Category Archives: Fall

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!

Hot Tea Weather

I love a good cup of herbal tea…”regular” tea gives me a headache.  Did you know herbal tea isn’t tea at all?  The technical term is “tisane” for any infusion with hot water of leaves, herbs, bark etc.,  that are NOT tea leaves. There is only one kind of tea: Camellia Sinensis.  The various names you like or hear have to do with place (where the leaves come from) or flavorings.  For instance, if you like Earl Grey, you’re probably enjoying the bergomot orange oil added to it.  Real tea comes in four types:  black (fermented), oolong (semi-fermented), green (unfermented) and white – traditionally only from buds not leaves, and sun dried to prevented further oxidation).  Lula’s famous Lavendar Honey Tea is made with fermented (black) decaffeinated tea and lavendar from our garden (as well as honey, of course!)  We combine the best of both worlds to bring you a unique and delightful flavor, which can be enjoyed cold OR hot!

A History of Transparency – or, Pecan Pie

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‘Tis the season, and I thought you might be interested in the humble beginnings of one of America’s favorite holiday desserts.

Transparent, or Syrup, Pie, has been around the US for eons – it uses the most basic of readily available ingredients and even the poorest usually have them on hand: eggs, butter, and a sweetener in the form of whatever’s local (honey, maple, sorghum, cane, molasses).   The Industrial Revolution came along and the US began to have a surplus of corn, and of course, we had to figure out what to do with it, so,  at the beginning of the 20th century, a cheap liquid sugar was invented using cornstarch, by the Corn Products Refining Company – and they called it Karo. 

In the late 1920’s-early 30’s an executive’s wife (of the heretofore mentioned Corn Products Refining Company) made a transparent pie using Karo, and added pecans.  Notice the wife’s name is not in the history books.  As usual in a capitalist society, let’s create that need then fill it!  The CPRC began heavily marketing KARO pie and an American staple was born. 

This same pie, with added cream, is called syrup pie.  It tastes (no WAY!) creamier and more custardy, but is still extremely similar to transparent pie taste.  It’s a little runnier and you need to adjust your solids to your liquids if you’re going to try this avenue.  A great way is to substitute only egg yolks instead of whole eggs as the yolks contain less water than whites.

My bottom line is – if you like historical recipes, go ahead and try Karo Pie (google google google!).  But if you really want a great tasting Pecan Pie, use an original sweetener – my favorite being maple – but that’s for YOU to decide.  I also add bourbon because I’m, well, me!

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!!

Those Crazy Gourds

It’s butternut squash season… a few hints and tips:  Choose one that’s “dusty” looking – shiny means it was picked too soon.  DID YOU KNOW…uncut squash can last up to 3 months at room temperature?!?!?  This is, obviously uncut and skin on.  So if you like it, stock up!  You can be eating squash in February/March when it’s all gone from the store!!  Butternut squash lends itself to both sweet and savory preparations.  One of my favorites (surprise) is soup – with sage. Lula wishes you heady gourdy delight!

The Kindness of Strangers and Last Minute Shopping

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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!

To Paraphrase Ben Franklin…

 

“We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana as of a miracle.  But this conversion is, through the wisdom of the Universe, made every day before our eyes.  Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that the Universe loves us, and loves to see us happy.” Benjamin Franklin    

To see how Lula transforms wine into food, go to www.lulasforlunch.com and check out our Beef Bourgignonne and Chicken Vouvray, among other recipes!

An Ode to Daddy – HOT Breakfast!

Daddy, I woke up this morning to an incredibly blustery day, the house knocking about, wind whistling as tree branches beat up the windows.  Even snuggled in the bed I could feel the “closeness” and the humidity, and knew that it wasn’t cold outside even though it SOUNDED cold.  I knew when I opened the front door warm, moist air would accost me, and it did.

They say we have a lot of memory stored in our noses, and I’m a firm believer in that.  The sounds and smells of this morning brought me right back to late elementary school – 5th grade to be exact – and a rubber 2 sided raincoat with a hood…one side bright yellow, and the other a navy blue.  I remember being jealous of the other kids whose parents bought them “duck shoes”, but I loved my coat and was proud of it.

Then all of a sudden my memory switched to breakfast every school day made by either you or mom –depending on which shift you had worked the day before.  I started remembering the array of breakfasts you guys cooked to both satisfy your time constraints or keep from being bored…oatmeal (YUCK!) topped with put up homemade jams & jellys that we could stir in to make it sweet…scrambled eggs with diced onions & peppers (always with rye bread I seem to remember!), a fried egg with bacon and toast, Cheesetoast with half a grapefruit or orange (ALWAYS white bread and sharp cheddar), or the Frank Special: burnt, raw pancakes (yes, both can be accomplished at the same time).  I never wanted to hurt your feelings but I knew if I tried to eat them I would throw up, so I complained.  You were mad, but you took them back and threw them back in the frying pan.  To this day I love my pancakes crispy dark on the outside with just butter, no syrup, just like I did in elementary school.  Thank you both for giving us hot breakfasts every school day (and it has been proven since that this makes smarter kids), while everyone else I knew prepared their own cereal!  xoxoxoxoxoxo  What’s YOUR elementary school breakfast memory?  Post it here:  http://lulasforlunch.com/blog