Girls with skirts full of Summer fruit.
Theo: ‘What are you doing?’
Alice: ‘I’m just checking my emails.’
Theo: ‘That’s not how you make friends, Mama.’
Think only good thoughts on Valentine’s Day.
Because, really, it is never wise to be tricked by commercialism into thinking you are missing out on something. And you are quite lovely all days of the year; even though you get declined at the money machine and sometimes you say the wrong things and you put the bins out wearing only your knickers, certain that your vigilance somehow grants you the power of invisibilty. Your neighbours do see you, you know. But you look so adorable, all bed-ruffled and wild, they’d be fools to complain.
And though you get dressed from the washing pile and leave crumbs in the bed, and spend too much time on the internet and haven’t thought enough about current events or your savings account, and you complain bitterly about things you know don’t really matter and you didn’t go for a run today, I am sure there is someone, somewhere, who adores you completely.
And, sure, it may be your Mother or it maybe your dog or it may be your children or it may be your best friend. Or maybe you don’t feel you’ve yet met someone to adore you completely, in which case, you have so much to look forward to!
Or maybe you are lucky enough to already completely adore the person who completely adores you right back, and what a thing! For all of our foibles, there’s someone who loves us. And aren’t we lucky to be so adored.
So, today, let’s just love love. Let’s hug too long and say nice things and smile and show our teeth. And let’s be thankful that there’s air in our lungs and kisses to be kissed and chocolate to be eaten, no more today than any day.
And then, to celebrate all our good fortune, let’s make the most insanely decadent, sinfully delicious thing we can imagine.
And then eat it for breakfast.
Roast 3/4 of a cup if Hazelnuts in the oven at 175oc for 10-15 minutes. This helps seperate them from their skins, which will then come away when rubbed with a tea towel, or between your fingers, if you don’t mind the cursing it will entail as you burn your fingertips.
While these are roasting, pit 10 Medjool Dates. These are Dates for people who think they don’t like Dates. They’re huge and fresh and soft. They taste like caramel. If caramel came from heaven.
Place Hazelnuts in the food processor with half a block of good quality dark chocolate (I used Whittakers Dark Cacao), and half a tablespoon of brown sugar. Use Demerara, if you are feeling fancy – this will gives a great texture to the filling you are making for the Dates. Whizz on high while slowly adding a generous drizzle of Olive Oil to combine the mixture. (Pro-Tip: This is essentially Nutella in Veganism! You’re welcome!)
Now comes time for the secret ingredient! Booze! (I used Quick Brown Fox. It’s an organic-Coffee Liqueur, with a hint of cinnamon. It’s full and balanced and smooth. It’s flavours tell you a story. A story so delicious it’s ridiculous. It’s also accidentally Vegan! You can read more about it here: http://www.quickbrownfox.co.nz/) Add to suit your taste.
Once your mixture is combined, add just enough to fill the center of your Dates while still being able to close them seamlessly. This will be around half to a full teaspoon, depending on the size of your Dates.
In a double boiler, or a double boiler of your making (I find a bowl in a pot of shallow boiling water perfectly sufficent) melt the other half of your block of good quality dark-chocolate. With a spoon, roll the Dates in the chocolate until completely covered and leave to set on a plate lined with baking paper.
Once set, dip those suckers again! Because your decadence knows no bounds and maybe you are channelling Juliette Binoche in Chocolat and a Gypsy Johnny Depp was her boyfriend in that, so, you know. Sometimes, nothing succeeds like excess.
And now, to sweeten your day just that little more: A Valentine’s Day Giveaway!
In the spirit of the day, share the best compliment you have recieved; the one that tickled you pink, or put roses in your cheeks, or a spring in your step – on Valentine’s Day or any other day – and leave it in the comments section.
With help from Special Guest Judge: Arjun from Quick Brown Fox, a winner will be selected next Thursday the 22nd of February and sent a beautiful bottle of Quick Brown Fox all their own. Perfect for those loquacious evenings with friends, and for trying out this recipe!
(WINNER: Congratulations to ohdearred! That ‘your nose is as cute as all of Japan riding on a kitten’ is about the cutest thing we’ve ever heard. Enjoy your bottle of Quick Brown Fox – and make sure and high-five your darling from us, we’ll be using that line in future!)
So, Happy Valentine’s Day to you, dearheart. You look absolutely smashing (hunched over your monitor). xx
Theo: ‘Mama…how do you make fire?’
He senses he is about to get a Talking To.
Theo: ‘I mean…how do you make…pretend fire?’
Alice: ‘Thank you, darling. Is it a good look for me?’
Mabel: ‘Yes! I want stars too!’
And we wore them for the rest of the day.
(Photo by Theo; so it warrants inclusion, even though I am looking crazy-eyed and thin-lipped. Which is often the face of those in my profession.)
Theo: ‘We have buried Otto, Mama! He is our prisoner!’
Alice: ‘Your prisoner? Oh dear. And what was his crime?’
Theo: ‘He is a bad dog! He ate Mae-Mae’s lunch!’
Alice: ‘Off with his head!’
(A warning, dear readers, about the nature of children: they will seize upon, with great ferocity, all the things you say that are best not repeated, oh, I don’t know, at the Dairy, say. And when you are waiting, as patiently as possible, behind a heavily tattooed gentleman who is paying for his two mince and cheese pies and a coke with what appears to be solely 20c pieces, and your son takes it upon himself to roar ‘OFF WITH HIS HEAD!’, you will know, you only have yourself to blame.)