What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner | TahoeDailyTribune.com

What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Cal Orey
Cal Orey

As a kid I remember one pre-summer warm night in San Jose I sat outside on the patio (an hourglass-shaped creation that my dad built), playing with my Dalmatian, Casey; waiting for dinner to be served by my mom, an unforgettable cook who put her heart and soul in the kitchen. I could hear the sizzle of chicken on the stovetop, and aroma of citrus in the oven lingered out into the backyard. On our rustic picnic table we had a Deep South-type feast. The menu: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes (russet) and gravy, corn on the cob and broccoli topped with oleomargarine and a lemon meringue pie. Afterwards, we were treated to a dip in our neighbor’s swimming pool. It was fun living in the suburbs – a “Father Knows Best” type of lifestyle – three kids, two parents and one dog. It was a slice of life in the early ’60s to cherish.

Today, in the 21st century, I can’t imagine eating fried chicken. Occasionally I’ll go for baked since poultry is included in the traditional Mediterranean diet and lifestyle which I follow. Instead of using Crisco – olive oil is the fat of choice. Gravy doesn’t have a place on my table. And butter? I can’t seem to shake my craving for the European-style stuff in moderation. Green veggies and a light dessert are also staples in my diet and lifestyle. These are the edibles that help keep you healthier and living longer. Once you acquire a Mediterranean taste you can’t go back home to the high-fat fare.

2 chicken breasts, skinned and de-boned

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons orange blossom honey

1 tablespoon black pepper

1⁄4 teaspoon Mediterranean sea salt

2 tablespoons Mediterranean-style butter

1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash chicken and dry. Place in pan or baking dish. Sprinkle with pepper, salt, and drizzle juice on top. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until brown and crispy. Top with mixture of butter and honey. Bake for another few minutes. Serves two.

4 medium red potatoes

2 tablespoons rosemary, fresh, chopped

1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup 2 percent low-fat organic milk

2 tablespoons Mediterranean style butter

Fill a large saucepan with water and boil. Put in potatoes and boil until tender. Remove and put in bowl. Mash with a fork till chunky. Add milk, butter and rosemary. Stir until creamy but maintain chunky texture. Serves two.

I dished up a green vegetable, an artichoke, which I dipped in warm herbal olive oil instead of mayo like we did in the olden days. Instead of soda or milk, I drank mountain spring water. The results: The chicken, potatoes and green veggie taste healthy and clean – nutrient-dense foods that leave you feeling good inside and outside. But that’s not the end of the story.

Seth, my soon to be 4-year-old Brittany, a typical bird dog, was behind me while I basted the two bird breasts. Distracted by other things going on in my cabin, I had a fourth cube of butter in my hand. My pooch snatched it in a heartbeat. The race was on as I did a football player type of run through the kitchen, dining room and living room. It was a good workout. But I lost. Seth won. One call later to the vet: The dog would survive as he did the bar of soap, ear plugs and dark chocolate. Note to self: Call our local dog trainer.

Lemon meringue pie is delicious. Yet a scoop of lemon sorbet or all natural vanilla yogurt topped with fresh fruit is tasty, too. Blueberries were a bargain so this was the fruit of choice. This is a dessert choice of the Mediterranean diet. Top it with sliced almonds – the nut of our golden state – and enjoy the crunch and creamy taste here in the mountains. Times change but we can enjoy a taste of home with a twist.

– 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.

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