TRUE LOVE I LOVE YOU
DREAM MY LOVE, LET'S KISS, FIRST KISS
SO FINE, UR A 10
MY BABY BE GOOD
BE MY ICON, I LOVE YOU
WHATEVER, UR KIND
My grandma's favorite gift was a box of chocolate covered cherries. I can still see her biting into the first one she picked from the box my uncle would bring her from Walgreen's Drugstore in Chicago. The liquid insides would ooze out and drip down her chin. She'd smile and her eyes would sparkle with delight. I never did grow fond of the chocolate-cherry treats that would bring her such glee. Even as a child, they were just too sweet for my liking.
I've never really developed an appreciation for the combination of chocolate and cherries. Rich, creamy chocolate -- yes. Sweet-tart juicy cherries -- yes. But together in one bite? No.
Despite my dislike for the marriage of chocolate and cherries in anything edible, each February since I was old enough to read a recipe, I've been baking a chocolate and cherry treat to celebrate the month that claims Valentine's Day and George Washington's birthday. These two days make February a time to hail chocolate and observe National Cherry Month.
It’s almost unseemly that so soon after the holidays I already find myself back in the midst of boxes of chocolate, imagining all the sweet treats I’d bake if only I had the time. But that is in fact the case.
I think it speaks to the nature of this month, and not just because Valentine’s Day is smack in the middle of February. I think it has more to do with the cold, long nights … all those hours between dinner and bedtime. What better way to spend them than baking scores of delicacies in the imaginary kitchen in your mind?
When I imagine the sweets that I would like to bake, there’s always one that makes a repeat appearance in my baking fantasies: coeur à la crème.
French in origin, coeur à la crème means "heart of cream." A classic dessert, it’s components are simple and sublime.
My little brother came home from a bar mitzvah with a dazed look in his eyes and a henna tattoo across his arm that read: 'Nikita.' He told me it was fate. He was standing in the middle of the dance floor and announced to his friends that the sexiest name in the world was Nikita, and within moments a blonde sauntered over to him and said, "That's my name. I'm Nikita."
He was in love, his faith in the universe (which had recently been diminished following our move from his beloved Pacific Palisades to the gaudy Beverly Hills) had just been restored…and I didn't have the heart to tell him, but I remember looking at my mom and us both thinking, "There's no way her real name is Nikita."
Every day coming home from school was another lovestruck car ride, "Nikita this, Nikita that..." Until Thursday. Thursday he got in the car completely deflated. He looked up and told me, "Her name's not Nikita."
As my husband and I celebrated our 14th anniversary, I realized that my first marriage lasted exactly 14 years. Heading into our 15th year, I have every expectation that I will beat my personal best. And things look promising. So after a total of 28 years in marital experience, you would assume I've learned something about love.
I'm not so sure.
A good example is the question I remember asking my mother around age 12: "How will I know when I meet someone, if he is the right one?"
And she answered serenely, as mothers have through the ages, "You'll KNOW."
I KNEW at 28, when I married my first husband. Enough said.
My younger sister Carla asked our mother the same question and got the same answer. Carla KNEW at 15, when she decided her first boyfriend was the love of her life.
And she was right. So you tell me---how did she figure it out?
That’s the question of the moment. Ads on TV, in newspapers, on line, in magazines, on billboards, buses, subways, just about everywhere you look, make suggestions about what to give your lover to show how much you treasure her: romantic dinners, cruises, hot air balloon rides, diamonds, earrings, pearl necklaces, chocolates, spa treatments, cakes, pies, tarts, sweaters, and of course, flowers.
Years ago when I lived in Rhode Island I had a friend who refused to buy any of her gifts. For Christmas or a birthday, she’d knit a gift, create a handmade card, or construct a collage. Risa was an enthusiastic practitioner of the hand-made movement because she felt that making a gift was a more emotional way of connecting to someone you cared about. To her, going into a store and plunking down a fist full of cash wasn’t as intimate and personal as making something.
I took Risa’s lesson to heart. Many Valentine’s Day I baked. Apple pies with crystallized ginger crusts. Flourless chocolate cakes with roasted almonds. And banana cakes with chocolate chips and roasted walnuts, one of my wife’s favorite desserts.
She came highly recommended – like a great book, a fine restaurant, or a good plastic surgeon. Her name was Delilah, and our mutual friend, Nina, wanted to hook us up.
She described Delilah as a great beauty, with intellect and insight.
“She’s your muse,” said Nina.
I wasn’t falling for the hype. I didn’t want to go on a blind date. But Nina wouldn’t let up. She was sure that Delilah and I were perfect for each other.
I sighed and told her I’d think about it.
“Don’t think about it. Call her,” she insisted. “Fate doesn’t wait.”
Valentine's day means many things to many people.
For most, it's a time to let your loved one know how you feel. To affirm your love with flowers, candy, or even jewelry, and hope it somehow translates into rough sex.
For me, it's always been a time of reflection, since the only rough sex I'm going to have is if throw myself on Rachelle while she's filing her nails.
Which she usually is when I throw myself on her.
Yes, for me it's a chance to look back at the way things might have been... ....had I not hooked up with someone dedicated to making my life a living hell.
Don't take my word for it. Watch the show, "Living With Ed", and see for yourself. That's why I did the show. It was that or install a Nanny cam. I wanted the world could see that I wasn't making this shit up.
As a little girl, my favorite candies were Twizzlers and black jelly beans. Every Easter I would pick all the black jelly beans out of the bowl and leave the rest for everybody else. Though I rarely eat jelly beans any more, I love to cook with fennel, which has a distinctive licorice scent and flavor.
Although fennel has become fashionable over the last couple of years, this herb has actually been enjoyed in cooking since antiquity. Many cultures use fennel as a culinary ingredient and as an herbal medicine, and as evidenced at my house, it’s a staple in Italian cooking.
It is a remarkably versatile herb and pairs beautifully with fruits such as oranges and apples as well as classic Mediterranean ingredients such as olives and eggplant. When eaten raw, its crunchy celery-like texture and sweet licorice flavor gives depth to salads. When sautéed or roasted, it takes on a savory quality. In fact, all parts of the fennel, from the bulb to the feathery fronds, are edible.
And since it’s St. Valentine’s Day this week, I thought you'd like to know that ancient Romans considered fennel an aphrodisiac and likely would have used it instead of chocolate for a romantic evening. As so many culinary trends are cycical, I'm predicting that fennel will become the new chocolate for Valentine's Day.
Little siblings of the traditional Austrian-Hungarian Linzertorte, Linzer cookies are very much a favorite in my family. These crumbly pastries are perfect for any holiday table. Make them round like wreaths for Christmas and for Valentine's Day make them heart shaped.
This recipe is rather simple. The dough can be made the day before and left in the refrigerator until it's time to roll the cookies. I used ground almonds in this recipe, but any ground nut, specifically walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts, work well. Make sure you refrigerate the dough in between batches. It will be easier to handle and the cookies will look neat and sharp once baked.