Scarlet’s Bakery provides hope, second chances and bomb cinnamon rolls

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Inspiration for blog posts reaches me at the oddest moments, like a couple of weeks ago when I was trapped in the hell that is the Shelbyville Road Plaza parking lot on a Saturday afternoon. There was a segment on NPR about the memorial service for the anti-war activist Father Daniel Berrigan. A friend once asked Berrigan what the meaning of life was. His response: “If you want to be hopeful, you have to do hopeful things.”

That’s a pretty heavy observation on a Saturday in the suburbs.

Berrigan’s instruction about hope made me think about a local business I had just visited the day before: Scarlet’s Bakery in Shelby Park. This new sweet shop and café blends baked goods and business acumen to give women an opportunity to improve their lives and, in turn, build hope for a better future.

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Scarlet’s Bakery is a brick-and-mortar culmination of “Scarlet Hope,” a non-profit organization/ministry that began eight years ago that “helps women in Louisville who have been victims of trafficking and exploitation,” WDRB reported. Women from that program work at Scarlet’s Bakery to learn work skills that will help them build new careers. 

I can’t speak to the business savvy these women learn at the bakery. But I can comment on the area I know best, aka the end results of their labor: baked goods.

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On my first visit to Scarlet’s, about a dozen different kinds of pastries covered the gleaming white countertops. There was a little something for everyone, from the bite-sized doughnut holes that would fit perfectly into the hands of Scarlet’s youngest customers to the more grown-up, savory combinations like the spinach-feta turnover or bacon-cheddar-chive muffins. Though I was there in the morning, selections such as bourbon-ball macarons and horseshoe-shaped iced sugar cookies made me think ahead to afternoon snacking opportunities.

I thank the pastry gods for leading me to the cinnamon roll that day. I could barely see the cinnamon swirl of the roll through the hearty schmear of cream cheese frosting. Each bite was as smooth as velvet as my teeth sank into the airy dough. It was a rich pastry, but managed not to be too sweet. This cinnamon roll was the perfect sort of decadent to get a good day started.

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Everyone who is a part of Scarlet’s Bakery should be proud of the work they do. It turns out that hope is a dish best served sweet (or savory, if that’s what you’re into).


Scarlet’s Bakery

741 E. Oak St., Louisville

Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

For more information, visit the Scarlet’s Bakery website or Facebook page

Four ways to improve your grocery shopping

 

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An oldie but goodie: My haul during one grocery trip in which Cherry Coke Zero was on sale.

I take grocery shopping seriously. I’d often join my mom when I was a kid, following her around Kroger, grabbing things on lower shelves, checking out the latest Little Critter book in the magazine aisle.

Then, I became a grown up. I had to buy my own food. I learned a valuable lesson during my first trip to Kroger on my own during my first summer internship away from home: Food is expensive. I lived on chicken and potatoes that summer, mainly because they were filling and relatively inexpensive.

It’s been *gulp* 12 years since my first solo grocery shopping trip, and I’ve honed my habits like an athlete. By doing so, I’ve been able to save a lot of money for the Thompson Wolf Pack (aka me, Rob and Roscoe).

And the truth is, I love to shop for groceries. I like surveying the selection of food, imagining all the things I will cook and how we won’t have to eat out and, therefore, will save money. And for someone who loves food as much as I do, being in a store full of it is heaven. And I think I’ve turned it into a personal challenge in which I have to figure out which items to get at which stores for the best value.

Sift through your cookbooks and Pinterest boards

Before you get your grocery list together, you need to decide exactly what you want to cook. Yep, I’m talking meal planning. DON’T PANIC. It’s really not as hard as you think.

Take some time the day before your grocery trip to sift through your favorite recipes or look on the internet for something new. Don’t forget to take your own schedule into account when you’re planning your meals for the week. If you have plans most nights of the week, forgo tedious recipes for simple ones that you can make ahead of time and/or quickly. Hint: breakfast for dinner aka brinner aka some bacon and fried eggs is always a good option.

Bring a list or GTFO

Forgetting my grocery list is amongst the worst things in life, right up there with making a sandwich with the end pieces of bread or your DVR clipping off the end of your show. A list keeps you on task. It’s like a set of rules when you go to the grocery store. True story: I’ve been known to turn around and go home if I pull into a grocery store parking lot and realize that I’ve forgotten my list.

I picked up this little tip from The Kitchn blog: I created a template of the basic groceries I get (not name brands just types of products). I organized the items on the list by where they are in the store (yes, I know the layout that well). But I also leave some blank spaces.

A list centers me. It’s easy to get distracted by everything going on in a grocery store, especially as they keep getting bigger and bigger to load in more merchandise that has nothing to do with eating.

Order of operation is key

Remember when you had to learn which order to solve math equations – everything in the parenthesis first, exponents, etc.? Well, there’s a rigid order I follow when it comes to which stores I visit first. I always start with the basics, so Aldi is my first stop. I tend to do the bulk of my shopping there (my love for this store runs deep, y’all), but it’s a good first stop because it’s the cheapest place to get staples like flour, sugar and canned goods. But as much as I love Aldi, I know I can’t get everything there, especially personal hygiene stuff I like, certain cleaning supplies and good coffee (no offense, Aldi). That’s when I head to other grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s, Lucky’s, Paul’s Fruit Market and Kroger to fill in the blanks. And we’re also dipping our toes into farmers’ market season, so keep that in mind, too.

Over time, you’ll eventually learn what you like from particular stores and whether or not you’re willing to make a special trip to get it. For example, the Italian sausage from Lucky’s is HEAVENLY, but I only stop there if I have other items to make the best use of my time and gas money.

(Blogger’s Note: For those who follow me on Twitter, you know a post about grocery shopping across Louisville is coming. I just needed to crank this one out first.)

Decide what’s important to you

Some of you might be giving me some mean side-eye right now. Lists? Planning? Multiple stores? I get it, y’all. Time is a limited resource. We’re all super busy. Take a moment and decide what matters to you and your household when it comes to groceries. Is saving money the priority? Buying local? Organic only? A combination of all three? None of the above? Once you have your grocery priorities in check, it will be easier for you to develop your own game plan.

 

Event alert: Celebrate great black women of Kentucky tonight at the Clifton Center

It’s way past my bedtime, but I wanted to get something up quick about an event from Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, a social justice organization that’s doing good work for folks in the state.

Tonight is the third annual We Are Kentuckians: Celebrating Our Common Heritage, a bash that brings together art, music and food in celebration of the people of the Commonwealth. This year’s gathering specifically focuses on lifting up black women in Kentucky (*clears throat* YAAAAAAS).

Here’s a blurb from Kentuckians for the Commonwealth:

We Are Kentuckians honors Black women in Kentucky through music, dance, spoken word, and storytelling. The evening lineup includes: musicians Committed, Cynthia Fletcher, and DJ Alli; dancers Dionne Griffiths and Cynthia Brown; poets Hannah Drake and Robin Garner; and storytellers Kristen Williams, Taylor Little, and Andrea Massey.

This event is open to the public with a suggested donation of $10 to $20, which includes delicious food from Dasha Barbour’s Southern Bistro and Louisville Vegan Kitchen. There will be a cash bar and silent auction.

There’s still time to buy tickets to the event here. You can also learn more about Kentuckians for the Commonwealth here.


We Are Kentuckians: Celebrating Our Common Heritage

When: 7-10 p.m. Thursday, March 10

Where: Clifton Center, 2117 Payne St., Louisville

Cost: $10-20

For more info: We Are Kentuckians website

Event Alert: Louisville Storytellers event will be all about food on Nov. 16

Food and good stories complement one another like Nutella and pretzels (just try it if you don’t believe me). And later this month, the first-ever Louisville Storytellers event will turn the spotlight on this entertaining combination.

Louisville Storytellers is a quarterly event from the Courier-Journal that will showcase people telling stories around a particular theme. It’s reminiscent of The Moth StorySlam, a monthly storytelling competition that I host ever other month at Headliners Music Hall. But rather than randomly drawing participants from an NPR-friendly tote bag, the Louisville Storytellers show will feature pre-selected storytellers.

Anyhoodles, the first Louisville Storytellers will take place Nov. 16 at Actors Theatre of Louisville. The theme of the night is “Confessions from the Kitchen: Stories from the world of restaurants and food.” It’s an exciting bunch of storytellers:

I’m excited about the diverse lineup for Louisville Storytellers. It’s good to see a group of restaurant owners, chefs and cooks that isn’t just made up of folks from white-tablecloth establishments. I’m also super-pumped to see Miss Shirley Mae Beard, who I interviewed for Louisville DinersIf her story is anything like our interview, everyone will be in for a good night.


Louisville Storytellers

When: 7 p.m. Nov. 16 (refreshments and cash bar available at 6 p.m.)

Where: Actors Theatre of Louisville

Cost: $10

For more information and tickets: https://tickets.courier-journal.com/e/louisville-storytellers-confessions

Got 10 bucks? Check out the Tuesday chicken-and-grits special at the Monkey Wrench

 

Fried chicken and grits. Photo courtesy Alexander + Hughes Advertising & Marketing
Fried chicken and grits. Photo courtesy Alexander + Hughes Advertising & Marketing

The Monkey Wrench has changed its game up this year. A new chef and new outlook means this bar, once known mostly for burgers, is putting more of a Southern flair into its menu.

This month, the restaurant/bar has started to offer chicken and grits for $10 on Tuesdays from 4 to 10 p.m. From their fine PR folks:

This isn’t just any friend chicken & grits though; this is butter and flour basted, cast-iron fried chicken and Kenny’s White Cheddar Weisenberger grits.

Ten bucks for a plate full of chicken and grits? Sounds pretty good to me.

The Monkey Wrench

1025 Barret Avenue, Louisville

More info: The Monkey Wrench’s Facebook page

Get your stomachs ready for the Kentucky State Fair, Aug. 14-24, 2014

A corn dog from the 2013 state fair. I'm coming for you.
A corn dog from the 2013 state fair. I’m coming for you.

My love for the Kentucky State Fair is deep, and it is real. It is so real that my friends Samantha, Beth and I started planning our trip to the fairgrounds last month.

There is so much to see, do, and eat. The dogs herding ducks. Goats, pigs and cows giving mean side eye. A deep-fried Hot Brown? Why, I don’t mind if I do. All this activity requires proper planning.

The duck-herding dogs always steal the show.
The duck-herding dogs always steal the show.

The gates opened today, Aug. 14 at the Kentucky Exposition Center. The fair runs through Aug. 24. Visit the fair’s website for information on parking, admission and everything you need to know about making your fair visit fun.

I’m not going for another week. In the meantime, I will start hoarding Mylanta for all the deep-fried deliciousness.


The Kentucky State Fair

Aug. 14-24, 2014

Kentucky Exposition Center

937 Phillips Lane, Louisville, Kentucky

More info: kystatefair.org

LouVino had me at wine and snacks

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I enjoy wine. Out of a bottle, box or jug, it’s my adult beverage of choice for an evening at home watching Murder, She Wrote. Fortunately, a new restaurant has opened on Bardstown Road that might get me out of the house in pursuit of wine and snacks.

LouVino opened in July at 1606 Bardstown Road in the former De La Torre/La Bodega space. The restaurant specializes in “small plates” and “big wine.” A few words from co-owner Lauren Coulter:

LouVino will have 40 wines by the glass, and an additional 40 by the bottle, along with an innovative “small plates” menu created by our executive chef, Tavis Rockwell.

The small plate menu looks like the real deal. Most of the small plates are $10 or less, which is right up my alley to go with a nice glass of vino. I have my eye on the smoked gouda Hot Brown mac and cheese ($9), the loaded baked potato tots ($8), and the fried chicken tacos ($9).

LouVino

1606 Bardstown Road, Louisville, Ky.

More info: LouVino’s websiteFacebook and Twitter

Event Alert: Take your pup to Bark Brunch at The Cafe tomorrow, 8.2.14

This is a face that deserves brunch.
This is a face that deserves brunch.

Brunch is wonderful on its own. Add pets, and we’ve achieved next-level glee.

The Café, a restaurant at 712 Brent Street in Louisville, will team up with 102.3 The Max and The Flea Off Market for a Bark Brunch this Saturday, Aug. 2. It’s your chance to bring your dog to the lovely patio of The Café for a meal.

From the folks at The Café:

Bark Brunch is for people and dogs alike. Enjoy a delicious brunch before heading to The Flea Off Market with your pooch! There is no cost to attend, but reservations are encouraged. To make a reservation at The Café, call 502.589.9191.

The event, which is sponsored by Southern Indiana Animal Rescue, Duffy’s Dog Training Center and Bluegrass Kennels, sounds like a lot of fun. Even if you and your pooch can’t get in (sorry for the short notice, y’all), I recommend checking out The Café with a two-legged friend. Have you heard about their chicken salad?

Chicken salad sandwich at The Cafe.
Chicken salad sandwich at The Cafe.

Delicious.

Bark Brunch

The Café, 712 Brent Street, Louisville, Ky.

Saturday, Aug. 2 from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Reservations: 502.589.9191

Holy shiitake, I’m writing a book about Louisville diners

Chicken and waffles from Good Ole Jessie's Diner on Dixie Highway, one of the subjects of the book.
Chicken and waffles from Good Ole Jessie’s Diner on Dixie Highway, one of the subjects of the book.

Everyone expects any announcement of big news to center around a pregnancy when you’re a woman of childbearing age. There are no buns in my oven at this time, but I do have news.

I’m writing my first book, and I have a publisher.

*throws confetti*

*swings pants around my head*

*Carlton dances*

Between eating and writing, I’ve missed talking to you guys on the blog. Ashlee Eats is where I feel the most comfortable. I get to share news about food and detail my own dining and cooking experiences. This blog has also given me a reason to have fun, whether it’s going to the Trader Joe’s opening or eating a doughnut burger. Most of all, everyone reading this has given me the confidence and support to turn a hobby into a book. I thought I was done with writing after I left the newspaper business. You made me realize that the writing part of my life wasn’t over. Thank you for reading for these four years.

Now, enough with the mush. Let’s talk about the book.

History Press is publishing my book, which will receive a proper name later. This book is about Louisville diners and where they fit in the Louisville culinary landscape. I’ve talked to fellow food writers and people in Louisville about the joy of the greasy spoon (a term I use with love). I’ve learned more about the city than I ever thought I would. And I’ve eaten a lot of biscuits and gravy and, subsequently, taken a lot of post-dinner naps. You can check out some of the subjects of the book on my Instagram account.

I’m not sure when the book will come out. Trust me, I’ll tell you as soon as I know. In the meantime (NAME DROP AND PROMO ALERT), check out fellow food writer Steve Coomes’ new book, Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt and Smoke, also from History Press.

I’ll pop in here more to deliver more handy-dandy food news and quips. I pinky promise. And if a bun should start rising in my Easy Bake Oven, I’ll let you know.

Brace yourselves. The Great Gelato Giveaway is upon us.

Ahh, Ohio Valley summers. Sultry, sweaty and sticky (I’d complain, but that would go against the vow I took during the Polar Vortex to not talk bad about the heat).

The nice folks over at Gelato Gilberto have a solution to the summer woes. The gelato shop will give away 100 pints of the dessert starting today, July 1.

Be on the lookout for the Gelatomobile (Picture courtesy of Kristin Gilbert).
Be on the lookout for the Gelatomobile (Picture courtesy of Kristin Gilbert).

Here is how the giveaway will work, courtesy of Gelato Gilberto:

The Gelatomobile will magically appear at random locations during the month of July. We’ll post the location and secret password on our Facebook page on the day of each appearance. The first ten people to find the Gelatomobile and say the password will get a free pint of gorgeous gelato. (One pint per family/group please–we want everyone to get a chance.) There may or may not be consolation prizes at each location.

Visit Gelato Gilberto’s Facebook page for more info.