Hearts for Valentine’s Day

Hearts for Valentine's Day

We are back to a full posting schedule, having devoted most of January to the finalization of our upcoming book, followed by a short trip out to California the beginning of this month. Time just flies, especially when there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to fit in all that is necessary for this big book  project.  We needed to recharge our batteries, recenter and refocus on what we really love to do – sharing what we have learned with all of you, our friends and family. That’s why we chose to include one of our favorite Valentine’s Day recipes (which will be in our new book) with all of you.

In researching the origins of Valentine’s Day, we found only very few connections to the modern day observance of this holiday.

Many of us observe Saint Valentine’s Day,  generally just referred  to as Valentine’s Day, on February 14 through the exchange of cards, flowers, chocolate and other sweets, but don’t give it a second thought as to where this tradition may have started.

It appears that Valentine’s Day was first recognized and established as a holiday by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD, but was later deleted from the General Roman Calendar of Saints in 1969 by Pope Paul VI.

According to that tradition, February 14 was observed honoring two Christian martyrs, both named Valentine, i.e. Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. The Legenda Aurea tells us that Saint Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emporor Claudius II. Legend has it that Emperor Claudius II secretly admired  Valentine and attempted to convert him to Roman paganism in order to spare his life. He failed to do so which led to Valentine’s execution.

Hearts for Valentine's Day - Antique Valentine's Card from 1909

So far, where is the love? I could not detect any references to love, or even a remote hint at  romanticism. Legenda Aurea possibly forges a connection with today’s Valentine’s Day observations by telling us about Valentine’s  secretly performed marriage ceremonies for young men serving  in Roman Emperor Claudius II’s army. The Emperor had ordered young man to remain single, believing that married men did not make good soldiers. Once discovered, Valentine was arrested and jailed.

 

Valentine’s Day only gained notoriety  with Geoffrey Chaucer’s Love Birds in Parlement de  Foules (1382). Chaucer wrote:

 

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make”

(“For this was St. Valentine’s Day,

when every bird comes there to choose his mate”)

Hearts for Valentine's Day - Chaucer

The poem was written to honor the first anniversary of King Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia. A treaty providing for a marriage was  signed on May 2, 1381. Upon their marriage eight months later they had both just turned 15 years old. Mere children! 😉

Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules is set in a fictional context, based on a supposed old tradition. Scholars deny the existence of any historical traditions and they only acknowledge sentimental customs posing as historical facts.  Because of this, the idea that Valentine’s Day customs perpetuated those of  the Roman Lupercalia has been generally accepted.

Hearts for Valentine's Day - Evander Pallene

Lupercalia was a very ancient pre-Roman pastoral festival, generally celebrated February 13-15, to avert evil spirits and purify the city, promoting health and fertility.

The more modern concept of Valentine’s Day is even mentioned by Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,
And dupp’d the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5
Interesting how history gets manipulated, and has been carved into a modern interpretation, devoid of its more than disturbing beginnings. The modern day celebrations have evolved into the exchange of valentine’s day cards, chocolate, roses, or jewelry.
Hearts for Valentine's Day
When growing up in Europe, I was mostly unfamiliar with this holiday, at least it was not commonly celebrated in my community the way it is now customary for most. I guess, over the years, as has been the norm with so many other holidays,  we have over-commercialized just about every celebration. Even the fine art of exchanging painstakingly selected, or created, beautiful cards, has evolved into sending  quick e-mails, or animated e-cards. Mind you I prefer e-mail communication, like most of you, I’m sure, but still fondly remember handcrafting beautiful cards together with my daughter throughout her childhood. Searching for just the perfect quote, to capture the essence of that moment. Many times we would exchange special treats with our neighbors and friends.
When I first came to this country, many new found friends would ask me to bake those “special European desserts” I had introduced them to and that they had now grown fond of.  Little did I know then about the hidden problems with gluten. But without the limitations that gluten presented, this site would not exist and we would never have endeavored to share what we have learned with all of you.
 In our earlier posts, we already shared some of our Valentine’s Day recipes with you, but wanted to add this  newly adapted Valentine’s Day Cookie recipe. It also represents a small sample of what is to come in our new book. Perhaps it will inspire you to go in your kitchen and pull out those baking utensils and ingredients so you can share it with your loved ones for Valentine’s Day.
This recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups gluten free flour, consisting of: 1 cup brown rice flour, 3/4 cup tapioca flour, 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1 tsp. guar gum
  • 1/3 cup sucanat, or evaporated cane juice
  • pinch of Himalaya salt
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick + 2 Tbsp. organic butter
  • a little extra sweet rice flour for rolling out the dough
  • heart-shaped cookie cutters
 
Topping :
  • jar of organic triple berry jam (raspberry, blackberry, strawberry)
  • 1 cup organic powdered sugar
It is easiest to prepare this recipe in a food processor. Add all ingredients, except for the topping, to the processor and blend until the flour is completely integrated into the dough. When complete it will form into a smooth ball. Remove from processor. If it feels just a little sticky, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. This will make it easier to roll out later on.
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, or silicone mats.
Dust a baking board with a little sweet rice flour. Roll out the chilled dough to 1/4-inch thickness, and cut out with the heart shaped cookie cutters. Half the cookies will be a full-sized cookie shape, the other half will have a smaller heart cut out in the center.

Hearts for Valentine's Day

Place the cookies on the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. The baked cookies will be light in color, not browned. Let cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack with a spatula.

Allow the cookies to cool completely before decorating them.

Dust the heart shaped cookies, with the center cut out, with powdered sugar. These will become the top part of the finished cookie.

Top the solid heart shape cookie with the triple berry jam, spreading it evenly. You can use your own favorite jam, we loved this one for its exquisite flavor and the color presentation. Place the powdered sugar coated heart shape on top of the jam covered heart cookie to create  your Valentine’s Day cookie.

Hearts for Valentine's Day

 Enjoy with your favorite cup of tea or coffee, serve to your guests any time of year, or give as gifts for Valentine’s Day, wrapped in pretty little gift boxes.
‘Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.’
Rumi
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