Category Archives: Anytime

Eco Info Part 4 of 6! – Compostable

Compostable materials disintegrate into natural elements in a compost environment, and make OUTSTANDING soil mixer for your garden.   Commercial composting facilities use ideal amounts of sunlight, temperature, and moisture to create an environment that rapidly breaks down materials.   My dad and mom were the original composters.  We had a huge area behind our “cottage” in the back yard, with  3 walls, and daddy would stir it around every few days (I’m talking a mound so big kids couldn’t climb it).  On our kitchen counter, on a paper towel, were ALWAYS eggshells, banana peels etc to get dumped every day in that compost heap.  Then daddy would take the finished compost and use it in our huge garden, where we had fresh vegetables growing 9 months out of the year.

When I was about 30 or so, I found a cute ceramic countertop compost “bin” for their kitchen and it was a Christmas present.  Probably the best thing I ever got them – they loved it.  No more uglies on the counter!  When they came down in price I bought stainless ones for practically the whole family.  Above is a picture of Lula’s Catering ‘s Compost Bin.

Always check the materials your composting facility accepts before sending your waste.  Go green by requesting a composting bin from your local facility – some places provide them for free!

Eco Info Part 3 – Biodegradable

Clean and Green…biodegradable refers to the ability of a material to be naturally broken down by living organisms.  Biodegradable products release significantly less amounts of greenhouse gases because the materials break down into non-toxic elements without causing a negative impact on the environment.  The process of manufacturing biodegradable packaging helps increase energy conservation and reduce waste.

DID YOU KNOW… that there are biodegradable plastics made from all-natural plant materials?  These can include corn oil, orange peels, starch, and plants.  Traditional plastic is made with chemical fillers that can be harmful to the environment when released, when the plastic is melted down.  The orange peels in the picture above can be used to create biodegradable plastics, AND are both biodegradable themselves as well as compostable.  We will discuss the difference in the next post.  Lula’s Catering CARES!

Coronavirus and Covid-19 – Wash Your Hands!

In light of what’s “going around” and some silliness I’m seeing on social media, I thought I’d skip this week’s “sustainability” blog and re-print from the CDC, WHO, and FDA experts.  Yes, Corona has been around forever, but Covid is the strain that we have no vaccine for.  Below is some gross info and a “wash your hands” primer that we all can benefit from reading:

Foodborne illness is a serious threat to the nation’s public health and many people put themselves at risk for illness by not adequately washing their hands, or by washing their poultry. Many people continue to wash their poultry because that’s what they grew up doing or seeing in their homes. But this is dangerous and can spread bacteria around the kitchen. Juices from raw poultry can transfer bacteria onto kitchen surfaces, utensils, and other food. Once bacteria lands on a surface it can remain active for up to 36 hours, unless the surface is sanitized.

Recent USDA research conducted in a test kitchen revealed some startling results: 60 percent of the test kitchen participants contaminated the inner sink after washing or rinsing raw chicken. Participants also frequently placed raw vegetables and lettuce in the same sink, which ultimately led to cross-contamination.

Researchers also observed that 99 percent of participants either didn’t wash their hands or didn’t accomplish all steps of correct handwashing. Inadequate handwashing has been identified as a contributing factor to foodborne illness, especially when preparing raw meat and poultry. Hands can become vectors that move potential pathogens found in raw meat and poultry around the kitchen, which can contribute to foodborne illnesses.

I understand that old habits may die hard, but I encourage you to wash your hands, not your poultry. If you are brining or marinating your poultry and must rinse or wash it, be sure to thoroughly clean and then sanitize all kitchen surfaces to eliminate the risk of cross- contamination. Also remember that proper hand washing after handling raw meat, poultry and eggs can greatly reduce the risk of bacterial cross-contamination.

I realize it might seem ridiculous for me to explain how to properly wash your hands, but research shows that we all need reminders to achieve basic public health prevention. Here are the five handwashing steps that everyone needs to remember:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel.

Eco Info – Part 2 of 6! Sustainability

Sustainability is the method of using a resource for environmental benefits without depleting or permanently damaging it.  This practice extends the natural life of the resource you’re using without negatively affecting the atmosphere or the environment.  This practice allows us to maintain the balance of meeting the needs of today’s population without endangering future generations.

Think bamboo – click on the word and find out about the myriad of possibilities of this miracle plant.  Then click here to find out its caveats.  A lot of the fabric you love is not so “friendly”.  But bamboo produced into hard goods( Lula loves her utensils, cutting boards and the like) is fantastic, as long as the farming to produce it doesn’t destroy other forests…in our consumptive society it’s always best to spend 5 minutes researching the hype.

So bear with me when I return to pickup my non-disposables …baskets and serveware should always have more than one use if possible, particularly if they’re a type of plastic, and you can trust we’re not putting any unnecessary chemicals in your body!  There are many more sustainable food related products out there and we’ll explore a few more of them in this series.

Eco Info! – Part 1 of 6

OK, so, not a beautiful picture of my food.  BUT…I ran across great, concise information from a vendor of mine and I thought I would share!  Over the next 6 weeks I’m going to share some terms with you and explain them – regarding our “trash”.  And sometimes I’ll add my two cents worth.   We’re going to start with the term RECYCLABLE. 

Recycling is based on the premise of “reduce and re-use” – breaking down and reusing materials that would otherwise be thrown away.  Recycling utilizes existing materials to reduce energy usage, decrease pollution, and conserve natural resources such as wood and water.  Repurposing waste products in an effective way helps slowly decrease the landfill sizes and increases air quality.

MY TWO CENTS WORTH:

In  the picture above, which items are recyclable?  THE MILK CARTON.  That’s it in our area.  Since China stopped accepting our waste in 2018 , we no longer have effective recycling (we really didn’t then either since what they do affects the planet too!)  Check with your recycler to see what items are currently USABLE for recycling.  Yup, they’ll still take everything you’re dumping in your green bin, but they’re sorting it and throwing it in a landfill.  Oh, my heavy head.

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 www.lulasforlunch.com 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

Tomato Paste RULES!

Fresh fresh fresh…my )(*$)#&(.  Chefs have been using tomato paste (and making it – but YOU don’t do THAT please!) to enhance everything from seafood to beef dishes to sauces for millenia.  Tomato reduction contains umami!  We all have recipes in our collection that call for a teaspoon or a tablespoon of tomato paste.

What to DO with the other 4 ounces (or 10 depending on the can you get?  It comes in tubes now that will store in the fridge for forever, but you pay a premium.  Lula’s Catering ‘s method is – buy a can.  Put a piece of waxed paper or a pastry sheet on a cookie tray, dollop the whole can out in tablespoons on the paper, throw the sheet in the freezer for a few hours, pop it out, bag it up, and throw it in the freezer to have at the ready for the next YEAR.    You’re welcome! For weekly tips and tidbits to help you in the kitchen you can go HERE.

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!