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How to make your Valentine's Day Special.

Assuming that you always treat your partner with respect, love and kindness, how do you make Valentine’s Day special?

For me, all celebrations should involve food. I love cooking, and eating, and kitchens, and dining room tables, and recipes, and planning, and being around when other people cook (usually pouring wine, or coffee. Or cocktails.) and talking about all of the above. It is the best way to show love. Valentines Day is no different, and I would happily look forward to a meal out or a meal at home, something a little bit elaborate, a little bit expensive, and with a starter and a desert, which don’t often feature in our everyday menu plan.

We started planning our Valentines Day dinner weeks ago, when the middle daughter shared with us the ‘finish at home’ box they were developing at the restaurant where she works. We couldn’t get one posted up here but she shared the menu and recipes and I started thinking about how I could replicate everything at home.

We don’t do much on impulse here: living on an island with children, dogs, and a farm leaves little opportunity for spur-of-the-moment. But that’s okay, because life is full of surprises, and my carefully planned Sunday dinner a deux suddenly changed into a traditional family roast when we were told last week that we had an appointment for one of our twins at the hospital in Glasgow on Monday.

So we had our special Valentine’s dinner on Friday: olives and stuffed piquant peppers to eat while we cooked; milk bread toast with pate; ribeye steak with mock frites and maitre d’hotel butter, onion rings and grilled cherry tomatoes; and mini chocolate tarts with walnut praline and vanilla cream. Part The Northgate Hotel, part NYT Cooking, part ‘what’s your favourite and what’s in the fridge?’ The girls had crisps and olives; fizzy juice; chicken nuggets with mock frites and tomato sauce, and ice cream. We cooked and ate and talked about Valentine’s Day, and what respect, and love and kindness looks like in practice. And we said, ‘I love you’.

One thing I guess we’ve all learnt these past months is that change is inevitable, and the precious things are the things we miss: people around us, making choices about how and where we spend our time, feeling that the world is a welcoming place. But in all of this, the one thing that we can rely on is ourselves, and how we choose to treat people every day, not just on celebration days or on Valentine’s.

So, no matter how you’ve made today special, I hope you’ve managed to tell somebody that you love them, been kind to yourself, and shared something that’s brought you pleasure. And if you haven’t, be impulsive, and do it now xx

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