February 13, 2004 at 10:25 a.m.
Do you remember how this day of hearts and flowers came about? I’ll refresh your memory. According to one account, Valentine’s Day began in the time of the Roman Empire, under the rule of Emperor Claudius II, when Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular military crusades. “Claudius the Cruel,” as he was known, was having a hard time getting men to join the military. He believed the reason was that Roman men did not want to leave their loved ones and family. With this thought, he cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. (That nasty fellow!) A Christian priest, named Valentine, came to defend love in Claudius’ empire. He began secretly to marry couples against the emperor’s orders. When the emperor was told about this, Valentine was sent to prison, where he stayed until he died Feb. 14, 270. He was honored and made a saint for his efforts and through the centuries the tradition of honoring St. Valentine has continued.
Today we celebrate in a number of ways and one is to present our very special person with sweet treats. So guys, get yourself to the candy store and pick up a box of your love’s favorite sweet treat. And gals, how about fixing a special dinner in the way of something red on the menu, unless you’re being taken out to dinner to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day.
If you’re not cooking, try one or two of these recipes––perhaps for Presidents’ Day. Red sauce on spareribs––there you go!
SWEET AND SOUR RIBS
4-5 lbs. pork spareribs or loin back ribs, cut into serving size pieces
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1 c. ketsup
2/3 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. water
Pre-cook ribs in dutch oven, in water just to cover, for 45-50 minutes or until tender.* Drain and save liquid to use in gravies or as a base in soups.
In a small saucepan, combine sugars and cornstarch, mixing well. Stir in rest of ingredients slowly; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until thick and clear.
Put ribs in large shallow pan (9x13 or larger); pour sauce over ribs. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
Serve any extra sauce with ribs. Serves 5-6.
*When ribs come to a boil, skim off any foam as it gathers. Also, if you wish, scrub some baking potatoes and put them in the oven 20 minutes before you put the ribs in. While the potatoes and ribs are baking, make a green bean casserole using French fried onion rings and a cream soup (recipe is often on a can of French-style green beans) 30 minutes before the ribs are done.
With the next recipe you will have a very delicious dinner for your family or guests. The dressing for this salad needs to be made the day before unless you buy ready-made dressing.
4 c. assorted salad greens (Romaine or bibb lettuce, torn; iceberg lettuce or fresh spinach)
1/2 sweet red pepper, cut into 1-inch strips
10 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1/2 c. pitted ripe medium olives that have been cut in half
raspberry vinaigrette dressing (recipe follows or purchase prepared dressing)
Rinse and pat dry salad greens with paper toweling a couple hours before mealtime. Have rest of ingredients ready to add to greens when it’s mealtime.
Combine greens and rest of ingredients in large bowl. Toss to combine. Serve salad with dressing (don’t drown the salad in dressing.) Serves 6.
1/2 c. white wine vinegar
3 T. sugar
1/2 c. loose-pack frozen raspberries
2 T. water
1 T. canola or olive oil
Combine vinegar and sugar in small saucepan. Heat just until warm, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add berries. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight.
Before serving, stir in water and oil, mixing well. Makes about 1 cup.
A valentine dessert brings to mind something chocolate, with a red accent. Here it is . . .
SPECIAL VALENTINE BROWNIES
1 family-size package fudge brownie mix (or your favorite recipe using a 9x13 pan)
1 t. vanilla
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1-8 oz. package cream cheese, softened (it’s ok to use reduced-fat cream cheese)
1-21 oz. can cherry pie filling
Prepare brownie mix according to package directions in 9x13 pan, except bake for just 20 minutes. While it is baking, in large bowl combine vanilla, egg, condensed milk and cream cheese, beating until smooth.
Pour over baked brownie layer; bake an additional 25 minutes or until topping is set. Cool at least two hours. Spread with pie filling. Garnish with a dollop of whipped topping if you wish. Serves 12. Refrigerate leftovers.
Thought for the day: The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor touched, but are felt in the heart. Have a love-ly Valentine’s Day!