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A homemade Valentine’s Day. February 14, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in pets, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day on a super-tight budget? I think the best way is not to ignore it (nooooo!!!), not to get or do something cheap (echhh!!!), but to make a wonderful occasion out of it at home.

Here at Hawk’s Haven, Valentine’s Day unofficially began yesterday morning when I made brunch for our friend Ben with huevos rancheros, my famous refried beans, hot tortillas, tons of toppings, and margaritas. Yum! But I was still undecided about what to serve today, Valentine’s Day, for supper. Should I make a heart-shaped pizza? How about a delicious Indian feast? A simple Middle Eastern meal with falafel patties, pita, hummus, tzatziki sauce, and a big Greek salad? Yow.

Fortunately, by the time OFB and I went grocery shopping yesterday afternoon, an idea had begun to shape up. OFB had requested a Sunday supper of baked sweet potatoes, a spicy brown basmati rice/red lentil pilaf, broccoli, and a big, crunchy salad. I made sure I made extra rice/lentil pilaf, and I picked up what we needed for an unforgettable Valentine’s Day meal, pretending, of course, that I was just shopping as usual so OFB would have a luscious surprise when he gets home tonight.

This morning, I made a big valentine for our friend Ben. Say what? Yes, I made it. I’d bought red contruction paper and a sheet of gorgeous handmade paper shot through with gold leaf at our local art store. So I cut a heart out of the handmade paper, put the sheet of handmade paper over the red construction paper, gluing it with a glue stick, so the cutout part formed a big, red heart, then cut out a silhouette of our beloved black German shepherd, Shiloh, and glued it on one side of the heart. I wrote a message in the heart space, then put my valentine on Ben’s side of our kitchen table along with the gifts I’d bought him: a small bag of one of his favorite treats, a heart-shaped cookie, and a “devil duck” to add to our rubber duck collection. (A very long story; suffice it to say that the devil duck was red for Valentine’s Day.) 

Tonight, I’ll bring our Valentine’s Day dinner together. I’m a vegetarian, so our dinner will be quite different from the array of lobster, scallops, raw oysters, prime rib, caviar, and the like that grace so many Valentine’s tables. Instead, this is my menu: stuffed peppers, mashed potatoes with winter squash, sauteed spinach, and a huge, crunchy salad. I’ll also make two of OFB’s favorites, roasted garlic bread (courtesy of our friend Delilah) and jalapeno poppers (another OFB fave) as appetizers. I myself will skip those, since I couldn’t begin to eat them and food, but the 6’4″ OFB will have no problem. And I bought a bottle of Chambourcin from a local winery to serve with the meal. Yum!

If this sounds pedestrian to you, I’d suggest that you think again. Check out my earlier post, “Ultimate winter mashed potatoes (plus)” in our search bar at upper right, to see the luscious recipe for mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and Butternut squash with Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. It’s ranked in the all-time top five of my best dishes, according to OFB. I plan to stuff the peppers (red, for Valentine’s Day, of course) with the leftover spicy rice/lentil pilaf mixed with cottage cheese, shredded mozzarella, and Gorgonzola. I’ll saute the spinach lightly with olive oil, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, and a splash of lemon juice. And our salad, always a favorite part of our meal, packed with Romaine lettuce, spring greens, frisee, arugula, escarole, scallions, diced yellow bell pepper, chopped tomato, artichoke hearts, radishes, olives, pepitas, cilantro, and shredded cheese, is really a meal in itself.  

Anyway. Served by candlelight, with cloth napkins and sweet music in the background—not to mention Shiloh demanding attention and affection as her due, as always—this should be a meal, and a Valentine’s Day, OFB and I will never forget. Maybe next year we can afford to go out for supper to our favorite high-end restaurant to celebrate the day. Maybe a bouquet of cut flowers or a blooming phalaenopsis orchid will make an appearance at Hawk’s Haven. But for our circumstances and this moment, I can’t imagine a lovelier celebration.

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? 

            ‘Til next time,




1. Helen at Toronto Gardens - February 15, 2011

It sounds delicious and delightful. Happy Valentine’s Day to you both. I’m positive it will be exactly that.

Thanks, Helen! Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too!!!

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