When I mentioned that today’s topic was recipes for Valentine’s Day, my kids were not impressed. I think in our house we generally agree that Valentine’s Day is for lovers (i.e. married people), and thus the day holds very little interest for children in our family.
“Who chooses these topics? Didn’t you tell the other moms we don’t do anything for Valentine’s Day?”
“Valentine’s Day? Who cooks for Valentine’s Day? You and Dad usually go out and we eat macaroni and cheese.”
“I’ll give you a Valentine’s Day recipe:
- Take chocolate.
- Put in mouth.”
I’m still not sure whether I should feel guilty because I don’t do any special cooking, or relieved because my kids don’t expect any. They like macaroni and cheese. I’ll let you know when I decide – or maybe I’ll let you decide. What do you think? On second thought, I only want to hear what you think if you’re on my side.
That’s not to say that I don’t get special treatment on Valentine’s Day, and any other excuse-of-a-holiday for romance. Last year my husband hit one out of the park. No, you can’t have him.
Being a good dad, Perry often brings home a box of candy hearts or a small box of chocolates for each of the girls, too. He knows the way to a woman’s heart, and any young man who wants to marry one of our girls had better learn a few tricks from her dad first. He’ll have a tough act to follow.
So I get special treatment on Valentine’s Day. If you’re wondering why I don’t do special cooking for Perry on Valentine’s Day, I just might be still punishing him for Valentine’s Day, 1998. I hesitated to tell this story, but when I mentioned my hesitation to Perry he laughed and dared me. He dared me, I tell you. What else could I do?
Valentine’s Day ’98
or, Why I Don’t Cook a Romantic Dinner for Two on Valentine’s Day
It had been a long and difficult winter. Perry was gone a lot, working full time while he tried to get his own business off the ground. I had 3 kids 4yo and under, and was 6 months pregnant with our 4th. My morning sickness had been worse than ever this time and I was down by 12 lbs, but I was finally feeling better.
As Valentine’s Day drew near, I decided to do something special. Until now, Valentine’s Day had been pretty low key, but I wanted to make it special this year. Money was tight and babysitters were expensive, so we usually stayed in for our dates, but that wasn’t a problem. I planned a menu of boneless turkey breast with all the traditional trimmings, and a nice bottle of wine on the side. I made a special dessert.
Perry had the day off his regular job but was training a friend to clean carpets, his side business. They planned to spend the day going over the maintenance of the machines and cleaning his friend’s carpets. I didn’t know what time he would be home, but I wanted to be ready. As evening fell, I fed the kids a cheap fun dinner and put them to bed early. They were all too young to object, so all was well.
I dressed for dinner and set the table with candles and our prettiest dishes, keeping dinner warm while I waited.
When Perry finally arrived home very late that night, the turkey was about as hard and dry as my own attitude. He made a valiant attempt to act hungry and chew the turkey jerky, but it just wasn’t working for either of us. My attitude only got worse when I heard his side of the story:
After working all afternoon, he and his friend realized it was dinner time and they still had a few hours to go. They were both hungry so they drove around the corner from Dave’s house to a local diner for a bite to eat. The special was a 2-for-1 steak dinner – perfect! Although both were married men, neither had a clue what day it was or why the quiet little diner was completely packed with starry-eyed lovebirds – and why the waitresses were giggling at the two of them.
My husband missed my special Valentine’s dinner because he went out for a romantic couple’s dinner with his buddy.
Of course it was partly my fault for not tipping him off ahead of time, but it’s more fun to blame him. I’m not bitter, but I still tease him about his hot date with Dave. I’m pretty sure the waitresses teased Dave about it for years afterward, too.
Because the title of this post promises recipes, I’ll share two. I actually have made the Red Velvet Cake for Valentine’s Day because it is Perry’s favorite cake. I made the Bacon Roses for Father’s Day, but they would be perfect for Valentine’s Day as well.
Red Velvet Cake
From the cookbook published by the church where Perry and I met as children. How romantic is that? Skip the red food coloring if you must, but don’t change the icing!
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 oz. red food coloring
- 3 Tbs. cocoa
- 1 cup buttermilk (or milk with 1 Tbs vinegar)
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. vinegar
- Cream shortening, sugar and eggs.
- Make a paste of food coloring and cocoa. Add to creamed mixture.
- Add buttermilk alternately with flour and salt.
- Add vanilla.
- Add soda to vinegar, then mix thoroughly into batter.
- Pour into 2 8″ pans, greased and floured. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350.
- Cool and split to make 4 layers.
Butter Cream Icing for Red Velvet Cake
Rich, buttery and not too sweet. The easiest and most delicious cooked icing you will ever taste!
- 1 cup milk
- 3 Tbs. flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- Cook milk, flour and salt until thick, stirring constantly.
- Let cool thoroughly. Learn from my mistakes: don’t rush it.
- Cream butter and sugar well. Add vanilla.
- Combine with milk mixture and beat until it looks like whipped cream.
- Spread between layers, top and sides of cake. Learn more from my mistakes: Resist the urge to lick the bowl before you’re done or you won’t have enough for all 4 layers.
- 1 lb. bacon, any type
- muffin pan (12 cups)
- 2 bunches of cheap plastic roses (12 total)
The original instructions said to drill a hole in the bottom of each cup in a muffin pan so that the grease could drain. I bought 2 cheap muffin pans from The Dollar Tree so I could destroy them without guilt, then I decided not to drill the holes anyway. They worked perfectly because bacon cooks very nicely in its own drippings, so 2 years later I still have the pans. :)
Roll each slice of bacon into a curl and set into a muffin cup, edges on top and bottom so you see a spiral when you look at it. Bake about 20-30 minutes at 400, until crisp. Drain thoroughly.
To prepare rose stems, pull the flower off each one and push the green base down so that at least 1″ of the stem protrudes above. Slide bacon buds onto protruding stems, place in a vase, and give to the love of your life. If he insists on sharing, you’ve got a keeper.
I can’t find the photo, but our first try turned out just as pretty as the photos in the tutorial linked above, and so will yours.
What do you do for Valentine’s Day?
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