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A Touch Of Love For Your Valentine

Chef Grandma —

For those of you who are not totally conscious or aware, Valentine’s Day is this Sunday, February 14. Your sweetie is probably anticipating a box of candy, a bouquet of flowers, a gigantic stuffed animal, or a new game for the XBox. Do they still send singing telegrams?

Valentine’s Day is not in my memory bank from growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, in the 1940s and 50s. Surely, it was celebrated, but I don’t remember it. Easter, July 4th, Halloween and Christmas I do remember, but not Valentine’s Day.

There is no recollection of room mothers bringing in trays of goodies, bags of candy, or little cookies with frosting and hearts on them. Childlike valentines in those flimsy white envelopes didn’t get passed around as I recall. The last hour of school was not dedicated to giggles and twitters because of a certain card and what it said. Maybe they didn’t have room mothers in those days. Maybe the nuns forgot.

But, today Valentine’s Day is special for celebrating and loving family and friends and sweethearts. We have candy, messages and flowers to remind everyone how important they are to us and how much we love them.

Strawberries with cream cheese - photo by Lisa ClarkStart off your family’s morning with a fruit bouquet of breakfast love. Take a strawberry, cut it in half, turn it, and cut again so you have four slits. Push the strawberry open like a flower. Do not cut all the way through, leave the stem on.

Next, mix some flavored cream cheese with granola and put the mixture into a baggie. Cut a corner off the baggie big enough to pipe the cream cheese and granola into the strawberry. Top with a blueberry. (Drizzle melted white chocolate over all if you wish.)

I Love You plate - photo by Lisa ClarkStick the completed strawberry with a bamboo skewer and put in a small vase or glass. If you don’t have bamboo skewers, use a couple of uncooked spaghetti strands stuck into the strawberry. Make as many as you will need to have a nice bouquet.

If your family does not like cream cheese, just poked the blueberry down into the strawberry and forget the cream cheese and granola. You will still have a fruit bouquet of love for them.

Tortillas and Cheese in Tomato Soup - photo by Lisa Clark

 

For lunch, cut a tortilla to fit a piece of cheese and roll up like a jelly roll. Fry in a pan with butter, like you would grilled cheese, turning to get all sides browned. Slice in 1-inch pieces and serve as croutons in red tomato soup.

You can also cut the crusts off fresh bread, flatten with a rolling pin, put cheese on top, and roll this jelly roll fashion. Fry in butter as you would grilled cheese. These can be dunkers for your tomato soup.

Tomato soup with tortillas and cheese - photo by Lisa ClarkHint for next Christmas: When the after-Christmas sales begin, buy a couple bags of combined red and green M&M’s. When you get home, separate the red into one pile and the green in another. At Valentine time, put out the red M&M’s and in March, set out the green ones for the Irish and St. Patrick’s Day.

Epilogue to the bag of butter from last week: Remember how lard-like goo was encased in the plastic bag, the orange bubble in the middle colored it all yellow when pinched, and it was then butter? It had to be kneaded, which is what my cousins and I did one day when my aunt and uncle were gone.

After kneading it for a while, my 12-year-old cousin Butch decided it would mix better if he threw it on the table and at me and his younger brother. He chased us around the house with the butter bag throwing it at us. When we caught it, we threw it back at him.

One time he missed me and hit the wall of Aunt Betty’s freshly hung dining room wallpaper. The bag of butter burst open all over the French ladies in their powdered wigs and poofy dresses in the wallpaper. Every time I visited them after that, I managed to avoid the dining room because there was this mysterious greasy stain halfway down the wall. My aunt never said anything to me, and I never ventured forth a question about that grease on her new wallpaper.

As cupid said watching the arrow fly into the air, “Happy Valentine’s Day to all!”

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