Valentine’s Day

Normally I’m not much of a “Valentine’s Day” person. I have historically resisted the whole “Hallmark Holiday” mentality, but this year I was caught up in the spirit a bit. The twelve months since last Valentine’s Day have been significant, in ways both good and bad, and I felt like celebrating our relationship on Valentine’s Day this year.

So I cooked dinner.

Friends of mine will tell you — hell, I’LL tell you — that “cooking” for me normally means taking something out of a cardboard box and either adding milk to it, or if I’m feeling fancy, putting it in the microwave for three minutes. I’m pretty sure I’ve gone weeks at a time eating nothing but Lean Cuisine and breakfast cereal. So for me to cook an actual meal is surprising.

And it wasn’t just adding boiling water to pasta, either.

No, I went down to the grocery store and had my first-ever conversation with a butcher. The introduction was pretty telling — I told him I was hopeless as a cook, but was trying to be romantic and make a Valentine’s Day dinner. He said, “It’s called a RESTAURANT, son!” and I knew I’d like him.

I got a big pork tenderloin, explained what I planned to do with it, and the helpful butcher sliced it up perfectly for me. He also pointed me towards the aisle that held the chutney that I’d said I wanted to serve with it, and wished me luck. (Special note of thanks: Rachael Kahn, you’re a doll for suggesting this meal!)

I grabbed a bag of red-skinned baby potatoes too, and coated ’em with lots of spices and seasoning and olive oil, then added a coating of flour to help make it crispy. Sure enough, after roasting ’em in the oven, they came out delicious.

The pork tenderloin was amazing — I had baked it with a 7-fruit chutney inside, then sliced the giant slab of meat into several small portions and topped it with more of the chutney. It took longer to cook than most of the recipes I had read suggested, but probably because I keep anxiously checking the temperature of the meat. Yes folks, I used a meat thermometer for the first time in my life, too.

And then, dessert… Bananas Foster! I took bananas and quartered them, then sautéed them in butter and brown sugar and cinnamon. For the grand finale, I took a pan of rum and banana liqueur and light it on fire, then poured it onto the dish. That’s right… Bananas Foster Flambé, served over some Starbucks ice cream.

Note to self: when you double the recipe — including the amount of liquor in the pan you’re about to light on fire — go ahead and move the pan away from the stove before you pour the flaming alcohol onto the dish… ’cause that microwave is CLOSE to the stove top! Just sayin’.

All in all, the meal was a success. I didn’t have to use either of the phone numbers I’d stored on speed dial in case the evening went wrong (Domino’s Pizza, and 911 for an ambulance… or a fire!)

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