When’s The Last Time you VISITED Your City?!

Sometimes guests coming in from out of town are the BEST incentive to help us delight in our hometowns – a reason to act like a tourist and experience what others experience from your city…and this just happened to me when my brother and sister in law came with their XXX-hole Welsh Corgie Ace (their words not mine!) and their two friends from North Carolina. Ace and His Royal Hinee The Crown Prince Floyd Wong the Pug got on famously.  My brother is a tennis nut (former pro!) and he and his friend Junior delighted themselves with the Western-Southern Open in Mason.  While they frolicked in the sun and heat, the ladies played in our own special way.  The real FUN began when I had 2 days to plan fun girl stuff with a taste of our city.  Susan loves museums and shopping so we did both: day one, Donna Salyer’s Fabulous Furs!!  They weren’t open but graciously flung wide the doors when I banged and banged…we got our very own private shopping spree!!!  If you haven’t been…this is a shopper’s paradise.  Stuff not only for your body but for your home. Many holiday gifts were bought! We worked up quite an appetite so we headed over to Coppins in Hotel Covington  – all of the food is delicious here but I am ALWAYS excited about their Buffalo Cauliflower Sandwich (and I love meat!), and their biscuit passed muster from the peach-skin squad.  We then perused the artifacts from Coppins Department store and spent a little money in the gift shop. First, I thought…FOOD.  (Of course.)  I could have rustled up something fancy for their first night in, but instead I went old school.  They are all from the deep south so I dove down “deep” – with smoked pork and brisket, my 6-Cheese Mac, Spicy Maytag Slaw, and Watermelon-Feta Salad.  Of COURSE it was the best meal they had of their stay (THIS is a smiley face).

The real FUN began when I had 2 days to plan fun girl stuff with a taste of our city.  Susan loves museums and shopping so we did both: day one, Donna Salyer’s Fabulous Furs!!  They weren’t open but graciously flung wide the doors when I banged and banged…we got our very own private shopping spree!!!  If you haven’t been…this is a shopper’s paradise.  Stuff not only for your body but for your home. Many holiday gifts were bought! We worked up quite an appetite so we headed over to Coppins in Hotel Covington  – all of the food is delicious here but I am ALWAYS excited about their Buffalo Cauliflower Sandwich (and I love meat!), and their biscuit passed muster from the peach-skin squad.  We then perused the artifacts from Coppins Department store and spent a little money in the gift shop.

After fortification, we took the Suspension Bridge over to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center .  I pointed out the Eternal Flame that burns 24/7, lighting the way north – but did you know that crossing the Mason-Dixon line did not ensure safety – the only way to be safe was to make it to Canada?  An escaped slave always had a bounty on his/her head and could be returned if caught.  I was a docent here the first 2 years the Freedom Center was open, and a visit never fails to move me.  Of particular interest this visit was Contemporary Slavery – over 27 Million human beings are currently enslaved across the world.  I learned, among other things, how to purchase a rug that no slave trader would profit from.  We also were treated to an impromptu “Implicit Bias” seminar.  Dinner was so good at home the night before we just came home and did it again!

Day 2 included lunch at one of my all time faves: Jean Robert’s Table on Vine Street.  I’m not going to tell you about their cafeteria lunch because I don’t want everyone crowding in and making it harder for me to get a seat! J  ALWAYS a hit with whomever I drag there, not only for the food but the interesting people you meet!

Then a bit of wandering in OTR – of particular interest this visit was A World of Beads and Elm & Iron .  If you lose your way with sparkly things…A World of Beads is for you – just browse, or take a class in making your own jewelry!  Their unfinished stones are amazing.  Elm and Iron is so much FUN … everytime you walk in you want to decorate your house in a different way!! We couldn’t let a visit from “foreigners” finish up without a nod to our Ohio River – so a cruise on B&B Riverboats was in order.  One critique – PLEASE run the boat all the way down to Coney Island, Riverbend and Belterra!!  Not FAIR!!

Finally, a meal at one of G and my faves: Walt’s Hitching Post.  You really can’t get a better steak in the area, though half of the time I order their fried shrimp – it’s got a kick to it!  A booze hound has GOT to love their bourbon list.  I savor an Angel’s Envy Rye as my dessert every time we go.

If you’re exhausted I understand.  I was too.  Next time I’m taking everyone to a float pod!!

A Note From Chef Lori

We LOVE partying with you over the holdiays…but book fast – Lula only has two hands!! Click here to visit our website!

Seasoned Squash Seeds = Savory or Sweet Snacks!

Lula’s ABC Soup (Apple, Butternut Squash & Curry)

Did you know you can treat any squash seeds the same as pepitas (pumpkin seeds)?  Do just what you would do with the pumpkin- separate the seeds from the pulp, put in a single layer on a cookie sheet and cook in a preheated 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.  Get creative with your seasonings!  Cinnamon and sugar, or Rosemary & sea salt … the combinations are endless!!  For more mouthwatering pics visit here !

Pumpkin Packs a Punch!

Pumpkin seeds are one smart snack. They’re rich in zinc, a mineral vital for memory and thinking skills. They’re also packed with magnesium, a mineral that fights inflammation and contributes to the creation of new brain cells.

In addition, pumpkin seeds contain a hefty amount of tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts to the good-mood chemical serotonin. As if that’s not enough, pumpkin seeds contain a wide variety of antioxidants that may slow brain aging.  At Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering , we  toast our pumpkin seeds and use them in many salads as well as garnish entrees for a satisfying crunch!  This picture is of our Citrus Avocado Salad.  Now, drool!

Butter – Salted or Un?

Sweet Cream Butter  was originally salted for preservation purposes.  It still is, and we have grown to love the flavor of salted butter.  If you pay close attention though, different brands of salted butter taste differently – because every manufacturer adds a different amount of salt.   One will usually get fresher butter if one purchases unsalted butter  as it naturally doesn’t last as long as salted butter – check the expiration dates!  If you want your baked goods recipes to always taste the same, use unsalted butter and add the required salt (a key chemical component in baking by the way).  Unsalted butter will last several months in the freezer.  We at www.lulasforlunch.com unabashadly LOVE animal fat, but if you want a recipe prepared without it, we will lovingly prepare that too!!

Another “Brainy” Food – the PINEAPPLE!

Underneath its spiny exterior, pineapples pack a brain-boosting wallop. Bromelain, an enzyme found only in pineapples, keeps blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots. These clots can break off from artery walls and interrupt blood flow to the brain, setting you up for a memory-damaging stroke.  Pineapples are also rich in folate (aka vitamin B9), which can help make you more alert and better able to focus!

The Holy Grain Grail Part 2, and Watch Lula on Channel 9 at 10AM!

OK, before we get to the grain…it’s Organic Harvest Month! Tune in to ABC Channel 9 (WCPO) at 10AM today and learn different ways to celebrate from Lula!  Now…on to some MORE good stuff:

Fun, tasty other Grains that do contain some gluten:

Rye Berries – Low Gluten, one of my faves.  LOVES me some rye and pumpernickel breads!

Wheat Berries – This is the whole kernel with bran and germ intact.  Chewy, sweet, and nutty.

Barley – eat this hull-less or hulled, but not pearled – it contains more bran that way.

Farro – This is an ancient wheat grain that is great in salad and soup – you can even make “farroto” with it – in place of risotto … it’s very creamy when the starch releases!

Freekeh (or Farika)  – This is smoked or roasted under-ripe wheat that makes an EXCELLENT alternative tabbouleh.

Spelt – This is a fun one – used in ALOT of our breads.  Spelt has a smooth shiny outer layer that stays intact when cooked.  Think Sautes.

There!  Get your HEALTHY grain on!  For more tips and tidbits click here .

The Holy Grain Grail Part I

There are many grains out there to try; and not all alternatives to wheat are gluten free – here’s a primer on many of them, broken down by gluten free (a must for celiacs) and lower gluten (tolerated by many with gluten allergies) – we’ll discuss Lower Gluten next time.

GLUTEN FREE

Millet – high in fiber, mild flavor.                                                                                   Wild Rice – actually a grass found around fresh water.                                  Amaranth – A seed and a COMPLETE protein (think filet mignon!)       Sorghum – highly absorbent for sauces/dressings                                  Black/Forbidden Rice-resembles wild rice but cooks more quickly and colors broth/sauce a deep brown-red. One of Lula’s faves!                Oats – watch out that these come from a “Certified GF” mfg.                    Quinoa – another COMPLETE protein.                                                                    Teff – 1/100th the size of a kernel of wheat!                                                        Buckwheat – another of Lula’s faves…try our crepes!                                     Corn – try Silver Queen or any sweet white – amazing!

Hope this helps on your next grocery store adventure!  More tips and tidbits like this can be found if you subscribe here.

 

Viagra for Lettuce!

OK, so you went to the store on Wednesday after work for the dinner you’re throwing on Saturday (Soccer Thurs, Basebal Fri, Ballet Sat morning – UGH…)  !!  Saturday rolls around and the broccoli and carrots you bought are just FINE, but your lovely lettuce leaves are drab and wilted.  Perk it UP, no worries!   Tear your lettuce into the size you want it and throw it into a bath of iced water (cubes from freezer + half water.  Store it in the fridge for 30 minutes and BAM! (thank you, Emeril) perky, ready for ACTION lettuce!  Lift it out and place on a tea towel, gently roll it up to relieve the lettuce of its extra moisture, and lubricate with the dressing of your choice!!  Happy crunching!   BTW if you’ve heard somewhere that a bit of vinegar in the water helps, don’t do it.  Makes the lettuce taste “off”.   More tips and tidbits can be found weekly here.

Onions

If you’re like me, you go through around 5 pounds of onions a week.  NOT so my friend, who might buy an onion on a special occasion because she’s neither a cook or particularly fond of onions and only requires them for a recipe that requires them.  How to pick one onion out of the barrel at the store?  Well, obviously, look for an onion that is blemish free on the skin.  Beyond that, you can tell if it is fresh if the “rings” are more tightly packed, and this can be felt if the stem end is tight and firm.  If there’s any give, that means the onion has lost some moisture over time and the rings are, as a result, more loose.

Honor Thy Aunts and Uncles!

Honor Thy Aunts and Uncles!

I just returned from a fabu Research & Revivification adventure with girlfriends in Breckenridge Co.  It was wildflower season (Columbine to your left folks) and I felt truly zen working my glutes and calves where “the hills are alive”…but I also expected, as always, to bring back culinary inspiration and a new twist on something I found.  My girlfriends and I went to the grocery store and compromised on food for the condo, but I said I would be eating out more than they as I had to explore the local fare to excite my palate and continue to inspire my peeps.  Just.  Didn’t.  Happen.

I can disappointingly (and somehow at the same time gladly) say that the mountains, valleys, and kitchens in and around Breckenridge Co have nothing on our chefs and kitchens in the Ohio River Valley.  We’re all doing brussels sprouts one hundred different ways… and I myself have culinarily explored elk and bison etc. in as much depth as I saw on their menus.  Full disclaimer – Bear, not so much.  Even their trout is no more wondrous than what is prepared here.  So, I was a little down.

On our last night, we went back to Denver for the flight home the next day.  We ate at a recommended local restaurant that was fine, but that’s all.  I remarked, over Linguini con Vongole (yes, nothing more exciting than that on their menu) at my frustration and joked that the best thing I had during the whole trip was J’s family pie crust.  You see, on our FIRST day in Breckenridge we visited with family.  J kept telling us how special they were but…you know…they’re her FAMILY.  85 year old Aunt Ann and 85 year old Uncle Frank greeted us from their 3rd floor deck as we pulled up into their paradise.  I won’t bore you with the fantastic details of our visit/their house/their land, but I WILL tell you that their knowledge of the flora and fauna of their region is OUTSTANDING, and they took us on a hike that will remain in my memory forever.  Switzerland’s wildflowers have NOTHING on Colorado’s!   It was on this hike that I had the best food of my trip (with the exception of Aunt Ann and Uncle Frank’s table).  From Waxberry to Wild Parsley to Wild Roses, I traipsed behind Uncle Frank and let him identify and urge me to “taste!”.  My most delectable bite was Wild Lettuce.  It popped in my mouth and released cool fresh water.

When we returned from our hike, K and I left J to her family for the afternoon and went and did our own thing, promising to return for dinner.  When we did, the octogenarians had put out a spread of fresh veggies, lasagna (J’s mother’s recipe) and a rhubarb & strawberry crisp that they pulled from the YARD that afternoon while we were gone.    I don’t even LIKE dessert but the tart, fresh fruit and the sweet, crisp crust bowled me over.  NOTHING but 2 fruits, a sprinkle of sugar, and the crust recipe I’m so generously giving you here  and it was some of the best food I’ve ever put in my mouth.  Perhaps because it was made with such reverence, appreciation and love for their land and the bounty it bestows if you just honor it.   Look how happy we were!!

A Note From Chef Lori

Labor Day and Rozzi’s famous fireworks are just around the corner…we’d love to party with you!  Whether it’s a picnic or pre “show” appetizers, book now – I only have two hands! 🙂

Click here to visit our website!

 

In Lula's Kitchen, Love is ALWAYS our First Ingredient!