Wednesday, February 13, 2008

'Twas the day before Valentine's...

Men.

Specifically, men who complain about the stress and pressure and nerves they feel before Valentine's Day... Where to go? What to do? And what to SAY to their beloved, on this most "loving" Day-of-Days???

These men should come over to my house today. Because they ain't felt NO VALENTINE PRESSURE till they've worked with three small children to plan the kind of Valentine's extravaganza we enjoy around here.

Today at the Goddess' house, we will be making and addressing well over 80 little lacy cards... God bless those teachers who stress the importance of including EVERYONE in the valentine-giving, yet at this point, God rot 'em at the same time... Although Child Number One has no problem with addressing all the cards to her friends herself, Number Two and Wee Three will need help with spelling out names and forming the letters on all those tiny, straight lines...

And then there will be cookie-baking and decorating. We always make gingerbread valentine hearts for the class parties. The girlies love to drizzle them with pink-and-white icing, and I've found sugar sprinkles in the shapes of tiny hearts, pairs of kissy lips, and little x-es and o's. You all probably have your favourite gingerbread recipes, but this is mine, and it's big enough to feed a cast-of-thousands!! The dough will keep in the fridge for about 1 week, and also freezes beautifully...


Gingerbread Cookies

5 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp each baking soda, salt, cloves and cinnamon
1 c shortening
1 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c fancy molasses
1/2 c blackstrap molasses

Sift and combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, salt, cloves and cinnamon in a large bowl.

In another large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar, then beat in the eggs and molasses.

Gradually stir in small amounts of the flour mixture, until the dough is well mixed together.

Refrigerate the dough for at least one half hour. Then, turn it out on a floured surface and roll it to a 1/4 inch thickness, before cutting it into shapes.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 7-10 minutes. Watch carefully-- if it bakes for too long, the cookies will be too crisp!! I usually take them out just before the edges start to brown, and let them cool on the baking sheets, before transferring them to a wire rack.

For our at-home celebration, however, we make a beautiful, dark, spicy gingerbread cake. It's a recipe that came to me from my grandmother, and the rich, treacle-y aroma that fills the house while it bakes makes us all feel festive (and ravenous)...


Gingerbread Cake

Sift together in a large bowl:

2 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon

Add to it:

1/2 c shortening
3/4 c molasses
1 egg

Beat with the electric mixer for two minutes at medium speed, or 300 strokes by hand.

Then, add 1 c boiling water, and beat for an additional two minutes. Turn the batter into a greased, 8-inch square cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.

Whew...

Like most women, I have always loved Valentine's Day. I love it even MORE, now that I have children of my own to enjoy it with.

That said... If my dear husband is reading:

This year, if you will come home and CLEAN UP THE UNHOLY MESS IN THE KITCHEN for me tonight, you are officially "off-the-hook" tomorrow!!

(But come to think of it, going shopping would probably be much, much easier... Rats...)

2 comments:

mrinz said...

Whew!!!

I never realised that Valentines day was such a big event!

I vaguely remember being given cute little cards from the children when I taught for a year in BC in the late 1960's, but hadn't realised that there were lots of things going on in homes also.

Valentines day is celebrated here but in rather a lukewarm half hearted fashion, similar to Halloween. I think that it is considered a North American tradition and not really part of our culture.

Pity, it sounds fun. The world needs more romance and less anger.

Leeann said...
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