Saturday, February 13, 2010

This post includes references to naked models and strawberries, and Lupercalia. Otherwise it is g-rated.

Avram is gone chaperoning at a Youth Valentine's Dance. And yesterday I babysat for another couple in the ward while they went on their Valentine's date. Aren't we romantic? But on Thursday night Avram and I did make a fancy dinner at home after the girls went to bed. And unlike last year, when we attempted the same feat, it actually worked this time. Last time, in the middle of our Mazza, which is Arabic for a spread of appetizers like Baba Ghanoush, and Hummous, and Muhammara (which will make your tastebuds cry with joy), we heard Elisheva screeching. We blew out our romantical, if kind of dark and gloomy, candles and went upstairs to find Lydia in Elisheva's crib, kicking her, while she (Lydia) was completely in the nude. Just about the most romantic Valentine's day ever - at least my taste buds thought so.

This year for our super fancy menu we had:

Ceaser Salad with real Parmesan Cheese and Homemade Croutons
Broiled Mahi Mahi with a citrus/soy sauce glaze and roasted Asparagus and Brown Rice, with a Blood Orange Sparkling Beverage.
And for Dessert, the piece de resistance, a homemade New York Style Cheesecake.

I read the introduction to cheesecake section in the Joy of Cooking cookbook, and I found the reason the other cheesecakes I've made before (which I swear I've made two before, but I can only specifically remember making the one, for Valentine's day 2006, whilst being nine months pregnant with Lydia) have been kind of not that great was from overbeating the cream cheese, and incorporating too much air into the batter. (Do you like how messy my house is in he background? Classy. Also notice that the edges are all high and such. This is very bad in cheesecakeness.)

This time I followed the recipe like it was my new religion, and the cheesecake turned out beatimus - scratch that - I think the cheesecake itself is my new religion. But don't worry, it's like being Bahai, I can still be Mormon.Here is the good cheesecake - moist and dense all the way through. (Just forget that the top is a little browned on the edges - that's my oven's fault, not mine. Also forget the red smudge on the edge of the photo - that was some raspberry topping that got away from me.)

So, I was telling you about our romantical Valentine's date at home, but I got distracted by the cheesecake. It's okay, we got distracted by the cheesecake ourselves. The entire time we were eating it, I couldn't stop exclaiming how good it was - which is not very modest, nor unassuming. Good thing Avram and I are already married, so he didn't think that I am just obsessed with myself (he already knows it, but he's stuck with me now).

I'd be eating some more cheesecake now, but I tell you, the stuff is so rich that it practically forces me to eat well since I can't stomach it all the time. And by 'practically' I mean that I've only been having a piece or so a day (except today, sadly), which is still like a gazillion calories per slice. Up for March's romantical date: run a marathon. Just kidding.

Avram is tired of feeling like a short order cook in the middle of his romantic dinners, so for our anniversary dinner we're going to do something that can be completely prepared ahead of time, like pizza. No, really that's his idea, and so I'm imagining a fancy bistro-style deep dish pizza, with root beer in the little vintage bottles and such. Plus Creme Brulee, which is my next "I've never made this, but I've always wanted to" dessert.

Hmm, I realize I'm talking about food an awful lot in this post, and romance almost not at all. What can I say? I love food, Avram loves food. We first became friends through the Cooking Guild of the Medieval Club in college. I remember really being impressed with him when he helped me mop my kitchen floor after one guild meeting (where we would weekly gather and make yummy Medieval food and eat it together), and we sang along to Cat Stevens together. What more romantic combination can you get then a guy mopping your floor while singing along to music you both love?

Not that I'm one those people who think that food and romance belongs together in all their manifestations. Today we went to Half Price books, and I saw in the Valentine's display section a book called "The New Inter Courses, an Aprodisiacal Cookbook" with a pasty-white model sitting seductively, naked, strategically covered with a pile of strawberries. My first thought was, "Did they keep her under a rock her whole life? What's wrong with her skin color? My second thought, though, was, "Would you really want to be surrounded by squishy strawberries whilst stark naked? Strawberries are so...juicy. And squishy. Yuck."

Mmm, I better raise the level of this post, before I lose all my readers. Well, to conclude, Avram and I have a chaste love of food, and we love each other chastely (in the married sense of the word - from which I understand to mean we're not having any affairs). The End.

P.S. And my cheesecake is also amazing - this you must understand.

P.P.S. This post was too much for me - I had to go and get a piece of cheesecake, which I am now currently drowning my loneliness sorrows in. Who thought that a Valentine's Day Dance was a good idea for the youth anyway? None of the leaders wanted to chaperon it, and no parents did either. In fact, the youth were calling Avram all afternoon long trying to work out rides, since none of their parents were driving them. I tell you, youth, and I include myself in this grouping when I was one, have no idea of the lengths that adults have to go through to provide them with all of their mulitfarious activities. Ok, end rant. I suppose there is supposed to be a self centered time of our lives - that way we can look back on it while we watch awkward teenagers shuffling to the slow songs (which nowadays have driving guitars and yelling in the middle), and make sure the book of Mormon spaces are being maintained.

P.P.S. I was counting up, and for the 12 Valentine's Days I've gone through since I turned sixteen, I've only been single for...two of them. I was telling Avram that I don't understand why so many people hate Valentine's Day, and how I've always liked them (since I was a little kid, even.), and to me it's a general love day, and not just romantic love. But since I've almost always had a significant other, this makes my position sound a little weaker. But I still stand by it. For one thing, it's not like I've bought into the marketing at all - I've never, in all those twelve years, gone out to eat in celebration of Valentine's Day. I prefer just doing something nice together at home. I've also never bought a Valentine's day card (although I did use to hand out store bought valentines as a child). I've only given a gift on Valentine's day once, and it was a role-playing book to Avram when we were engaged. But Valentine's day to me is about eating yummy heart shaped cookies with frosting. Not that I have ever in my life done this. But it looks fun, and I'm sure if I did it, I would enjoy it. Okay, let's broaden my definitions - it's about eating yummy, sugary food together, and kissing your kids, and kissing your spouse, and possibly about remember Lupercalia (the Roman origin of the time of Valentine's day, when youth ran naked through the streets), just to keep things exciting.

So, I'm curious - what are your thoughts on Valentine's Day. Love it? Hate it? Your opinion depends on your current romantic life? Have you made sugar cookies in heart shapes?

15 comments:

  1. That cheesecake is glorious. I almost fried my laptop drooling...

    ...and there are quite a number of Middle Eastern treats that are wonderful - Crusty bread dipped in a quality extra-virgin olive oil and dukka, grilled Lebanese chicken with lemon garlic sauce, all those delightful chopped vegetable salads, baklava with pistachios and cardamom, schwarma, dates stuffed with warm buttered rice, ground almonds and cinnamon - I'm getting hungry thinking about it.

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  2. BJ and I were just discussing the love/hateness of Vday. And I decided that it shouldn't be about proving your love (which is how most people treat it. "What can I buy my honey bunny so that (s)he knows how much I looooOOOooove her/him?!?" Rather, it's about celebrating love. I like your description of food and heart-shaped sugar cookies. (Hmmm… perhaps I should make those tomorrow? Sounds yummy!)

    We made gifts this year. Small ones. I'm not sure what BJ got me yet (we're not gifting till tomorrow) but I'm gifting him an envelope for every remaining month this year with a picture in each representing a date. BJ hates to plan such, so I think he'll enjoy me having planned a monthly date for the rest of the year. (And all things he really enjoys. And some of them that I don't enjoy as much. Like rock climbing.) And most are cheap or free (like walking along Provo River in the spring, or flying kites in the park after a picnic) with only one or two splurges.

    For the record, this is only my 2nd Valentine's Day not single. And both of these have been married. Though, I don't really hate Vday, either. It just made me sad sometimes. Unless I had great fun planned with my girly-friends.

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  3. Joseph makes amazing cheese cake. If you're ever here, maybe he would give you a lesson. It's the best I've ever had.

    We did the heart shaped sugar cookie icing thing at our Valentine's Party and then there is a duck, duck, goose kind of game where the words are sung: When you send a Valentine, that's the time for fun, push it underneath the door and ring the bell and run, run, run, run. Ring the bell and run. The child who is it circles the group, carrying a paper Valentine which they drop at the feet of another child and tap them on the head.

    The highlight for us was making Valentine messages for our beloved using the sentiments printed on the heart shaped Valentine candies and glued onto red or pink paper.

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  4. I've always loved Valentine's day and I think it's because there are so many yummy goodies involved. Samuel and I don't buy cards or gifts. (usually he gets me flowers but not this time because we have no money) Instead, we make awesome food. Samuel made a cheesecake yesterday and we will eat it today. It looks perfect. (From what I understand, the golden outside is standard. Once I made a cheesecake that looked creamy on the outside, and inside it was still totally uncooked.)
    I was going to make the cheesecake but I got really sick and ended up sleeping all day. And now I am home from church. :P

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  5. Oo...cheesecake...uh, sorry. You asked a question? Oh yeah.

    I hate V-day. I hate the expectations. Not mine. Everyone else's. "So what did you and Sam do for Valentine's Day? What did Sam get you? What did you get Sam? Did you do anything special?" Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nope. It makes it seem like we don't love each other. But we DO. I mean honestly who wants to hear about how we (very inexpensively) express our love for each other. Trust me. No one.

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  6. I'm with you, Jami. Maybe it's my natural Grinchiness showing, but I'd rather express my love through random acts of lovingkindness throughout the year, when they're not expected. I think it's much more sincere. Are you there, Barbara? I love you more than I can express, except possibly through music.

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  7. i love to do fun things with my kids for valentines. so we had heart shaped pizza, followed by making heart shaped sugar cookies complete with pink icing and candies and sprinkles to decorate. then for brunch on valentines we had heart shaped pancakes, pink milk, and pink yogurt. what can i say i am a sucker for doing silly little things liek that. remmeber growing up? every year i was the one on mothersday that thought we should make a big sign and breakfast for mom. i like to so things for holidays. but i dont buy cory a gift. although we did go to olive garden for dinner. and i made him a valentine and the kids made some too.. i love a good craft time! anyways i wish i was there to try that cheesecake, yummers!!

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  8. I support and endorse Valentines Day.

    But I mostly came to say that I still have the Muhamarra recipe printed out ready to try. Not sure when I'll get to it, but it's there waiting for me in the binder of possibilities.

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  9. The cheesecake is beautiful! My mouth is watering!
    My husband and I both have February birthdays, so to go all out for Valentine's day would be kind of redundant. I do try to make him a card, and sometimes he'll buy me flowers. But around here Valentine's Day is more about making yummy heart-shaped cookies with my children and helping them write Valentines. The only problem is - I ran out of flour on Friday and didn't get to go to the grocery store before Sunday, and now our car is in the shop! Woe is me! No sugary heart-shaped goodness! At least not on time. I'm determined to make them anyway - someday.

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  10. I have always focused more on the kid stuff and general love stuff than the couple romanticky stuff of Valentine's Day and as a consequence I've always loved it. I've always loved the candy and sugar cookies and loved the paper crafting opportunity. Also, I don't really feel much pressure to go all-out, so I like the optional-ness of Valentine celebrations.

    Your cheesecake looks AMAZING. I've never tried to make one, and I think it is time I did. :)

    Oh, and that book title and cover? Nasty!

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  12. So Heather said you looked like you'd put on a little bit of weight. Forgetting you were pregnant I informed her that it was probably because of the cheese cake holding them makes everyone look heavier.

    Anyway I just remembered to tell her you were having a baby girl and she says congratulations.

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  13. Actually, we don't celebrate Valentine's Day. We celebrate Feb. 15th, Half-Price Chocolates and Flowers Day. It's great fun. :D

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  14. I love Valentine's Day. Your cheesecake looks awesome. And thanks for b-sitting so we could have an awesome dinner as part of our Valentine's celebration.

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