Sunday, 14 April 2024

Foodie Freak: Valentine

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That quintessential romantic holiday is here and you know your significant other wants a romantic meal with you. But you’ve put off making reservations, can’t cook and are thinking “I don’t know how to do any of that stuff!” Well, guess what? It’s not that difficult. I have a plan for you.


I am by far not the most romantic man around (and my wife agrees since she let that through the editing process) but I have a book on hold right now all about making romantic meals.


How does a guy like me who isn’t the most romantic man in the world write a book about making

romantic meals? Because I know the secret.


It’s not a matter of knowing how to make rose petal crepes with crème fraise (pronounced krem fresh) that you think your significant other is hoping you make, but a matter of you showing that you were thinking about them.


In some relationships that may be as simple as making a bowl of corn flakes and serving it in bed. That’s it, sometimes. It isn’t that your significant other wants you to make something extravagant, but rather that you make it yourself with them in mind; truly, THAT is the most romantic meal.


Every relationship is different. My wife actually has become accustomed to my odd way of looking at the world and now feels all warm and fuzzy when she is called “scary,” or told that she has “minnow eyes,” “kelp hair,” or “dolphin lips.” Really! Those are compliments! Oh, and I call her “Moose.” OK, actually I call her “Mousse” because she's sweet and fluffy and light ... Get it?


My world is a far more interesting place (“Babylon 5” reference for the nerds) than most people may be used to, but my wife has adapted to it. That’s one of the reasons people may not completely understand the nature of some of my columns, because I see things differently than most people and need some getting used to.


Today I’m not going to give you the history of St. Valentine’s Day since you aren’t going to be making any points by gazing across the table at each other and saying, “It is believed that Valentine’s Day

was created by early Christians as a way to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, just like they did with Christmas and Saturnalia ...”


The idea that you should keep in your mind is that today is the day that your significant other wants you to be thinking about them first, not the trivia of an early Christian saint. That is, unless you’re my niece Elizabeth, but she’s freakishly smart.


If you remember the classic American movie “Dr. Detroit,” starring Dan Aykroyd, there’s a scene that illustrates my tip for the day.


In a pinch for a dinner party, they took fast food fried chicken, coated it in an Indian curry sauce and pretended that the meal was catered. This type of deception – no, we’ll call it resourceful meal creation – isn’t something you can really pull off with well known fast food unless you are really good at it.


That’s not to say you can’t work around the basic idea. Try this: get a roasted whole chicken from the deli center at the grocery store (plain, lemon garlic, rosemary, it doesn’t matter), some pistachios, raspberry jam, a basting brush, steam-in-the-bag frozen vegetables, and a freshly baked loaf of French

bread.


When you get home, shell about twenty pistachios and chop or smash the nuts into small pieces, mix them with about half a cup of the raspberry jam, then mix in a little water or even soda so it has a

paint-like consistency.


Throw the vegetables in the microwave according to the instructions.


Now using the basting brush, lightly paint the jelly/nut mixture all over the chicken (raspberries and pistachios are both rumored to be aphrodisiacs). Serve the vegetables in a bowl, carve the chicken and

cut the bread at the table. Voila! A beautiful unique meal, just for your sweetie. Candles lit on the table will put you over the top.


Whether you are a guy or a girl preparing for a guy or a girl, this simple little throw-together is just impressive enough and has a unique enough of a flavor to impress. Tah dah!


If you aren’t able to have dinner with them, you can surprise them sometime with bringing a picnic lunch to their workplace. Tell your significant other the day before that you want to have lunch with them and make an appointment for when you will show up.


The day of your lunch simply go to the deli and pack up on sandwiches, potato salad, salads, bottled soda or water, and be sure to ask the deli person for some plastic utensils and plates (they usually have some, get extras for serving). Throw in a blanket to set up on, and you’re set to go.


You don’t even need to have a special picnic basket. Don’t bring any alcohol; you don’t want to cause any trouble with the boss.


Show up about 15 minutes early and set it up where coworkers can see but you won’t be in the way. Keep anything like napkins or paper plates weighted down or kept in the bag so they don’t accidentally

blow away with the next breeze. I did this for my wife once and her coworkers talked about it enviously for weeks.


It’s that easy. So go out an impress your significant other and have a Happy Valentine’s Day.


Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community. Follow him on Twitter, http://twitter.com/Foodiefreak .


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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