Tag Archives: Lula’s for Lunch

A Nashville Birthday Part 2

Day two of my birthday celebration begins with coffee in bed courtesy of my most wonderful husband Gordon, while Susan and Michael, recently retired, got up at 6AM and waited.  Don’t blame me – they had the schedule beforehand and could have done any number of things.  We scedattled (first time I’ve written this word instead of just speaking it – I don’t believe it really exists)  (wait!  There’s google!  Yes it DOES exist!)  Did anyone see the Google monopoly expose on 60 Minutes last week?  But I digress…  🙂 OK, let’s try this again…

We scedattled off to The Loveless Café, our longest drive the WHOLE trip – of 30 minutes, to this most wonderful old-timey motel that had been turned into a smokehouse, a gift shop, and a restaurant.  Their numerous awards do not lie.  Everybody gets a picture underneath their 1950’s neon sign, lit up day and night.  We chose the cutouts (above).  Everyone was so thrilled with their food – G had catfish for breakfast which we agreed was the best catfish we’ve ever had…I even liked their tartar sauce which was NOT Frisch’s 🙂  … or mine… and I had possibly the best grits I’ve ever had (and my brother agreed).  This is a tough one because I make the best grits I’ve ever had, and many others say the same thing about MINE.  These were plain, not like mine, but their texture was heavenly.  I’ve never had someone else’s grits that did not need butter.  The Loveless is famous for their biscuits, and here I have to depart from the common folk.  Sue me, whip me, call me bad names, but Bojangles “chain” biscuits have them (and everybody else) beat in my book when it comes to biscuits.  Their country ham was to die for.  They age it on premise.  Susan had a pimiento cheese and country ham biscuit which she loved – I tasted it and did not think the pimiento cheese came close to Wallace Station – but that really is a matter of taste.  It’s the “experience” here…do not miss.  Oh!  And the best sweet tea I ever drank!  (Sorry daddy).

After unabashedly sticking our butts out, crouching down into the cutout, and begging some stranger to take our pic, we headed off to Belle Meade – a horse breeding plantation, where to this day most Triple Crown winners owe their bloodline to Bonnie Scotland.  I’ve never sought out plantations north or west of Virginia, but this is one not to be missed.  It contains a Dairy, Train Station, Mill and Blacksmith Shop, Greenhouse, Slave Quarters, and the Horse Sale Barn as well as the “big house” – and the requisite gift shop and ice cream parlor.

They very interestingly had the front parlor set up to show how a wake would be celebrated – to denote all of the premature deaths occurring at that time (cholera, measles, TB, etc) that are completely preventable today.  It is an open wicker bench to lay the body on, with space underneath for a block of ice to hold decay at bay while getting people to the event.  The body is held there for numerous days to insure the person is in fact really dead.  Sometimes they’re just really ill and climb out of it (literally) – this is why it’s called a WAKE!!!  Best piece of information I got all day!!!  Just the sort of gruesomeness that turns me on.

Last but not least, Belle Meade has a winery…we tasted 6 wines and I asked for more so got tastes of two sparklings as well (my favorite, as well as the Vidal Blanc which seems to grow very well in this region and the hands that make the wine are QUITE comfortable with the grape.

This wasn’t enough for us so we headed home to clean up and change for an early dinner at 5th and Taylor – our most hoity toity dinner of the trip.  Really cool digs “warehouse style”, a GREAT glass of Pinot Noir, great service and wonderful food made me pleased with this reservation.  I had two appetizers: Duck Pate and accoutrement, as well as a Tomato Pie.  I didn’t know it would be the size of an individual pan pizza (think Uno’s) – so I had one piece and brought the rest “home” (another great reason to Air B&B!)  Susan had THE BEST Roasted Chicken I’ve ever had EXCEPT Gordon’s.  My brother had a burger that was so damned big he liked his other burger the next night better because it was more “well proportioned”!!

THEN…we Lyfted to The Ryman Auditorium for Larry Gatlin and Friends…who turned out to be Crystal Gayle that night.  She hasn’t lost it.  I’m not very happy with Larry – he did not respond to my request to play “I’ve Done Enough Dyin’” – a song I’ve been in love with since I was 11 years old when it came out.  I highly recommend you U Tube or whatever this song from his early years.  It makes me cry every time I hear it.  The Ryman is a bucket list item I have now crossed off.  Amazing space.  Hallowed ground.  They search everything and both my brother and husband had knives on them – they were REQUIRED to throw them AWAY.  My brother had the presence of mind to hide his on top of a column, Gordon showed his badge and asked that they keep it for him, they said NO.  Not a happy man.  They were a security company vs. Nashville Police so the badge may have done more harm than good??   Regardless…NOT a happy man.  We then made it home, and COLLAPSED.  This might be my favorite day of my birthday trip.

A Nashville Birthday in 5 Parts!

57 is starting out pretty darned well.  An on-time departure on Wednesday 19h put us in Versailles KY after an incredibly lovely “horse farm detour”, for a taste of a restaurant I have been looking forward to for a couple of years.  This might be my favorite day of my “birthday trip” to Nashville – I guess the anticipation of what was to come and our first meal out of the door being fantastic contributed.  Wallace Station did NOT disappoint – GO THERE if you can!  In fact, it’s really not far and worth a drive in the country as its own destination.

Located in an old general store in an old railroad town, Wallace Station served me one of the best sandwiches I have ever had – Hot Country Ham and Pimento Cheese, panini pressed.  I’m pretty finicky about both my ham AND my pimento cheese, so high praise indeed.  My side was Bean Soup with Cornbread.  Of course I make the best cornbread in the world, but this was a close second.   Gordon got a cold sandwich and I’ve gotta tell you I was so into mine that I have no idea what he got, but he loved it.  Next time, if I can resist a re-order, I’ll get the Inside Out Hot Brown.  Don’t expect fancy; and relax about the flies.  Don’t miss their bakery case either – we were too full but had to order a lemon bar (about 5×5”) and a savory scone to go because why not?   These were enjoyed in our fabulous “home” in Nashville’s Germantown a couple of days later, because when we met my brother and his wife lo and behold she had made me a fabulous birthday cake – Butter Pecan Coconut!!  SOooooo moist!  So, lunch at 11, cake at 4, and Skull’s Rainbow Room at 6:30 for some more fabu dinner (swordfish) and jazz.   We’re too freakin’ old to be able to wait or the 11PM Burlesque Show; maybe next time I’ll force some caffeine…. And so the pounds begin.  Tune in next week for day 2.

You Want To Get To The ROOT Of The Matter, Don’t You?

Celery Root, that is!!  Also called Celeriac, this is a variety of celery that is cultivated for its root, not its stalks.  It is NOT the root of the traditional celery stalks you keep in your fridge (you have some on hand at all times for flavoring soups and stews, as well as snacking, right?!?)

Celeriac (pictured above in Lula’s for Lunch…and More! ‘s Creamy Pear and Celeriac Soup) has a knobby, dirty, formidable looking root that you will want to peel.  Because it’s starchy, in general you want to pick the smaller of the roots available to you.  The end product will be sweeter.  The more you cook it the sweeter it becomes.  It makes a great, “different” puree when you’re looking for a base for proteins (think parsnip instead of potatoes), and it provides one of those mysterious “what’s IN this?” flavors to sauces, soups and stews.  Now GET IN THAT KITCHEN and try something different!

The Secret to Great Pancakes

We all love pancakes, right?  My favorite are extra fluffy melt in your mouth on the inside and crispy (slightly overdone!) on the outside…Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering’s pancakes are called “Crepey Cakes” because they’re so light and dreamy like a crepe, but with more “heft” – we use whole grains in our batter.

It doesn’t matter whether you like whole grains, make your own, or they come from a box – a couple of tips to always insure your pancakes aren’t doughy and leaden:  1) Pour your liquids in first and mix them up.  2) whatever liquid your recipe calls for, add 1/4 more liquid (milk or water) – so, if you’re making pancakes for 4, and your recipe calls for 1 cup milk, ad 1 1/4 cups milk.  3) Scatter your dry ingredients over the liquid and using a fork or a whisk, not a spoon, lightly fold stuff toge ther til incorporated but some lumps remain.  Pancake batter is in effect a “dough” and you don’t want to activate the gluten too much or they’ll become tough.  4) and probably most importantly, let your batter REST for 10-15 minutes before you dribble it into the pan.  Don’t stir your batter to get it into the pan.    We’re (me and all the people in my head) happy to answer any questions you may have about your batter – email them under “Ask/About Lula’ on the website www.lulasforlunch.com  Have a satisfying breakfast!  Or brunch, lunch, dinner…I LOVE pancakes for dinner!!

Happy National (see below) Day!

Happy National Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day!  I am SO not kidding.  Reference: The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Obviously, this originated with the embarrassment of zucchini riches that August brings…thought you might enjoy this tidbit!    Fun fact:  the largest zucchini on record is 8 feet, 3 inches long!  How does Lula’s Catering use Zucchini?  Well…some of you are familiar with our Zucchini Cilantro Soup, but you REALLY should try our Ancient Grain Zucchini Pancakes!!

MSG – Hell Hath no Fury

app Boudin Stuffed Shrooms

Monosodium Glutamate got lots of attention starting in the 60’s, when “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” was researched and MSG was named the culprit.  Some, but not all people don’t react well to MSG, even though it is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies (with the largest concentration of it in our nervous system).  MSG is the sodium salt of Glutamic Acid, and it naturally occurs in mushrooms, seaweed, and wheat gluten, as well.

Most manufacturers and restaurants are msg (added) “free” these days…but it is NOT reason for a hissy fit if you feel like your sinuses are swelling or you start sneezing and you find out that something you ate contained a little bit of MSG, or had naturally occurring MSG in it.  In fact, salt and sugar are WAY more dangerous for you than MSG.  Chances are, you’ve been consuming naturally occurring msg your whole life and have never felt a thing!  Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering does not add MSG to anything we make, but we do love our mushrooms, our seaweed, and our bread. 🙂 Please enjoy this pic of our Boudin Stuffed Mushrooms above!

Do You Have ANY Willpower?!?

In my house there’s very little danger of chips of any kind going stale…but just in case you have more willpower than I do, did you know…storing potato chips in the refrigerator keeps them fresher longer?!?!?!

There are 2 reasons for this:

  1. Refrigerators are a low moisture environment so there’s simply less moisture for the chips to absorb than pantry air.
  2. Potato chips are high in starch content and when starch molecules cool they crystalize to become firm.

If you like handy-dandy tips  like these about once a week from Lula’s Catering  you can subscribe here and we’ll just keep you brimming with food knowledge!!!

Mulberries are Here!

Please enjoy another post about deliciousness and nutrition from my friend Heidi Bright :

Here we go ’round the mulberry bush, The mulberry bush, The mulberry bush. Here we go ’round the mulberry bush so early in the morning.

-English nursery rhyme

I grew up hearing this song and assumed mulberries grew on bushes, like raspberries and blueberries.

Nope. They grow on trees. My sister and I discovered this two summers ago on Long Island, where we saw a man picking what looked like long raspberries off a tree. A tree? What was he eating?  Mulberries.

Oh, we crammed our mouths with their luscious juiciness until we couldn’t reach any more. So sweet, so ripe, and no exterior seeds.

This past week my friend Laura and I took a walk and she identified a mulberry tree. I didn’t know they grew in the Cincinnati area. We filled a bag with what we could reach.

When we met again, she arrived holding a bag filled with fresh, ripe mulberries she had picked. What a treat! And then we found more. I’m in mulberry heaven.

Fortunately, mulberries have great nutritional value. According to https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/mulberries.html, they can improve digestion, reduce cholesterol, aid in weight loss, increase circulation, build bone tissues, boost the immune system, prevent certain cancers, slow down the aging process, decrease blood pressure, protect eyes, and improve metabolism.

That’s a pretty nice list of benefits. Makes me want to go ‘round a mulberry tree and pick more. Just need a ladder to catch those ones up high…

Thriver Soup Ingredient: To find mulberries, check your local farmers’ markets or look for dried varieties in stores. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/mulberries.html includes nutrition facts. Research on “Composition of anthocyanins in mulberry and their antioxidant activity” Look up effects of mulberry extracts before considering using them.

The Sodom of Sodium (get it?!?)

I don’t know about you, but my body retains more sodium (and everything else) in summer rather than the cooler months when our metabolisms run at a faster rate.  Your body NEEDS sodium – you cannot live without it.  BUT you really shouldn’t consume more than 1500 milligrams per day or it can turn into a BAD thing.  Sodium can go by a number of names, including salt, sodium benzoate, disodium or monosodium glutamate. .  Read labels and be aware!  To help you, here are some foods high in sodium, and below THAT are some alternatives.

  • Foods that are pickled (unless they come from Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ) !! like the Tarragon Sherry pickles in the pic above
  • Foods that are smoked  (unless they come from Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ) !!  like the Smoked Trout in the pic above
  • Condiments, such as soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, cocktail sauce and ketchup
  • Prepared salad dressing (Lula’s are homemade so no worries!)
  • Foods served in a broth or with au jus
  • Some cereals
  • Meat, poultry or seafood that has been enhanced with a sodium solution (virtually ALL pre-cut, prepackaged protein)
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Processed cheeses, such as American
  • Spice mixes that have salt in them

Citrus is one of my favorite ways to enhance flavor.  Also, don’t forget that many prepared foods now come in low and no sodium varieties – always buy these, and add the extra tidbit of salt you may desire, OR,  here are some more ways to use spices and herbs in place of sodium:

  • Basil: Fish, lamb, lean ground meats, stews, salads, soups, sauces, fish cocktails
  • Chives: Salads, sauces, soups, lean meat dishes, vegetables
  • Cinnamon: Fruits (especially apples), breads, pie crusts
  • Curry powder: Lean meats (especially lamb), veal, chicken, fish, tomatoes, tomato soup, mayonnaise
  • Dill: Fish sauces, soups, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, cucumbers, potatoes, salads, macaroni, lean beef, lamb, chicken, fish
  • Garlic (not garlic salt): Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes
  • Ginger: Chicken, fruits
  • Mustard (dry): Lean ground meats, lean meats, chicken, fish, salads, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mayonnaise, sauces
  • Nutmeg: Fruits, pie crust, lemonade, potatoes, chicken, fish, lean meat loaf, toast, veal, pudding, ANYTHING with cream in it – savory OR sweet
  • Onion powder (not onion salt): Lean meats, stews, vegetables, salads, soups
  • Paprika: Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, sauces, vegetables
  • Parsley: Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, sauces, vegetables
  • Peppermint extract: Puddings, fruits
  • Rosemary: Chicken, veal, lean meat loaf, lean beef, lean pork, sauces, stuffings, potatoes, peas, lima beans
  • Sage: Lean meats, stews, biscuits, tomatoes, green beans, fish, lima beans, onions, lean pork
  • Thyme: Lean meats (especially veal and lean pork), sauces, soups, onions, peas, tomatoes, salads
  • Turmeric: Lean meats, fish, sauces, rice

AND…the #1 way to reduce sodium in your diet – DON’T PUT SALT ON THE DINNER TABLE!  I’ve gotta tell ya’ – NOTHING is more insulting to a cook than salting something before you’ve tasted it!

Here’s to your health, and your joy! -Lula