What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Smoothie Shangri-La | TahoeDailyTribune.com

What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Smoothie Shangri-La

Cal Orey

Many Tahoe summers ago, I had a thing for walking outdoors on a hot day to visit our late Baskin-Robbins store. My reward would be keeping in shape, a tan and an ice-cold fruit smoothie or chocolate malt made with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. I remember one time I asked the young ice cream scooper, “What is the secret ingredient in the smoothie that makes it taste so good?” I forget what the involved answer was, but I do remember seeing some sort of mystery syrup being poured into the metal container. I’d walked back home through the tree-shaded trail near my cabin. With the cool treat in hand, I was curious about the no name ingredient(s) in the empty cup that I consumed. I couldn’t help but ponder, “I should have saved $4 and made it, naturally, myself.”

This past weekend, I did just that. No lines. No special requests and tourists rolling their eyes at me like I’m a weird local, too fussy for words. These days, I’d rather swim laps than shake and bake in the sun to get a smoothie. But caution, there are some tricks to the trade of making these drinks taste like a drive-in shake or 7-Eleven slushie. And now I’ve got it down to a super fine art.

Making and sipping DIY smoothies was one of the highlights of my past weekend. I was working hard for the money on the new book, promoting the latest one on a radio show in Canada, providing phone psychic readings in between (and chasing my two bored Brittanys Simon and Seth around the house during the worker bee time). But, at midnight Saturday I got to sneak in the film “2012.” I fell asleep while California was falling into the Pacific Ocean, which reminded me of smoothies, a perfect chill-out snack day or night.

3 tablespoons brewed coffee

1/2 cup 2 percent low-fat organic milk

1/2-3/4 cup all-natural premium vanilla ice cream

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1 tablespoon gourmet chocolate honey or fudge sauce

Sweeten with honey

4 small ice cubes

In a blender, mix milk, ice cream, coffee and chocolate sauce. Add ice cubes and blend until smooth. Pour into a coffee cup. Serves one.

1/4 cup each blackberries and raspberries, fresh (freeze before using)

1/2 cup 2 percent low-fat organic milk

1/2-3/4 cup all-natural premium vanilla ice cream

2 teaspoons honey (blackberry)

1 teaspoon wheat germ

4 small ice cubes

In a blender, mix berries, milk and ice cream. Add ice cubes and wheat germ, blend until smooth. Pour in a parfait glass. Serves one.

1/2 cup fresh pineapple, chopped (freeze before using)

1/2 cup 2 percent low-fat organic milk

1/2-3/4 cup all-natural premium vanilla ice cream

2 tablespoons coconut, shredded

1 teaspoon orange blossom honey

1 tablespoon almonds, sliced (optional)

4 small ice cubes

In a blender, mix pineapple, milk and ice cream. Add ice cubes and coconut. Garnish with strawberries and nuts. Pour in a milkshake glass. Serves one.

These smoothies are tropical, sweet, natural and fun to sip with a straw. The ice cream, frozen fruit and ice cubes give it that chilly, thick texture. (Adding more calcium-rich ice cream adds more calories but it makes the smoothie thicker.) When it’s too hot to cook and you want to play or have to work – or both – these cool, homemade smoothies will be a godsend. So, go ahead: Whizz one up, cozy up next to the fan(s) or AC and sip your cool, sweet smoothie with honey (or your honey, two or four-legger) during the Tahoe heat wave.

If smoothies aren’t for you or your kids, turn to an old-fashioned fruity banana split with a wholesome twist. Use the smoothie ingredients. In a bowl (or more), put in two or three small scoops of ice cream. Slice bananas and frame ice cream on each side. Then put the toppings (fruits, nuts and honeys) in little dishes and it’s free-choice time for topping the ice cream. How cool is that?

– 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.