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Cooking with Crevolyn: Make Valentines a day to share with all loved ones
Crevolyn Wiley columnist

Happy Valentine’s Day! Some would say that this is a silly holiday perpetuated by those selling flowers and candy. I say let’s embrace it. I see absolutely nothing wrong with a day set aside for telling someone we care about just how much they mean to us.

That being said, I can’t imagine how hard this day is for those who are without a loved one, whatever the circumstances. My heart broke for my sweet momma her first Valentine’s Day without my daddy. No amount of beautiful flowers and chocolate can make up for the loss of your love of 50-plus years.

That’s when I realized Valentine’s Day is not just for your spouse or significant other. So I began remembering mother with a little gift and a special lunch date every year. It meant the world to her.

Valentine’s Day with the children was always fun. Years ago when our children were at home, we began the tradition of a scavenger hunt and fast food progressive dinner on Valentine’s Day. I can’t tell you the times we have laughed through the years about the silliness that would ensue while racing around the house looking for clues and little gifts. Afterward, we would all pile in Darrell’s Suburban and visit what seemed like every fast-food restaurant in Gainesville retrieving everyone’s favorite drink, appetizer, entrée and dessert. Those were some of the sweetest memories with our children.

Valentine’s Day with Darrell usually involves dinner at a favorite restaurant and then tickets for a play or concert. We enjoy experiences rather than gifts. Last year was big; we checked off a bucket list trip by flying into Miami, renting a convertible and driving through the Florida Keys to Key West. Before leaving south Florida, we took an airboat through the Everglades. We ate a piece of Key Lime pie at every stop like it was our job. It was one of the best Valentine’s Days ever.

Strawberry Pie Valentine Cards

1 package refrigerated pie crusts

1 can strawberry pie filling (can use cherry pie filling)

5 or 6 fresh strawberries, cored and sliced

¼ cup whipping cream

½ cup sparkling sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll pastry on a floured surface. Cut into about 4-inch diamond shapes. Combine strawberry pie filling and fresh strawberries. Place filling in center of the diamond and bring the three bottom points together over the filling. Using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut a heart out and place where the three points come together. Place pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with whipping cream and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Bake pastry for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Do not remove from baking sheet until completely cooled.

Of course if you know me at all, you know I’m going to cook for my loved ones. Last week, I had the family over to celebrate with steaks, sautéed shrimp, twice baked potatoes, roasted asparagus and Strawberry Pie Valentine Cards (strawberry-filled “envelopes” made from pie crust closed with a heart-shaped seal). It was an easy and special treat.

So I encourage you to celebrate love, life and the pursuit of the best dessert wherever you are!

Crevolyn Wiley is a Gainesville resident with her first published cookbook “Cooking with Crevolyn” available at J&J Foods.

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