A Beer Primer

Beer

I’m not a beer drinker.  There, I said it.  There are some beers that taste good to me, but in general, I don’t like the carbonation (I don’t drink pop either) and what it does to my ‘constitution”.  That being said, Cincinnati s a great beer town, and is becoming more  so every day with our new micro-breweries and pubs.  So, I thought, perhaps there are others out there who might like to know what they’re drinking, or talking about, when celebrating our city’s great tradition.  Here you go:

Beer (ALL beer – lager, ale, stout, bock, pilsener, porter, etc) is made from the same ingredients:  water, barley malt, hops, and yeast.  What makes a different taste, style, or type of beer is the addition of other ingredients, different types of yeast, and fermentation temperature.  Age also changes the flavor of beer.  So let’s touch on the 5 major “types” of beer and try and make sense of it:

ALE:    Ales are not aged, and are made with a yeast that floats to the top of the vat during fermentation.  They contain a little more alcohol than lagers.  They often have a hint of fruit in their flavor or aftertaste.  A type of ale is STOUT.  Darker and stronger than regular ale, a stout is brewed with toasted malt.

LAGER:  The yeast in lagers sinks to the bottom of the vat and is fermented slowly and at cool temperatures, and take one to six weeks to age.  Types of lager are:

PILSENER:  About a third fewer calories and about 20% less alcohol than regular lager.  Pale and golden, they are your “light” beers.

PORTER:  The stronger flavor of this lager comes from toasting the malt before brewing.  It is a  bit higher in alcohol content as well.

BOCK:  A dark German style of lager, bocks are traditionally spring beers, but these days they are brewed year round.  They are rich, and thicker (in Germany they are made by freezing the beer and taking off the top layer of ice to thicken it).  Bocks are brewed with roasted malts.

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses beer in some of our recipes.  Try our Ballpark Casserole – our Brats and Metts are poached in beer before grilling.  Or, this fall, order our Cheddar-Ale Fondue, served with our Brats and Metts as well as our homemade German Salt Rye!  You can always order our Beer Marinated Pork Tenderloin Sandwich from our Deli!  Cheers!

Tomato, ToMAHto

We all love the juicy sweet red ripe tomato straight from the garden, right?  Well, did you know there are juicy sweet GREEN tomatoes as well as many other colors?  Heirloom tomatoes are in vogue, and lucky us – we get to eat them!    Below is an indicator (in general) of tomato colors and their flavor profiles.

In general, the RED and PURPLE colored variety of tomatoes are fuller flavored with more acidity and, some would say, a slightly “salty” taste.  Better Boys and Beefsteaks are in this color group – we all know them.  BUT>..when you’re at the farmer’s market, ask about the Cherokee Purple or Marmara – and see if one of your local farmers can supply you with some – or other alternatives of like taste.

YELLOW and ORANGE tomatoes are lovely, and a bit less acidic.  Sometimes they’re described as sweet.  Ask for Orange Strawberry or Pineapple!  A Balsamic reduction is perfect and beautiful on these tomatoes – sharp and tangy with the sweetness of the tomatoes bursts in your mouth.

GREEN tomatoes are not always “unripe”!!!  There are green varieties, such as the Green Zebra (one of my favorites) that are very complex – sharp, sweet, tangy, salty…and stunning on a plate!

Did you know there are even PINK and WHITE tomatoes?  Translucent, very thin skin make these varieties delicate and sweet without bitterness.  Harder to find – it’s still worth asking for a “Great White” or a “Rose de Berne” … your palate with thank you!!

Eat the BLUE in that BERRY!

Lemon Shortbread with Blueberry-Floris Compote

OK, let’s get all sciency about blueberries.  Because it’s important.  Blueberries may just be the #1 Super Food…and we all need to take advantage of THAT!    Here are a couple of reasons why:

  1. Our bodies are incapable of producing several essential antioxidants, and you get a dose of all three of these when you eat a handful of blueberries:  Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and the mineral Manganese.
  2. Blueberries slow aging, fight disease, and provide the same bacteria blocking action that cranberries do to help prevent urinary tract infections.
  3. Compounds in blueberries help prevent all kinds of dementia.

Blueberries are available year round in the supermarket – no, they’re not as fabulous as going out and picking them yourself in July, but you have NO EXCUSE to not eat them year round and HELP YOU BE A BETTER YOU!

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering utilizes blueberries in salads, barbeque sauces, and of course, desserts, to give you a few ideas…while you’re conjuring up your own please salivate to the picture of our Lemon Shortbread with Blueberry Floris Compote above!

BITTER Sweet … Don’t Let Them Fool You!

Apparently I’m kind of obsessed with sugar, which is odd since I’m not a real sweets fan.  I looked over past blogs to see if I’d  given this information before and I haven’t, so I think you’ll appreciate all of the names on labels that really mean sugar.  Here’s why it’s important:  SUGAR IS PHYSICALLY ADDICTIVE.  Just like a narcotic.  It affects dopamine receptors and causes the brain to behave as if it’s reacting to a narcotic pleasure loop.  And sadly, almost anything “white” has hidden sugar in it.  Here are most of the names you will find on the back (or FRONT!) of a food label that mean SUGAR:

*Fructose
*Sucrose
*Agave
*Dextrose
*Lactose
*Galactose
*High-fructose corn syrup(we all knew that didn't we?)*Xylitol
*Sorghum
*Stevia
*Treacle
*Sucanat
*Panela
*Evaporated Cane Juice
*Dextran
*Anhydrous Dextrose

 

You’re a PEACH!

Biting into a fresh, sweet, juicy peach is one of summer’s greatest pleasures.  But did you know that peaches are also a superstar in the nutrition department?

They’re low in calories, contain only a negligible amount of fat and are loaded with vitamins and minerals.  Also, despite peaches’ sweet flavor, they’re relatively low in sugar compared to many other fruits, and their robust fiber content helps minimize any quick spikes in blood sugar.

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering loves utilizing the peach in the summer – we love to pair it with lavender, and almond, as well as make salsa and chutney, and let’s not forget CHAMPAGNE!!  You’re looking at our Peach-Lavender Parfait and our Homemade Olive Oil Crostini topped with Brie and our Peach-Vidalia Relish.

Disclaimer:  The first two paragraphs are stolen DIRECTLY from the Sam’s Club Newsletter this month!!

An Easy Grilling Tip

OK – so we all know raw chicken is yucky, right?  Instead of using 2 sets of tongs and platters to “separate” the salmonella from the fabulousness (Lula’s for Lunch…and More! ‘s fabulous Tico Chicken pictured above) , try wrapping aluminum foil around your tong ends and layering your platter with foil, do your marinating and transferring to the grill…then when the chicken exterior is getting done, whip off the foil on both apparati (great word, right?!? – I made it up!) and continue using them to transfer your cooked chicken to your clean platter!  Lula is now bowing for the applause…

Have YOUR Tastebuds Changed?

Seriously – I’d like some information here.  I didn’t even like to EAT (except bread and butter and canned peaches if my granddaddy hand fed me) until I was 9 years old.    I used to hide what I didn’t like in my toybox or under the living room sofa until the smell elicited the hairbrush on my fanny.  Once that growth spurt hit though, I could barely be satisfied though there were a handful of things I did not like, and continue to not care for to this day…okra, oatmeal, cream of wheat, oysters, and something else I can’t think of at the moment.  I also have never cared for mayonnaise or avocado, UNTIL a few years ago when my tastebuds changed and now I adore both.  Weird how that happens, huh? Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering even has a homemade Avocado Mayonnaise that I make for sandwiches and garnish!!  What did YOU not like that you like now?   Can you explain why?   Let me know RIGHT HERE!

The Almond as Dessert

 

Recently, a friend called me in despair because she couldn’t get her cookie recipe right.  I asked about her ingredient list and she told me she had used Marzipan as the recipe had called for Almond Paste.  Mystery solved!  Though they are both made from almonds, they are DEFINITELY not interchangeable. 

 

Almond Paste is made (check the label) from almonds (first on the label if it’s a decent almond paste) and some sugar or sugar product  and cooked till creamy then canned.  Marzipan is value added almond paste – the added value being more sugar.  It’s stiffer, and much sweeter, and used more to decorate and make candy rather than in baked goods.  So there you have it – if you love almonds (and dessert), try some recipes with either of these two ingredients!  Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering wishes for you a VERY satisfied sweet tooth!

 

 

Sugarplums are REAL!

My friend Heidi Bright, Author of “Thriver Soup”, an incredible manual for those taking the cancer journey and their loved ones, offered this blog last week, and I just had to take advantage of her information!

“The children were nestled all snug in their beds, / While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.”

The children in this poem dreamed of sugarplums. What are sugarplums? I was amazed to learn in May that they were growing in my front yard.

In June 2016, I watched each morning as a robin picked all the little fruit from my serviceberry tree. During this past May, I read about these edible, nutritious delicacies. They have many names, including June, Saskatoon, prairie, shadbush, and pigeon berries, along with wild plum and chuckley pear.  And sugarplum.

This summer birds squawked nearby each morning as I picked the berries while red, because the fruit would not last long enough on the shrub to turn a darker shade.

They are shaped like small blueberries yet are more related to the apple family. Their mildly sweet, almondish flavor contribute plenty of fiber, protein, antioxidants, and nutrients to my breakfast.

They go great with diluted coconut butter, chia seeds, and soaked/dehydrated raw pecans. Maybe this coming Christmas, long after these berries are consumed, I’ll be dreaming of sugarplums dancing in my breakfast bowl.

Thriver Soup Ingredient

More than 50,000 plant species and possibly more than 80,000 on our planet are edible. Only about 3,000 of these species are regularly used as food. 103 species make up 90 percent of our plant food supply.  That’s paltry.

By expanding the types of foods we eat, we can expand the nutrients available to us. Perhaps check out Whole Foods, Jungle Jims, and some farmer’s markets this summer to discover some new tastes and textures.

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day

As I write this newsletter, my daddy is sitting in a hospital waiting to go home.  He’s been there several days after a collapse at home and a diagnoses of pneumonia.  This is his second hospitalization for pneumonia this year and naturally, everyone in the family is concerned.  Daddy has an amazing spirit, though, and I’d like to share some of the things that keep him going:

Daddy is very slow to anger, but when he blows, find the nearest cast iron bathtub to crouch down in.  For daddy, explosion is sometimes the best medicine.

Daddy would rather be on the water (ON, not IN) than ANYwhere else in the world.  Preferably in silence.

Daddy is a man of few words (hence the silence above).

At 83, Daddy still races in regattas, and still wins.

Clint Eastwood looks a great deal like my daddy.

Daddy has a very dry sense of humour, and he’s so slick you don’t even know that sometimes it’s directed AT you.

Daddy has a hard time saying no to the people he loves.  This makes them love him more.

Daddy is a well respected Harley “dude”, at 82 graduating from a Heritage Softail to a Freewheeler Trike.

Once daddy makes a promise, you can count on it.  You can really count on my dad.

Daddy hobnobs with some extremely hi-falutin’ people.  You’d never know it.  Daddy’s never thrown a name around (Jimmy Buffet for one) or tried to impress anyone with his connections (Russian Olympic Sailing Team, America’s Cup winners, Silicon Valley billionaires).  As you can see I am not above throwing names around on behalf of my daddy.

Daddy doesn’t get to indulge in his favorite foodstuffs very often anymore because of his health problems, so in honor of him this Father’s Day, Lula’s is offering some of the things he loves.  Click here to see Lula’s for Lunch…and More! father’s day menu.  I love you daddy, and I miss you!

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