December 31, 2005

In which we begin our 9th year….

Husband & I are celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary tonight as well as the end of another year. We enjoyed a wonderful meal at La Fonda San Miguel last night. After all the hustle and bustle in my own kitchen for Christmas, I thoroughly enjoyed a night out. My knife nipped fingers and roux burned knuckles also appreciated the rest.

Tomorrow we head out for a week long trip (I intentionally refrain from calling it a vacation) to California. Our purpose is tri-fold: we are taking MIL to see her new great-grandson; we will let the kids’ imaginations run wild at Disneyland; and perhaps most importantly, we will watch our Longhorns steal the National Championship from the USC Trojans.

Happy New Year!

December 29, 2005

Ah…were it always like tonight. Yesterday, (before my knife injury) I made a Risotto, Ham and Cheese dish for this evening. The recipe recommended making the dish in advance for the flavors to blend. So, with the main dish already prepared, my time in the kitchen was brief consisting of only blanching green beans, roasting red and yellow peppers and heating the labor of yesterday’s love.

DS was at Mia’s for the evening so it was unusually quiet during dinner. Typically DS protests dinner. And, when one child defects they all jump ship. Tonight, however without their captain, the girls ate three bowls (each) of risotto and two heaping helpings of green beans. Husband was sufficiently stuffed and it was a delicious dish that definitely bears repeating.

And, as a complete afterthought, the morning started out with a simple culinary treat. Spying two very ripe bananas on the counter, I found a recipe for Banana Bran Muffins. These yummy and quick treats were well received by the littles. And, husband didn’t seem to mind a hot muffin to accompany his shot of espresso.

Baked Ham-and-Cheese Rice Casserole
Riso Al Forno
Courtesy of Giuliano Hazan Every Night Italian

French String Beans
Courtesy of Ina Garten Barefoot in Paris

Mixed Baby Green Salad
With toasted almond slices and SAS Sesame-Garlic Dressing

Lesson of the Day: The Proof is in the Pudding. We all know the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. After two very stressful days at work, Husband told me tonight that dinner was exceptional and that it was very appreciated to come home after a bad day to a nice meal. He continued that if he had come home to a box of Cheese Nips his mood would have been further exacerbated. For the record, Husband has had to resort to crackers on more than one occasion.

December 28, 2005

As luck would have it, the day I decide to keep a cooking journal (of sorts), I sliced through my left ring finger with the Wusthof knife I got for Christmas. Sadly, I cannot type….gladly, however, I did muddle through the recipes I am trying for this evening’s meal. In addition to the incredibly sharp Japanese-style knife, husband gave me two beautiful cookbooks: Every Night Italian and Barefoot in Paris.

Tonight’s menu comes from these new inspirations: Sea Bass in a Leek & Red Bell Pepper Sauce and a Vegetable Tian. Despite the unfortunate injury (ouch!), the smells of the rosemary infused veggies roasting and the raw leeks waiting for their hot bath in EVOO, a successful, if still painful, dining experience awaits.

The Daily Dish: A tian is actually a red clay pot indigenous to rural southern France. Hence, the name of the dish is the dish!

Introduction to The Schell Cafe: December 26, 2005

My husband’s grandfather, Frank M. Schell owned the Schell Café in Cooper, Texas during the early 1900’s. I never knew Grandfather Schell, but he must have loved serving great meals and having folks gather ‘round his tables. His son William B. Schell, my late father-in-law, finished every meal in the same manner, “Well, I have dined sufficiently.” From this strong line of men my husband inherited an appreciation for a meal well served.

More than half a century later, The Schell Café continues in my own kitchen and on these pages. The meals I make are a labor of love. And, my journal is a love story. For me, cooking is a joy that perfectly blends my past, present and future.

I often wear my Grandmother’s pink gingham apron when I cook. She made it in a sewing class and hand-embroidered her monogram on a pocket. I also use her cookbooks, measuring cups, utensils and her great old, Dutch oven. Cooking is more than just making sure my family gets nutritionally fed. When I cook I am honoring our past and making memories for the future.

Bon Appetit!