Category Archives: Lula’s for Lunch

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.

A Brussels Sprouts Primer

Hurry, quick!  If you love Brussels Sprouts get them now before they leave the store.  In the US, fresh runs from about June to January.  But DID YOU KNOW…they get their name from where they were originally mass cultivate – Brussels Belgium?  They’ve been widely enjoyed since the 1500’s over there…but just in the 20th century did they gain in popularity in the US.  Mostly from California, you can get them frozen all year round, but fresh is best.

LOADED with good stuff our bodies need, BS (you know what that means right? and it’s so fitting since they can smell like a fart if you overcook them 🙂 ) are a super food.  Coming from the cruciferous veggie category, they contain the metals and micronutrients we need along with loads of Vitamins A, C, K, and B6, not to mention folic acid and fiber.

Lula’s BS recipes include but are not limited to Roasted (simple and our favorite),  Dijon Garlic, and a magnificent festive Fennel & Pomegranate Salad.  Relax…they won’t make YOU smell like a fart!

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.

Subtly Cinnamon

Sweet Potato-Bourbon Shortbread w.Maple Pecan Streusel

EVERYBODY knows about cinnamon, right?!?  I guess you know that there are two types of cinnamon – both are the bark of trees.   There is the Cassia tree, and there is the Ceylon tree.

Volatile oils give cinnamon its strength.  Ceylon Cinnamon has the lowest volatile oil content (1-2%) and is the preferred cinnamon in Europe and Mexico.  In my opinion, it has more complexity and finesse than Cassia Cinnamon, which is much more in your “face” with volatile oils ranging from 3-7% depending on its originating terroir.    Lula’s Sweet Potato-Bourbon Shortbread with Maple Pecan Streusal, among many other desserts AND savory dishes, contains Ceylon Cinnamon, and sometimes you don’t even know!!

Korintje Cinnamon from Indonesia is the flavor most recognized by American palates as it is the most readily available in our supermarkets.  For fun, seek out China Tung Hing Cassia Cinnamon – you’ll notice it has a bigger “bite” in recipes, and a subtly different flavor from what you’re used to.

What you might NOT be familiar with, are Cassia BUDS.  They are precious and hard to find – resembling a clove in appearance, though perfect and pink.  Obviously, they are the bud of a cassia tree before it flowers – can you imagine the flavor of flowering cinnamon?!?  These buds are prized, and laid in the sun to dry.  They are used in pickling recipes, meat marinades and yummy warm holiday drinks.  Happy Hunting – and if you find some let Lula know!!  For more info like this you can get weekly click HERE!

Cloves – From Cigarettes to Spice Cake!

Lula’s Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange-Creme Ganash

OK folks, back to “winter” spices…though the clove is also a fantastic home remedy for toothaches all year long…did you know dentists used to prescribe sucking on a whole clove to alleviate toothaches?  Oil of clove is a numbing agent.  Cloves are also extremely popular in cigarettes … but DON’T!! 🙂  You can get cloves ground ( a little dab’ll do ya – enough clove in your spice cake and you’ll FEEL the numbing!!), or you can get cloves whole.

This is another spice that you could be put to death for in the mid 1600’s – planting OR trading cloves was a capital offense, and cloves are also a critical ingredient in French cuisine – you can’t make a stock without studding a whole onion with cloves and throwing it in!!

Here’s the most fun fact of all … back in the day when people didn’t bathe very often and STANK, cloves were a favorite ingredient in pomander balls (the usually metal balls with holes that one stuffed with aromatics and hung from their belt (men) or dangled from their wrist (women) to hide the ODOR…  ahhh… the things you learn when armchair traveling with Lula…for more tips, tidbits and fun on a weekly basis you can sign up HERE.

 

MAD for Mace!

OK, week two of “fall/winter” spices…I’m going to continue where I left off and discuss MACE – which is simply the thin, apricot colored, lacy outer layer of the nutmeg seed.  Since there’s not as much of it, it has always been way more expensive.  It resembles nutmeg in scent and flavor but is more delicate.   Once again, this spice can be used in a variety of savory recipes as well as sweet.

At the height of its popularity the Dutch ruled the spice trade, and one year (1770) production exceeded demand by a year’s supply and the whole lot was BURNED – making Amsterdam the best scented city of all time!  Fun Fact:  Most American hot dog manufactures include mace in their recipe!!  And NOW Lula is going to give away a closely guarded secret..put a dash in your BBQ sauces (think my Kentucky Black Bourbon…) YUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuum.  Hit here for more tips and tricks!  With love, Lula