February 6, 2019 11:16:56 AM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
Try as I might, I've never come across anyone else who grew up delivering Valentines to special neighbors and friends incognito. I swear, my mother told us this was a thing. And so, in our family, it was. My younger sister and I would make up our little bundles of happy -- often homemade cards made of frilly white paper doilies and pink or red construction paper. Add cookies from our kitchen, candies or one of those small heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. We'd walk under cover of darkness, stealthily creep up to the intended's front door, leave our Valentine goodies, ring the doorbell, then make a mad dash out of sight -- usually to Mother who was keeping watch from the shrubs. It made for loads of adrenaline-induced giggles. As if the recipient wouldn't know exactly who had been on their doorstep when they saw who signed the Valentine. But they always seemed to get a tickle out of it, too.
I so clearly recall one February when I was probably 9'ish or so. Columbus actually saw snowfall one evening. Mother set up a table at the big picture window in our living room. We sat at it, armed with Elmer's glue, scissors and paper, making and addressing our Valentines and marveling at the rare sight of drifting snowflakes illuminated in the porch light. It made such an impression on me.
When Mother baked for Cupid's holiday, it was often cookies or cake, tinted pink, or featherlight meringue cups filled with good things with strawberries on top. The marbled meringue hearts recipe on page 6B especially reminds me of her. I bet she would have tried making these.
To this day, the approach of Feb. 14 stirs up a warm and fuzzy feeling, and a determination to observe it, to pass it on. My younger sister and I may not be as speedy at running for cover as we once were, but we still try to occasionally pull a fast one on her young grandchildren -- leaving happies at the doorstep and ringing the bell.
However you plan to mark Valentine's Day, you're wished a sweet occasion. The recipes today are designed to put you "in the pink."
Now, if it would only snow.
RASPBERRY YOGURT TARTS
1/4 cup boiling water
1 small box (.3 ounce) sugar free raspberry Jello
12 ounces vanilla Greek yogurt
1 (8 ounce) light or non-fat whipped topping or Cool Whip, thawed
2 (4 ounce) packages graham cracker tart crusts (12 tart shells total)
WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP STRAWBERRY COOKIES
1 box strawberry cake mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
MARBLED MERINGUE HEARTS
Prep time: 25 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes, plus cooling
Makes about 2 dozen
3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Food coloring, optional
3/4 cup sugar
Nutrition Facts: 1 meringue: 27 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 7mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 0 fiber), 0 protein.
SILKY SWEETHEART PUDDINGS
Makes 4 servings
1 1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons agar-agar flakes or 1 3/4 teaspoons agar-agar powder
3/4 cup drained silken tofu
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
2 red grapefruits (strawberries or raspberries are also great)
Nutritional Info: Per Serving, 110 calories (20 from fat), 2.5g total fat, 70mg sodium, 18g carbohydrates, (2 g dietary fiber, 15g sugar), 4g protein.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.