Cloves – From Cigarettes to Spice Cake!

OK folks, back to “winter” spices…though the clove is also a fantastic home remedy for toothaches all year long…did you know dentists used to prescribe sucking on a whole clove to alleviate toothaches?  Oil of clove is a numbing agent.  Cloves are also extremely popular in cigarettes … but DON’T!! 🙂  You can get cloves ground ( a little dab’ll do ya – enough clove in your spice cake and you’ll FEEL the numbing!!), or you can get cloves whole.

This is another spice that you could be put to death for in the mid 1600’s – planting OR trading cloves was a capital offense, and cloves are also a critical ingredient in French cuisine – you can’t make a stock without studding a whole onion with cloves and throwing it in!!

Here’s the most fun fact of all … back in the day when people didn’t bathe very often and STANK, cloves were a favorite ingredient in pomander balls (the usually metal balls with holes that one stuffed with aromatics and hung from their belt (men) or dangled from their wrist (women) to hide the ODOR…  ahhh… the things you learn when armchair traveling with Lula…for more tips, tidbits and fun on a weekly basis you can sign up HERE.

Dessert-Pumpkin-Spice-Cake-w-Orange-Creme-Ganash-300x224

Cloves – From Cigarettes to Spice Cake!

Lula’s Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange-Creme Ganash

OK folks, back to “winter” spices…though the clove is also a fantastic home remedy for toothaches all year long…did you know dentists used to prescribe sucking on a whole clove to alleviate toothaches?  Oil of clove is a numbing agent.  Cloves are also extremely popular in cigarettes … but DON’T!! 🙂  You can get cloves ground ( a little dab’ll do ya – enough clove in your spice cake and you’ll FEEL the numbing!!), or you can get cloves whole.

This is another spice that you could be put to death for in the mid 1600’s – planting OR trading cloves was a capital offense, and cloves are also a critical ingredient in French cuisine – you can’t make a stock without studding a whole onion with cloves and throwing it in!!

Here’s the most fun fact of all … back in the day when people didn’t bathe very often and STANK, cloves were a favorite ingredient in pomander balls (the usually metal balls with holes that one stuffed with aromatics and hung from their belt (men) or dangled from their wrist (women) to hide the ODOR…  ahhh… the things you learn when armchair traveling with Lula…for more tips, tidbits and fun on a weekly basis you can sign up HERE.

 

HOW MANY SPICES ARE IN ALLSPICE?

Just one! Allspice is the dried berry of a tree that grows all over the tropical Americas – called Pimenta Dioica. The berry is historically called allspice because it tastes like a combination of several spices, especially cloves. Clove can be a VERY strong spice both in aroma and taste (oil of clove is used as a numbing agent).   So when you want a hint of clove with a complex flavor, try allspice!!

Allspice is traditionally used in stuff like fruitcakes and plum puddings; Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses allspice in many savory applications as well as sweet. If you have a favorite use of allspice, let us know at http://lulasforlunch.com/blog .

 

MAD for Mace!

OK, week two of “fall/winter” spices…I’m going to continue where I left off and discuss MACE – which is simply the thin, apricot colored, lacy outer layer of the nutmeg seed.  Since there’s not as much of it, it has always been way more expensive.  It resembles nutmeg in scent and flavor but is more delicate.   Once again, this spice can be used in a variety of savory recipes as well as sweet.

At the height of its popularity the Dutch ruled the spice trade, and one year (1770) production exceeded demand by a year’s supply and the whole lot was BURNED – making Amsterdam the best scented city of all time!  Fun Fact:  Most American hot dog manufactures include mace in their recipe!!  And NOW Lula is going to give away a closely guarded secret..put a dash in your BBQ sauces (think my Kentucky Black Bourbon…) YUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuum.  Hit here for more tips and tricks!  With love, Lula

I am a NUT for Nutmeg!

OK, we’re here…it’s fall rapidly descending into holidays…so I thought I’d touch on some winter spices that everybody uses for BAKING…but since I’m not the Pastry Queen I’m going to talk a bit about nuance and savory cooking.  Nutmeg is one of my favorite spices because it has such a nuanced flavor if you use the right amount that most people can’t tell it’s in there…it’s the big ole’ “What IS that flavor?!?” that I love to hear so much 🙂

Nutmeg was fought over (the islands that grew it) and considered so valuable that it was sterilized when it left an island so that it couldn’t re-seed or grow anywhere else.  It comes from a tree that also produces mace (more on that next time) The DEATH penalty was enforced for anyone smuggling nutmeg.  First the Portuguese and the Dutch battled over dominion.  Then the Dutch and the English.   I’m going to leave you with two fun facts:

1)   The Island of Manhattan, then called New Amsterdam, is part of the United States because of a negotiation in 1667 ending this particular spice war.

2)    Add a pinch of nutmeg whenever you use cream, milk, or eggs.  No matter the recipe.  You’ll thank me!

For more tips and tricks you can subscribe here for some weekly wisdom!

Quinoa – The Red White and Black Of It

Native to South America, the quinoa seed comes in 3 different varieties, and I like them all – particularly together.  Sometimes its hard to find the blend though, and when I can’t I’ll settle for red.

White quinoa is the most plentiful; it is the largest and has a nutty vegetal flavor and the softest texture of the three.  Red is next in size and is crunchier because it has an outer seed coat that makes it even nuttier (any reason, you think, why this would be my fave?!?)  Black is the tiniest and the crunchies with an even thicker seed coat.

The reason I personally like to mix them is because the white explodes and is fluffiest, the red has the best flavor and texture (to me – this is personal folks!), and the black will virtually always remain crunchy.  Interesting flavors and textures always make for a more delicious meal!  Lula’s Catering makes soups and stews with quinoa as well as entrée salads and side dishes.  It’s packed with nutrition and is gluten free … a real winner!  For more tips & tidbits from Lula you can always go here – just type in your key word question and I’ll probably have some sort of answer!!  With love, Lula

Fridge on the Fritz?!?

 

I’ve got a tip for you when you leave for vacation.  Put a half filled water bottle in the freezer on its side.  Before you leave, set it upright.  When you return, if the water is anything other than against and up one wall, you need to  throw out your stuff!  Make sense?!? You had an energy outage 🙁   If you love Lula’s sage ideas you can get them once a week here!

You’d Better Get Used to Seaweed!

It might be a major diet component in the coming decades…but for NOW, we’re just going to discuss Kombu – a dried kelp that contains “umami” (specifically glutamic acid but what do you care?!?).  If you missed that post look it up!

Kombu is used in Japanese (and my) cooking to enhance umami in many dishes – it can be found in Asian markets and these days quite a few grocery stores in dried form.  Kombu is also a vegetarian source of the brain function enhancing Omega 3 fatty acid.

Just drop one 2×2 square per quart of liquid into soups and stews (think vegetable soup, tomato sauce) and pull it out when the liquid begins to simmer.  You don’t want to forget it-  bitter compounds form at a full boil.  But you WILL add that indefinable “what is IN this that makes it so rich and tasty?!?” vibe if you pull it out at the simmer!  If you liked this tidbit you can get one weekly here!

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

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