Sunday, November 4, 2007


Last night I had a meal that I had no business eating.

I had no business eating it because it was completely over-the-top in terms of fat and calories, and the fat count was high enough that anyone my age just. shouldn't. eat. it.

But this is the thing of kids growing up. My German "daughter" is visiting us right now for two and a half weeks. I can't express the joy we're all feeling in having her under our roof again. S is happy, upbeat, flexible and centered. The world is her oyster. We can't help but be infected with her good cheer.

When S lived with us six years ago for her exchange year, she had come to us with few domestic skills. She's part of a lovely family where both parents are involved in running the family business and they'd had a housekeeper/cook since S was a small child. This woman, M, was really part of the family and a superb cook, to boot, so S just hadn't need to, or wanted to, learn cooking.

There was an infamous story during S's exchange year when her Art teacher said, jokingly, that S could bring her cousin to class (S's cousin was also on an exchange year and was visiting us from Virginia at the time) if S made German cookies for the class. S, always being game for anything, wrote M and asked for the recipe for favorite German cookies. M wrote back.

The short version is that S created what were sort of oatmeal cookies, but each probably weighed a quarter pound and could have been used as a blunt weapon. We all had much merriment about S and her cookies during the year.

But now S is 23, she is part of a grueling program where she goes to school six days a week for many hours per day for 10 weeks and then she works, for the same firm but in rotating positions for 12 weeks. She has an apartment that she shares with her sister, who has just started law school; she has a long-term boyfriend and a car. She gets her own salary for working for the firm, and she now has her own benefits and paid vacation, etc. In short, she is an adult.

And a cook, extraordinaire.

So yesterday, she was going to make us dinner. She wanted to make us schnitzel, mashed potatoes, broccoli and panne cotta for dessert.

The schnitzel was perfect in every way - thin wisps of pork were covered in a coating of flour, egg mixed with salt and pepper, and finally a nice layer of bread crumbs. The pork was then cooked about two minutes on each side and the taste and texture were indescribably delicious. We had two small pieces each, and both D and C were very sad there wasn't more. I've rarely had meat that I enjoyed as well. The potatoes were lovely and had the addition of nutmeg - a taste we weren't used to and all enjoyed. The broccoli was broccoli, but I basically steamed that, so this isn't part of my review.

And then there was the panne cotta: 1/2 cup of cream, .5 oz sugar and a 1/4 vanilla bean in each serving - what's not to like? This was also astonishingly easy to make - S showed me while she made it. To serve it, we melted some strawberry jam and drizzled it on top. If anyone wants either recipe, just drop me a comment or an e-mail. They're both extremely easy.

Sadly, I have no photos... we were too busy eating.

You know, there are some real advantages when kids grow up.


anno said...

What an extraordinary feast! So kids grow up... and become capable of feats like this? It gives me hope...

Rebecca said...

sounds completely divine! How did she learn to cook so well, so quickly?

Unknown said...

What a repast! I ate a similar meal upon arriving in Germany last April. I think it is still with me.

Carol said...

I didn't know you had a German exchange daughter! We absolutely adore "our" Laura, and she will forever be part of our family! Meeting her "real" family when we went to Germany in September was the highlight of our trip!

Your exchange daughter and Elisabeth are the same age -- 23. Isn't it great when you realize that they've grown up so well? (Elisabeth just bought her ticket to Karnival in Koeln in February; maybe they can meet?!)


Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Sounds sooooo good; your pride in your "daughter" shines through :)

Goofball said...

oh I remember having that embarrasment during my exchange when being asked to cook 'something typical Belgian'...I had no cooking experience whatsoever either....In the end I made crepes that turned out more or less ok.

I only learned to cook when living on my own in the Hague. After eating some pretty weird combinations, I feel much more comfortable cooking now (incl for guests).

And mashed potatoes with nutmeg? Of course with nutmeg, if not they are not mashed potatoes ;) That's the only reason I have nutmeg in my kitchen...ah no also for cawliflower with white sauce and for some Indian dishes.

Anonymous said...

Yummy! Sounds delicious and wonderful. I hope you're enjoying your visit.

Madam Crunchypants said...

Sounds sinful and decadents and wonderful!

Luisa Perkins said...

I loooooooove schnitzel. I haven't made that in a while....