The Carapace Conundrum (Crustacean or Mollusk?)

If you’re like me, you LOVE shellfish.  But they’re not all the same…a fun icky fact for you:  CRUSTACEANS have shells that are grown from a carbohydrate that they manufacture themselves called chitin, just like insects (way back when they were related… )   We’re talking shrimp, prawns, lobster, crab here.
MOLLUSKS grow their shells from materials they eat -mostly calcium carbonate – that is found in marble and limestone (not to mention egggshells!).   Mollusks grow their shells once or twice a year when they need to (the house gets kinda cramped when they grow) during the warm months.  You can see their growing cycle on their shells – the rings.  So you can tell how old your clam  (or mussel, or oyster, or scallop) is by counting the rings and multiplying by 1.5. There are scores of fun shellfish and mollusk options on our menu at   Here’s to the party in your mouth!

Food Is Political, Whether We Like It Or Not!!!

Here we are, in the depths of winter. We’ve endured seemingly endless days of gray. We’ve seesawed between cold snaps and unseasonable warm spells–bearing witness to a changing climate. We’ve felt helpless in the face of senseless acts of violence, outraged by the racism that has reared its ugly head, and frustrated with pervasive political impotence. But there are rays of hope–young people speaking out against gun violence, #metoo moments and #blacklivesmatter, to name a few. And there are reasons not to fill with despair, namely, that it ruins our appetite for change.  At the beginning of WWII, Camus wrote “The Almond Trees,” named for trees that would blossom suddenly one February night. He writes:

The task is endless, it’s true.​ But we are here to pursue it. I do not have enough faith in reason to subscribe to a belief in progress, or to any philosophy of history. I do believe at least that a man’s awareness of his destiny has never ceased to advance. We have not overcome our condition, and yet we know it better. We know that we live in contradiction, but we also know that we must refuse this contradiction and do what is needed to reduce it. Our task as men is to find the few principles that will calm the infinite anguish of free souls. We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more to peoples poisoned by the misery of the century. Naturally, it is a superhuman task. But superhuman is the term for tasks men take a long time to accomplish, that’s all. Let us know our aims then, holding fast to the mind, even if force puts on a thoughtful or a comfortable face in order to seduce us. The first thing is not to despair. Let us not listen too much to those who proclaim that the world is at an end. Civilizations do not die so easily, and even if our world were to collapse, it would not have been the first. It is indeed true that we live in tragic times. But too many people confuse tragedy with despair. “Tragedy,” Lawrence said, “ought to be a great kick at misery.” This is a healthy and immediately applicable thought. There are many things today deserving such a kick.

I know. You’re probably thinking this is a little heavy for a frivolous food blog. And, of course, it’s true. But it’s also true that food is political, whether we like it or not. How it’s grown and processed, by whom and under what conditions, who has access to what, and who goes hungry. It’s said that food is the one thing that unites us all. It has the ability to bridge barriers, nurture community, and, in the words of cook and author Julia Turshen, to “feed the resistance.” I don’t have any answers here, I can’t promise any magical food cures. Instead, I have for you a simple recipe that I hope will brighten your day with a burst of citrus in the midst of winter and offer a small reminder that life can be sweet and shared with love.

Gratefully reprinted from Green Gourmette.

Crystallized Honey

Does this ever happen to your honey?  Grainy, clumpy, not pretty…but there’s an easy fix or two…my favorite and seems to yield the best results:  NEVER let anything touch your honey.  Pour it into/onto a spoon or measuring device.  Crystallization is mostly caused by moisture, and next, bacteria (not necessarily bad stuff that will hurt you).  If you keep your honey moisture free you probably won’t have crystallization.  If you do, however, just put the whole jar in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.  That’ll do the trick.  You can use the microwave, on-and-“off”ing every few seconds and stirring, but that’s way more trouble!  Now, go enjoy a good cup of hot tea with some honey. – Lula

Happy VD!  Would You Rather Have Chocolate or Gold?!?

Growing up, Valentine’s Day was not just for lovers — it was for me from mom.  Previous recitations would suggest that mother’s interest in Valentine’s Day culinary delights might be minimal, if existent at all. True, this.  I do not remember a Valentine’s Day meal ever being prepared, either for my father or for the family.  Siblings may correct if their memories differ. Mom always acknowledged the day with a Russell Stover Heart or Whitman’s Sampler Heart, or whatever, 6-8-10 candies and a card, but I guess she noted my indifference to sweets at some point and one Valentine’s Day in either my 10th or 11th year, instead, I woke up to a small jewel box containing a gold, filigreed heart pin. How could she know it would take my breath away, or did she just get lucky? I continue to be a sucker for quality bling.

I wore that small gold heart frequently, mostly on my sleeve (for real!) for years, and when I went to college it mysteriously disappeared along with a fantastically exquisite green silk blouse. I say mysteriously because I never caught Amy (Yeah, I’m naming names — girlfriend NOT!), the suitemate who everyone knew wasn’t quite on the up and up, mostly because she (ineffectively) tried to steal boyfriends, and was found slinking amongst dorm rooms…

A piece of my heart went with mom, and her gold heart is gone, but that’s ok, because the heart is a muscle and it can repair and strengthen, and has the amazing capacity to grow as long as your mind and your arms are open wide.

A Note From Chef Lori

Hearts aren’t just for Valentine’s Day – you can order Lula’s “Heart’s Afire” anytime – 5-Spice Quail Breast in Puff Pastry with Wilted Mustard Greens, Pomegranate and our Secret Spicy Sauce!

Click here to visit Lula’s website!


A “Salty” Topic

Oh!  I could get technical on you…but let’s not.  All salt is sea salt.  Mineral salt (the kind you shake on your food, whether it’s been iodized or not) is really old sea salt that has been “mined” from sea deposits left millenia ago.

Stuff labeled sea salt is “raked” (alot more to that but again, let’s not) from fresh deposits, is kissed by the sun, and is flakier.  Trace residual seawater mineral content left at certain “levels” of the salt bed result in salt that can look, smell, and taste a bit different to accomplished palates, hence, gray salt or pink salt or any other color.

The way a salt crystal is shaped results in how it is perceived on the tongue (flavor).  If you cook with expensive salts like Fleur de sel you’re TOTALLY wasting your money – when salt dissolves you can’t tell the difference.  Get a bang for your buck and impress your table with a little bowl of whatever flaky sea salt you enjoy, and sprinkle the crystals on your finished plate, and you will totally enjoy the flavor burst in your mouth.   I wish for you some yummy in your tummy!  – Lula

Eat All You Want and Lose Weight!

Celery does more than serve as a swizzle stick for your glass of tomato juice. The stalks are packed with a plant compound called luteolin, which calms a type of immune cell in the brain and spinal cord that works to keep the brain in good working order. Luteolin is linked to lower rates of age-related memory loss, according to a study reported in the Journal of Nutrition. Because the study was carried out in mice, more research needs to be done to see if the results can be replicated in humans.

Celery also takes more calories to chew and swallow than it contains – which makes it a GREAT diet food.  Unless, if you’re like Lula, you drown it in bleu cheese. 🙂  Celery is a chief component in flavor bases used in several world cuisines – the Latin community calls it Sofrito, the French call it Mire Poix, and southerners call it the Holy Trinity!  Believe it or not it is an ingredient in Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ‘s beauty before you : our Creole Shrimp ‘n Grits!


Nuts about Almonds

Shelling out for a bag of almonds might not be a bad idea if you need to lower your cholesterol.  Almonds are recognized as a cholesterol-lowering food; studies also show that they can reduce the risk of heart disease.

One ounce of almonds, about 25 nuts, contains 164 calories and 1.10 grams of saturated fat.  That same ounce is also a good source of protein, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium, and has no cholesterol.

The “ancients” seemed to already know these facts.  Ancient desert nomads combined almonds with chopped dates, bits of pistachios, sesame oil, and breadcrums and rolled them into balls.  The world’s first trail mix!!

King Tut apparently knew the nutritional value of almonds.  Several handfuls of them accompanied him into the tomb, perhaps to nourish him on his post-life journey.

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses all KINDS of nuts in every way possible.  We LOVE them for their deliciousness and their nutritional value.  We always label our foods that contain nuts, however, for our clients that may have nut sensitivities .

Bourbon Pecan Bark
Bourbon Pecan Bark

A New Year without Mom

My mom died this holiday season.  Don’t be sad for me, or her – she wanted to go.  She needed to go.  Alzheimer’s is not pretty and it’s better to be over sooner rather than later.

Mom never even LIKED eating -she always used to chide me “why can’t you eat to live, not live to eat!”  No one could figure out where my love of food and cooking came from.  Mom did love to snack, however, and Potato Sticks were frequently her lunch.  I also have MOSTLY warm and fuzzy memories of our “Friday Night Parties” where a now non-existent Kraft Dry Onion Dip mixed with milk would thicken up and we would snuggle into bed with it and a bag of Wise Potato Chips.  The MOSTLY comes from being kicked by either my brother or my mother because I was too fidgety.

Mom came into this world chewing on broken glass, and metaphorically at least, that’s how she left.  You see, when mom was a toddler/pre-schooler, grandmomma used to put her out in the yard to play and the neighborhood was relatively new with construction debris.  Both grandmomma and mom would recount stories of the broken glass snacks, grandmother “tsking” as she told them (she “tsked” at just about everything mom said/did), and mom laughingly would recount how she LIKED the taste/feel/look of the red, blue, and green glass bits she would find in the dirt and put in her mouth.  Mom’s favorite snack as a child besides the glass, was an already eaten, used up corn cob she took to bed suck on at naptime.  I suppose these are the pacifiers and fruit roll-ups of the depression era.

Mom also hated to cook.  She resented the daily grind of having to feed a family of 6.  Her only interest in food might be derived from something new and different, but because she didn’t care about food, she would not get the proper ingredients for the new recipe; she would simply substitute whatever UNreasonable facsimile we had in our fridge/pantry/freezer.  Think Velveeta for Parmigiano Reggiano.  Mom cursed like a sailor and when, in our prepubescent growth spurt years we would dare to hungrily ask “what’s for dinner?” her response would be “SH*T”.  Yes, I get my mouth from my mother.

Mom didn’t like meat (red or any other hue).  Daddy made a mean fried chicken and when he made it for dinner she would peel off her skin and hold it up for auction.  Then she would pick at the protein and make disgusting sounds and expressions.  She liked fish though, and we frequently had the fish that daddy caught fried for dinner, and then again for breakfast.  This is not uncommon down south – fish for breakfast.  I still love it for breakfast.

Mom also liked shellfish, along with beans and vegetables.  She was an expert crabber, growing up in Tidewater, and NOBODY could pick a blue crab cleaner than mom.  This, another residual depression skill.  Waste nothing.  Wash your aluminum foil, and rewash it again for yet a 3rd time until it falls apart.

Mom naturally found herself on a macrobiotic diet at about 50 and dropped tons of weight (she was never huge but from about 50 to 80 she was a size 4).  This healthy diet was supplemented by a daily room temperature Tab she carried around with her everywhere she went to her various meetings and charity functions.  Tab also adorned the piano where she taught lessons for 50 or so years.  She NEVER drank water and I’m positive this contributed to her dementia in a significant way.   She loved Daddy’s wine though, and in her recent last years, we discovered that she had come to think of the nectar of the fig and grape as excellent sources of nutrition, which she called her “juice”.

Who doesn’t like ice cream?  Mom.  Mom could not stand dairy in any form but cheese.  She did love and partake of a Virginia family breakfast tradition at Christmas time, though –  in the form of Oyster Stew, which contains milk.  This we were required to ingest every Christmas morning as far back as I can remember.  No one really liked it but her and my grandfather.  I’ve never been a fan of oysters, but the broth I found palatable.  This, of course, was served with Oyster Crackers.  Oyster crackers that would not get eaten in their entirety and so, were relegated to the pantry for next year’s feast.  One sunny Christmas morning, we all sat down to the formally set table – china, silver, crystal – and our Oyster Stew.  Each of us passed the basket of crackers around and dumped them into our bowls, and one by one, we all looked closer and closer at what seemed to be pepper rising to the top.  Then, the pepper began to writhe with life.  Our curiosity turned to horror as one by one we pushed back our chairs, screeched, and RAN…as daddy’s face turned to ashen grey as it is wont to do when things don’t go right, and granddaddy chuckled and said “it’s just weevils.  They don’t eat much.”  The lesson of don’t save crackers for the next year’s feast was never learned.  We, ever after, had a pantry full of Tupperware.

Thanks mom for this partial trip down food-memory lane.  You’re a bird, you are.  I’m sure you’ve got a tight grip on that Tab and are demanding attention from whomever is lucky enough to be in your path.  I am grateful there is no more broken glass for you.


A Note From Chef Lori


Lula’s is excited to be a part of the Women’s Initiative Annual Breakfast Planning Committee and I’m hoping you will be able to attend on January 24, 2018.  Held at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center from 7 a.m. until 9:30 a.m., we typically have over 700 women and men in attendance. Our keynote speaker  is Dr. Debra Clary, who works with leaders who want to improve their impact and contribution to their organization.  She is a student and teacher of narrative leadership (storytelling), resilience, transformation and change.  She draws on her corporate experiences, academic research and her standup comic training to inspire others striving to live with purpose. Don’t delay – make your reservation today before it sells out! To register and for more information:   

Click here to visit Lula’s website!

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!

Wrinkles Save Your Mind!

Raisins are among the top food sources of boron, a brain-boosting mineral. “Among its other benefits, boron improves mental alertness, short-term memory and focus, and even affects eye-hand coordination and dexterity,” says Forrest Nielsen, retired research nutritionist at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota. You probably won’t learn to juggle four balls at once just by eating a handful of raisins, but this fruit (and a lot of practice) will set you on the right path.  If you like raisins, Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering can put them in any dish you want!!

Other foods rich in boron: chickpeas, almonds, walnuts, avocados.

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