Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Friday, February 09, 2007

"I had often heard the song before..." ~ Jane Eyre

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,

I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. ~ Walt Whitman

I am teaching Whitman this week, including “Song of Myself.” I admire Whitman’s words of personal praise; this post is in his spirit.

Though I believe Neil’s Valentine’s Day support system for singletons via IM is a sweet idea (www.citizenofthemonth.com - 2/6/07), I decided to create my own post in a slightly different spirit: Singletons need to celebrate themselves on Valentine’s Day. If you are not going out with your friends and celebrating one another, what better way to do so than to cook a three course meal for yourself, complete with wine and flowers? Why do you need someone else to treat you well? Treat yourself well on Wednesday, please! Here is a menu I have created that will have you singing of yourself on Valentine’s Day.

Firstly, do the majority of your food shopping this weekend for any ingredients you need. Perhaps wait to purchase the produce until Tuesday. Secondly, go out to your florist and get a dozen carnations for yourself. They aren’t expensive, they last for weeks, and you can get them in various colors! Stop by your local wine store and pick up a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, a dry white wine you will need for both cooking and drinking. Ask where the Californian wines are located and choose from there – most are less than $20 a bottle. Thirdly, go get yourself a small box of chocolates of your favorite variety, as Valentine’s Day should truly be named Chocolate’s Day.

When you get home from work on Wednesday (or after you have worked as tech support for Neil's Valentine's Day IM network), this menu will take you no more than an hour to prepare, and the dessert takes all but five minutes. The salad has sweetness from pears because you are sweet, the main course is surf and turf because you deserve it, and dessert is going to have you singing. Spend the evening listening to jazz or watching a classic film like The Thin Man or Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Baby Greens, Pear, Walnut, And Blue Cheese Salad
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 medium shallot, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup olive oil
1 5-ounce bag mixed baby greens
2 large ripe pears, halved, cored, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped (you can toast these easily in a pan on your stove a day ahead of time and keep it in a sealed container)
Whisk first 4 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Toss greens in large bowl with enough dressing to coat. Divide greens among 6 plates. Top with pear slices, dividing equally. Sprinkle with cheese and walnuts. Drizzle lightly with remaining dressing and serve.

Chuck Blade Steaks with Herb Wine Sauce (Gourmet Magazine)
*You may choose to halve this and make two steaks*
4 (1/2-inch-thick) top chuck blade steaks (about 18 ounces total)

1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Pat steaks dry and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter and oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute steaks 3 minutes per side for medium. Transfer steaks with tongs to a plate and keep warm, loosely covered. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to skillet and cook shallot over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and carefully add wine and any meat juices that have accumulated on plate with steaks. Simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in herbs and salt and pepper, to taste.
Pour sauce over steaks and serve.
*The vegetable I suggest to pair with the steaks are sautéed green beans*

Crab Potato Cakes
(This recipe is halved)
1/2 lb. crab meat (do not use imitation!)
1/2 c. mashed potatoes (use Yukon – peel, boil until fork tender, mash, mix in some butter and milk)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash pepper
Dash onion salt
Remove any shell or cartilage from crab meat. Combine all ingredients. Shape into 12 cakes. Place cakes in a heavy frying pan which contains about 1/8 inch of canola oil, hot but not smoking. Fry at moderate heat. When cakes are brown on one side turn carefully and brown other. Cooking time approximately 5 to 8 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper.

Chocolate Mint Parfaits
1 shot creme de menthe liqueur
1 scoop mint chocolate ice cream
1 chocolate mint candy, such as Andes or peppermint patties
1 sprigs fresh mint
Using a parfait glass or cocktail glass, pour 1/2 a shot of creme de menthe into each glass. Top with scoops of mint chocolate ice cream, then drizzle another 1/2 a shot per parfait of creme de menthe over ice cream. Garnish parfait with mint candy and fresh mint sprigs.

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Blogger Amy said...

Fabulous idea. And, I've been teaching Whitman too this week. We covered the 1st Song of Myself on Wednesday, then Songs #10, 33 & 52 yesterday and today. At least, that's the plans that I left for my co-teacher. :-)

12:27 PM  
Blogger PeeJ said...

Oohhhh stole that crab cakes recipe heck yes!

Cheers Thurs, and yep you're right - I shall indeed forego the usual valentine's day search for the perfect partner in order to go and watch Hot Fuzz instead which comes out on that day. Funny comedy cops > navel gazing :)


2:22 PM  
Blogger Bird said...

TN - you rock! what a great idea. and wonderful recipes.

i make that salad - it's fabulous. and i have pears right this moment sitting on the counter, ripening. one is ready tonight, the others are not there yet - the timing for wednesday may be just right.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

Whitman is my 2nd favorite poet, behind Ms. Dickinson. Lucky, lucky you!

When he starts singing The Body Electric, though, I turn a thousand shades of scarlet.


Maybe I'll read THAT on V-Day.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Non-Highlighted Heather said...

The more I know of you, the more I like you. Whitman is my favorite poet.

I'm a firm believer in being content in our circumstances, and in doing so, finding peace. I think your idea compliments this. We spend far too much time grumbling about our realities, instead of finding reasons to celebrate them. And might I suggest, if one isn't a fan of jazz, a little Ray Montagne instead? He would make a lovely substitute for dessert, and with far fewer calories.

12:12 AM  
Blogger Non-Highlighted Heather said...

Ray LaMontagne. Grrrrr. How could I make such silly mistake?

10:01 AM  
Blogger question girl said...

yummmy & a great idea too

11:55 AM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Amy ~ Great minds think alike, eh? Oh how I love 10! ;) I hope all is well with you in the classroom!

Peej ~ Hallo chappy! Hot Fuzz? That sounds both funny and dirty all at the same time! Just make sure you are eating cadbury chocolates as you watch!

Birdie ~ Isnt that salad amazing? In the summer I substitute the pears with raspberries. Do you ever saute pears in wine? I think its called "simone" or something like that?

Marty ~ Yes, indeed, that would be a great read for v-day!

NHH ~ I love your exact words - spending too much time grumbling about reality instead of celebrating the amazing things in our reality - like ourselves! Oh yes, Ray LaMontagne is a great great great substitute for jazz in this case! :)

QG ~ The mint parfait is the yummiest - try it any day, let alone on Vday!

12:22 PM  
Blogger Bird said...

yes to everything!

i use raspberries in salads - also with cous cous.

have you tried matsuma slices or grapefruit slices with spinach and honey-dijon mustard dressing?

these things are so simple and taste so wonderfully!

yes to pears simmered in wine - gently.

i eat fruit every day - in one form or another.

try pink lady apples - lovely with gorgonzola, pine nuts and balsamic vingarette - lovely just in slices as they are. a sweet-tart combo.

oh, i am just gleeful now thinking of all this fruit and recipes.


3:09 PM  
Blogger Clearlykels said...

Those look delic. I do love Walt Whitman. That is the best poem.
Of course, I take a different route on Valentine's Day-- I just ignore it. We'll see:-)

9:53 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

If only I could cook.

Do you have recommendations for take out pizza?

10:05 AM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Nothing says self-love like ordering a pizza with your favorite topping(s). Oh, I would suggest adding garlic knots to the order.

10:49 AM  

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