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Photographs by Meadow Linn

Monday, February 14, 2011

Be Your Own Valentine Every Day




As I trolled the aisles of the grocery store, a sly smile worked its way across my face. I bounced from the produce aisle to the dry goods section as though the floor were covered in soft moss. I had a secret that no one else knew. I had an admirer. Without meaning to, I found myself wishing someone would ask me about the contents of my grocery cart. The strawberries, raspberries, chocolate, brut rosé sparkling wine, and one dozen red roses would certainly paint a picture of a romantic evening. And they would be right, but they wouldn't know the whole story. What fun it was to clandestinely peruse the grocery aisles, knowing that I knew something special, something no one else would be able guess. Though no one asked, I wanted to tell anyone and everyone, "These flowers are for me. This chocolate and these raspberries…for me too. I'm going to turn them into decadent candies that I'm going to enjoy with a glass of this beautiful pink Champagne. I have an admirer who knows me better than anyone else in the world…it's me!" I left the store, smiling to myself, with my secret intact.

Many people have strong feelings about Valentine's Day. They either love it or hate it. It's easy to build up expectations and harbor disappointment. Who hasn't spent Valentine's Day waiting and hoping for the cute boy down the street or the girl with golden locks to profess their undying love on heart-shaped red and pink paper glued to a paper doily? Be your own Valentine and you'll always feel cherished. However, it's also nice to be surprised by those you love. Sometimes the best moments of our lives happen when we least expect them. One of my favorite Valentine's Day memories is from high school. On my way out the door, my dad stopped me in the kitchen. I remember clearly, he was sitting on a stool by the window. My dad, who had never done anything for Valentine's Day before, handed me a gift. He said, "This is for you. I hear this is a popular band." I unwrapped the small package and found the latest Phish album inside. Although I no longer own a CD player, I'm sure I'll have that CD forever.

 Valentine's Day is just a day on the calendar, one out of 365; yet, we ascribe so much significance to it. I actually forgot that it was Valentine's Day until I l noticed that the stores were filled with red roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. Be your own Valentine every day. When you wake up in the morning, say, "I love you." Write yourself love notes and fill them with positive affirmations. What are your best attributes? What do you love most about yourself? Buy yourself Champagne. Fill your home with flowers. Rather than waiting for someone to give you chocolates, devouring the whole box, and then feeling guilty about it, make your own. The care that you put into each candy will make them taste divine, and they will radiate your love to all who eat them. As an added bonus, you will most likely eat fewer because each delicious bite will satisfy both body and soul.

Be your own secret admirer. Today. Tomorrow. And all the other days. Start cherishing yourself today. The more love you feel for yourself and others, the more love you will pull to you.

 

Double Raspberry Chocolates
makes 20

20 petit-four foil cups*
6 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, chopped**
2 tbs raspberry wine or framboise liqueur
20 fresh raspberries

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or heatproof bowl) over hot, not simmering, water, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from the heat. Place a small cookie sheet or other flat tray in the freezer. With a pastry brush, "paint" a thick layer of chocolate over the interior surface of the petit-four cup.

Immediately place on the tray in the freezer. This helps the chocolate set quickly. Repeat until all the chocolate has been used.





Remove the chocolate cups from the freezer and carefully peel off the foil. Don't be dismayed; No matter how careful you are, some will break.
You can either eat the broken ones or re-melt the chocolate and remake them. Weak spots and holes can be patched with a bit of melted chocolate.




 
Just before serving, put a generous 1/4 tsp. of raspberry wine into each chocolate cup and top with a raspberry.








Variation: put a small dollop of strawberry jam in the chocolate cup and top with finely diced fresh strawberries. 













*Petit-four foil cups can be found at both cooking and craft stores. They look like mini cupcake liners.
**I highly recommend using high quality dark chocolate for this recipe. Not only does the flavor pair well with the raspberry, but also it will be much easier to work with than chocolate chips or milk chocolate, which are softer and will likely melt in your fingers before you remove the foil mold.