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”!!
…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!!!
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.
Celery does more than serve as a swizzle stick for your glass of tomato juice. The stalks are packed with a plant compound called luteolin, which calms a type of immune cell in the brain and spinal cord that works to keep the brain in good working order. Luteolin is linked to lower rates of age-related memory loss, according to a study reported in the Journal of Nutrition. Because the study was carried out in mice, more research needs to be done to see if the results can be replicated in humans.
Celery also takes more calories to chew and swallow than it contains – which makes it a GREAT diet food. Unless, if you’re like Lula, you drown it in bleu cheese. 🙂 Celery is a chief component in flavor bases used in several world cuisines – the Latin community calls it Sofrito, the French call it Mire Poix, and southerners call it the Holy Trinity! Believe it or not it is an ingredient in Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ‘s beauty before you : our Creole Shrimp ‘n Grits!
Pumpkin seeds are one smart snack. They’re rich in zinc, a mineral vital for memory and thinking skills. They’re also packed with magnesium, a mineral that fights inflammation and contributes to the creation of new brain cells.
In addition, pumpkin seeds contain a hefty amount of tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts to the good-mood chemical serotonin. As if that’s not enough, pumpkin seeds contain a wide variety of antioxidants that may slow brain aging. At Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering , we toast our pumpkin seeds and use them in many salads as well as garnish entrees for a satisfying crunch! This picture is of our Citrus Avocado Salad. Now, drool!
Raisins are among the top food sources of boron, a brain-boosting mineral. “Among its other benefits, boron improves mental alertness, short-term memory and focus, and even affects eye-hand coordination and dexterity,” says Forrest Nielsen, retired research nutritionist at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota. You probably won’t learn to juggle four balls at once just by eating a handful of raisins, but this fruit (and a lot of practice) will set you on the right path. If you like raisins, Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering can put them in any dish you want!!
Other foods rich in boron: chickpeas, almonds, walnuts, avocados.
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”
Folks I stumbled upon another brilliant way to get rid of stuffing (IF you have any leftover!!!) I always have it left over because it’s probably my favorite part of the meal besides gravy, and I make double the amount of stuffing to the amount of anything else I make!!
Fry up some breakfast sausage while you’re nuking your stuffing. If you would prefer, Italian sausage works beautifully as well. Sometimes Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering puts Italian sausage in our stuffing if I’m in that sort of mood for Thanksgiving. Lay the sausage on top of the hot stuffing and top it with a fried egg. Kind of like eggs ‘n toast but richer and BETTER!!!! This should be accompanied by a steaming hot cup of coffee and a glass of freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice. Just sayin’. Happy coma, Lula
These gemlike spuds are about as big as a Ping-Pong ball, but don’t let their size fool you. Purple potatoes have many times the antioxidant power of their cousins, white and yellow potatoes. Studies have found that the plant pigments that give them their lovely color, called anthocyanins, may improve memory and prevent age-related muddled thinking. Also, their high levels of folate help lower levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which can damage brain cells. Pretty good for such a tiny tater.
Did you know all potatoes originated in the Andes? Yup – that’s where they come from! Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering LUVS potatoes and uses them in many different dishes in EVERY color!
In Lula's Kitchen, Love is ALWAYS our First Ingredient!