FEBRUARY 8, 2018 – Ah, Valentine’s Day, a day for a man to express his love for the woman in his life with candy, flowers, and maybe jewelry. It’s something most women expect and appreciate. Notice I said most women.
Admittedly, I was like that at least until I got married. Then I became practical. After all, we were now spending our money.
“I don’t understand it,” my husband used to say. “This isn’t the way they do it in the movies.”
He was right. In Hollywood land, a guy would hand his love a beautifully wrapped gift with gorgeous jewelry inside. We never knew if she really liked it or if she would have chosen something else.
It isn’t that my husband didn’t have good taste. He did, but it was not necessarily my taste. I took more pleasure in our trips to Boston when we went into our favorite store in the Jewelers Building, like most of us Jewish girls who grew up in Mattapan. Shirley, one of the owners, would show us the latest styles in many different price ranges. My husband usually picked out some things he really liked and together we made our choice. Mission accomplished.
So if flowers were out (my father was a florist), jewelry was a joint decision, and candy not on the list because it disappears too fast in this chocoholic’s home, what was left? Cards were a given. My husband bought cards as if he had stock in Hallmark. An avid Charlie Brown fan, he made sure several of the cards included Snoopy or another member of the Peanuts gang. There could be as many as five of those. At the end, there was a beautiful card with a very romantic sentiment.
Since cards were a given, what else was there to make the day memorable? That left appliances, everything but a vacuum cleaner.
One day my husband looked at me and said, “When did Valentine’s Day become Appliance Day?”
I remember exactly how it happened. One day a friend called me to ask if I had a microwave. Since they were still relatively new, she rightly assumed I didn’t have one. “Have I got a deal for you,” she said. “I was in a store in New Hampshire and they told me that they would give me a great price if bought two of them. So I thought you could use one.”
That was the kiss of death. I don’t know if she still got her great deal, but I didn’t. However, this experience got me thinking. I started researching microwave ovens trying to decide if I really needed one. Of course I did! And with Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought it would be a great gift. That’s when my big Amana Radarange took a place of honor on my counter. I was determined to make it useful. I researched any and every recipe I could cook in my microwave from lasagna to noodle pudding to melting chocolate for a cake. I studied every North Shore temple cookbook so I could adapt Jewish recipes. Even coming home from temple on Rosh Hashanah afternoon meant heating individual plates of brisket and tsimmes from the night before.
The next year, I decided we needed a Farberware griddle and rotisserie combination so I could grill steak, hamburgers, and cook my Shabbat chicken on the rotisserie. That was the year the Farberware was my Valentine’s Day gift.
Then came the Cuisinart. No longer was I going to make my Hanukkah latkes by hand, grating the potatoes until my knuckles couldn’t take it any longer. Anything I could grate or slice I did in the Cuisinart, including carrots for a fluffy carrot soufflé (like an airy kugel) for Passover one year. Not a big hit! According to my husband, Passover kugels were supposed to be heavy, not light and airy.
The following Valentine’s Day came with my KitchenAid mixer, the piece de resistance for those who really liked to bake. It was followed by an immersion blender and a crock pot that made the best beef short ribs imaginable.
Now that I’m alone without even a dog to cook for, the crock pot sits on a table in the basement, and the Cuisinart is in my kitchen cabinet with the KitchenAid for company. The immersion blender is in the wall holder my husband made and I’ve been through several versions of a microwave.
But I still have the Peanuts cards and the mushy “I love you card” my husband gave me on our last Valentine’s Day together to remind me of the romantic guy I married.
Myrna Fearer writes from Danvers.