Scent and Memory – a Powerful Combination!

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange-Creme Ganash
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange-Creme Ganash

As you smell a fresh pine tree, cookies baking, bayberry or orange, do flashes of past Christmas holidays come flooding through your mind?  This very aromatic season is an easy way to describe the phenomenon of scent and memory.

The process of smelling is a thing of beauty.  Smell is a chemical sense detected by sensory cells called chemoreceptors in the nose that detect smell and pass on electrical impulses to the brain.  The brain then interprets patterns in electrical activity as specific odors and olfactory sensation becomes perception – we recognize this as smell.  The only other chemical system that can quickly identify, make sense of and memorize new molecules is the immune system (Sarah Dowdy, How Stuff Works).

Gratefully reprinted with permission from my good friend Pat Faust, Gerontologist – and her blog “My Boomer Brain”

Egg White Volume

Afraid of meringues?  Souffles?  EASY trick!  First, make sure NO yolk gets into your separation.  Second, your “whisking bowl” and your beater can have NO residue of any sort in or on it.  Third, your whites should be room temperature, not cold.  This will almost double your volume!!

The Mysterious Pomegranate

Orange Zested Creme Patisserie w. Pomegranate and Amaretti

Asian in origin, the pomegranate is considered special for 3 general reasons: 1) They are available only in fall/early winter & their elusivity gives them exclusivity! 2) Virtually all of the pomegranates sold in the United States are grown in one valley in California. 3) They are heavy in anti-oxidants and are packed full of medicinal qualities — from easing stomach aches to shrinking tumours.

Folks tend to shy away from working with pomegranates because they are not the easiest food to work with, plus, they stain just as badly as beets — so wear gloves or be particularly neat!!

Here’s an easy way to get the arils (seeds) out of the pomegranate:  Fill a medium-large bowl with cold water. Cut the crown end of the pomegranate off (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you hold one). Slice down the sides lengthwise from the missing crown — just scoring the flesh. You can then pull apart the fruit in sections and drop them into the water. Then sort of love-up on the sections with your hands gently rolling and squeezing. The arils will break away and drift to the bottom, and the white membrane will float to the top.

Sprinkle the seeds (about ½-3/4 cup per fruit) on salads, or juice them for about ½ cup of juice. You can reduce the juice to a syrup along with some balsamic vinegar for a wonderful glaze for chicken or pork. Because they’re red, they’re naturally a great fit at holiday time. Or, just drink the juice for those fabulous health benefits! Try Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ‘s Sweet Potato Pops w/Pomegranate when it’s in season — they’re YUMMY! 

A Note From Chef Lori

Our kitchen will be closed from December 22 thru January 5 in order to visit family all over the eastern seaboard! We look forward to literally serving you 🙂 in the new year!

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Stone Crab Claws – the Perfect Tailgate Food!

Stone Crabs are in season from about October through April and are a RENEWABLE resource amongst shellfish.  We only eat the claws, and the claws regenerate – so no killing of crabs; everybody wins.  You can grill them over an open fire or steam them – you can use whatever cooking mechanism comes out of your trunk!  Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering serves them with  a Tarragon Remoulade! A simpler version is simply 1/2 Dijon Mustard and 1/2 good mayonnaise.  You’ll need a small hammer, or a nutcracker works well, and a couple of picks or seafood forks for digging out the DELICIOUS, sweet meat.  Happy Tailgating!  – Lula