Valentines

From the N.Y. Times

computerheart.jpgIf finding true love were an exact science, we wouldn’t need matchmakers, singles bars or, of course, online dating services.

Like job seekers who take the Myers-Briggs personality test to help steer them to suitable professions, we’d simply take a relationship test, whose results would identify our most compatible types of mates and rule out the frogs. Problem solved.

Of course, Cosmopolitan magazine has been running pop psychology love quizzes — “Which Bachelor Is Right for You?,” “Is He Naughty or Nice?” — for decades, prompting young women the world over to assess how sexually or socially compatible they might be with their objects of desire.

Now, a handful of dating Web sites are competing to impose some science, or at least some structure, on the quest for love by using different kinds of tests to winnow the selection process. In short, each of these sites is aiming to be the Netflix of love.

Instead of using a proprietary algorithm to recommend movies you might enjoy, based on your past choices, however, these dating sites offer you a list of romantic candidates whose selection is based on proprietary analyses of personality characteristics or biological markers.

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filetsThere's no other holiday like Valentine's Day when lovers are given the chance to express their affection in many ways, be it something as simple as flowers or as fancy as a restaurant dinner. Here in New York City and there are many Valentine's Day dinner specials soon to be available. There is always an opportunity for couples to dine out and have a great, albeit, expensive time. But a private dinner at home can be just as special and a lot less pricey. I don't think there is anything more romantic than cooking for your other half. A meal that's made with love has so much more meaning than anything a restaurant could offer.

I have a simple dinner in mind. This entrée is simple and easy, using basic cooking techniques, so you don't have to spend too much time at the stove. It's uncomplicated, unfussy, hearty, and familiar in flavors: it's steak, potatoes, and spinach. These petite filet mignon make an elegant dinner for two and, with the side dishes included, come in well under 20 dollars, 30 if you include a good bottle of red wine. Celebrate your Valentine with this easy and affordable meal.

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romantic-dinner.jpgAdmit it, no one has gotten to this point in their life having had one gleeful Valentine's celebration after another. Unlike the envelope of dime store Valentines from everyone in your fifth grade class things have probably changed over the years. Perhaps there is no one "special" in your life except for some close friends or co-workers or maybe this is the year that you can't wait for that solid red holiday of love and chocolate! What do I fantasize about, what would rock my world?

A romantic evening with my sweetheart ...I think of Valentine's day as a fragrant smelling celebration of love. The scent of chocolate cooking, Stargazer lilies, or perhaps long stem deep red roses, a familiar aftershave, saffron, rack of lamb with overtones of rosemary and garlic, long stem strawberries and the smell of bee's wax candles lighting up the whole house. No electric lights just the soft volume of Diana Krall's love songs playing as we sit in front of the yellow flamed fire sipping good champagne, talking and smiling, smooching and dancing. The night is ours, not to be rush but savored, enjoyed and repeated....

Poached oyster stew with saffron

Rack of lamb
Asparagus, broiled
Tomato goat cheese gratin
Watercress maple salad

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

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ChocTrufflesIMG 1986I was pretty impressed when I cruised one list of Top Valentine’s Day Gifts For Men. But after careful consideration, I decided to go a more traditional route.

See, while the Pickle-of-the-Month gift idea had a certain appeal (pickles are one of Tom’s favorite food groups), when I imagined sitting down to a candlelight dinner on 2/14 and handing him this month’s selection, it just seemed like a buzz kill.

I thought seriously about the personalized romance novel. Called “Blood Lust,” the manufacturer promises the customized book will feature 30 personal details. I’m not sure I have that many personal details (are they gonna discuss my back scratcher? My Necco wafer obsession?), but I am sure I don’t want them exposed in any book, no matter how limited the distribution. (Also, there’s a disconcerting typo in the promo: Cosmopolitan Magazine calls this book “One of the sexist (sic) gifts ever!”)

Another top pick was the Ultimate Stock Car Ride-Along. The giftee gets to ride shotgun, at 150 mph, in a stock car race, with a “professional” driver at the wheel. Now, call me a softie, but I decided I didn’t think it was friendly to gift my husband with an activity that would almost certainly result in his death.

Aside from those choices, I loved the Custom Bobble Head, but it seemed overpriced at $105, and the World’s Largest Gummy Worm seemed like too much of a good thing. So, I decided to head to the kitchen and make Tom some chocolate truffles. (All he really wants is chocolate anyway.)

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fa11020.jpg“Ouch,” my husband groaned miserably as something metal jabbed him in the side.  “It’s like sleeping on a motorcycle.” It is 1:30 in the morning and we are still wide awake.   

The intention was admirable:  Joan, my father’s girlfriend, had insisted they buy this pull-out couch specifically for visits like this one.

The week before, my father had been diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s.  When I got the call, a chill snaked through my bones, so powerful that for a moment I couldn’t breathe. “It could go slow,” I was told, “ It could go fast, or it could stay the same for the rest of his life.  No one knows.”

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