Five Friday Favorites – Love Themes

It’s Friday and it’s Valentine’s Day. So of course today we have to look at love.

I got up a little early this morning and surprised the family by decorating the kitchen (I surprised myself by remembering where I’d put the decorations when I took them down last year!). Even daughter got up early, so I was able to make her a special breakfast before the dog appeared, closely followed by Dad, and then we opened our cards (we tend to go for the goofy rather than the lovey-dovey in our family) before she left for school.

I’m the PTA high school coordinator, so I followed her in to school armed with a heavy bag of Valentine’s candies and put them in a big bowl by the Office for the kids, with a Happy Valentine’s Day from your PTA sign. It’s hard, sometimes, to find ways to show our teenagers that we care for and appreciate them without making them feel awkward, but I have a feeling the Hershey’s hugs and kisses will disappear during the day as the kids make their way between classes.

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Here are five of my favorites on the theme of love.

Movie: “Casablanca”

Novel: “Pride and Prejudice”, Jane Austen

Opera: “Madam Butterfly”, Puccini

Poem: “The Sun Rising”, John Donne

Song: “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, Elvis Presley

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Do you have your own Five Favorites?

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Baking for love

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I am not the world’s greatest cook. My family will assure you of that. But once in a while I do break out the mixing bowls and give it a whirl, and with Valentine’s Day last Thursday, what better way to show my children that I love them than to bake something special just for them?

Tuesday found me happily up to my eyes in flour as I baked my son’s favorite Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. One little trick I learned several years ago is to toast the oatmeal first – it brings out the nuttiness (yes I know – as if I needed any more nuttiness in my kitchen!) I’ve also discovered that golden raisins (we call them sultanas in England) give a different sweetness to the cookies, and that was what I used this week (mainly, I’ll admit, because I’d forgotten that I used up all the raisins at Christmas). The cookies were a success, and I packed them carefully into the containers, padding them with parchment and paper towel, hoping that some of them would actually arrive intact, before heading down to the post office and mailing them. I kept back the ones that didn’t fit in the boxes – they disappeared before I got a chance to photograph them.

Then it was Em’s turn. She had decided on a Red Velvet Cake for her birthday, but circumstances conspired against her, and I promised her one for Valentine’s Day instead. I’d never baked one before, but we looked up recipes and came up with two or three that looked promising. Wednesday evening she put on her baking apron (a birthday baking gift from a year or so back) and we set to work. We made a pretty good team! It was the first sponge cake I’d made in years, and although it wasn’t up to Grandma Saunders’ standards (she was a wonderful baker) it turned out well, and must be a success as it is disappearing quite rapidly! It’s more of a brownish red than a bright red, but Em decided that the chocolateyness (is that even a word?) of it was more important than the color. We also tried our hand at a yummy buttercream frosting.

Now I’m feeling inspired! I’m heading out of town this week and I think maybe I should bake cookies to leave behind for Bob and Em. Chocolate chip, maybe even mocha chocolate chip!