Thursday is Valentine’s Day

Last week I talked about “Mother Nature” and the strange weather she is providing for us. This past week has been up to par on it being different. We went from high 70s to high 30s in less than twenty-four hours. You started the morning in the heaviest coat or jacket you own and by lunchtime, you were wishing you had shorts on! Luckily for me, I didn’t have to go out of town, so I didn’t have to worry about what type of clothing to pack, in case of weather changes.
My grandson and his family are in on leave after being stationed in Japan for the past three years. They have three children, a sweet young man, that I haven’t met at all, and one that I’ve met once when she was just a few months old. They’ve been trying the whole weekend to get to my home, however circumstances have gotten in the way and prevented it. They will be in later today (Sunday). And I am truly excited. A friend of mine came to the house on Wednesday and brought me a complete meal, so that I wouldn’t have to cook while everyone was here, and I could just play with the precious little ones and enjoy myself. We’ll be eating that food today! I tried the BBQ last night and it is awesome.
If there were no rain or other bad weather, the folks attending the Stock Show in San Antonio wouldn’t know how to act. At least it isn’t as bad as it was about 15 to 20 years ago when some of the trail riders had to load their horses into their trailers and finish the journey by truck. My dad was ill and Sam and I were on our way here to Yoakum and we had roads closing behind us and at one point, the sanding truck was a couple of car lengths ahead of us. I was so very thankful he was a good driver, even though my knuckles were white from holding onto the “oh my goodness” handle! We got here safely, but later, I found out that if we had gone the route that the trail riders had come from, we wouldn’t have had ice at all…it was much worse where we were. It has always seemed to me, that if there is going to be bad weather, it will happen around Stock Show time. I’ve sloshed through some really bad rain and some icy cold weather in the past to attend it. This year seems to be no exception, it has been drizzly here at my home most of the night, thankfully the temperature is in the 40s so it isn’t freezing, just cold and uncomfortable to be out.
The next holiday that requires our attention is Valentine’s Day, and you have very little time to do anything, but the recipes I’ve given don’t take much time. Some of you will be reading this on the 13th, and others the 14th, and possibly for some of you it will be later.
Don’t forget to get a little something for your favorite Valentine! It doesn’t have to be much, just get a pretty card that tells her/him how much you care! Of course, if you want to do some baking or cooking, I’m sure that will be appreciated also.
Here’s a little history of Valentine’s Day for you. Even though it seems to be so, Valentine’s Day is not a day designated by card makers to make money. It had its origins in history. Valentine’s Day began as a Roman harvest festival, which was called “Lupercalia”, and it was celebrated on February 15. On the evening preceding this celebration, young women would put their names in a jar for the men to choose one. The paper he drew would name his partner for the festival’s duration, sometimes for the entire year.
A Roman priest named Valentine was arrested and beheaded on the eve of Lupercalia for disobeying the Emperor’s edict and performing marriages for the Emperor’s soldiers. At this time, soldiers were forbidden to wed. Valentine was beheaded on February 14, so in honor of his dedication to helping young lovers, he was declared the patron saint of lovers.
Today, we still exchange valentines with our spouses, parents, children and friends in honor of this saint. The valentines may be something with hearts, flowers and lace, or it may be comic; whichever it is, hopefully it will be appreciated.
During the Victorian period, valentines were extremely ornate, featuring hearts, flowers, cherubs and lots of lacy paper. This was followed by a time when valentines became downright tacky and more insulting than loving. We seem to have come full circle, as many of the ones available today are rather ornate. It has also become traditional to send flowers, candy or both to the love of our choice. In fact, many stores and flower shops have specials on roses on that day, as the red rose has become the symbol of true love! Chocolates and Valentine’s Day are practically synonymous. Lacy valentines and fancily decorated, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate candies are made for one another. If your love is a more practical person and would prefer (or your budget would prefer), you can make heart shaped cookies from scratch or buy a roll of dough, slice it and shape the pieces of dough into hearts. In fact, I think I saw some dough to be sliced that has a heart-shape already in the center of the dough. What could be simpler?
A jellyroll, using red raspberry or strawberry jam or jelly for the filling is also beautiful. Red Velvet Cake baked in a heart shaped pan is absolutely the greatest, as is any other type of chocolate cake. You can add some red food coloring to make any chocolate cake have a reddish cast. Frost with cream cheese frosting or frost with whipped topping.
Strawberry Jelly Roll
(Grease and flour a 15½-inch x 10½-inch jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides), or line the pan with waxed paper cut to size. This is much the easier way.
3 large eggs (2/3 cup)
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 pint strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced*
1 carton (8-oz) whipped topping, thawed
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Beat eggs until thick, gradually adding sugar, beating well after each addition. Beat in all at once the water and vanilla. Beat in all at once the sifted dry ingredients, beating just until smooth with no lumps remaining. Pour int prepared pan. Bake at 375ºF just until cake tests done. (About 12 to 15 minutes).
While cake is baking, lay a clean cotton cup-towel (if all your towels are terry cloth, use a piece of an old sheet) on the table or counter and lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar. Remove cake from oven. Loosen edges and turn out onto sugar coated cup towel. Peel off the paper, and immediately roll the cake up in the towel, leaving until cool. (Begin with a short side, rather than the long one). When cool, unroll and spread with the strawberries that you have stirred into the whipped topping, then, re-roll without the towel. *You can also use the ‘more fruit’ type of strawberry or any red jam and simply spread on the cake and roll it back up. If you do this, serve each slice with a dollop of whipped topping, if desired. Cut into ½-inch slices to serve. Makes about 14 to 16 servings.
Double Chocolate Cherry Cake
1 package Dark Chocolate Cake Mix
Ingredients as listed on box to make cake
1 can Dark Sweet Cherry Pie Filling
1 package (12-oz) chocolate chips
Mix cake according to directions on package. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13 pan. Spoon pie filling over cake batter and swirl through. Sprinkle with one-half of chocolate chips and swirl them through. Bake as directed on package. Remove from oven and while still warm, sprinkle remaining chips over cake.
Here is a fairly simple recipe for a Caramel Turtle Cake, in that it uses caramel sauce rather than a package of caramels, and best of all, it is made for using the new size cake mix. My other recipe is old enough that it requires the old size mix.
Decadent Caramel Turtle Cake
1 (16.5-0z) package Devil’s food cake mix (Duncan Hines)
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
4-oz low-fat cream cheese
1 carton (8-oz) low-fat whipped topping, thawed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
¼ cup mini chocolate chips
½ cup caramel sauce, divided
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare cake mix to package directions, substituting applesauce for the oil. Divide batter evenly between 2 greased, 9-inch round pans. Bake 25 minutes or until done. Let cool and remove from pans.
Using a mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, whipped topping and cinnamon 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy. (I would beat the cream cheese first and then add the topping and cinnamon).
Place one cake layer on plate spread with half the frosting; sprinkle with half of the pecans and chocolate chips and drizzle with half the caramel. Top with remaining layer, spread with remaining frosting’ drizzle with remaining topping. Garnish as desired. Serves 16.