What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Sierra Sweets with a Honey Twist | TahoeDailyTribune.com

What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Sierra Sweets with a Honey Twist

Cal Orey

I adore lemonade and cookies in the summertime … As the story goes, I used to pen pet shop profile articles. One summer my photographer and I left the San Francisco Bay Area and headed up to Tahoe to interview pet shop owners around the lake. It was hard working as a journalist on a mission to become an author. But sweet lemonade – the kind in the carton – was our drink of choice. And for treats we’d munch on butter cookies. Driving around the lake during and after our work was a a feel-good experience and the cold lemonade in an ice chest made the work and pleasure trip a Kodak day.

This summer, I made the plunge and created homemade lemonade and cookies. The beverage made from scratch tastes fresh and contains no artificial ingredients. What’s more, rather than using sugar, I turned to honey to make these two delights even more delightful and healthful. Live and learn.

1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup cold water from the tap

2 to 4 teaspoons honey (orange blossom)

ice cubes, small squares

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fresh mint and/or lime

Slice lemons. Squeeze juice into a bowl. Take out seeds. Pour cold water into two 8 ounce cups or glasses; add lemon juice. Add honey (more if you like it sweet, less for a tart taste), stir and put in ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint or slice of lime. Serves two.

2 1/2 cups all-natural whole wheat flour

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup dark brown granulated sugar

1/3 cube European-style butter

1 cup all-natural peanut butter, chunky

1 brown egg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons (each) ground ginger and cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon lemon rind

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl mix flour, soda and salt. Melt butter in the microwave. In another bowl mix egg, oil, sugars, vanilla, peanut butter and lemon rind; combine all ingredients. Form cookie dough into a snake-like roll and wrap in parchment paper (I saw this tip on “Food Network” and it works like a charming reptile). Chill an hour. Slice into 1/4 inch slices, roll into petite balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place crisscross marks with fork on top of each ball. Bake about 8-10 minutes. Once out of the oven, cool. Put a small dollop of all-natural creamed honey (flavored) on top of each cookie. Makes 24 to 30 cookies.

Is making the extra effort to make your own lemonade and peanut butter cookies worth it? Yep, because you can make these treats a real treat for your body and taste buds. After all, real lemons, which you can get at your local store are a superfood (functional foods rich in disease-fighting antioxidants); and when you make lemonade yourself there’s no unwanted artificial ingredients in your beverage. Peanut butter (in moderation) added to your favorite butter cookies is also a good for you food because it contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, protein and micronutrients. So, here’s a toast to down-to-earth honey lemonade and peanut butter cookies with a taste of honey – to enjoy around the lake, whether you’re a sweet-loving local or tourist.

Tips It took me a while to get the hang of baking in the mountains. You’ve got to get a grasp on the right mix of sugars and flour for a chewy texture. Baking cookies often requires a higher oven temperature and/or a longer time in the oven. Blame it on the high altitude. Using healthful fresh ingredients, including natural whole wheat flour, brown eggs, earthy spices, fresh citrus rind and honeys, can and does make DIY cookies taste better than store-bought when you’re in Mother Nature’s paradise.

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