Valentine's Reflections and an Excerpt from "A Perfect Blend"
For those of you who know me, you know I’m all about LOVE. So, I’m sharing my Valentine’s Day musings with you to celebrate this week. I love LOVE so much that when I write a blog, an email, a letter or a note, I always capitalize the word.
And this month, I’m using the word more than usual. Although it’s a bit of a commercial holiday, Valentine’s Day is important because it makes us remember to reach out and embrace those we LOVE. For that reason–and the chocolate, of course–I LOVE this holiday!
Which is why I’m using it to give you a little taste of something that I LOVE: an excerpt from my second book coming out this spring. It’s a LOVE story with the working title, A Perfect Blend.
If you are wondering how I came to write another book, blame it on Covid-19 and the extra time I suddenly had. I always wanted to put on record why Dennis, Joanne, Ross and I came to America. I thought it would be nice for our grandchildren to have all the details of our history in one place with all our important paperwork.
But something happened as I began to write. I found myself writing more and more about the LOVE story that started between Dennis and myself 40 years ago. All the details are deeply intertwined with the beginning of my culinary career and Dennis’s woodworking craft. In fact, that was what brought us all from England to America. It has been an extraordinary journey and there are so many great stories: the perfect blend of our love for each other, our children, our professional passions and, of course, food and wine.
One thing I had forgotten until I began writing was when Dennis and I were apart for a year. We wanted to stay in touch so desperately. But we didn’t have Zoom, or even email. All we had was the post. We stayed connected by faithfully writing a LOVE letter to each other every single day!
And so, my Valentine’s gift to you is the written word–an excerpt from my book about how our letter-writing began.
P.S. Putting something in writing is powerful. This Valentine’s Day consider sending a card or letter to a loved one. I guarantee it will bring so much joy–maybe even more than chocolate!
Until we can be together again, I’m sending LOVE. Stay safe. I look forward to when we can hug again.
An Excerpt from A Perfect Blend
In some ways, it was the perfect table, tucked in the corner, a wall either side of us. The partial window and curtain fell in the center of our small dark wood round table giving us a little sunlight. We shared our lunch which had a little twist that included a warm brie cheese topped with sun-dried tomato pesto that was wrapped in puff pastry. After drinks, we ordered a glass of port wine before heading back to the restaurant.
Almost at the same time, we looked down at our glasses and sighed, a bit melancholy, realizing we were about to be apart for six months. “So, will you miss me when you’re gone?” I leaned over the table to get closer to him. “Without a doubt, I wish you were coming with me,” he said. “Me too, but one cannot just pick up and go especially with two children, uh?!” “Time will fly by and before you know it will be Christmas and you will be back,” I continued. “Will you write to me?” he asked. “Of course.” By this time, we were close together, our elbows on the table and we were holding hands.
He looked deeply into my eyes and said, “I am going to miss you so much, Peeps. I have never felt this way about anyone and Joanne and Ross are so special to me. I love them and I love you.” There was a pause “Will you marry me?” Without missing a beat, I said “I thought you would never ask. Yes, I’ll marry you. I love you so very much,” I said with a knowing smile and a nod. The kiss that followed was beautiful just like the day. We got up and left oblivious of all the people around us.
Neither of us knew that our lunch date was going to end up the way it did. None of this was planned, it just happened. We had committed to each other our love and now he was about to leave for America for six months. We kept what had just happened to ourselves. A week later I was driving Dennis to London Heathrow.
That night I wrote my first letter.
Sun-Dried Tomato Brie Encroute
My recipe for creamy, warm brie topped with sun-dried tomato pesto, nestled in a golden puff pastry blanket.
1 Six-inch Whole Triple Crème Brie. I like Cowgirl Creamery’s option best.
2 oz Sun-Dried Tomatoes
2 oz Powdered Parmesan Cheese
2 fl oz Olive Oil
1 tsp Minced Garlic
1 Store-Bought Package of Puff Pastry
Egg Wash (One Egg and One tbsp Milk Whisked Together)
- Place dried tomatoes in dish and pour boiling water to cover and leave to soak for approximately one hour.
- Drain and remove tomato skins.
- Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until all ingredients are smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cut one side of the rind off the brie.
- Spread pesto over the brie cut surface.
- Roll puff pastry round enough to completely wrap the brie with the pesto on the top.
- Cut out small hearts or leaves around the top side edge of brie.
- Brush top and side with egg wash.
- Place in preheated oven at 300 degrees.
- Cook for approximately 45 minutes until pastry is golden and cheese has melted inside.
Cut a circle in the pastry, remove and stir pesto into the brie.
Serve with toasted bread chunks or crostini.