A Cheese Primer – Fabulous Feta

Some KIND a Cheese Platter

Sharp and Salty, good feta should be bought and stored in a block in its brine.  Stay away from the crumbly stuff if you can – it’s ok, but won’t provide as much pleasure as the block – it’s more dried out and less flavorful.  Feta from Greece (GREEK feta!) must be made with at least 70% sheep‘s milk.  Goat‘s milk is frequently used as well and is very good.  But in America and Europe, feta is mostly made with cow‘s milk and it’s just not the same.

One of my favorite foods of all time is Tyropita, a feta pastry rolled up in phyllo dough.  Feta is also one of the key ingredients in Spanikopita, a more well known spinach pastry.  Get either of these pastries from a reputable source such as It’s Just Greek in Cincinnati – it’s the real deal.  Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering makes their own variety – an amalgamation of both of these pastries, called Spanyropita.  Ask for it when planning your next party!  Have you ever tasted any of these pastries?  Let us know what you think here:  www.lulasforlunch.com/blog

Cheese Primer – You Cheddar Head You!

Adult mac and cheese

Lula’s Adult Mac ‘n Cheese

Cheddar comes from all over – mostly Britain, The United States, and Canada.  It can be white or yellow (absolutely NO taste difference, remember?); the yellow comes from the dye of annatto seeds.

The process that makes cheddar is called, of all things…cheddaring.  This simply means curds are cut into slabs, then stacked, then pressed.  What makes cheddars taste different from each other are the cows (yes it’s a cow’s milk cheese), the land, and the feed.

If you want to make things that require melted cheddar, ranging from a grilled cheese to fondue etc., then using younger cheddar will get better results, as it contains more moisture.  Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses everything from Medium Sharp (hard to find vs mild!) Cheddar to Extra Sharp Cheddar in a variety of goodies.

My PERSONAL favorite is Vermont Extra Sharp White Cheddar.  What’s yours?  Weigh in at www.lulasforlunch.com/blog !

A Cheese Primer – Holy Swiss

Cheese and Fruit Abound!

Most Swiss cheeese you get at the supermarket isn’t swiss at all…it’s made domestically right here in the good ole’ US of A.    It’s mostly not so good either.  Kind of rubbery, with very little taste.  If you want an eye (and mouth) opening experience, go to your cheesemonger and ask for Emmentaler.  This is real swiss cheese.  It’s nutty and complex and is a beautiful melting cheese – hence its use in “swiss” fondue.

The holes that make swiss cheese (even those made in America) distinctive come from bacteria (a living thing like yeast) that release gas bubbles during aging.  So…you can tell if a swiss cheese will taste milder or stronger depending on how big the holes are…you’ll even see supermarket (and deli) labels saying “baby swiss” with very small holes in the cheese.  I prefer aged swiss with the really big holes.  It’s much stronger and nuttier (like me!).  Which do you like – the delicate young swiss or the assertive older swiss?  Let me know at http://www.lulasforlunch.com or www.lulasforlunch.com/blog !

Happy New Year 2015!

Flash and his Bread Xmas 2014

Happy New Year Everyone! I’m back from yet another trip to “the homeland” with some fresh ideas for 2015. Much food and wine was enjoyed this season, including the Muscadine Grape from my brother’s farm, Cane Creek, served in many different ways, and my husband Gordon’s “Flash Bread” – seen to the right. We were cutting and serving it from my sister-in-law’s kitchen in the foothills of Asheville, NC. Look for the Muscadine Grape on new 2015 Lula’s Menus. There’ll be Roasted Chicken Risotto Simmered in a Muscadine Reduction, among other things!

I don’t want to talk about food at the beginning of this amazing new year, though. I want to talk about my amazing husband Gordon, and his role in my life, and yours. You see, he’s a First Responder. I’ve been quiet and taken in all that has happened in the past few months nationwide, and I’ve listened, and I’ve felt the repercussions of our sad, but hopeful I dare to say, state of affairs. What prompted me to focus on this is the fact that I was asked not to wear my favorite “hoodie” on our trip down south.  Gordon gave it to me – it says “Property of Covington PD” on the back of it. You see, police officers are now very cautious of quite a few things. They think twice about bringing their cruiser home and parking it in the driveway. They are wary of the clothing they wear. They are afraid for their families, because of attempted kidnappings and harassment. I can no longer wear my favorite piece of casual clothing because I might get attacked in a parking lot. There have been more than 16 police deaths since the Grand Jury Decision in Ferguson, but you’re probably not aware of this because reporting harm to a first responder or his or her family isn’t “sexy”. Only reporting misconduct and corruption within the ranks is considered bankable. Do we have bad cops? Sure. They are human like the rest of us – including the bad politicians, bad salesmen, bad financiers, and bad musicians (not to mention bad cooks). But for the most part we have a society depending on the good instincts, intentions, talent, and training of our police forces. While we as a society slowly erode their benefits, salaries, pensions, etc., we expect them to shoulder an increasing amount of responsibility as cutbacks at the federal, state and local level are removing personnel virtually essential to the safety of your first responders, and my husband.

I want you to know a little bit about my husband the man. He’s a well educated, very intelligent, thoughtful, serious, funny, and well read person. He runs marathons for charity. He enjoys ridiculously bad action and fantasy movies and can watch them over and over again. He is an excellent gift wrapper. He’s a fabulous bread baker. He hates yard work. He has a remarkable palate and uses it to bring me home wine I love. He is a first responder whose mission is to protect and serve, but like all of his friends and compatriots across the country, his FIRST job is to come home alive.

Coming home alive is not an easy proposition when you’re working against drug cartels, herion and crystal meth addicts (too many addictions to name them all), stopping armed robberies, and getting shot at, all of which Gordon has endured, not to mention broken bones while on the job. These do not make up the bulk of his days though. The very unglamorous duties of finding lost dogs and returning them home, negotiating domestic disputes, and making sure children are safe both within their homes and without, are his daily bread. Being intimate with his community, including getting to know both the good and the bad, and attending various township meetings is his charge. These things make the Thin Blue Line a little stronger for you.

People tend to forget that police officers don’t make the laws; they are bound to enforce them. They do not have the luxury of the spirit of the law; they must adhere to the letter of the law. My husband’s split second decisions determine whether I get to see him at the end of each day, or whether I will never see him again. So the next time you pass a police officer on the street, look him in the eye and smile, or say “hello”. Let him know that you think what he’s doing matters, and that he or she is appreciated and not taken for granted. He may not smile back – he takes his job very seriously, but trust me, it makes a difference. By the way…I know for a fact that police officers are allowed to eat during their break (would you like a 10, 12, or sometimes 16 hour shift without a break and some food?) and they like donuts no more or less than the rest of us.  🙂