You’re probably all jealous of my Valentine’s Day plans. They include: an ochem laboratory midterm, a philosophy paper, and strolling around in the rain with my red polka dot umbrella. Midterms are romantic. So are papers about feminism and science. And my umbrella.
As you can probably see, my Valentine’s Day is not going to be love-filled, but that does not mean I’m going to pull a TV-ad-woman-crying-to-Air-Supply’s-“All out of love”. No way. On the bus this morning, I was considering how I would spend my V Day and one of them included, “Drive around Seattle until you run out of gas, all the while playing really slow romantic music and crying like a baby”.
I crossed it out. That’s crazy. Single ladies don’t cry. Single ladies get up in black leotards and heels and dance like Beyonce in black and white. (Justin Timberlake on Saturday Night Live works too, I suppose.)
Last week, I was at the senior assisted living community where I volunteer and the question came again. Yes “the question”. The “You’re in college now so shouldn’t you have met the guy you’re going to marry one day?” question. My answer always disappoints, of course, and leaves H– with a big pout and starts C– telling me about what a smart choice I’m making not running off to get married when I’m in college.
Often times, I feed on C– and H–‘s love stories for my dose of romance. Both have their own WWII era heroic loves that they so enjoy telling me about over and over again, as I listen, awestruck, to the stories of the century that I really didn’t get to see much of. The senior community is a portal to that slow, romantic feel with big band music echoing in the activities parlor, classic 50’s floral decorations in the dining room, and the stories of every single senior’s life all waiting for me to discover. And when I walk out and pass by billboards advertising trashy “love” stories on TV and the silver screen, I can’t help but wish the 21st century were just a tad bit more similar to the 20th.
Yet, as much as I love post-war love stories and ’40’s romance novels, I sometimes wonder whether or not somebody in the 20th century decided that all college girls have to meet their “one and only” during those four years. Beecaue that question that I was telling you about earlier comes up more than I would like. First my great-aunt, then my grandmother, and now my senior friends.
But I always tell them the same thing, “Tonight, I have a date with some butter, an oven, and my unfinished episodes of CSI and that’s quite enough for me”.
Red Velvet Cupcakes (From Annie’s Eats)
Yield: about 12 cupcakes
For the cake:
1 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
3/4 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Honey Cream Cheese Frosting (From All Recipes.com)
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon honey
To make the frosting: melt butter and allow to cool. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, brown sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Beat with an electric mixer. When mixture starts to stiffen, stop mixer and add honey. Continue to beat until light and fluffy. Do not over mix, or it will collapse. Spread immediately and store cake in refrigerator.
Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. (I used a large, unlabeled star tip to frost these cupcakes.)
Hopefully you won’t be taking midterms and writing papers on Valentine’s Day, like me. Maybe you’ll have a date or someone to dance the night away with. But you don’t even need that becaue this Valentine’s Day, let’s all…fall in love gastronomically.