lettuce on bread slices, spread egg salad, add tomatoes, sprinkle with pepper and herbs. Top with bread slice. Serves 2. Double recipe for four.
Chunky Health Nut Carrot Cake
1 1/4 cups cake flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon European style butter (cold cubes)
2 organic eggs
1-½ cups shredded carrots (I used a blender)
1 cup raisins (amber)
½ cup walnuts, chopped
Raw sugar (optional)
Berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, soda. Beat sugars and butter. Add oil, eggs, and honey. Fold in carrots, raisin, and nuts. Put into lightly greased round or square baking dish (I used my favorite red square dish for a rustic look. Bake till golden brown, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Cool. Cut in squares or triangle shapes. Serves approximately 12-16. Serve with fresh berries and real whipped cream.
This carrot cake is a new twist on a classic. The little chunks of carrots, nuts and raisins make up for the lack of cream cheese frosting. While this brunch is not my mom's Easter dinner, or a neighbor's fantasy outdoors meal, it worked. As an Easter basket sweets fan, I did indulge in a few Peeps and dark gourmet chocolate truffles. I also made all-natural ice cream balls (coffee, vanilla and green tea flavors) by rolling them into fresh shredded coconut and freezing them until hard to look like Easter eggs. All of these 21st century-type Easter foods were paired with iced tea — black and white — for a light springtime touch.
Motto: Springtime foods can be fun and healthful if you think outside of the egg and follow your cravings but keep within the holiday spirit.
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. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.