Meals for Valentine’s Day, Lenten
Are you as upset with that groundhog as I am?! The sunshine on the snow is beautiful, but the cold weather and slippery roads are not appreciated. If there is any good in this wild (but not altogether unusual) weather pattern, it is that many of summer’s pests will have gone to Bug Heaven. Now, if they had just collected the wannabe lady bugs that are still hiding in the house, it would have been appreciated. So, we take what we get and be thankful we can handle it. There are times when I think I should have chosen a better “year word” than “thankful” as I sometimes have to really push to be “thankful”!
Did you get some doughnuts made for next Tuesday? If any of your samples are left over, just put some pink icing on them and tell your family they are special for Valentine’s Day. If the wrong team won last Sunday (Super Bowl), for anyone in your house, make a batch of doughnuts to ease the pain of losing, or, if it went the other way, a present for the win. No matter for whom you rooted, it was a great game.
The origin of the Fastnacht (Germany), Shrove Tuesday (England), or Doughnut Day goes back to the custom of using up all the fat in the house before Ash Wednesday as no meat was eaten during Lent. Most modern households don’t observe Lent much anymore, compared to the past.
Many do eat more seafood and vegetables and less meat during this time as the season of self-reflection is observed and more thought is given to self-betterment than to food. What one “gives up” or “takes on” is a very personal decision and each person decides if, or how, Lent is to be observed. Many churches will have a Friday “Fish Fry” on each Friday of Lent and they are enjoyed by everyone, whether or not one observes Lent otherwise.
This year, Valentine’s Day and the beginning of Lent is the same day. That gives more thought to “giving up” chocolate! There are many ways to show your appreciation to your “significant other” and not all of them include chocolate, so take your choice. Sparkly things like diamonds, bouquets of roses, promises of washing dishes or sweeping — just be certain you show your thoughts in some way and follow through on any promises. Elephants aren’t the only creatures that have long memories!
According to old records, there were seven or eight saints named Valentine whose feast days were February 14th. The one who usually gets the credit for being the patron saint of lovers was a young priest in the days of Emperor Claudius. Claudius found out that married men were reluctant to join the military, so he outlawed marriage. This young priest performed marriages in secret and lost his head on February 14, 269 or 270A.D. when Claudius found out about it.
The first commercial valentines came out about 1800. It is reported that in 1830 Ester Howland of Massachusetts had a yearly business of $100,000.00, making valentines of imported laces and fine paper. Find a need and fill it — that’s the way to achieve financial security! Just remember to go to the local card store and get that special card for that special someone. Moms and Grandmas cherish the ones that are handmade by the little ones and the little ones cherish the ones with some money in them!
To make a heart-shaped cake when you don’t have a heart-shaped pan is easy. Make a two layer cake; bake one layer in an 8-inch square pan and the other layer in an 8-inch round pan. Cut the round layer in half crossways and place the half-layers on adjoining sides of the square layer. Ice it and no one knows it wasn’t baked in a heart-shaped pan!
The recipes today are for Valentine’s Day and Lenten meals. I hope they give you some ideas for your family. Keep our protectors in your prayers and do something special for them or their families. Enjoy Valentine’s Day with little ones, and older ones, too, — everyone likes to be remembered — and don’t forget the hugs. Smile, and drive those who would be nasty to you a little crazy — they don’t know what you are thinking!
Save the brown onion peels for Easter eggs. If you celebrate Lent, have a blessed one.
SOUTHERN RED VALENTINE CAKE
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons hot coffee
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Toasted Pecan Topping
Cream butter and add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Combine cocoa, coffee, and food coloring and add to creamed mixture, beating well. Dissolve soda in buttermilk. Stir it well. Combine flour and salt. Add buttermilk mixture and flour mixture alternately to creamed mixture, starting and ending with flour mixture. Pour batter into two greased and floured cake pans. Bake in preheated 325-degrees oven for thirty-five minutes or until cake tests done. Cool in pans for ten minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on wire racks. When cooled completely, spread Toasted Pecan Toping between layers and on top of cake.
TOASTED PECAN TOPPING
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place butter and pecans in a 9-inch square pan and bake at 200-degrees for fifteen to twenty minutes, stirring half way through. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Combine sugar, cream, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in pecans.
EASY BAKED FISH
Fresh lemon juice
Grated Parmesan Romano cheese
Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Spray baking dish with non-stick spray. Place fillets in baking dish in a single layer. Squeeze lemon juice over fish. Pour melted butter over. Sprinkle garlic powder, grated cheese and Cajun seasoning over fish. Bake 10 to 25 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
BAKED FILLET OF FISH
Four or five fish fillets
Swiss cheese slices
1 cup sour cream
Use a flat 8- x 10-inchbaking dish suitable for serving. Butter it well. Place fillets across dish; do not overlap. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place a slice of Swiss cheese over each fillet. Sprinkle lightly with more pepper — fresh ground is best. Cover all with sour cream. Bake in preheated 300-degrees oven about 30 t0 40 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets. Kingfish is best for this, but any good fish will work.
NOTE: Fish is done when it flakes easily, using a fork. This method is basically for thick fillets, but works with thinner fillets — just use shorter time and test for doneness in a shorter time..
STUFFED FLOUNDER (for four)
4 medium flounders, or four large flounder fillets
1 1/2 lbs. pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb. fresh or canned crabmeat
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onions
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup cooking oil
3 stale buns or rolls soaked in water
4 eggs plus 1 yolk for brushing tops
1/2 cup cracker meal or bread crumbs
1/2 cup green onion tops and parsley combined, chopped
Boil shrimp, cool, and chop. Put oil, celery, onions, and garlic in heavy pan and saute until onions are wilted and slightly translucent. Add chopped shrimp, crabmeat, soaked buns, and 2 unbeaten eggs. Mix well. Add 2 egg whites and mix. Then add 2 egg yolks, cracker meal or breadcrumbs, green onion tops and parsley. Season generously with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Split flounder lengthwise, removing bones if using whole fish. Stuff with prepared mixture. Brush egg yolk across tops of fish and broil 10 minutes on each side. Serve with drawn butter or garlic butter, a lemon wedge, and a sprig of fresh parsley.
BAKED RED CABBAGE
1 small head red cabbage
2 cups water
1/2 cup seedless grapes, halved
2 cooking apples, pared and sliced
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 tablespoon butter
3/4 tablespoon flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup claret
Shred cabbage and boil in water until tender. Place cabbage and liquid in casserole. Combine remaining ingredients and add to cabbage. Bake in preheated 350-degrees oven for one hour.
KAPOK TREE INN CORN FRITTERS
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 scant teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup whole kernel corn
Fat for frying
Resift flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together. Add egg, milk, and corn. Maintain fat at 350-degrees and fry until golden brown, turning once with a spoon to cook evenly. Remove fritters from fat and drain on paper towels. Serve piping hot on a warm platter. Sprinkle fritters with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Patty Christopher is a longtime columnist for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.