Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Note:  For the Winner Winner part of this Newsletter, scroll to the bottom!
May is for Memorials and Mothers and many other celebrations…and along with these things come picnics.  When I was a child there never was a picnic without fried chicken.  In fact, I can recount my life stages in fried chicken.  My first memory of fried chicken is my grandmother’s pressure cooked version with 10 or 13 or so herbs and spices before the Colonel’s existed… I associate this moist, room temperature crunchy chicken with church picnics and roller coasters…I was so little I could have easily flown out of the roller coaster car, but grandmomma would not be deterred…she kept a tight hold on me as I lifted out of the seat and her wig flew off and we had to shut the ride down so it could be retrieved from the guts of the all wooden contraption.  This was at Buckroe Beach – Virginia’s answer to Coney Island NY.  This amusement park only exists in memory now.  Thank you grandmomma for introducing me to roller coasters!  Gordon believes he may be a tad too stiff to continue these days…I’ll just have to go without him.  (pleeeeeeeease, honey?)

Then came Daddy’s fried chicken – cast iron (and sometimes aluminum – oh, no!!) frying pans, salt and pepper only – this is the skin we used to fight over when mom held hers up for raffle.  Every other chicken since has had a bar so high few have come close.

When I moved to Cincinnati for college, fried chicken was the least of my concerns and I don’t remember eating any at all until one day, my then boyfriend (a westsider) introduced me to the Cincinnati Reds.  Opening day tickets in the nosebleed section.  We were very young; this was fun!  Back in “the day” (you know, when Buckroe Beach was still open) – one could haul in just about anything to a stadium.  The family picked me up in their old jalopy and let me tell you the smell in that car was overwhelming – I became VERY hungry for the bucket (and it was a BIG bucket) of Ron’s Roost Fried Chicken that I was not allowed to touch until our noses began bleeding.  This chicken came so close to Daddy’s it almost made me cry.  Not being a westsider, this chicken was very elusive to me, but over the years I’ve managed to find an excuse or two to visit and always suggest Ron’s as a meeting place for friends, where the cooked to death green beans and the suspiciously “real” mashed potatoes create a perfect plate for me.

THEN there was the Charleston, SC visit to see my best friend Chris around 1992.  We arrived while he was still at work but he said he could meet us at the Radisson close to him – said they served a good lunch.  Good?  I figured, I’m in South Carolina – I should order fried chicken!!  So I did…and yet again another crying jag.  The plate came out so hot and crispy, I tore into a thigh (my favorite) and the juices and grease exploded in my mouth and nirvana encompassed me…the memory of this one time fried chicken lunch has never left me – I wanted to go back the next day but Chris wouldn’t allow it.  He thought I was ridiculous.

Then came Walt’s.   If you’ve never been to Walt’s Hitching Post in Ft. Wright KY, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  Their cast iron fried chicken (along with the Greyhound Tavern’s deep fried ) are the two that come closest to a perfect marriage of my grandmomma’s and my father’s fried chicken. They also make a steak that rivals any fancy steakhouse at a more reasonable price.  Oh, and The Eagle in OTR does a great job with southern fried chicken too!

If you’re just not in the mood to go out and you have a Remke’s Market near you, this is our go-to for “I’m too lazy let’s get chicken”.  Yes, Lula eats take-out chicken, but only if it’s worth it.   In fact, on my most recent visit to see daddy, I found out he had discovered a place so good he doesn’t make fried chicken at home any more.  This fried chicken comes from the gas station down the street from Columbia Sailing Club (and it tastes ALOT like daddy’s).   If you didn’t know it already, gas station fried chicken is developing a cult following in the US these days, and I haven’t tasted it yet, but I’m told there is WONDERFUL gas station fried chicken in and around Cincinnati, called Krispy Krunchy.

Yup, sitting on the clubhouse veranda, eating gas station fried chicken, strawberry-pepita and potato salads and fudge brownies with walnuts, drinking in a sun with no clouds and a perfect 70 degrees with winds at about 7 knots (notice I take on the vernacular of a sailor – when in Rome…), I sigh deeply and contentedly with family surrounding me, and reach for another piece.  Of chicken – not brownie.

If you struggle with fried chicken and need a tip or two, I can give you my recipe if you email me at Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering .

A Note From Chef Lori

Lula’s was just chosen by The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s ORV Region as 2018 Supplier of the Year!!!  We are thrilled to be recognized and honored by this wonderful organization!

Click here to visit our website!

Heidi Bright, Heidi Bright, Will You Write My Blog Tonight?

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ‘s Smoked Trout Salad Bites with Mandarin

Once again, my friend and author Heidi Bright (“Thriver Soup”) has offered such a simply written and informative piece that I am compelled to copy:

“Fresh, fragrant mandarins are precious, full of flavor, and full of power.  The magic lies in their peels—which are quite edible and   contain potent anti-cancer properties (see links below).  Also called clementines and tangerines, these citrus fruits are fresh and sitting in grocery stores now.

If you have a high-speed blender, mix two whole mandarins (peel on) with a quarter cup cranberries (at this time of year, try frozen, not the packaged sugary snacks), a little raw honey and/or stevia, a quarter cup raw/soaked-in-salt-water pecans, and coconut butter. Blend. Mmmm! Add chia seeds if desired.  Taste the fragrance, ingest the power.”

I would like to add my two cents worth:  Wash your fruit with a scrubbing sponge and some dishwashing liquid if you intend to eat the skins – even organic can be sprayed with color – which doesn’t taste as good!

Sunflowers…Yet ANOTHER Milk Alternative!

 

We’re all familiar with dairy alternatives in the form of Soy and Rice Milk, and personally, since my age is now limiting my lactose intake, I’m using Almond Milk in my coffee, but yet another milk has hit the scene…it’s called Sol, and it’s made from sunflower kernels!  Sol contains the same amount of calcium as cow milk – roughly 30% of your daily allowance.  So if you have a lactose problem, your choices have just widened.  I personally haven’t tasted it yet – let me know what you think!  Let Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering know if you have a dairy problem and we’ll certainly work around it!   We here at  www.lulasforlunch.com wish you some Yummy for your Tummy!

 

 

 

 

Say CHEEEEESE, Please!

I had the pleasure of attending a tasting last week at My Artisano Cheese and boy was I delighted.  Two cheesemakers were there, Ed-Mar Dairy as well as My Artisano, and Britt Hedges of Martin & Company Wines was there to pour lovely pairing wines.

I’m so incredibly excited that our region is getting cheesy!  You can get a private tour or visit on Saturdays at Ed-Mar located in Walton KY, where you can watch the milking robot work and enjoy the healthy free range cows.  I was especially impressed with their Banklick Cream and Maddie’s Gold varieties, and Lula’s for Lunch, and More! Catering will  be picking up some of their special Queso very soon for a Mexican themed event.   You can pick up Ed Mar Cheeses at these retail outlets.

Eduardo Rodriguez, the cheesemaker at My Artisano, is so obviously passionate about his varieties as he lovingly explains his process.  He likes to name his cheese after place – a Blue Ash Airport Runway for his MOST important tasting Grisardo – a washed rind cheese – and Sharon Creek – his brie style cheese that will knock your socks off.  Click here to see where these cheeses can be bought or enjoyed at local restaurants.

I tasted all 3 wine varieties offered with the suggested cheeses, but I kept coming back to a Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero (a region in Spain) called Tamaral Crianza 2011.  I discovered that this gem can be picked up at Country Fresh Farmer’s Market in Anderson!  Yay!  So “Let’s Get Cheezy Wid It”!!

Artie Chokes 2 for a Dollar!

Zucchini and Artichoke Frittata

…and other myths…one of my favorite finger foods, the artichoke, is in season right now, and you needn’t be afraid of it!  Think of the artichoke as your well worth it high maintenance expensive girlfriend (around $2.25 each as one roughly weighs a pound).  But hard?  No.  First, let’s talk about the benefits:

  • Artichokes ROCK when it comes to vitamins and minerals: they have one of the highest total antioxidant levels of any vegetable, as well as folate, magnesium and potassium, and vitamins K & C.
  • Evidence from research shows that artichokes decease cholesterol,  increase probiotic bacteria in the gut,  and help maintain a healthy liver.
  • Artichokes are packed with fiber at more than 10.3 grams per artichoke (the edible part!).
  • You have to eat an artichoke SLOOOOWWWLY.  Need I tell you the health benefits?

Now, let’s talk facts:

  • The artichoke is part of the thistle family – it is simply the bud before it flowers.  See? (this one has flowered obviously)

  • A baby artichoke is not another type of artichoke, it’s just a smaller less mature choke on the same plant down at the bottom.  It is fully edible as it hasn’t developed a choke yet (the only part of the artichoke you can’t eat).
  • The sunchoke has nothing to do with the artichoke; it is part of the sunflower family.

You can find all kinds of recipes that, step by step, will intimidate the crap out of you from acidulation to scissoring the thorns – ignore them.  Do this:  choose artichokes that are green – not purple or bluish – those are overripe.  Take them home, slice them in half lengthwise and steam them for 20 minutes.  Heat your grill while this is happening, and transfer the steamed artichokes to the grill flat side down, for about 15 minutes, then turn over (if there aren’t any grill marks yet your grill isn’t hot enough so keep on grilling on the flat side).  If there ARE grill marks it’s time to lay them awkwardly on the grill on the opposite side for 3-4 minutes till the leaves are charred.  Plate them (1/2 artichoke per person) and either brush them with melted butter, sprinkled with a tiny bit of sea salt (the good kind that have large crystals) on them, maybe some cracked pepper if you’d like.  If you want to be fancier whip up some remoulade for dipping.  Truly, you don’t really need anything.  Just pluck each individual leaf off, put it in your mouth upside down and scrape the flesh from the leaf using your bottom teeth.  Don’t eat the fuzzy choke in between the leaves and the heart though – it’s yucky.  The heart will be your final reward.  The smokey, creamy taste and texture will make you close your eyes and sigh with pleasure.   Now, if you want to pay me to make the frittata you see at the top of the page just let me know!  There are MANY ways that Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering  incorporates artichokes into our menus, including one of our 6, to date, GREEN soups!!!

Happy Spring of Snow!

Merry Christmas!

Happy Spring Everybody!  As I write this I am witnessing a literal white out from my desk window.  Our neck of the woods received 6 inches of snow this week of the beginning of spring.  I know this because I measured it on my back deck.  This did not deter me, however, from INSISTING on a few spring preparations:  Tarragon Shrimp Salad, Grand Marnier Marinated Strawberries with Clotted Elderflower Cream, Roasted Artichoke Dip with Spinach and Shrimp, Cream of Asparagus or Leek Soup…the list goes on and on.  There are so many foodstuffs budding and brimming forth – beautiful free range spring lamb, and fresh rabbit can still be had, as well as Oysters (Rockalula!) and Mussels.  Rhubarb and Apricots are beckoning me (be on the lookout for our Raspberry Rhubarb and Apricot Sage Preserves finding their way into our recipes!)   I think “creativity” is the descriptor that keeps coming up in reviews that have earned us “Caterer of the Year” for 4 consecutive years with Angie’s List (see more bragging below in the second section!)

With the changing of each season I get so excited about the possibilities of the new bounty.  We have Easter and graduating mouths to feed, as well as new moms and parents to be, blushing brides and gallant grooms…the list goes on and on.  As you know we book out pretty thoroughly this season so if you have an event in mind its best to contact Lula’s sooner rather than later!   In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this picture of our Strawberry-Pistachio Trifle.  Drooling allowed.

A Note From Chef Lori

…and the hits just keep on comin’…we’ve won again (see proof below!), and it’s  because we love what we do and we love YOU.  Here are some descriptors YOU gave us this year:  “stunning”, “unique” “unmatched”, “inventive”, “attention to detail”, “beautiful presentation”, and, of course, “DELICIOUS”!!!

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About Chef Lori

Chef Lori Pierce, owner of Lula’s, creates unique, boutique cuisine to impress your guests and clients in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area.  Our custom recipes and menus delight an intimate gathering of 10, a celebration for 100, and anything in between.

At Lula’s, Love is ALWAYS our first ingredient!

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The Carapace Conundrum (Crustacean or Mollusk?)

If you’re like me, you LOVE shellfish.  But they’re not all the same…a fun icky fact for you:  CRUSTACEANS have shells that are grown from a carbohydrate that they manufacture themselves called chitin, just like insects (way back when they were related… )   We’re talking shrimp, prawns, lobster, crab here.
Risotto
MOLLUSKS grow their shells from materials they eat -mostly calcium carbonate – that is found in marble and limestone (not to mention egggshells!).   Mollusks grow their shells once or twice a year when they need to (the house gets kinda cramped when they grow) during the warm months.  You can see their growing cycle on their shells – the rings.  So you can tell how old your clam  (or mussel, or oyster, or scallop) is by counting the rings and multiplying by 1.5. There are scores of fun shellfish and mollusk options on our menu at www.lulasforlunch.com.   Here’s to the party in your mouth!

Food Is Political, Whether We Like It Or Not!!!

Here we are, in the depths of winter. We’ve endured seemingly endless days of gray. We’ve seesawed between cold snaps and unseasonable warm spells–bearing witness to a changing climate. We’ve felt helpless in the face of senseless acts of violence, outraged by the racism that has reared its ugly head, and frustrated with pervasive political impotence. But there are rays of hope–young people speaking out against gun violence, #metoo moments and #blacklivesmatter, to name a few. And there are reasons not to fill with despair, namely, that it ruins our appetite for change.  At the beginning of WWII, Camus wrote “The Almond Trees,” named for trees that would blossom suddenly one February night. He writes:

The task is endless, it’s true.​ But we are here to pursue it. I do not have enough faith in reason to subscribe to a belief in progress, or to any philosophy of history. I do believe at least that a man’s awareness of his destiny has never ceased to advance. We have not overcome our condition, and yet we know it better. We know that we live in contradiction, but we also know that we must refuse this contradiction and do what is needed to reduce it. Our task as men is to find the few principles that will calm the infinite anguish of free souls. We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more to peoples poisoned by the misery of the century. Naturally, it is a superhuman task. But superhuman is the term for tasks men take a long time to accomplish, that’s all. Let us know our aims then, holding fast to the mind, even if force puts on a thoughtful or a comfortable face in order to seduce us. The first thing is not to despair. Let us not listen too much to those who proclaim that the world is at an end. Civilizations do not die so easily, and even if our world were to collapse, it would not have been the first. It is indeed true that we live in tragic times. But too many people confuse tragedy with despair. “Tragedy,” Lawrence said, “ought to be a great kick at misery.” This is a healthy and immediately applicable thought. There are many things today deserving such a kick.

I know. You’re probably thinking this is a little heavy for a frivolous food blog. And, of course, it’s true. But it’s also true that food is political, whether we like it or not. How it’s grown and processed, by whom and under what conditions, who has access to what, and who goes hungry. It’s said that food is the one thing that unites us all. It has the ability to bridge barriers, nurture community, and, in the words of cook and author Julia Turshen, to “feed the resistance.” I don’t have any answers here, I can’t promise any magical food cures. Instead, I have for you a simple recipe that I hope will brighten your day with a burst of citrus in the midst of winter and offer a small reminder that life can be sweet and shared with love.

Gratefully reprinted from Green Gourmette.

Crystallized Honey

Does this ever happen to your honey?  Grainy, clumpy, not pretty…but there’s an easy fix or two…my favorite and seems to yield the best results:  NEVER let anything touch your honey.  Pour it into/onto a spoon or measuring device.  Crystallization is mostly caused by moisture, and next, bacteria (not necessarily bad stuff that will hurt you).  If you keep your honey moisture free you probably won’t have crystallization.  If you do, however, just put the whole jar in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.  That’ll do the trick.  You can use the microwave, on-and-“off”ing every few seconds and stirring, but that’s way more trouble!  Now, go enjoy a good cup of hot tea with some honey. – Lula

Happy VD!  Would You Rather Have Chocolate or Gold?!?

Growing up, Valentine’s Day was not just for lovers — it was for me from mom.  Previous recitations would suggest that mother’s interest in Valentine’s Day culinary delights might be minimal, if existent at all. True, this.  I do not remember a Valentine’s Day meal ever being prepared, either for my father or for the family.  Siblings may correct if their memories differ. Mom always acknowledged the day with a Russell Stover Heart or Whitman’s Sampler Heart, or whatever, 6-8-10 candies and a card, but I guess she noted my indifference to sweets at some point and one Valentine’s Day in either my 10th or 11th year, instead, I woke up to a small jewel box containing a gold, filigreed heart pin. How could she know it would take my breath away, or did she just get lucky? I continue to be a sucker for quality bling.

I wore that small gold heart frequently, mostly on my sleeve (for real!) for years, and when I went to college it mysteriously disappeared along with a fantastically exquisite green silk blouse. I say mysteriously because I never caught Amy (Yeah, I’m naming names — girlfriend NOT!), the suitemate who everyone knew wasn’t quite on the up and up, mostly because she (ineffectively) tried to steal boyfriends, and was found slinking amongst dorm rooms…

A piece of my heart went with mom, and her gold heart is gone, but that’s ok, because the heart is a muscle and it can repair and strengthen, and has the amazing capacity to grow as long as your mind and your arms are open wide.

A Note From Chef Lori

Hearts aren’t just for Valentine’s Day – you can order Lula’s “Heart’s Afire” anytime – 5-Spice Quail Breast in Puff Pastry with Wilted Mustard Greens, Pomegranate and our Secret Spicy Sauce!

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In Lula's Kitchen, Love is ALWAYS our First Ingredient!