Remember I gave Husband a garden for Valentine’s Day? Well, the first fruits of his labor are finally here. Husband picked these jewels this morning.

Guess what we are having for dinner? Tomatoes with basil, salt & pepper.  If we decide to get fancy I might even add a drizzle of olive oil.

What is your favorite way to enjoy garden fresh tomatoes?


Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Italian Sausage & Sea Scallops

I love to send email photo updates to my friends while their children are playing at our house.  Friday night we were lucky to have one of our nearest and dearest here for a sleep over.  What follows is the exact email (names removed to protect the innocent) I sent to her mother.  Oh, and the recipe for the Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Italian Sausage & Sea Scallops is, of course, available upon request.
To my good friend (and your husband to the extent that he is interested),
Please do not hate me for the blue eye shadow on your seven year old daughter.  It’s not like the girls are going anywhere and our only son is at a friend’s house.  Actually they got into my Bobbie Brown while I was making dinner.  Which is fine as I haven’t worn make up since child number three arrived on the scene.
Your daughter loved the pasta.  And the sausage.  The sea scallops not so much.  I tried my best to hide the blanched broccoli rabe because as we all know greens, especially those of the hand picked, organic variety are hardly appreciated by the under 40 crowd. Her gracious manners reflected those of her mother’s.  But truth be told, she could have spit every last bite out and I would have loved her all the same.  She took her Benadryl ***  and had dessert — a little chablis, I mean popsicle and a fake Oreo aka Newman O’s.
As I write this the girls are painting with non-toxic, semi-washable paints.  Hopefully not on my walls (Benjamin-Moore 0C-7).  There has been plenty of discourse as to whether or not Because of Winn-Dixie is an acceptable movie.  And by acceptable I mean likable.  If they do not agree that a movie is a perfectly reasonable Friday night entertainment option, I will let them wash the dishes and do 12 loads of laundry as an alternative.  Then I will be able to plop my advanced-maternal-aged ass down on the sofa and watch it for them.   For the record, I do not believe ironing is appropriate until children are at least 10 years old.  So rest assured all activities at our home are age appropriate.
Finally, I leave you with a photo of the man of our house.  Clearly he isn’t afforded the opportunity to eat very often so when a humble plate of pasta is placed before him he greets it with the enthusiasm of a child.  Well, not the enthusiasm of the children in this home as I’ve already expressed that the pasta was greeted with only  mediocre disdain.
In closing, I promise there have been shrills, laughter, and only a few tears.  No worries as there was nothing truly insurance worthy.  Each of the four girls has shed a tear, I would be remiss not to admit this.  My own #3 was the first to cry.  Hearing a shrill that was Oscar worthy I dropped everything to race to her side only to find a spiral binder from the art room shelf had fallen upon her big toe.  Very soon after my #2 cried with a bellow that summoned a neighbor (two streets over who was also in search of wine) and alerted us to the fact that a marker top had busted her upper lip in two.  Gallons of blood and several transfusions later, she finished the butterfly and flower masterpiece she started.  Just as I thought the drama was limited to the daughters of The Schell Family, a tiny, barely audible, but clearly panicked cried came forth from the art room.  Your darling daughter suffered a scratch that only 5 choices of band-aids could cure.  Please believe me when I promise there is absolutely no chance of a staphylococcus (type) infection. ***
Alas, it is time to move on from my synopsis.  The girls have settled on a Disney movie and are happy as clams.  Littlest, however, has a poopy diaper that none of the older girls have volunteered to change.  I guess I have to draw the line somewhere on age appropriateness chores.  After all we are not the Duggars.
I hope you are having fun with the fifth grade boys at your house and I wonder how our experiences compare.  I wish you patience and fortitude of the red wine varietal.
Good night dearest of friends and thank you for trusting your littlest blessing with me.
*** Regarding the Benadryl — it has been approximately 2 hours since your daughter ingested the tiny grape pill and she is showing absolutely no signs of side-affects (sleepiness).  In regard to the scratch that required a choice of five band-aids, I cannot be responsible for any airborne or Oreo-type cookie induced infection that may or may-not occur.

Did Somebody Say Braised Short Ribs?!!?


Sometimes just for fun and for no good reason, I’ll send Husband an email with a photo like this attached.  I’ll tell him I’ve got pounds and pounds of beef short ribs browned and by dinner he’ll be feasting on these tender, juicy morsels.

Sometimes I continue on in the email about how I wish he could smell the ribs simmering away in the oven, slow cooking to perfection.

Then I continue on about my day — shuffling kids to gymnastics and soccer. Hollering about homework and being nice.  And  all the while the short ribs are working their magic in my oven.  The thing about short ribs is you can fix ’em and forget ’em.  At least I can…

Husband? No way.  On days I send photos like this just for fun and no good reason Husband is never far from the homestead.  In fact he’s working from home today.  Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Recipe for Braised Short Ribs tomorrow.  I’m off to shuttle kids and such…

Osso Buco and O Sole Mio

It is no secret that Husband enjoys a good meal.  He travels frequently and is lucky to experience some of the country’s best restaurants.  He is a very simple and humble man, however this man of mine has developed a very discerning palate and is quite the food critic.  Basically, Husband has morphed into a food snob.

I will say that he has remained true to his roots.  Big names, fancy architecture, trendy, small portions, and bizarre infusions are not his thing.  He gravitates towards authentic. The more off-the-beaten-track a food find is the better. Husband is a blast to travel with and has a gift for finding just the perfect places to eat.  And he has this uncanny ability to remember exact locations, menu items, ingredients, tastes, smells, wines, all details I am never able to recollect.  Clearly I dig my husband.

So when he asked me to make him osso buco I got right on it.  Not right on it, mind you.  His request has been in the hopper for several weeks.  As our week shaped up I realized two out of the four Littles were spending Friday night out.  I pawned off a third to Mrs. Kravitz and hopefully after the littlest goes to bed, Husband and I will enjoy a quiet dinner chez nous.

Osso buco is the kind of dish you love to casually mention you will be making later after carpool.  Friends will gasp and say all kinds of things ranging from what a good wife you are to are you freakin’ nuts??? Making osso buco creates a little drama, but its actually quite simple.  Shhh…don’t tell my carpool friends.

I adapted my version from two sources: Mark Bittman and Elise over at Simply Recipes.  Thanks to you both!

Osso Buco

1/4 lb pancetta, diced

4 large veal shanks (hind is best), 6 – 8 oz each, tied with kitchen twine so they don’t fall apart (your butcher will gladly do this for you)

flour for dredging veal

1 large carrot, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, diced

4 sprigs fresh thyme or (1/2 tsp dried)

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken, beef or veal stock

salt & pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.  Then brown the pancetta in a dutch oven over medium high heat for about 5 minutes until its crispy brown.

While the pancetta is browning, put the veal in a paper bag with flour and shake to coat the shanks, one at a time.

When pancetta is crispy remove to a plate with a paper towel to drain.

Add the veal shanks to the pan with the hot pancetta fat.

Cook the veal shanks until well browned, about 6 minutes per side.  The veal will start to look like this:

When veal is well browned, remove to a plate and add the onions, celery and carrots to the pan. Saute for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic and thyme.

Nestle the shanks and pancetta back in the pan with the vegetables.

Next add the wine and stock.  You want the liquid to come half way up the side of the shanks.  I add the wine first — it helps deglaze all the yummy pancetta bits at the bottom of the pan.  Then I add just enough stock to hit the 1/2 way mark.  Wine is more important than stock, right?!?!

Bring to a simmer, cover and put in oven until veal is done.  I usually find 1 1/2 hours is the magic number.  And I turn my shanks at the 30 minute marks.

Remove veal  shanks to a platter and if your sauce is still soupy, put over high heat to reduce then  pour over meat to serve.  I also made a gremolada which is a garnish traditionally served with osso buco.


Mix together 1 tablespoon minced lemon zest, 2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley and 2 cloves of garlic crushed and minced.

The traditional way to serve osso buco is with polenta or risotto.  I’m going to keep it simple and serve it with crunchy bread and a bottle of red wine.  Also, don’t forget a small spoon or dull knife to scrape out the marrow — it’s the best part!