Lula’s Sugar Series – The Wet Stuff Part 3 – Maple Syrup

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.

Liquid Sweetness Part 2 – Corn Syrup

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?

Unconditional Love!

Joe Cool

February is the month of love and I’d like to celebrate the life of one of my great true loves, my pug Oscar.  We lost Oscar on January 14 after sixteen and a half remarkably joyous years – much longer than pugs are expected to live.  I’m sure it was love that kept him alive.  In fact, Oscar had at least 9 lives, and one of his nicknames was “the energizer bunny”.  Nothing could kill him or keep him down – not ingesting an entire turkey net with metal clamps at both ends, not eating an entire block of rat poison (yes I was TOO a good mommy!), nor a myriad of other things, some much less savory than these that we will not detail here.  Oscar and I were soulmates – both terribly hedonistic and putting pleasure above all else.  Just as I would wither on the vine without loving touch so would my son and pal, who demanded massages on a daily, neigh, hourly basis.   During his last years the massage had to be gentler and kept to his upper quadrant as his poor hind legs were a bit too tender from arthritis.  He always needed to be “touching”.

Oscar was as stubborn as me, or I guess more so, because he usually won.  I’ve often said it’s a great thing for me that he was born with such a lovely temperament because had he been anything more than cutely ornery I would have been in terrible trouble.  He taught me a really big lesson regarding the battles vs the war.  He also gave me the greatest gift – one that I was perfectly petrified I would never have since I couldn’t have children – the gift of unconditional love. 

 I’ve never known a more expressive face, human or otherwise, and we had multitudes of conversations – me with my words, and he with his eyes, mouth, and ears, and tail, and feet, and neck, and yes, even his voice.  People often commented “how can he be so comical and so regal at the same time?”   He was so social all of his life (to put it mildly; another nickname was “ho”) – he went virtually everywhere with me the first 2 years, ALL stores (except grocery as I found out it wasn’t allowed).  He has been to doctor’s offices, mechanics, hardware stores – in fact Beck’s Hardware in Walnut Hills cried with me the week Oscar died.  He was beloved by so many – often his welfare was asked after before mine.  Even at the end of his life when he was blind and deaf, once he caught a whiff of someone new in the house he found his way to them to greet them.

Oscar had the worst breath on the planet.  Some of that had to do with the fact that he was attacked by a Jack Russell Terrier and had to have his whole right jaw stitched up, and he never completely healed.  As destroyed as he was, he gave kisses to the vets and techs who helped him that night.  As a result, he started losing teeth on that side, and some in front, and his tongue lolled out all of the time.  When he was asleep and that tongue was sticking out I swear I could have eaten him with a spoon.

There is not a soul on the planet that was more interested in food in all of its components than Oscar.  I know I know, dogs all love anything to eat, but Oscar was different (of course).  He was a gourmand.   His absolute favorite was crispy salmon skin, and he loved a good cup of coffee with cream and sugar.  Sadly Oscar was born into a litter that was not kept with its mother for very long, and food was tossed loosely into a playpen for the puppies to fight over.  As a result Oscar’s only issue was coming from a culture of “fear of not enough” – like so many of us come from – and he, like we, manifested his perceived lack in mysterious ways.  One of Gordon’s favorite Oscar food stories revolves around a T-Bone steak.  Oscar weighed 20 pounds.  A T-Bone was about half as big as he was.  We thought he’d enjoy gnawing on the bone.  What could it hurt, right?  A gift we thought!  So we put him in the front yard and gave him his bone.  He immediately took the long end of the T and swallowed it.  No, he didn’t choke…he just kept trying to get the wide end of the T into his mouth and down his gullet.  We, in quick hysteria, rushed to him to save him from sure suffocation, but he would have NONE OF IT.  Growling and biting down and digging in he demanded to be left alone to HIS bone as he hacked and chewed and hacked and chomped…and as Gordon RIPPED the bone from his throat that tail just started wagging like “who, me?  C’mon…whatdya have to go and take it from me for?!?”  and immediately the love was restored.  Always, love restored.   That tail wagged so hard it hit both sides of his head.   It’ll never be goodbye my boy – you’ll always be with me, unconditionally loved.

Get your BUZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzz On! Liquid Sweetness Part 1

Now we begin our foray into the liquid sugar realm, starting with honey.  EVERYONE knows about honey – and I will refrain from diverging onto the windy path of ecology and how the bees, by producing honey from whatever region in whatever flavor, help feed the world by their pollination.  I’ll just say this one thing PROTECT THE BEES PLEEEESE!!!

Honey is the worlds oldest known sweetener, and its flavor varies all over the world depending upon what nectar the bees have been feeding on, including something as weird as the flowering buckwheat plant.  Lavender honey is one of my favorites, but then again all things lavender please me greatly!  Have you ever had eucalyptus honey?!?   Respond to this blog and let me know the most unusual honey you’ve ever had – I’m curious!!  You can liquefy crystallized honey by microwaving it in 10 second increments until it liquefies (if you can get it out of the jar to begin with!).