Apparently I’m kind of obsessed with sugar, which is odd since I’m not a real sweets fan. I looked over past blogs to see if I’d given this information before and I haven’t, so I think you’ll appreciate all of the names on labels that really mean sugar. Here’s why it’s important: SUGAR IS PHYSICALLY ADDICTIVE. Just like a narcotic. It affects dopamine receptors and causes the brain to behave as if it’s reacting to a narcotic pleasure loop. And sadly, almost anything “white” has hidden sugar in it. Here are most of the names you will find on the back (or FRONT!) of a food label that mean SUGAR:
*High-fructose corn syrup(we all knew that didn't we?)*Xylitol
*Evaporated Cane Juice
Seriously – I’d like some information here. I didn’t even like to EAT (except bread and butter and canned peaches if my granddaddy hand fed me) until I was 9 years old. I used to hide what I didn’t like in my toybox or under the living room sofa until the smell elicited the hairbrush on my fanny. Once that growth spurt hit though, I could barely be satisfied though there were a handful of things I did not like, and continue to not care for to this day…okra, oatmeal, cream of wheat, oysters, and something else I can’t think of at the moment. I also have never cared for mayonnaise or avocado, UNTIL a few years ago when my tastebuds changed and now I adore both. Weird how that happens, huh? Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering even has a homemade Avocado Mayonnaise that I make for sandwiches and garnish!! What did YOU not like that you like now? Can you explain why? Let me know RIGHT HERE!
Recently, a friend called me in despair because she couldn’t get her cookie recipe right. I asked about her ingredient list and she told me she had used Marzipan as the recipe had called for Almond Paste. Mystery solved! Though they are both made from almonds, they are DEFINITELY not interchangeable.
Almond Paste is made (check the label) from almonds (first on the label if it’s a decent almond paste) and some sugar or sugar product and cooked till creamy then canned. Marzipan is value added almond paste – the added value being more sugar. It’s stiffer, and much sweeter, and used more to decorate and make candy rather than in baked goods. So there you have it – if you love almonds (and dessert), try some recipes with either of these two ingredients! Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering wishes for you a VERY satisfied sweet tooth!
I don’t know HOW MANY times I’ve put leftovers in containers (you know the cottage cheese container that you feel really bad about just throwing away – SAVE OUR PLANET! – so you wash it and re-use it as many times as possible before it goes into recycling)…and said to myself “Self, you’re incredibly smart and quick and have the best memory; of COURSE you’re going to remember what’s in this container next month when you’re scrounging for a quick lunch”!
NOT. So I started using folder labels to identify and date the food. Didn’t work – labels fell off. So I bought freezer labels but really resented how expensive they were. So I bought myself a permanent black Sharpie and started writing stuff on the lids. The lids got “full” (I’m really concerned about the environment). THEN I saw a tip SOMEwhere I can’t remember – and I’m going to share it with you. Buy a roll of blue painter’s tape at the hardware store. Five bucks, you can tear pieces off with your hands – no need for scissors, it won’t fall off in the freezer, that five dollar investment will pay off for 5 YEARS, and it’s easily removable when you need to switch labels. There. For more tips and tidbits subscribe here.
I hate it when my beautiful avocado stuff starts to “turn” and gets dull and brown. Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering has to make a pretty large volume upon occasion and sometimes it has to sit in the fridge for a couple of days – and there’s just not enough acid in the recipe to keep it in the “Kermit” family, SO…..I cover the surface with a thin film of WATER. The guac is dense enough (and fatty enough!) that it won’t absorb the water – so when I’m ready to use it I just tilt the container and pour the water off and voila! it’s just as vibrant as when I made it!
Here are some alternative flours and how to use them:
Rice Flour is pretty high in protein and can provide the structure you want in baked goods, but make sure it is finely ground. If you’ve bought a brown rice flour keep it in the fridge or freezer so it won’t go rancid – the germ and bran layer contains oil.
Nut Flours, when ground properly, simulate the grain of wheat flours but contain gluten producing proteins. You can’t produce bread or cake with these, but adding them to regular flour to lower the gluten content will make your finished product very tasty and tenderized. You really want to store these in the freezer with their high oil content – they’re so expensive you don’t want them to go rancid! Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses nut flours in a few of our pastry dishes.
Buckwheat Flour, even though the name contains the word wheat, isn’t wheat in any shape or form – it’s more closely related to rhubarb and sorrel!! Protein is high – about 13%, and people make crepes and soba noodles with it, as well as the Russian pancake called blini. Try , which can be made at your request with 100% buckwheat flour, or a combination of wheat flour & buckwheat – you get the same light texture but all of the fabulous flavor of buckwheat!
Chickpea, or garbanzo flour can be made from raw OR roasted beans. It as a really high protein content at around 20% and can be used for bread and other savory gluten-free baking.
What a plant. This stuff is kind of like hemp in its varied uses and value. Look it up! I will only concentrate on Sorghum SYRUP which comes from a native African grass. Mostly made in the southeast and gulf states, every small batch and brand is different – owing probably to the soil and climate where the grass is grown.
Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering loves sorghum for its earthy, malty and molasses like flavors and odors – it contributes depth to recipes and creates that “what IS that flavor” question on the tip of your palate! It is a (no longer) secret ingredient in Lula’s Kentucky Black Bourbon Sauce and is key in our popular Sorghum, Cider and Sassafras Vinaigrette, gracing our Heirloom Beet Salad pictured above.
Nothing more than simmered down pure cane juice, the inhabitants of Louisiana LOVE Cane Syrup as it’s the easiest liquid sugar for them to get – about half of the sugar cane in the US is grown in Louisiana. Cane Syrup has a burnt caramel flavor, sometimes described as boozy. Louisianans use it over sausage, biscuits, and in cakes like fruit and spice. You should too!
DANGER WILL ROBINSON! “Pancake Syrup” is not Maple Syrup. Pancake syrup is most likely the dark corn syrup we talked about last week. If you want your pancakes to taste amazing stay away from “Pancake Syrup” and stick to real, expensive, Maple Syrup. The good news: you don’t have to turn your pancakes into “pancake-maple soup” to enjoy the unctuous benefits of Maple Syrup. A light drizzle will sweeten and enhance your pancake batter delightfully. So you’re spending the same amount of money anyway. Here’s why:
Maple syrup is no more than the sap of the maple tree siphoned off, then boiled down from 40 gallons of sap to ONE gallon of syrup. During this process the sap caramelizes, giving maple syrup its lovely golden to amber color.
This is how maple syrup is graded – by its color – denoting the amount of caramelization. Grade A comes in Dark Amber or Light Amber, and Grade B is the strongest and darkest, which Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering likes to use for cooking. We are also not opposed to using maple syrup in cocktails – ask for one to be made at your next cocktail party! Lula is religious about finding all ingredients that work well with whiskies. Also, for your next Brunch be SURE to ask for Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ‘s Homemade Maple-Vanilla Yogurt.
Yuck. Well, maybe not so much…in that corn syrup will not crystallize. If you read my article “The Transparency of Pecan Pie” you’ll get even deeper into this subject. Did you know that corn syrup – a highly refined product from corn starch – is only 65% as sweet as white sugar? But it doesn’t turn frostings and pies and candies grainy so it’s a decent ingredient for this sort of stuff. The only difference between light corn syrup and dark corn syrup is caramel coloring. Can you tell I’m a fan?