I’ve written about Valentine’s Day a few times in the past in this space. I think if you like sweet Valentine stories, you should definitely check out this one.
I think it’s one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written about my daughters, and I’m happy to report that the girls still love each other mightily, even though there’s not the blind devotion that came with the tiny years. These days, there’s a lot more good-natured teasing and busting of the chops, but it’s done with love.
Example: This week, Miss M. had her 5th grade parent-teacher conference, which went well. Her conferences always do. Miss M. is an old soul and a stickler for following the rules and teachers, naturally, love her to bits. She was that way at the tender ago of five, and has not changed with age. Heck, she was probably more mature at five than I was at nineteen. Not proud of this on my end, but whatever.
When we came home from parent-teacher conferences, Miss D. was at the kitchen counter, working on her Chemistry homework. She looked up from her papers and grinned wickedly.
“Let me guess,” she said. “Another totally crappy and disastrous parent-teacher conference.”
“Absolute shitshow,” I said, scanning the mail in my hand. “Your sister is off-task and evil and a complete moron.”
“Total idiot, right?” Daphne said, shaking her head. And then the laughter and the dogpile and the pulling of ears and the tickling.
That’s our family for you. Our unofficial motto is: If we don’t tease you to death, we hate you.
If you detest Valentine’s day or need a little sour with your sweet, you might want to check out my sentiments in this one.
Those of us with small children (or even rather grown ones) know that the face of Valentine’s Day has changed over time. It’s just not the romantic affair it used to be.
Unless, of course, romance has never really been on your relationship radar, because you are attached to a curmudgeon/the least romantic person in the universe. According to my husband, that curmudgeon is me. Remember when he gave me Hell about it in this guest post?
So yeah, not the perfect spokesperson for Valentine’s Day. Hmph.
I guess my point is, I’ve written about love, romance (or lack thereof), devotion and February 14th for a few years now, so you probably don’t need more words about the holiday.
What I hope you do need is some encouragement to do something loving for anyone you love in your life, not just your romantic partner. Why should love be only spread as thin as romance? Love takes so many wonderful forms, so I encourage you to celebrate all facets of the whole loving business. Give a little extra sugar to the parents in your life (if you are lucky enough to still have them around), treat your friend to a latte, give flowers to a dedicated teacher or your yoga instructor, buy your best co-worker a craft cocktail, ply your children with a piece of quality chocolate, cook a much-beloved meal for those you want to feed well.
We’ve had some pretty hard and negative times these last few months (Jesus fuck, I know I feel it), so wouldn’t it be nice to spread a little sweetness around this Tuesday?
I think it’s kind of genius that Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year, because it gets you out of any kind of excessive spectacle. You can get away with a card and a heartfelt gesture of some sort, and I think that’s the true spirit of the holiday, anyways. Who needs a giant teddy bear, a dozen roses and 2 pounds of chocolate? That sounds ridiculous when you’re over the age of, I don’t know, fourteen?
Then again, people are free to celebrate as they wish, so if giant teddy bears are your thing, who am I to say? I guess my point is: honor the loved ones in your life.
Now, if you were going to honor me, because I just assume that everyone would wish to, you should make this. As I’ve mentioned before, there are two kinds of people in this world: chocolate people and citrus people. I am firmly on Team Citrus. This panna cotta channels my favorite pie–Key Lime–and looks so pretty when topped with a few other beautiful things like crumbled cookies, luscious berries and fresh whipped cream. It’s just the thing I want to eat when I want to be spoiled and frankly, I did. It was absolutely delightful. I shared it with my girls, who also loved it, and that made me happy. It doubly made me happy because it tasted decadent but was actually a fairly light dessert. The one person I didn’t share it with? My husband, because he is on Team Chocolate.
Don’t worry, baby. I haven’t forgotten about you. Yours is coming.
Key Lime Panna Cotta
from Cooking Light
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup low-fat sweetened condensed milk (I could only find regular or fat-free, so I used regular)
2 tablespoons grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup 2% milk, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons lime juice or key lime juice, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon butter
1 low fat or regular graham cracker sheet, crushed
Combine first three ingredients and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes.
Pour 1/4 cup milk into a medium bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over and let stand 10 minutes.
Over medium high heat, bring lime zest mixture to a simmer; whisk into the gelatin mixture. Add the remaining 3/4 cup milk and whisk. Drain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Discard solids.
Stir in 1 tablespoon lime juice. Divide mixture among 4 (4-ounce) ramekins that have been lightly coated with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Combine remaining tablespoon lime juice and honey. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add crumbs and remaining 1/8 tablespoon salt. Cook about a minute or until lightly toasted. Cool.
To serve, loosen the edges of the panna cotta with a sharp knife and invert onto plates. Drizzle each with honey mixture and a sprinkle of crumbs. Top with berries and whipped cream, if desired.