Time for Valentines

This past week was pretty quiet for me…pokeno, three meetings, two afternoons in the Hospital Gift Shop, and on Saturday, a great day out with a friend. We went to Gonzales and had lunch at a fabulous BBQ restaurant, (the ribs were great, as was the mac/cheese and slaw), then shopping at Beall’s for a while. I found some jeans and a blouse, and the three pieces were less than the regular price of the jeans, and then back to her house where we played Rummikub for a while! A truly fun day with a great friend and really enjoyed by both of us because we don’t always have time to spend an afternoon together.
Friday, February 14th, is St. Valentine’s Day and here are a few Valentine facts and myths that you may never have heard, or maybe you have heard and forgotten.
Legend has it St. Valentine was a priest in 3rd century Rome. When the emperor forbade young men to marry, because he believed bachelors made better warriors, Valentine secretly presided over their nuptials in spite of the emperor’s decree. It is believed that he was arrested and beheaded on the eve of Lupercalia for disobeying this edict. So, in honor of his dedication to helping young lovers, he was declared the patron saint of lovers.
The oldest known American Valentine is a handmade card from the early 1700s. It has a handwritten verse in German. Some people suggest Valentine’s Day gets its name from the Norman French word for lover, galantine.
Some historians trace the custom of sending Valentines to a French duke of the 1400s. While he was a prisoner of war in England, he sent his wife a rhymed love letter from his cell in the Tower of London on Valentine’s Day.
The custom of sending romantic messages on Valentine’s Day may have begun in the 1500s, but the first commercially printed cards didn’t appear until the 1800s.
After seeing a valentine from Great Britain in 1847, Ester A. Howland of Worcester, MA, decided to make her own, becoming one of the first makers of commercial valentines in the United States. Some historians claim the tradition of exchanging valentines on February 14 can be traced back to the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer.
Folklore claims that one of the reasons Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14 is that is the day the birds choose their mates.
Valentine’s Day is thought to have begun as a Roman harvest festival that was called “Lupercalia”. It was celebrated on February 15. The evening before this celebration, young women would put their names in a jar for the men to choose one. The name he drew would name his partner for the festival’s duration, sometimes for the entire year.
During the Victorian period, valentines were extremely ornate, featuring hearts, flowers, cherubs and lots of lacey paper. This was followed by a time during the late 1800s and 1900s, when they became more insulting than loving, and came to be called “penny dreadfuls”.
Today, we still exchange Valentines with our spouses, parents and friends in honor of this saint. The cards may be fancy and frilly, or they may be comic, whichever it is, hopefully it will be appreciated.
If you receive roses or other fresh flowers, and they are not in a vase, remove the leaves that would be underwater and cut an inch off the stems, while holding them under water (this keeps air from blocking the flow of water to the flower), and then put them in a vase of water with floral preservative, if it came with the flowers. Keep the flowers away from direct sunlight, drafts or heat. Top off the vase with water every day. Placing them in a cool, dark place in the evening will prolong their life.
If you want to bake something to express your love, sugar cookies are easy, especially the slice and bake type that is available in the dairy case at the grocery store. Just follow the directions on the package. Here are some recipes to try if you want to start from “scratch”, to do your baking.
Cherry Cobbler
1 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup butter or margarine
1 can cherry pie filling
Melt margarine in 9×9-inch baking pan. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder milk and extract to make a soft dough. Pour dough mixture into pan, top with cherry pie filling. Bake at 350ºF for about 30 to 45 minutes.
The following is a beautiful, tasty, as well as quick and easy dessert.
Pink Dessert
1 can cherry pie filling (20-ounce) (dark sweet cherry pie filling is really great, if you can find it)
1 can crushed pineapple in juice (16 or 20-oz can)
1 can Angel Flake® coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 carton whipped topping (thawed)
Mix all ingredients together and chill before serving.
Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake
1 box dark chocolate or chocolate fudge cake mix
3 eggs
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 can dark sweet cherry pie filling (if you can get it, if not just use cherry pie filling)
Mix eggs into cake mix. Stir in pie filling and almond extract. Pour into Bundt pan and bake at 350ºF until cake tests done. You can also bake this cake in a 9×13 pan, or if you have a microwave safe Bundt pan it can be baked in your microwave. To do this, pour the cake mixture into the pan and bake on high for 9 minutes, turn one-quarter turn and bake additional 6 minutes. (If your microwave has a turntable, bake for 15 minutes total time, without making the quarter turn).
Dump cake
The reason this is called a “Dump Cake” will become quite evident when you start reading the recipe. You dump the different ingredients into the 9x13x2-in. baking pan in the order they are listed below. I have made this recipe many times and it’s great for a short-notice dessert.
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Place the following ingredients in a 9x13x2 baking pan:
1 large can crushed pineapple in its own juice, undrained
1 can cherry pie filling, (either regular or dark sweet cherry)
1 box yellow cake mix (butter flavor yellow is great)
1 stick butter, sliced into 1/8-inch slices and placed all over the top.
Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes. *
*Place the pie filling in the pan, top with the pineapple and set aside. Place the cake mix in a large mixing bowl, add a stick of softened butter to the cake mix, and using your pastry blender or a fork, cut the butter into the cake mix, (just as you would cut in shortening for pie crust), it should resemble coarse crumbs. Spread this on top of the pineapple, top with some chopped pecans and coconut if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold with whipped topping or ice cream.
Our fire department is having a fundraiser on the Sunday after Valentine’s Day and I’m going to try a recipe for a Cherry Dr. Pepper cake that I found on-line, but first, I have to find the Cherry Dr. Pepper, they have it at our local HEB, but I don’t want to buy a 12-pack!
Hope you have a very happy Valentine’s Day!