Archive: Valentine's Day

Romancing the Pants: Your Stories

(Photo collage by Deb Rock; photo by Kim O'Donnel) I could tell you about David, who bought me the proverbial roses, chocolate and wine, and then three weeks later over a Caesar salad, confessed that he had been cheating on me. Then there’s JP, who proudly served up a stew of chicken in a sauce made entirely of ketchup, or Henri, who invited me to lunch, which turned out to be essentially three courses of mayonnaise. (It was not lost on me that his entire apartment was furnished in white.) But enough about me; I’ve been dying to hear about you and the hilarious (and yes, sweet, or not so sweet) things that happen when two people get together and mix food with romance. You responded to my call for stories, and for that I give you a big Cupid-esque boiing of an arrow. Below, a handful of lovers’...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 13, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

A Cut-Out Cookie Rescue

Tuesday, Noon PT: The skies in Seattle are steely gray, spitting out a mix of rain and snow, and I’m about to head to the airport to pick up my brother, Tim. The phone rings. It’s my Chicagoland friend, Nancy, whose name really should be Lucille (as in Ball). Nancy G's heart-shaped cut outs, the second time 'round. (Nancy Loggins Gonzalez) “KIM!” I know that cry. It means my dear friend of 20 years, who is easily flummoxed in the kitchen, is in need of a recipe. Turns out her son’s fourth grade teacher decided at the last minute to reschedule the class Valentine’s party to Wednesday, which meant, for Nan, the designated cut-out cookie parent, to act pretty darn snappy. I can tell she’s on the verge of hyperventilating, so I quickly rifle through a few baking books for a quick fix. “Okay, here’s one,” I say. “Got a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 12, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

Hearting Your Heart

Love is in the air (or at least it’s supposed to be) this week, with the love-iest day of the year coming up this Saturday. In the spirit of everything red and heart shaped, I’m taking a romantic time out for my own heart -- as in my blood-pumping ticker. I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but the fact is, we need to keep better tabs on the state of our hearts. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer among women, and stroke is number three. The good news: You can do something about it. In addition to regular physical activity and reducing saturated fats (which are found in meat and dairy), we can help our heart and overall health by eating according to the colors of the rainbow. Color-coded eating is not as corny as it sounds. Green foods contain an...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 10, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

The Best Meal I Never Did Cook

The back door was propped open, but the wind just didn't want to push through the screen and offer relief on this warmer-than-average day in mid-June. Wait, hold that thought. It wasn't warm, it was hot and downright sticky like high noon in August, a classic summer day in D.C., and my jangled nerves only contributed to the sweat trickling down the small of my back. There was a man coming for dinner, and I liked him. Shucks, just a few days earlier, I gave him a piece of my fried chicken, so I knew I wasn't imagining this thing I was feeling. But girl, it was all wrong. The boxes in the front part of the house, stacked on top of one another to the ceiling and waiting for their overseas shipping labels, told a different story. I was about to leave the country. And get married. He wasn't...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 14, 2008; 10:51 AM ET | Comments (14)

Irresistible Cake Love

I haven't been married for very long (it'll be one year in just a few weeks), but if there's one thing I've learned about keeping the love alive, it's the element of surprise. Right now, as I type, Mister MA, who's still under the covers, has no idea what is in store when he ambles downstairs for his morning coffee. Red velvet valentine: Who could resist? (Kim O'Donnel) Because he knows I'm always testing recipes, he paid little attention last night to the unfrosted red velvet sheet cake cooling in the dining room. My plan: To transform this cake rectangle into an edible love note, a sweet message he could read, digest and savor. As of last weekend, I had no clue what I might do to surprise my main squeeze for this year's love-a-thon, but then Cupid showed up and pointed me in the direction of cookie cutters that...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 12, 2008; 10:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

Chat Leftovers: Gearing Up for Valentine's Day

It's still a week away, but some What's Cooking lovebirds are already putting together their Valentine's Day menus. Below, a few unanswered questions from yesterday's chat, with next week's lovefest in mind. In the coming days, I promise more ideas for romance from the stove. Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: I'm thinking of doing a comforting mac and cheese at home for Valentine's Day next week. Any ideas what to pair with that? I'm assuming a salad, but what about a protein? I know people often put meat in mac and cheese but I also feel like it ends up being too much. Also, any ideas for dessert? With such a heavy entree it's hard coming up with suitable accompanying courses. Just a few weeks ago, I whipped up a batch of mac and cheese for a buffet-style dinner party, and paired it with stewed tomatoes (recipe guidelines below the mac...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 6, 2008; 09:40 AM ET | Comments (0)

Valentine's Plan B

Hey, Valentine, there's been a change in plans. Over the past 24 hours, much of the country has been walloped by dastardly weather -- a buffet of tornados, blizzard conditions, nonstop snow and the dreaded wintry mix, which means Valentine's Day could be a white-out, slippery ride or simply a big mess. Don't let Mother Nature take the fizzle out of your romantic plans, she says, putting on her boots; we've got a love parade to catch, and it's happening, snow or shine. Below, a variety of home-spun Valentine's menu options to match the possible scenarios that may now apply, given the weather conditions and change in plans. It's a Valentines' Plan B-a-rama. Come on, let's get busy, before the snow in upstate New York starts to fall again. Snow Day, minus kids, and you want a kitchen project: You've got all day to let yeast rise, so how about...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 14, 2007; 11:55 AM ET | Comments (0)

Does Food Get You in the Mood?

In preparation for this Valentine's Eve, I e-mailed 20 people, a mix of colleagues and friends, and asked them point blank: "What turns you on?" More specifically, I wanted to know, is there a food that gets you in the mood? Of the 20 I questioned, only five responded with specific preferences, which fell into a few categories -- chocolate, seafood and booze. "Really good dark chocolate paired with a glass of red wine," is the magic potion for one local online journalist, a SF in her early 30s. "Cabernets tend to work best ... the right chocolate with the right wine is just pure heaven." Chocolate, and more specifically, "just out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies" is the ultimate turn-on for one Washington SM in his early 20s, who's hoping his Valentine will be baking tonight. One mom in her early 40s praised the sensual qualities of seafood -- and more...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 13, 2007; 11:06 AM ET | Comments (0)

Red Velvet Cupcake Bride

Ever since I issued an all-points bulletin for bride and groom cupcake toppers that looked kitschy but not decrepit, brides from all across wedding land came out of the woodwork. The "senior" toppers, second from right; the younger replacements, left foreground. (Kim O'Donnel) Many of you encouraged me to get over my bridezilla self and make use of the geriatric toppers in question, arguing that they would be good for laughs and stories 10 years hence. You're probably right, but this persistent bride kept looking. Some of you scoured the Internet and sent me links to potential topper candidates. The collective spirit of kindness (and bridal empathy) has been touching, to say the least! My dear friend Leslie embarked on a topper search in her home town of Seattle and the home to Archie McPhee, an emporium for everything that is goofy and irreverent. She declared her mission a success...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 12, 2007; 10:26 AM ET | Comments (22)

We Heart Chocolate

Yesterday, a small group of opinionated chocolate elves with resilient palates joined me in a blind taste test of eight Valentine's chocolate heart samplers. (Somebody's gotta do it.) The criteria: Assortments for the everyday lover - available nationally at the grocery store, the drug store or the mall. Nothing fancy, artisanal or homemade. The choc-off contestants.(Kim O'Donnel) The idea: To get a pulse on the state of mass-produced Valentine's samplers and to determine which, if any, of the contestants would be worth the money, even at the last procastinator's minute. The scene: A pile of half-eaten chocolates in a "spit cup" for those too harsh to go down the hatch. A lot of chocolate-induced fidgeting, including some teeth experiencing sugar jitters. The work we do is hard labor, I tell you. The chocolate contestants included: "Grand Assortment," by Lake Champlain Chocolates, of Burlington, Vt. What you get: 22 pieces, a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 9, 2007; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (14)

All Aboard the Culinary Love Train

Quick! According to the greeting card authorities, by next Wednesday, Feb. 14, we're all supposed to be blissfully and hopelessly in love. With only six days away to a life of eternal happiness, we had better get busy. I heart brownies.(Kim O'Donnel) To help you gear up for love and its many splendored ways, I've got a six-day plan that will guarantee some kind of love. Beginning today, I'll offer recipes, love potions and the many ways we can all board the culinary love train. I'll be your conductor, your cruise director, your witch doctor -- whatever you need me to be in time for Cupid's arrival. First thing's first. Chocolate. It is possibly one of (if not the most) important ingredient of a luscious Valentine's fete. It hardly matters in which form it materializes -- store-bought hearts, frou-frou truffles, a soufflé for two -- but chocolate should be part...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 8, 2007; 09:16 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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