Shrooms and String Theory
As Gordon and I BOTH lay flat on our backs on ice (his a result of the story below, and mine a result of stubbornness and stupidity) we are fondly remembering our short trip last week to see Dwight Yoakam who didn’t show up (illness) then a short visit to one of our favorite places on earth – Red River Gorge. Shhh. I really DON’T want to get the word out – this place is unspoiled and wild and we want to keep it that way.
We have our favorite trails – some are mine, some are his – and this time we really just walked a few of the short ones and didn’t do any serious hiking. One of the beautiful aspects of any walk in nature is you can take that walk one thousand times and you will always see something new every time. This time, on Tar Kiln Trail, I caught my first delightful glimpse of a red mushroom. It was just brilliant, and I thought to myself how lucky am I! and then, right next to it I spotted a pink mushroom – first sighting ever!
Feeling a bit like Alice and the Rabbit Hole, I slowed down and wandered off the path (Gordon kept forging ahead – he likes to clip along and I like to stop and smell the granite as he likes to put it). I began to look down instead of ahead and as I slowed and wandered (to a literal crawl on my hands and knees), a whole new world appeared before me – a reminder, once again, of the circle of life and String Theory. This is a world teeming with energy and movement – you just have to be still to be aware of it. The undergrowth, in its varying degrees of decay, was producing life and energy to nourish what was infant and just emerging.
Mushrooms are a most delicious fungi – the variety of edibles is practically unending and each has its own fragrance and taste profile. Mushrooms are an excellent source of umami – the often undefinable protein profile that can give a dish its depth of flavor. This week I’m making a client favorite: Mesquite Roasted Chicken with some roasted wild mushrooms, artichokes and spinach. It is indeed mushroom season, but even if it wasn’t, I would wish for you a wandering eye, and a slow enough gait that you can indeed smell the granite (and find the mushrooms) because, as I said previously, there is NO shortcut to mushrooms! (Thank you J.R.R. Tolkien for inspiring the title of this newsletter).
A Note From Chef Lori
Can you BELIEVE ’tis almost the season?!? Think about your holiday party NOW…we’re excited to party with you but Lula only has two hands!!
Photo courtesy of ME – an edible Cauliflower Mushroom!
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Greetings from Lula! When slicing, dicing, etc. on your cutting board, turn your knife OVER and use the blunt edge to “scrape” ingredients into the pot or bowl or whatever…this increases your knife’s life immeasurably, and you have to hone or sharpen only half as much! Happy chopping, Lula
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!
We all have our favorite “blend” – skim, 2% etc., and we know what we like to taste when drinking a big glass of ice cold milk. BUT…can we just use whatever milk we have in the fridge to go into a recipe when it calls for milk? Well, you can try…but not really… As with all cooking, science plays a big part – and the chemical makeup of fat milk vs. no fat milk does make a difference.
When a recipe calls for just “milk” and doesn’t give you any direction, what to do? Just make sure there’s some fat in your milk. I always have on hand skim milk because that’s what I like to drink (hormone and pesticide free, of course!). I always have on hand half ‘n half because that’s what my beloved husband says I like in my coffee (yes it’s true…I have no idea what goes in my coffee – only Gordon does). Since half ‘n half is half whole milk and half cream, it’s got plenty of fat to make things taste dreamy, but more fat than we like on our hips. Cutting it with no fat skim milk by ½ seems to keep my recipes rich, but not too fatty. If you have 2% milk on hand at all times, I’d use that in its entirety as it has enough fat not to mess with a final recipe’s consistency. Just don’t use all skim milk in recipes unless it is specifically called for because recipe developers count on the fat in conjunction with their other ingredients to create the final product consistency they intended upon.
At Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering we have many different recipes for the same thing – for instance, our fat FREE Smashed Potatoes (we throw a couple of secret ingredients in there to fool your tastebuds into thinking how rich they are) or our Cream Cheese Horseradish Smashed Potatoes which uses skim milk to keep the fat content down, but the cream cheese keeps the luscious mouth feel and taste UP. So…if you want a lower fat version of something – just ask!!