The Valentine invasion begins earlier every year! So far I’ve sighted socks garnished with lace hearts, lacquered red boxes of chocolate-covered cherries, and a gaggle of cuddly geese holding “I Love You” messages.
I prefer simple celebrations, like the one I remember from second grade. My teacher, Mrs. Nelson, had kept us occupied for days. We stapled and decorated large cardboard envelopes for Cupid’s deliveries and then laboriously glued and glittered doilies onto red construction paper. My mother still has my poem about the violets and roses.
Valentine’s Day was the one time when even outcasts could feel popular. Every boy and girl received a card from each person in the class, although we knew that the greetings that truly counted were signed, “Love.” The white shaggy poodle on my red felt jumper blushed when Terry, the cutest boy in second grade, signed my card with X’s and O’s.
I may complain about holiday commercialism, but don’t put me on the bah-humbug team. To be honest, I’d eagerly gobble an entire box of Valentine’s chocolates, and a bouquet of red roses would probably make me swoon. But for me, the best gifts are homemade edibles. Here’s a light Valentine supper to wow and woo your loved ones.
I’ve served this creamy soup in big bowls as a hearty main attraction and in cups as a side touch. Serves six.
1 pound white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
11/2 cups water
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 veggie bouillon cube
12 ounces non-fat evaporated milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute onions until soft. Add mushrooms, dill, parsley, soy, paprika and1/2 cup water. Simmer covered for 15 minutes. Add the milk, lemon, juice, remaining water and bouillon cube, and simmer covered for 10 more minutes. Stir well and serve. The decadent may top each bowl with a low-fat sour cream dollop.
Baked Valentine Omelet
Your Valentines will cozy up to you when they sample this red-flecked delight. Serves four to six.
1/2 cup dried tomatoes
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
6 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon dried basil
Put the tomatoes in a bowl, inundate them with boiling water, cover and let sit for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft. Then put them in a strainer, press out all the water, and chop. Stir all the ingredients together and pour into a lightly oiled 10-inch quiche pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. You can lift the omelet easily from the pan, so serve it to your sweeties on a glamorous plate.
Red and Green Salad
This exotic salad will make your heart throb happily as well as assuage the lettuce blahs. Four servings.
1 red delicious apple, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 packed cup assorted salad greens
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, cut in bite-size pieces
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
A handful of raisins
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons raspberry vinegar
Salt and pepper
Coat the apple slices with lemon juice and set aside. Mix the remaining salad ingredients together. Drain off the lemon juice and add the apples. You may not need all the dressing, so pour it on slowly as you toss.
Our daughter, Tashie, was born on Feb. 13, and every year her birthday ritual includes these cookies. Shaping them is a great kid-party activity. Makes eight.
4 large egg whites
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup white flour
31/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the vanilla, sugar and flour and beat until smooth. Stir in the coconut by hand. Here’s the fun part. Using1/4 cup portions of the batter, shape into hearts that measure 3 inches across and 11/2 inches high. Place them on a greased sheet and bake in a 325 degree oven for 25 minutes. The macaroons should be golden but not dry. Serve these plain, or for amazing artistry, add this glaze.
Melt together in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water:
16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
7 tablespoons butter
The glaze stays soft if you keep the bowl over the hot water. Use a knife to spread the chocolate over the front and back of half the length of each cooled heart. Then, put them on a sheet of wax paper and chill until the chocolate hardens. These make beautiful gifts when each cookie is wrapped individually and tied with a red ribbon.
I’ve got to go make Valentine cards for my family now. Their gift to me: this dinner, of course.
Ronnie Paul is a cookbook reviewer, free-lance writer, vegetarian chef and teacher at Wild Mountain Yoga Center. She can be reached at
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