Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon. Dalai Lama
Drab February festooned in ‘Chinese Red” for the Chinese New Year and Valentine Hearts. How smart!
Red is one of the luckiest colors in Chinese traditions, standing for loyalty, success and happiness. Red underwear embroidered with the Chinese Zodiac for the year is one of the most popular gifts for sweethearts to exchange— 2011 is the Year of the Golden Rabbit.
A red construction paper covered box on my teacher’s desk, trimmed with pink crepe-paper, white doilies, cut-out hearts, and a big slit on the top— Valentine’s Day. I carefully chose my one-sided valentine cards, printing names onto the little envelopes from my classmates list the teacher sent home. Picking special Valentines for the “right ones.”
Then came pastel candy conversation hearts with sayings, again picking, which candy to give, but acting like it was chance…those were the ways of young romance.
The expressions of love grew as I did… first kisses, corsages, red-satin heart-shaped boxes, red roses, perfume, jewelry— and boot-marks etched on a California beach, carving a giant heart in the sand, declaring Valentine’s love at sunset.
And now it begins again with homemade Valentines… and Heart Beet Soup.
You have to keep it interesting!
Valentine Heart Beets SLENDER SOUP
adapted from PLENTY by Diana Henry
1 ¾ pound beets,about 3-4 medium beets, scrubbed gently,keep the skin and those nutrients in, ends trimmed off, and slice thin
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small tart or Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced
6 cups vegetable stock
¼ cup canola/grapeseed/or olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sea salt
½ teaspoon cayenne (cayenne can give inextinguishable heat, use with your audience in mind)
Soy Sour Cream Alternative* for the heart (in more ways than one!)
In a large heavy saucepan, heat the oil on medium. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Add a splash of water, cover, and sweat for 15 minutes, until the onions are soft.
Add the beets(don’t bother to peel them) and apple, cover and sweat for 15 minutes.
Pour on the stock and season. Bring to a boil, them simmer until the beets are completely tender. Leave to cool, then purée.
Put Soy sour cream in a pastry tube, decorate with a each bowl of soup with a soy sour cream heart before serving.
Serve with a soy sour cream* Valentine Heart piped on top.
*”Wildwood Natural Foods offers SOY Sour Cream Alternative, an organic, vegan version of the traditional dip or baked potato and Mexican fare topping. The flavor is incredible, and the texture is so creamy and authentic that it’s hard to believe this product doesn’t contain dairy.” Vegetarian Journal 2006.