“So, what are we doing for Valentine’s Day?” My husband has been nervously asking me this question every couple of days for the last week.
“I don’t know. We don’t have a babysitter, so I guess we’re staying in this year,” I respond, casually.
I know J is feeling anxious because this is one of those holidays when people in relationships feel a lot of pressure not to be underprepared. You don’t want to be the insensitive partner who doesn’t have an appropriately thoughtful gift, and god forbid you forget Valentine’s Day! This is also a special holiday for us because my husband proposed on this day, nine years ago, in a little Italian restaurant in lower Manhattan, where we had our first date.
Valentine’s Day 2004, the night my husband proposed
Don’t we look young?
But the older I get, the less interested I am in stuff. My husband kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas for weeks leading up to the holidays, and I honestly couldn’t think of a single thing I needed or really wanted. Sure, there are things that I might like to have. Like, at some point in my life, I’d like a high-end espresso machine. But really, is that something I need in my life as a SAHM to (almost) two young children, when I’m not even drinking caffeine right now? Probably not.
Plus, I’m discovering that things that would’ve made me ecstatic to purchase when I was younger, like a new designer purse, just don’t give me that retail-therapy high anymore. I like to think it’s because I’ve just got too much truly important, meaningful stuff going on in my life to care about what’s hanging off my arm.
So, as Valentine’s Day rolls around this year, I want to focus less on capitalist consumption and more on the people I love and carving out some time for my marriage. Because before we know it, we’ll be welcoming another baby to just further distract us from each other! Since we’ll be spending the night in, I’ve decided to prepare a romantic dinner, complete with a freshly-pressed red tablecloth, candlelight, and foods known/believed to have an aphrodisiacal (yes, this is really a word…) quality.
In planning the menu, I did a little bit of research to find appropriately romantic meals that won’t break the bank or take a week of preparation. I just love the BBC’s GoodFood website, which offers a wide range of “aphrodisiac recipes” that are ranked from “Easy” to “For the Keen Cook” (so British!), and rated by users. The only problem with this site is that all the recipes use the metric system, and thus require some conversions.
Here’s my Valentine’s Day dinner menu:
- I love that this appetizer is upscale without being super fussy.
- “Easy” and ready in 20 minutes, received 5 stars from users
- Requires about 4.5 ounces of mozzarella (125 grams)
Gordon Ramsey’s rib-eye steak with basil Hollandaise, plus his chunky “chips” with caramelized onion and garlic
- They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right? Well, this is just the sort of hearty meal my husband loves!
- “Moderately easy” and ready in 45 minutes, received 5 stars from users
- Requires 1.3 pounds of steak (600 grams); for the Hollandaise sauce: 3.4 ounces of white wine vinegar (100 milliliters) and 1 cup of butter (250 grams); and 1.7 pounds of potatoes (750 grams)
- Nothing says “I love you” quite the way chocolate does, and these souffles are easy enough to make any of us look like a gourmet chef!
- “Moderately easy” and ready in 30 minutes, received 5 stars from users
- Can be made ahead and then just thrown into the oven for a slightly longer cooking period. My souffles always take longer than the recommended 8-12 minutes (probably more like 20 minutes). You can tell they’re ready when a crust forms and cracks on top of the souffle.
- Requires 7 ounces of dark chocolate (200 grams), 1/3 pound of butter (150 grams), 3/4 plus 4 tablespoons of sugar (175 grams), and 1 cup of flour (125 grams)
I’ve actually tested each of these recipes independently to determine that 1) my conversions work, 2) they’re tasty, and 3) they’re manageable. And let me tell you, they’re each a treat! I figure, if my husband and I can sit down to dinner after A’s bedtime and actually enjoy a home-cooked meal over adult conversation, it will be a Happy Valentine’s Day after all!
Do you always sneak out for Valentine’s Day, or do you ever celebrate at home? How do you make the night special?