Category Archives: December

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 .

 

Scent and Memory – a Powerful Combination!

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange-Creme Ganash
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange-Creme Ganash

As you smell a fresh pine tree, cookies baking, bayberry or orange, do flashes of past Christmas holidays come flooding through your mind?  This very aromatic season is an easy way to describe the phenomenon of scent and memory.

The process of smelling is a thing of beauty.  Smell is a chemical sense detected by sensory cells called chemoreceptors in the nose that detect smell and pass on electrical impulses to the brain.  The brain then interprets patterns in electrical activity as specific odors and olfactory sensation becomes perception – we recognize this as smell.  The only other chemical system that can quickly identify, make sense of and memorize new molecules is the immune system (Sarah Dowdy, How Stuff Works).

Gratefully reprinted with permission from my good friend Pat Faust, Gerontologist – and her blog “My Boomer Brain”

The Kindness of Strangers and Last Minute Shopping

 heifer-logo

If you have someone on your gift list that has everything and is very hard to buy for, consider Heifer International , a well vetted (by not only me but the charitable community) wonderful non-profit that helps people help themselves.  I’ve been donating in my parents name for several years.  The first year it was a goat (private joke – they never got it – but my mom used to call me a goat whenever my young adult choices were less than desirable to her).  This year I donated a “Flock of Hope” in their name – various chicks, goslings, etc. that will help a family or female (your choice) feed themselves and provide sustainable income.

‘Tis the season of Thanksgiving AND giving…though in reality that should happen all year. While traveling home from down south last Sunday on a trip that took almost 11 hours instead of 6, I was amazed at all of the “evil” drivers after surely, they were all coming from their bounteous tables of love, and heading home full of gratitude as well as stuffing…  I know I am grateful for the best meal I think I’ve ever had at Thanksgiving – it’s amazing how good it can be, as my brother says “when nobody plans and everybody just pitches in and brings what they love”.  I am grateful for being able to stay in my brother’s new house and for meeting his new girlfriend.  I am grateful for my sister making me laugh.  I am grateful for being able to see her “I just returned from Colorado and even though it’s 70 degrees and sunny,  I’ll be damned if I’m not going to wear my snow bunny outfit that makes me look so CUTE!”  I am grateful for my brother and sister in law’s good humour and generous spirit, and for being able to visit with their son, my nephew, and enjoy his charisma. I am grateful for my almost 16 year old Pug, Oscar, behaving like a 2 year old the entire week.  I am grateful for working not one, but TWO puzzles with my mom and dad!  The puzzles really had us feeling stubborn.

What I’m most thankful for, though, is the kindness of strangers.  I don’t share much in common with Blanche Dubois (well, maybe her flair for the dramatic and hopefully, her eloquence), but one thing we ALL share with Blanche is that we “have always depended upon the kindness of strangers”.   We all like to think we’re an island and we “can handle it” but make no mistake, the kindness of strangers, whether you’re aware of it or not, has helped you along your way.

I’m a dingbat, but I expect the best of people, and I’ve found that when you expect goodness, people deliver.  Twice this “season” (fall) I have either left my purse in the grocery cart or in a public bathroom.  Both were promptly returned to the register untouched and unharmed.  What amazed me most though, was leaving the scene of an unusually large catering for 170 (a favor for a good client) and KNOWING (hint hint, string theory) as I maneuvered the cart containing chafers, fuel, stands, platters, bowls, baskets, hot boxes,  tablecloths, bags, etc. that I was in over my head (or under the cart as it will soon seem).  I’m Wonder Woman right?  Why would it occur to me to have help there?

So I’m on the cobblestone area of a sidewalk moving toward the curb where my vehicle is parked, in a not so great, dark neighborhood in downtown Cincinnati.  I’m maneuvering slowly, the images and thoughts swelling in the back of my cortex…”this isn’t a great idea – I’m feeling the cart a little unbalanced, losing a little control…no no No NO NOOOOOOOOO! as it swerves away from me and all aforementioned supplies go flying off the curb and into the middle of the street.  Within TWO SECONDS I was swooped down upon – a man and a woman came running across the street, a car came out of nowhere and zoomed past my passenger side and zipped to the curb in front of me;  the driver flew out and I swear his feet didn’t hit the ground before he was gathering up all of my accoutrement and, along with the other two, was arranging it neatly in my cargo area.   I was so tired – my feet hurt so badly, had I NOT had the accident it would have taken me 10-15 minutes to load everything properly; with the fall and their help, it took all of 2.   Whooosh!  The Ninja Turtles disappeared.   Strangers, wherever you are, thank you!