Valentine’s Day is the occasion of love, relationships and living happily forever-after. But, according to Erin Ergenbright and Thisbe Nissen, it doesn’t always work out that way. There are things to remember forever from past boyfriends, they say, and the best are recipes. The Ex-Boyfriend Cook Book: They Came, They Cooked, They Left (2002, HarperCollins, NYC) gives readers the benefits of what remained from many of their ‘loved but lost’ experiences. The book is dedicated “To all the men we’ve loved before...” The following recipes are adapted from the chapter on Sweet Things; what else for Valentine’s Day?
Rob Becker’s Mom’s Cream Cheese Brownies
Six ounces REAL (not lite) cream cheese, softened
Five tablespoons REAL butter, softened
One-third cup sugar
Two tablespoons flour
Three-quarters teaspoon vanilla extract, again REAL
One family-sized package fudge brownie mix
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla and beat until smooth. Set aside. Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions for “cakelike” brownies. Spread half the batter into the bottom of a greased 9”x13” pan. Pour the entire cream cheese mixture over it. Spoon the rest of the brownie batter in dollops over the cream cheese (don’t completely cover the cream cheese layer with brownie batter). Swirl the layers together by drawing squiggles through with the tip of a knife. Bake for 36-39 minutes.
Brandon Fishbine’s Grandmother’s Oatmeal Cookies
One cup sifted flour
One-half teaspoon baking soda
One-half teaspoon salt
One teaspoon cinnamon
One-quarter teaspoon nutmeg
One-half cup butter, softened
One-half cup brown sugar
One-half cup white sugar
Two tablespoons milk
One-half cup raisins
Two cups uncooked oats
One cup chopped nuts
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Sift the dry ingredients together. Mix together the softened butter, sugars, eggs and milk. Add to the dry mixture and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Fold in the raisins, oats and nuts. Drop from a teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet (dark ones work best) and bake for 10 minutes.
Liam’s Refrigerator Cookies
One cup brown sugar
One cup white sugar
One cup melted shortening (like Crisco)
Four cups flour
One cup chopped walnuts
Two teaspoons baking powder
Four eggs, well beaten
Two teaspoons cinnamon
One teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix the ingredients and form dough into two rolls. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer overnight (or as long as you want). When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap, slice thinly and bake for 10 minutes.
Clarence’s Far-Out Frozen Peanut Butter Pie
Four ounces cream cheese (the real stuff, please)
One cup powdered sugar
One-third cup creamy peanut butter
One-half cup milk
Four regular-sized Reese’s® peanut butter cups, frozen then crushed
One cup heavy cream, whipped
One 9-inch baked graham cracker pie crust
Beat the cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and peanut butter. Add the milk, blending thoroughly. Fold in the crushed peanut butter cups and whipped cream. Pour into the crust and freeze until firm.
When a person’s heart is broken...or even just bent...there is nothing like a sweet treat to make things better, if only for a little while.
Valentine’s Day love can be love for anyone: partner, child, parent, friend. But the special day for lovers is always a chance to celebrate with good food.
And....that’s all she wrote.
Sandy Olson can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org