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 .

 

Wishing You a Perfect Moment

 

I have a ridiculously analytical mind, even though I look and sound like a dingbat much of the time.   I catalogue perfect moments.  There are few of them in our lifetime and I hold them dear.

A lovely perfect moment I remember was Christmas 1998…I had two stepchildren in the house and they were hard to buy for as my husband really had no idea what they wanted or needed.  We didn’t have much money, but I wanted to get them what they WANTED – who wants a step mom who gives you clothes, right!?  We got them a Sony whatchamacallit to plug into the TV and play games.  They were ecstatic and I felt quite pleased with myself that we had really lit them up.  I always encouraged them to read, and led by example – I was always reading some book or other, and so they each got a book as well.  My husband was a sports and hunting nut so he got a magazine subscription to Sports Illustrated or Field & Stream or some suchness – I don’t remember – but I received a book I had asked for too!  The tree was lit and glowing, the kids had cocoa, the adults had their Holiday Cheer, and before I knew it, with Christmas music playing ever so softly in the background we were silent.  Simply silent.  Each of our heads was buried in our respective “literature” and we were each absorbed and virtually motionless, the only sounds the soft music playing and the whoosh snap of a turning page.   I happened to look up and catch this –  I hate to say it –  Norman Rockwell moment and I was PART of it…and I guess a dam of serotonin burst in my head because I was totally flooded with wellbeing, peace, and happiness, and I thought, “THIS is Christmas.  THIS is Christmas.”  I wish for you a perfect moment this holiday season as well!  With love, Lula

A Note From Chef Lori

 

 

 

 

Our kitchen will be closed from December 24 thru January 5 in order to visit far away family this season.  We look forward to literally serving you 🙂 in the new year!

Click here to visit our website!

About Chef Lori

Chef Lori Pierce, owner of Lula’s, creates unique, boutique cuisine to impress your guests and clients in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area.  Our custom recipes and menus delight an intimate gathering of 10, a celebration for 100, and anything in between.

At Lula’s, Love is ALWAYS our first ingredient!

Click here to visit our website

Sweet Potato or Yam, Ma’am?

Tis the season…and Oh, the drama! Which is it? They are NOT related and another fun fact, the sweet potato isn’t even related to the potato! First, let’s scientifically (but not TOO scientifically) differentiate:

Sweet Potato:    Originated in Central/South America.  A relative in the Morning Glory family.  Skin a plethora of colors.  Flesh a plethora of colors – the lighter the starchier.   The bad news is…you can never tell the color of the flesh until after you buy them!

Yam:        Originated (and 95% still comes from) Africa/Asia.  A member of the Lily family.   Mostly soft fleshed.  Can grow to over 100 pounds!  Sweet Potatoes are frequently mislabeled in the US because African Americans called them Yams as they resembled them.  Yams are hard to get in the US.  You’d have to go to an international market.  You WILL see sweet potatoes labeled as yams in grocery stores.  But if you look closely, they are also labeled sweet potatoes, because it’s the law.  A wonderful use of sweet potatoes, on the menu now at Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering is our Roasted Sweet Potato Salad! You can order as a side with your lunch or entree at www.lulasforlunch.com  Yummy Yummy!!

Deep Fried Turkey Tips

Are you considering deep-frying your Thanksgiving turkey this year? While a deep-fried turkey can certainly be juicy and delicious, this cooking process can present fire and safety concerns. However, following a few safety tips and precautions can help avoid a Thanksgiving Day disaster:

  • Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking…Water and oil do not mix!
  • Keep the deep-fryer off decks, out of garages, a safe distance from trees, and away from buildings.
  • Turkeys smaller than 12 pounds are recommended for deep-frying.
  • Place fryer on a level surface and do not move it once in use.
  • Once finished, cover and let the oil cool overnight before disposing.

Regardless of how you plan to prepare your Thanksgiving meal, be sure to keep safety in mind. Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and a home fire disaster would definitely take away from a happy Thanksgiving celebration!

Reprinted with gratitude from Bryant Hartke Construction.  I don’t know how I find ’em.

A Nashville Birthday, Part 4!

Ok, so day 4 HAS to be the best day yet, a PEARL of a day…I slept in.  Again.  Knowing we were going to Hattie B’s for “brunch” (fried chicken, anyone?!?)  I had no need for breakfast – didn’t want to be full for the next “leg” (get it?) of our trip.  I had resisted Hattie B’s for the obvious reason that it’s so popular.  There’s always a line out the door, and sometimes around the block, in BOTH locations…there’s the Diner’s and Dives review…even Lonely Planet found it.  Now it’s growing all over the place (Atlanta, etc) and I was scared of all of this – you know my control issues.  Not to worry.  EVERYONE of us was thrilled with our food – and the wait was a total of about 15 minutes (after we drove away from the first location with the line around the block and went to the location I really WANTED to go to because of the junk store nearby I had found).  There are 5 heat levels for your chicken, from Southern to Shut the Cluck Up.  No one was adventurous enough to Shut the Cluck Up; mine was the first heat level from Southern, and everyone else tried medium or hot.  Some of the best fried chicken I have ever had.  I had dark, and everyone else loved their bosoms and said they were not dry. My sides were Pimiento Mac ‘n Cheese (did NOT disappoint) and Southern Greens (did NOT disappoint, though mine are a tad better).

Across the street and down the block is a store called “Cool Stuff Weird Things” – if you want fun bar/kitchen/man cave stuff you can find it here – neon signs, wood carvings, etc.  Elvis has definitely not left the building.   I ended up with 2 Michael Crichton books – Gordon just wasn’t as excited about the kitsch as I was!

Then, on to what I thought would be a drive by.  NOT.  The Parthenon is an exact full scale replica of the Athens, Greece Parthenon.  Inside is what amounts to 3 museums, plus the requisite gift shop.  Located in Centennial Park, The Parthenon permanently houses the art collection of James M. Cowan – all American artists.  Some stunning stuff.  Then there’s Athena – 41 FEET 10 inches tall, gilded with 8 pounds of 23.75 carat gold.  To give you an idea of the size, Nike, winged goddess of victory, stands on Athena’s right hand at 6 FEET 4 inches tall!  We probably spent 1.5-2 hours here – though we could have spent all day.

Next, a trip to Grinder’s Switch Winery.  We had no idea what we were in for – as its located Marathon Village in a warehouse with some “fun shops” I had read…took about 10 minutes to get there.  Everything is so EASY to get to in Nashville!!!  We got our wine on, then our whisky, then wandered into a fabulous jewelry shop where we were offered a glass of wine while we browsed…we sucked our cheeks in and arched an eyebrow and pretended we belonged there.  Vincent Peach Jewelry, it turns out, adorns the stars… and I WANT SOME!  Honey, if you get me the ring in the picture, I’m gonna commission some earrings to go with it!!

Slightly silly from boozing…we headed back to the house to not miss the kickoff of the South Carolina Vanderbilt (Vandy to locals) game.  It was a rainy day … glad we didn’t get tickets!!  I would have hated it if it was sunny…I hate football.  But it was the best 2 quarters of football I’ve ever seen thanks to our HUGE TV and the explanations of the other 3 who all love football.  Or…it might have been the best 2 quarters of football because we put out a spread of Scotch Smoked Salmon with all accoutrement (look up a pic of my smoked salmon and you’ll see what I mean!), my wonderful birthday cake,   and ¾ of the  humongous TOMATO PIE from the night before that was supposed to be an appetizer (for 8 people, maybe!!).  So…dinner taken care of!!

We only got to watch half of the game, because our reservations at The Listening Room were at 6PM.  What a wonderful place!  There were 4 musicians on stage, headlined by Fiona Culley, a British songwriter and singer now living in Nashville – trying to obtain permanent status.  There’s a $15. Minimum per person for drinks/food in addition to the $20 per head entrance fee on nights like these – and it’s totally worth it.  Naturally, since we had eaten at “home” – we spent our minimum on booze. J  This was, in my opinion, the best way to spend our last night in Music City.  And thank the universe for Lyft! If you want to read about days 1,2, and 3 click here!

A Nashville Birthday Part 3

I just can’t STAND it – Day Three of my Birthday Nashville Trip has got to be the BEST!  Breakfast was at a hole in the wall (no exaggeration there were many holes, and it didn’t smell so great) called Mas Tacos  (this is a link to their FB page; they don’t have a website, and THEY succeeded!!)  I was so disappointed that I did not discover this place – it turns out Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives found it before me.  But I found it on my own!   EVERYONE’s food was amazing – small tacos with unique fillings like sweet potato – so you could order more than one variety and not get too full.  Their black beans were to DIE for, as were the fried plantains. GREAT people watching too.  I swear this is a Cuban-Mexican hybrid.  My Aqua Fresca of pineapple and cilantro will be on my menu very soon.  After this stiff fortification we headed off to Fort Negley Civil War Park, a not to miss Nashville destination.  It’s so well done, and the info center has air conditioning which is WAY needed on sweltering Nashville days (this was one – I thought I had escaped summer weather going this late?!?)  It averaged 95 degrees the whole time we were there.  A walk up and around the remains with many plaques explaining the importance of this place and the sadness that also is a part of it will leave you somber and grateful.  A super place for kids too.  THEN we headed for Belmont Mansion and learning about one of the most, if not THE most interesting women in our history.  Adelicia Acklen invented the pre-nup!!  And used it with every one of her four husbands.  She owned multiple businesses inclusive of plantations and oil fields from Louisiana to the east coast to Nashville, and was a blockade runner to boot. Smart as a whip, she spoke 3 languages and read the writing on the wall so she took her cotton payments in gold and banked “offshore” in London. None of which would have been possible without the pre-nup since women were chattel at that time.   She loved wearing crowns and I begged for one at the gift shop but Gordon would have none of it.  I just don’t understand…  Back to our home away from home to take about 15 minutes rest before we hit the Firefly Grille  (thank you Abby Gerwe of Queen City Destination for the hot tip!)  The pic at the top is the interior of this joint.  A really fun time, nice people, great food, and in a neighborhood NOT in the middle of all of the hoopla!!  My brother said his burger was better than the 4 pound one he got the night before at 5th and Taylor (exaggerate much?!?) …I had a mixed seafood salad with a dill crème fraiche & mustard dressing which was fabulous, and Gordon’s Lamb was fantastic.  Then it was back home to a movie on our 72” screen!!!  Feet up, wine in hand…yes, a good day was had by all!

A Nashville Birthday Part 2

Day two of my birthday celebration begins with coffee in bed courtesy of my most wonderful husband Gordon, while Susan and Michael, recently retired, got up at 6AM and waited.  Don’t blame me – they had the schedule beforehand and could have done any number of things.  We scedattled (first time I’ve written this word instead of just speaking it – I don’t believe it really exists)  (wait!  There’s google!  Yes it DOES exist!)  Did anyone see the Google monopoly expose on 60 Minutes last week?  But I digress…  🙂 OK, let’s try this again…

We scedattled off to The Loveless Café, our longest drive the WHOLE trip – of 30 minutes, to this most wonderful old-timey motel that had been turned into a smokehouse, a gift shop, and a restaurant.  Their numerous awards do not lie.  Everybody gets a picture underneath their 1950’s neon sign, lit up day and night.  We chose the cutouts (above).  Everyone was so thrilled with their food – G had catfish for breakfast which we agreed was the best catfish we’ve ever had…I even liked their tartar sauce which was NOT Frisch’s 🙂  … or mine… and I had possibly the best grits I’ve ever had (and my brother agreed).  This is a tough one because I make the best grits I’ve ever had, and many others say the same thing about MINE.  These were plain, not like mine, but their texture was heavenly.  I’ve never had someone else’s grits that did not need butter.  The Loveless is famous for their biscuits, and here I have to depart from the common folk.  Sue me, whip me, call me bad names, but Bojangles “chain” biscuits have them (and everybody else) beat in my book when it comes to biscuits.  Their country ham was to die for.  They age it on premise.  Susan had a pimiento cheese and country ham biscuit which she loved – I tasted it and did not think the pimiento cheese came close to Wallace Station – but that really is a matter of taste.  It’s the “experience” here…do not miss.  Oh!  And the best sweet tea I ever drank!  (Sorry daddy).

After unabashedly sticking our butts out, crouching down into the cutout, and begging some stranger to take our pic, we headed off to Belle Meade – a horse breeding plantation, where to this day most Triple Crown winners owe their bloodline to Bonnie Scotland.  I’ve never sought out plantations north or west of Virginia, but this is one not to be missed.  It contains a Dairy, Train Station, Mill and Blacksmith Shop, Greenhouse, Slave Quarters, and the Horse Sale Barn as well as the “big house” – and the requisite gift shop and ice cream parlor.

They very interestingly had the front parlor set up to show how a wake would be celebrated – to denote all of the premature deaths occurring at that time (cholera, measles, TB, etc) that are completely preventable today.  It is an open wicker bench to lay the body on, with space underneath for a block of ice to hold decay at bay while getting people to the event.  The body is held there for numerous days to insure the person is in fact really dead.  Sometimes they’re just really ill and climb out of it (literally) – this is why it’s called a WAKE!!!  Best piece of information I got all day!!!  Just the sort of gruesomeness that turns me on.

Last but not least, Belle Meade has a winery…we tasted 6 wines and I asked for more so got tastes of two sparklings as well (my favorite, as well as the Vidal Blanc which seems to grow very well in this region and the hands that make the wine are QUITE comfortable with the grape.

This wasn’t enough for us so we headed home to clean up and change for an early dinner at 5th and Taylor – our most hoity toity dinner of the trip.  Really cool digs “warehouse style”, a GREAT glass of Pinot Noir, great service and wonderful food made me pleased with this reservation.  I had two appetizers: Duck Pate and accoutrement, as well as a Tomato Pie.  I didn’t know it would be the size of an individual pan pizza (think Uno’s) – so I had one piece and brought the rest “home” (another great reason to Air B&B!)  Susan had THE BEST Roasted Chicken I’ve ever had EXCEPT Gordon’s.  My brother had a burger that was so damned big he liked his other burger the next night better because it was more “well proportioned”!!

THEN…we Lyfted to The Ryman Auditorium for Larry Gatlin and Friends…who turned out to be Crystal Gayle that night.  She hasn’t lost it.  I’m not very happy with Larry – he did not respond to my request to play “I’ve Done Enough Dyin’” – a song I’ve been in love with since I was 11 years old when it came out.  I highly recommend you U Tube or whatever this song from his early years.  It makes me cry every time I hear it.  The Ryman is a bucket list item I have now crossed off.  Amazing space.  Hallowed ground.  They search everything and both my brother and husband had knives on them – they were REQUIRED to throw them AWAY.  My brother had the presence of mind to hide his on top of a column, Gordon showed his badge and asked that they keep it for him, they said NO.  Not a happy man.  They were a security company vs. Nashville Police so the badge may have done more harm than good??   Regardless…NOT a happy man.  We then made it home, and COLLAPSED.  This might be my favorite day of my birthday trip.

A Nashville Birthday in 5 Parts!

57 is starting out pretty darned well.  An on-time departure on Wednesday 19h put us in Versailles KY after an incredibly lovely “horse farm detour”, for a taste of a restaurant I have been looking forward to for a couple of years.  This might be my favorite day of my “birthday trip” to Nashville – I guess the anticipation of what was to come and our first meal out of the door being fantastic contributed.  Wallace Station did NOT disappoint – GO THERE if you can!  In fact, it’s really not far and worth a drive in the country as its own destination.

Located in an old general store in an old railroad town, Wallace Station served me one of the best sandwiches I have ever had – Hot Country Ham and Pimento Cheese, panini pressed.  I’m pretty finicky about both my ham AND my pimento cheese, so high praise indeed.  My side was Bean Soup with Cornbread.  Of course I make the best cornbread in the world, but this was a close second.   Gordon got a cold sandwich and I’ve gotta tell you I was so into mine that I have no idea what he got, but he loved it.  Next time, if I can resist a re-order, I’ll get the Inside Out Hot Brown.  Don’t expect fancy; and relax about the flies.  Don’t miss their bakery case either – we were too full but had to order a lemon bar (about 5×5”) and a savory scone to go because why not?   These were enjoyed in our fabulous “home” in Nashville’s Germantown a couple of days later, because when we met my brother and his wife lo and behold she had made me a fabulous birthday cake – Butter Pecan Coconut!!  SOooooo moist!  So, lunch at 11, cake at 4, and Skull’s Rainbow Room at 6:30 for some more fabu dinner (swordfish) and jazz.   We’re too freakin’ old to be able to wait or the 11PM Burlesque Show; maybe next time I’ll force some caffeine…. And so the pounds begin.  Tune in next week for day 2.

You Want To Get To The ROOT Of The Matter, Don’t You?

Celery Root, that is!!  Also called Celeriac, this is a variety of celery that is cultivated for its root, not its stalks.  It is NOT the root of the traditional celery stalks you keep in your fridge (you have some on hand at all times for flavoring soups and stews, as well as snacking, right?!?)

Celeriac (pictured above in Lula’s for Lunch…and More! ‘s Creamy Pear and Celeriac Soup) has a knobby, dirty, formidable looking root that you will want to peel.  Because it’s starchy, in general you want to pick the smaller of the roots available to you.  The end product will be sweeter.  The more you cook it the sweeter it becomes.  It makes a great, “different” puree when you’re looking for a base for proteins (think parsnip instead of potatoes), and it provides one of those mysterious “what’s IN this?” flavors to sauces, soups and stews.  Now GET IN THAT KITCHEN and try something different!

Game Meat

Did you know that game (venison, boar, etc) are healthier for you than other kinds of meat?  They are much higher in good Omega 3’s and lower in bad Omega 6’s.  In addition, you can eat them with a clear conscience (IF you’re an omnivore, that is!)  knowing for sure they lived well and naturally.  The next time you have an opportunity, open your mind (and mouth) and give them a try. – Lula 

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