The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 14, 2014

Good food is the best way to your Valentine’s heart

By John Blankenship
Columnist

— Did you know that you can make this Valentine’s Day an extra special treat for your love interest by simply impressing him/her with a gift from the heart?

What could be more memorable than spending the day together in your private, little piece of paradise enjoying a simple home-cooked meal? It might turn out to be the perfect indulgence you’ve both been waiting for.

When cards and flowers aren’t enough to get your sweetie into a romantic mood, you can always turn to rich and decadent desserts and a home-style dinner to get the job done.

Just set your table with your best dinnerware, romantic linens, flowers and candles. And, of course, don’t forget the wine and chocolates.

Candles and wine and a smile can turn even the most ordinary dining table into the perfect setting for a luxurious and hearty feast for two.

If you enjoy cooking together, that’s even better; the act of preparing food is a very basic and sincere way of showing love and affection, and preparing it together can bring you closer as a couple. As long as you both are comfortable cooking, give it a shot. What matters is that you make the effort to prepare as tasty a meal as you can in the most romantic atmosphere you can create. I’m sure your partner will appreciate it.

Plan and prepare for your favorite culinary delight, whether it’s a delicious filet mignon or prime rib or sautéed sole and beef Wellington.

From indulgent steamed lobster to a twist on your grandmother’s Southern fried chicken, create a memorable meal worth savoring together from your own romantic menu. Add a spread of red drinks and some exquisite music to get you into a sexy mood and sizzle up your romance at home. After all, what is more thoughtful than presenting something custom-made in your own comfort zone?

Perhaps that’s why many couples opt to dine in on Valentine’s Day. Restaurants are usually packed and parking can be a problem, especially if the weather is inclement.

You can’t choose lighting or the music, and you’re also going to pay an extra mark-up fee for the wine, plus leave a tip at the end of the meal. That’ll cost at least another $25.

By choosing an impressive but easy menu featuring quality ingredients, you can produce a banquet of your own for less than half of what a restaurant meal would cost you.

As for my wife and me, we like to go to Italian restaurants, where the menu items feature spaghetti and lasagna and eggplant parmesan.

I’m glad to take my Valentine out to dinner, but she’d rather that I cook on this particular day. I don’t mind. It’s a way of showing my love.

Besides, we’ve all heard the expression, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Well, it’s my opinion that the same is true for women. I never met anyone, man or woman, who didn’t appreciate the effort that goes into preparing a home-cooked meal. Even if it doesn’t turn out as well as you had hoped, the time you put into making it always seems appreciated.

And to keep the Valentine’s Day chore from becoming stressful, I just keep the menu simple. I plan with easy recipes and let the grocery store help me out with dessert.

Since it’s a day for sweethearts, why not start out with the dessert? All you need are some frozen strawberries, vanilla ice cream and some white cake. That should get you through the process.

You’ll be alone. But don’t allow your food to do all the talking. Establish the mood with a romantic table setting. Buy a nice red or pink tablecloth and bouquet of flowers for a centerpiece. Get out the good china and crystal stemware and make the dinner seem fancy. It will make the evening seem more romantic to both of you.

It also helps if you can cook as there’s nothing sexy about a bad chef.

And should the evening go well, it’s all that much more convenient for getting comfortable on the sofa for the night’s entertainment like a Turner Classic Movie or the Olympics, whichever turns out to be the most interesting.

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Top o’ the morning!

— Blankenship is a columnist for The Register-Herald.

E-mail: jabbb@suddenlink.net