Country Kitchen: A Day of Hearts and Flowers

Country Kitchen: A Day of Hearts and Flowers
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February brings us that day of hearts and flowers, when the youngsters and the young in spirit fill the home with joyousness and festive cooking. A custom in some homes is the family Valentine box, with selection among the children of mailman to distribute cards for family members.
This is especially meaningful for the young tots who're not of age to participate in school parties and exchanges as older brothers and sisters do. So when the older ones join them to help make the box, decorate the house, design the cards, the day takes on a merry mood and is anticipated eagerly.

Although some folks often claim that such sentimental traditions are out of step in this day and age, many of us will remember fondly how these occasions drew family closer in shared activities. Secrets whispered in Mother's ear, a meal especially prepared, decorations carefully made for the table or buffet by tiny tots and older ones - all these are part and parcel of getting ready for the special day.

Valentine Memories

I recall this day with fondness midst the memories of my childhood. We created a Valentine box for cards exchanged among family memories. Handmade cards were treasured, so my siblings and I drew and colored cards for one another, parents, our grandmother, and the hired man.

Mother prepared a special meal complete with cake decorated with pink icing and cinnamon hearts. Another treat was canned strawberries to accompany the cake. (In the days before frozen foods, canned fruits were the norm. Since strawberries weren't so plentiful, they were saved for special meals.)

Festive Valentine Treats

For a special Valentine treat, perhaps it's a heart-shaped cake frosted with deep pink icing and sprinkled with silver decorettes. Or a tiered cake iced in white with tiny cinnamon candy hearts for added appeal is a festive sight.

Heart-shaped tarts consisting of meringue shells filled with pink raspberry, strawberry, or cherry cream are other delicacies. A cherry pie decorated with heart-shaped bits of crust instead of solid or lattice top is a specialty.

Then cookies, cut in Valentine shapes and iced in red, pink, and white sweetheart colors are fun for kiddies to cut out and help decorate.

Other Valentine ideas for the meal include biscuits cut with heart-shaped cookie cutter instead of the regular circular one, or gelatin-type salads shaped in heart molds.

For the festive VALENTINE CAKE, bake a recipe which makes two 9-inch heart-shaped layers. When cake has cooled, split layers and put together using a red berry jam for filling. Ice sides and top with your favorite frosting tinted pink. Decorate with silver decorettes or candy hearts.

For variation, you can tint the cake batter pink or purchase a pink strawberry cake mix.

(My mother made a pink cake, either in heart-shaped pans or round pans, for Valentine's Day when I was a child.)

Article (C) 2004 Mary Emma Allen

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About The Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes

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