It seems as if Valentine's Day is coming just too soon. I'm still answering Christmas mail, making corrections in my address book and getting updates on family and friends.
It is such a sentimental time -- a time when the love bug bites all, and romance flows. There are hearts that beat real and hearts that are covered with chocolate, hearts that come in the mail, hearts that send love over the telephone or even Facebook.
Aside from mailing cards, I will call and email family and friends. Then I will wait until my husband says, "OK, this is the plan for the day." I will accept whatever that may be just so long as I can see the love on his face.
I have begun to create a Valentine's theme in the dining room, with a pink tablecloth, scented candles and dishes with pink on them. I will use white napkins for the chocolate at each place setting. The flowers, I hope, will come from our yard.
As I plan the meal, I know it should be one of which we are both fond. This meal planning is done just in case we don't go out for a special meal.
Regardless, it's being together that counts the most. Love abounds.
So here are my "just in case we don't go out" recipes:
Savory Seafood Chowder
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups fish stock or clam juice
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups seeded tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 pound whiting, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 pound scallops
1/2 pound fillet or bass or red snapper, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
12 ounces mini bow tie pasta, cooked
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
In a large soup pot or saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Saute the onion, celery and garlic until softened. Add the fish stock or clam juice, bay leaf, thyme, carrots, diced tomatoes and Old Bay seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the fish.
Simmer partially covered about 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Add the pasta and heat until the pasta is warmed. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley.
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds Red Bliss potatoes, unpeeled
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
Salt and freshly black pepper to taste
Scrub the potatoes. Cut in half and place in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain; add the buttermilk and butter. Mash until creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
Barbecued Spare Ribs
1 slab pork spare ribs
Salt and pepper to taste.
Memphis Famous Pork Rub
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the spare ribs in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Season the ribs, using the rub as a base.
Place the ribs in a large shallow roasting pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn the ribs over and continue to bake for another 30 minutes. Drain excess oil from the pan. As the ribs cook, baste every 15 minutes with barbecue sauce, turning the temperature down to 250 degrees as the ribs slowly continue to cook. Make sure ribs are done, allowing 30-60 minutes for the oven process.
Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at email@example.com.