Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

October 4, 2015

My Breakfast

I like breakfast, from an easy cup of Joe with a side of banana, to a nice brunch with bacon, eggs, toast, fresh churned butter, fruit, coffee etc.  I love a simple fruit and coffee or a nice hot breakfast.  I love a good bowl of oatmeal or grits.  I am not one for cold cereal.  I never loved cold cereal for breakfast.  I don't like soggy cereal in milk.  I don't like super sweet things, which some of the popular cereals are corn syrup and sugar as the 1st or 2nd ingredient.  I also like a hot lunch.  I love dinner leftovers for lunch.  I was never one for sandwiches, and I especially dislike peanut butter and jelly on white bread.  I don't like conventional jelly (think $muckers) because it is pure corn syrup/sugar and I hate that feeling of eat too much sugar.  It makes my teeth feel like they are rotting, and it makes the sugary acidic coating in my mouth and throat.

Because I am not one for conventional breakfast or lunch (cold cererals and plain sandwiches), I have to work a little harder to to get breakfast and lunch on the table.  Today, I made homemade ramen for breakfast.  It is lamb broth, fresh noodles, Chinese broccoli, and medium hard boiled duck egg.  It is a luscious hot meal on a cold, rainy, gray day here in Nashville.  My soup was so darn good because I started out with really good base ingredients.

To start I made the lamb stock.  The original lamb bones came from the Williamson County 4H sheep club which shows at the Williamson County Fair.  The lamb bones were roasted in the City House wood burning oven.  Roasting bones (fish, meat, or shrimp shells) provides a deeper richer flavor for broth or stock.  I took the roasted bones and put it in a large crockpot with carrots, onions and garlic (from the Barefoot Farmer biodynamic farm), one cayenne from my organic garden (original seed from Tana at Eatons Creek Organic), and some salt.  I got my duck eggs from Bells Bend Farms.  I went to InterAsian Market and got some Chinese coriander (ngo gai, sawtooth coriander, Thai coriander, long leaf coriander), and put 6 leaves in to pot  The Chinese coriander gives a high end bright note (almost citrusy) and and East Asian green aroma and flavor you want in an East Asian stock.  I did not put celery or a bay leaf in the broth because I really don't like what bay leaves offer, and celery does not give a flavor I want for a ramen stock.  I let that go overnight.

The noodles I got from InterAsian Market.  The noodles are fresh mein noodles located in the refrigerated case in the back left corner of the market.  The case is the right most case of the cold refrigerated area.  Each pack is enough for 4 servings.  These noodles are nothing like the convenient fast food ramen (although I like the $0.25 style noodles as well).  These fresh noodles only need 30 seconds in boiling water to cook, so it is faster and more convenient that those brightly colored dry ramen packs (3 minutes).  There is an ramen, and that is udon.   King Market makes  fresh udon noodles and are on sale near the cash register.  Fresh made noodles are so much tastier than processed and dried noodles.

The veggies I used for my stock are from my CSA Barefoot Farmer.  The onions and garlic taste so good and they are really potent in aroma and flavor.  The benefits of using biodynamic garlic is that there are no chemicals used on the produce.  Conventional garlic is sprayed with chemicals to arrest the development of a sprout.  Chinese garlic, where most conventional garlic comes from, uses bleach on the garlic to keep the garlic white, and sprays unknown chemicals on the garlic to keep it from sprouting.  With all the press about Chinese bait and switch (selling rat and decade old meat as good beef and pork, fake eggs, fake rice, using leaded gasoline to dry tea, avian flu etc), I am not interested in buying food with origin China.

The duck eggs are new to Bells Bend Farms.  Livestock is a new addition as of the last year.  Bells Bend Farms is a biodynamic farm as well, and they raise livestock humanely.

The above paragraphs are my thoughts about base ingredients.  My ramen soup recipe is really simple, but to get to the point of making the soup is an arduous path.  There are many people, and growing seasons that had to happen to make the soup.  After getting all the ingredients together, I would say my soup cost me way more than $0.25.  In an NPR radio piece about making chicken soup from SCRATCH, it will take about $15,000 because the chicken coop and chickens need to be raised, a well for water needs to be dug, wheat for noodles and veggies need to grown, salt needs to be harvested, fallen trees for fire needs to be gathered, etc.  I am not going that far to make noodle soup, but I do like knowing where my base ingredients come and have the ingredients be fresh.

Here is my recipe.  It is deceptively easy because to get to this point of assembling the soup, there are many steps to take to make the soup.
1.  Medium boil a duck egg (7 mins-ish)
2.  In a pot, put a generous cup of stock, and small diced gai lan Chinese broccoli and simmer
3.  In a 2nd pot, dip fresh noodles in boiling water for 30 seconds (or until desired toothy-ness)
4.  In a big bowl, place drained noodles at the bottom
5.  Pour stock and broccoli over the noodles
6.  Peel and cut open the duck egg and place on top of the soup
7.  Enjoy

June 28, 2015

1st Try at Cornbread

This is my 1st attempt at cornbread.  I really like it.  I made it on my own terms.  I used more egg than the suggested number because I really like moist cornbread.  I also only used ingredients I had on hand because I did not want to have to go to the grocery store.  I made the cornbread from corn that is biodynamic from the Barefoot Farmer farm, and it was hand ground just last week.  The eggs I used are from a small farm in Hohenwald, TN which employs organic and free range practices.  The fat I used is bacon fat I have kept to make corny foods like fried corn, popcorn and cornbread.  I have not churned my own butter lately, so I do not have butter milk on hand, so I used what I had on hand which was soy milk and yogurt.

In general, I don't eat a lot of cornbread because I find most recipes are dry and crumbly.  Trying to put butter on crumble is a futile effort which I really dislike.  I like moist cornbread which I can pick up with my fingers and not have it crumble to the floor.  I like moist cornbread because it does not "need" more butter to moisten it up, but of course one can add more butter because it tastes good.

Here is the basic corn bread recipe I used as inspiration:

Preheat oven to 400F

Wet ingredients:
3 eggs
2 cup butter milk
2 teaspoons baking power
1 teaspoon salt

Dry ingredients:
2 cups corn meal

Fat ingredient:
1/2 cup butter

1. In a bowl, combine wet ingredients well and set aside
2. In a cast iron pan, melt fat ingredients over medium heat
3. Add dry ingredient to the cast iron pan, stir for 2-3 minutes over medium heat
the corn meal will look like golden sand
4. Remove cast iron pan from the heat, stir in wet ingredients, combine well
5. Put cast iron pan in 400F oven for 25 minutes

1.  I really like moist cornbread, so I used 4 eggs instead of 3.
2.  I did not butter milk, so I used 1 cup soy milk and 1 cup yogurt.  This liquid can be butter milk, all yogurt, cream, whole milk, almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, etc.  I only had soy milk and yogurt in the house, and I like the very slight tartness the yogurt brings to the overall flavor.  I can't tell that there is yogurt in the cornbread, rather the sourness from the yogurt is perceived by the sour receptors of the tongue, which activates more portions of the tongue to really get the full flavor of the corn bread.
3.  I added spices including garlic, cayenne and ground black pepper.  In the wet ingredients, I can see where one might want to add cheese, jalapenos, herbs, or other flavors one might want in corn bread.
4.  For my fat ingredients, I used 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of bacon fat I have saved from recent bacon I cooked up.  I just have not had time to make butter of late, so I don't have much butter in the house, so I had to bolster the little butter I had with the bacon fat.  Other fats can be used, and in greater quantity if you want more moisture.  I think that the fat used must be able to stand up to 400F, so peanut oil may be used.  Butter and bacon (pork ) fat seems to be the best way to make this corn bread.
5.  For a sweet cornbread, honey, sorghum, maple, or sugar can be added.  I am also thinking that this can be made into a sweet pastry cake if enough sweetness is added, and 4 eggs are used.
6.  This can be a gluten-free and dairy free cornbread cake if non-dairy liquid like coconut milk is used, and a non-dairy fat is used like peanut oil or pork fat.

I am so glad to make this cornbread.  It opens up a whole new world for me and corny goodness!

June 14, 2015

1 of the Top

For me, there are those dishes in my life that I keep thinking about, and have made it to the top 10 in my life.  One top 10 dish I had about 40 years ago.  The dish was an artichoke with a lemon vinaigrette that was placed in the center of the artichoke.  The restaurant, with a name which escapes me right now,  was somewhere on Wilshire Blvd between Brentwood, CA and Beverly Hills, CA.  The restaurant was a little lunch place where ladies-who-lunch, and where moms had "mom dates with kids".  My family re-created this dish a number of times over the years.  I have re-created this dish, not as often as I like, but I still think about this dish, and when artichoke season is up and running, I will make it for myself this year.   There was another dish, in Lesmont, France, that I still think about too.  The dish was a simple fresh salad with smoked chicken gizzards and a warm herb dressing, probably made from the fat the gizzards were cooked in.  The gizzards had a duel texture of a little crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside.  I have tried recreate this dish, but I ruin the gizzards, or the gizzards are just like chewing on erasers. 

 There is a recent dish that made my Top 10, and it is deceptively simple.  I am sure when I try to re-create it at home, it is not going to be as good.  The dish sounds incredibly simple.  The dish is grilled asparagus on top of  chevre, and topped with with sliced radish, mint, and bread crumbs.   This dish has the perfect texture combination of smooth from the chevre, toothy from the asparagus and the crunch from the radish and bread crumbs.  The dish has the perfect flavor of creamy from the chevre, acid brightness from lemon, pungent bite from the radish, and the salty/peppery-ness from the salt, pepper and good olive oil.   The version of this dish I tasted was so good, that I literally licked the plate.  This dish tasted good because the base ingredients were really good.  I am guessing the chevre was from one of the local goat cheese farms near Nashville, the asparagus and radishes were form a local farm, and the bread crumbs are made by Tandy Wilson, and his bread crumbs are so friggin' good, and possibly the best bread crumbs you can get!  I cannot duplicate the bread crumbs.  I can guess where the radishes are from, and I can get excellent radishes from the Barefoot Farmer.  I do have some single source, organic, California grown, olive oil I can use.  I think the bread crumbs are going to be the ingredient I will have to research, to be able to get the crunchy, toasty and nuttiness that you get with a Tandy Wilson bread crumb.

A few weeks ago, Tandy Wilson, Chef and Owner of City House, and multiple year James Beard nominated Chef, invited Steven Satterfield, Chef and Co-Owner of Miller Union Atlanta, and also a James Beard nominated Chef, to cook a special multi-course dinner to celebrate Satterfield's new book Root to Leaf (2015).  This asparagus dish is on page 10 of the cook book.  This is a break through cook book for me.  I am an omnivore, and sometimes I struggle with getting enough fruits and veggies into my diet.  Root to Leaf is cook book that puts veggies and fruits as central elements to the dishes, rather than meat.  There are recipes which include meat, and there are also vegetarian, vegan dishes as well.  The recipes are organized by season, so it is easy to look to see what is fresh and good to eat now.   This is quite helpful now that the Nashville Farmer's Market is a producers only market, and is only selling what is seasonally harvested.  I am looking forward to winter when I have a house load of kale, root veggies and butternut squash as my veggie base.  I can only make so much butternut squash soup and sauteed kale.

The Root to Leaf cook book is really great for me because I have been a bit turned-off by vegetarian and vegan dishes of my past.  I came to learn about vegan and vegetarian foods in the 1990s, in Western MA where I was taught that the main-stay vegan dish was beans and rice with bee pollen sprinkle.  I did not eat a lot of meat back then because I could not afford it, and college cafeteria had the worst, bottom quality Ar@m@rk meat.  The burgers had hard chunks in them like bone chips, the "veal" pucks were more breading and soy than veal (and corporate veal is a complete no-go for ethical treatment of livestock), and the chicken patties were more deep fried breading and chicken by-products than chicken.  All the veggies on the hot-line were canned.  Canned peas, corn, carrots, and potatoes were on every menu.  The canned peas and carrots were so slimy mushy and yucky, that I cannot eat canned carrots or peas even now. That cafeteria food made me sluggish and it made me not want to eat meat.  There was an alternative to cafeteria food, and it was called "Earth Foods" at the student common.  "Earth Foods" everyday has a bean and rice dish, everything was this brownish/grey color, and everything had a texture of a think gloppy paste.  It didn't taste great, the texture was mushy terrible, but it also did not make me feel sick to my stomach like the crappy highly-processed yuck at the cafeteria. I said to myself, when I can afford better food, I was never going to eat vegan brownish/grey beans and rice pasty mush ever again.

I am looking forward to diving into Root to Leaf and start a new relationship with veggie and fruit based dishes which taste good, have a good texture and are pleasant to look at.  I need to change my mind and bring it to the present, and believe vegetarian and vegan food doesn't have to be brownish-grey mushy pasty beans and rice.  Veggie foods can be tasty, crunchy, smooth, bright, and plate licking good.

May 27, 2015

Happy Lao New Year

Lao New Year 2015


One thing I know for sure, I know that Lao Americans in the Nashville Area know how to ring in the new year!  Lao New Year makes it seem like Lao Americans invented the festival of great food and dance.  The traditional Lao New Year is celebrated over 3 days.  The 1st day is the last day of the year.  The 2nd day is the no-day or the day that is neither last year nor next year.  The 3rd day is the 1st day of the new year.

A quick history of Lao Americans in the Nashville area is that many Lao Americans came here as refugees right after the Vietnam War began.  Individuals and families found their way to Tennessee, and a large population of Lao settled in the southeast of Nashville.  Due to the war and other factors, many Laos came with virtually nothing but the clothes on their back.  Nashville was a good place to settle for many Laos because Nashville is a hard working and family oriented area, and Laos share those qualities as well.  At one point in time (1990s), Lao was the 3rd most spoken language in the Nashville area after English and Spanish. 

There are multiple wats, Lao Buddhist Temples in and around Nashville.  The leadership of the wats cooperate with each other and each wat picks a weekend different from each other, and those are the weekends which Lao New Year is celebrated.  I know of 3 wats in Nashville, and they spread out their celebrations with one every couple of weeks.  The biggest wat is located about 25 miles south of Nashville, and the Lao New Year celebration was the last one in the series of celebrations, and happened over the Memorial Day weekend.

This big celebration included live music, a parade, food, toys, beverages, and dancing.   Some of the food offered at this celebration included grilled squid, squab, chicken, duck, craw fish and pork belly.  There was also sticky rice, fruits, veggies, pho, and noodle dishes to be had.  There were beverages also, and the one I love so much is the fresh sugar cane juice.  The cane is put through a press designed to press cane, and the flat dry cane fiber comes out on one side, and the refreshing juice came out of the spigot on the other side.  I sipped on the juice over ice all afternoon long, and it felt refreshing, energizing, and delightful to my body to drink this juice.

For this celebration, just like many cultures new year celebration, it is meant for family and larger groups to come together, and partake in a meal together in joy and well wishing.  There are lots of tables under tents and a pergola, so guest and revelers can enjoy a celebratory meal.  I got smart this year, and I brought a big shopping bag with tupperware and plastic bags to take home leftovers for later.  I took home with me a couple pounds of Lao style BBQ pork belly, a whole Lao style duck, and a bunch of sticky rice.  These items I cannot make at home, or at least not in the expert way they are made at the New Year celebration.  Next year, I will remember to bring a large wide mouth bottle, so I can take home fresh cane juice.

Happy New Year to my dear Lao American friends!   Thank you for letting me be a part of your circles.  I am forever grateful for you kindness and letting me be a part of your lives.  Let us celebrate New Year next year!  xoxo

March 31, 2015

Iron Fork #8

proceeds benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank

This is one of the funnest food charity events in town.  Not only are there going to be a bunch of restaurants offering delicious tasting plates, there will be delicious beverages to taste as well.  Come hungry and come thirsty!  All the whilst, there will four of the top Nashville Chef's will battle it out to be the 8th Annual Iron Frok Winner.

Get your ticket, and cheer on your favorite:  Last year's champion, Hal Holden-Bache of Lockeland Table defends his title this year, Crystal De Luna-Bogan of The Grilled Cheeserie food truck, Robert Grace of Kayne Prime and Dale Levitski of Sinema.

And, if it wasn't enough for proceeds to go to 2nd Harvest Food Bank, and all the tasting plates you could want to try, and all the beverages you are going to want to taste, your ticket will give you admission to the Musician's Hall of Fame Museum!  Yes, you and all the other guests can go and view the museum all evening during the event!  It is like getting a free ticket for after hours viewing of the entire Hall of Fame!  That is a nice bonus!

It is going to be a tough race for Iron Fork Winner #8!  Get your ticket and enjoy the evening!

March 29, 2015

Bone Broth

It seems like the new big thing in food is "bone broth".  Back in the day, it was just called broth or stock.  Bone broth seems to be the trendy health food now, and some people are paying a lot of money to have their daily drink of bone broth made by someone else.  This is akin to when juicing was all the rage. And before that, protein shakes. There always seems to be the "cure-all" drink du jour. 

The reality is that our grandmas, great grandmas, and great great grandmas probably made broth or stock when they had left over bones from the meat they had at dinner (this practice seems to be universal for most cultures).  Those roasted bones with bits of meat, cartilage and marrow, when simmered with water and aromatic veggies, make a lovely base for soups and stews.  Making the broth really uses all the bone and ingredients to their utmost potential, and does not waste one bit of the animal from which the bones came from.   I am happy that bone broth is the new trend because it one way to really use the livestock animals and not let parts go to waste, and not just throwing out the bones and not re-using the bones. 

This is how I am making bone broth:
1.  Eat the roasted lamb off the lamb bones (These bones are from a City House lamb dish, which I ate the lamb and took home the bones.  The original lamb was a well cared for local lamb from Williamson County 4H).
2.  In a crock pot add the lamb bones, water, onions, carrots, salt, pepper, 1 cayenne, garlic, and a tablespoon of soy sauce.  I got the garlic from the Barefoot Farmer, the cayenne is organic from my garden (and from originally organic heirloom seed) and the water is filtered from my tap.
3.  Turn on the crock pot, low over night.  In the morning, you have luscious bone broth.

 Broth can be made from any roasted bones.  Beef, chicken, duck, goose, pork, lamb, venison, buffalo, ostrich, even roasted shrimp shells and fish bones, can be made into a nice broth.   At one of my favorite Vietnamese cafes, the spicy seafood broth seems to have been simmered with more cayenne than I used, and lemongrass to give the broth a bright lemony aromatic character without the bitterness from the lemon pith.  To have a more Chinese brothy feel, I would use roasted chicken or duck bones, a little ginger, soy sauce, and garlic as my broth base.  A Western European broth would have the classic mirepoix and thyme in the broth.

After my lamb bone broth is done, I am going to use it as an Asian noodle soup broth.  King Market and InterAsian Market both have fresh made udon noodles.  King Market folks actually makes the noodles and are usually available near the cash register.  Fresh udon is so delicious.  InterAsian also has fresh ramen too, in the refrigerated section in the back of the store.   For the soup I make, I usually like adding peas to the soup, maybe some Chinese dumplings (from the frozen food section at King Market or InterAsian Market), and a sunny side up fried egg on top.

My last batch of lamb bone broth I made, I used some for noodle soups during the week, and I froze a pint of broth for later.  I am probably going to use the pint for a stew.  I am not sure yet.  Any suggestions?

March 15, 2015

Chinese Food Adventure

Are you looking for a Chinese Food Adventure in Nashville?  I have a fun dinner club for you!  The Chinese Dining Adventure Club is free to join, and meets every 1st Monday of each month at Lucky Bamboo China Bistro on Upper Charlotte Pike.  It costs $25 per visit and includes a Chef's Choice multi-course dinner, tea, water, tax and tip.  The meal is Chef's Choice, and the dishes are not on the menu, rather they are Chinese regional delicacies that you cannot get anywhere in Nashville.  In past months, the Chinese Dining Adventure Club had themes of Hunan, Schezuan, Malaysian recipes.

All you have to do is email Sallie at and let Sallie know you want to reserve a seat at the next Chinese Dining Adventure.

The next Chinese Dining Adventure details are:
RSVP to by April 3rd.
Dinner:  1st Monday April 6 6:00 pm
Where: Lucky Bamboo China Bistro

A disclaimer, this is a Chef's Choice no restrictions dining experience.  As the flyer says, if you are vegetarian, vegan, celiac, have ingredient restrictions, are a picky eater, THIS IS NOT for you.  There will be no special requests or restrictions at any of the meals.  If all you want is just the same old General Tso's Chicken, Hunan Beef, or Sweet and Sour Pork,  you can go to almost any other Chinese restaurant for that, and you will not get that here at the Chinese Dining Adventure Club. 

If you are adventurous, and willing to try authentic Southeast Asian dishes you cannot get anywhere else in Nashville, this is perfect for you.  If you are open to a Chef's Choice experience, give this dining experience a shot. 

I have been to past dinners, and the food has been really good.  A couple months ago, in the height of winter cold, of of Chef's courses was a winter melon soup with seafood, and it was a big hit.  A winter melon is a large green gourd with white lightly flavored flesh inside.  The flesh is chunked up and combined with vegetables and seafood to make a a light brothy soup that is perfect for a winter's day.  Winter melon soup is anecdotally is considered a soup that helps stave off common colds, akin to chicken soup.  The most recent meal was a nod to Schezuan hot and spicy dishes.  One of my favorite dishes was a mung bean noodle, fish and vegetable dish seared in hot chili oil.  The Schezuan chili oil made my brow sweat from the heat, the savory flavors of the fish and vegetables was inviting, and the toothy texture of the mung bean noodles made me want to go back for more.

This is a fun food adventure for true adventurous eaters.  Hope to see you on 1st Monday in April!  RSVP to Sallie and let her know if you are coming!

March 12, 2015

37 Million Bees Found Dead In Ontario, Canada After Planting Large GMO Corn Field

37 Million Bees Found Dead In Ontario, Canada After Planting Large GMO Corn Field

March 6, 2015

TN Flavors Yummy!

Taste all the best restaurants and libations in the Nashville Area
Thursday March 12, 2015
5:30 -8:30pm
Nashville State Community College
White Bridge Road, Nashville, TN

To get tickets ($50-$150) visit
 your ticket benefits scholarships and equipment for the 
NSCC Culinary School Program

This is one of my favorite events like this in town.  There will be over 80 tasting tables set up including some of my favorite restaurants and caterers (City House, Cork and Cow, The Corner Market, Yellow Porch, Pucketts, Margot and Mason's at the Lowe's Vanderbilt to name a few).  There will be a bunch of local libations to taste as well (Prichards, Jack Daniels, Yazoo, and Corsair to name a few of my favorites). 

Get your tickets, come hungry and thirsty.  There is plenty PLENTY of free parking in the back of NSCC.  Also, NSCC is fairly centrally located, so cab, Lyft, Uber and other ride shares are fairly cheap from downtown Nashville.  For those of you who want to take the bus from Downtown Nashville, it is Route 3 that starts at Bay 5 in the Center City Terminal. Checkout the bus route schedule here.

February 18, 2015

Bailey's Meows and Barks

Are you and your critters feeling a little cabin fever after the ice and snow storms that have hit Nashville?  Well, do I have a good deal for you, while you get out of the house.  Bailey's Downtown Nashville is partnering with the Nashville Humane Association on February 25th, when Bailey's will donate 10% of sales to the Nashville Humane Association

That is not all!  If you go to Bailey's on February 25th between 6 pm- 9 pm, you will get to sample some of Bailey's specialty dishes including Greek hummus, drunken chicken tenders, tavern wings, Napa spinach salad, and Black Forest sliders.  This deal gets even better, Bailey's is offering $2 draft beer, and $4 specialty drinks including Irish 'Rita, twisted bitter, strawberry blonde and MORE!

Get out of the house, go downtown, have some fun, and have some good fun food and drink to benefit pets waiting for homes at the Nashville Humane Association!  Here is the summary  of the details:

Where:  Bailey's Downtown Nashville, 408 Broadway
When: Wednesday February 25th
Food Sampling and Drink Specials: 6-9 pm
What: Bailey's is donating 10% of sales (from all day)
to the Nashville Humane Association