Valentine’s Day: Cook it Together
In recent years, Valentine’s Day has seen a backlash. Tired of the cheap chocolates and expensive greeting cards, many people have shifted toward not celebrating the holiday at all. While it’s worthwhile to call into question a holiday seemingly based on consumerism, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be this way. It is, ultimately, a day to celebrate love in all its forms. Love for family, friends, our better halves, and ourselves (we would like to add a shout out to our animal friends as well).
One of the simplest but most meaningful ways to show someone you love them is to cook for them. But perhaps even better is to cook with them. After all, it’s not a stretch to invite the ones you have in your heart into your kitchen. Whether you’re spending time with close friends, your family, or your beau, cooking with the ones you love is way better than a box of chocolates!
Cook It With Friends
Call it Valentine’s Day or Galantine’s Day, but whatever you do, have fun! Cooking with friends means you can really let your hair down and not have to impress anyone. You can stray from traditional romantic Valentine’s Day fare and cook whatever your heart desires. Mostly, though, it means nurturing relationships that tend to be neglected when our lives get too busy. This is an opportunity to reclaim some of that slumber party joy of childhood, but with wine (or beer, if that’s your thing!).
You’ll want to keep everyone’s hands busy with plenty of chopping, slicing, and dicing. Since the weather’s still cold and the nights are still long, soup is just the thing. It’s comforting and casual, which also happens to be one of the best definitions of friendship. Stick someone on veggie prep, chopping all those onions, carrots, and celery stalks. Task someone else with making bread for serving alongside–maybe garlic bread or even cornbread. Another person can keep wine glasses filled and play the role of DJ.
Speaking of music, load up your phone with songs you’ve listened to with your friends over the years. Keep it bubbly and upbeat, adding in some throwback tunes that remind you of concerts, road trips, or obsessions you’ve shared. Better yet, add songs you can all sing along to at the top of your lungs.
Cook It With Kids
Why bother with the hassle of finding a sitter on Valentine’s Day when you can bring your kids into the kitchen as part of the celebration? It makes the day special without making it about buying things or about sugary treats. If your kids are old enough to dress themselves, let them pick out their own clothes for your special Valentine’s Day feast. Then invite them into the kitchen, and create a little workspace for them to have to themselves. If possible, let them help choose the menu as well. Kid-friendly dishes include things that need to be assembled, like tacos or enchiladas. Put all the components in bowls for them to create their own culinary masterpiece, and relish the mess–that’s part of the fun!
To make the night even more memorable, whip up some fancy non-alcoholic drinks. An easy idea is to blend coconut water and frozen mango chunks for a tropical tipple. After dinner, let them show off all the Valentine’s Day cards they got at school, and maybe even push back bedtime a little bit to make time for board games or an extra bedtime story or two to wrap up the evening.
Cook It With Your Beau
Cooking with friends or your kids is all great fun, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting a slightly more traditional, romantic Valentine’s Day. In our busy lives, it can be all too easy to put relationships second, thinking they’ll always be there waiting when we need them. Valentine’s Day can be like a reset button for a relationship, reminding both you and your partner that true love is worth keeping on the front burner.
The key here is to keep things easygoing and casual. Don’t plan a huge, extravagant meal that will leave you feeling stressed in the kitchen and too full afterward. This Valentine’s Day, it’s all about the journey, not the destination, so focus on a menu that will bring you together in the kitchen in a fun, laid back way. Start with a simple cocktail like a French 75–just champagne, a splash of gin, and lemon juice and simple syrup to taste. Or skip the cocktail and drink your fizzy wine straight up.
For dinner, begin with an appetizer. A sausage and fig flatbread is quick and delicious, and you can replace out-of-season figs with dates. Follow that with something a little more time-consuming that you wouldn’t make just any day of the week, like risotto. Take turns stirring, and keep one another company. When it’s time to eat, set the table with all the trappings: placemats, cloth napkins, maybe a candle if you’re feeling it (if not, don’t force it!). The idea is to make this a special dinner, but not so gussied up that you feel uncomfortable. If you wanted to do that, you could’ve gone to a fancy restaurant.
No matter who you find yourself across the cutting board from this Valentine’s Day, take the opportunity to be grateful for your loved ones and to nurture them properly. The sturdiest relationships can’t live off flowers and chocolates, but maybe, just maybe, they can survive off big bowls of homemade soup and a dish full of hearty veggie enchiladas.