Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Smash Bake Hearts: A Little Laughter and A Lot of Love


How do you feel about Valentines' Day? At almost forty-seven years old, it's growing on me. Again.

When I was a kid, Valentines' Day was exhilarating. One year, in elementary school, I remember making all of my Valentines' cards with my mom, taping bubblegum to the cards on which I had painstakingly written - in bubblegum scented pink ink no less - 'Stuck on You!'

Then, in college, I worked as a florist for a couple of years. And my disdain for the holiday blossomed. I worked at a flower shop because I loved flowers - all those the scents, all those the textures - and I loved creating something beautiful that a fellow flower lover would enjoy. 

But on February 14th, directly proportional to the proximity of dinner time, men would line up at our flower stand for a dozen long-stemmed red roses. It wasn't thoughtful. It wasn't creative. And it certainly wasn't authentic. It was obligatory.  

"How about something a little less common?" I suggested one time, reaching for a bunch of fringed parrot tulips that were a sunny yellow bloom tipped in scarlet. The man nearly bit my head off in his impatience. "I just want the long-stem red roses and I'm already late for my damn dinner!" he bellowed. 

How's that for romance? For years after college, I despised Valentines' Day. 

I firmly believe that love and romance belong front and center all the time. Why is February 14th designated as a day for people to show their sweethearts that they are adored? What about the other 364 days?!?

I would rather get a bunch of handpicked wildflowers on a random day in April than a dozen red roses on a day when florists mark up their wares beyond the typical 300% markup. Thankfully all three of my boys know this and I find flowers from the garden in a mason jar on the table when their bushes are in bloom.

A Hand-Picked Rose from My Boys' Garden

I know that I sound unapologetically unromantic. Is there a Valentines' equivalent of a Grinch? That would be me. Would have been me. But one of my boys loves Valentines' Day and spends weeks planning his cards for his friends; so, we make the cards together. Kinda like my mom did with me. I love that and it's helping to melt my iciness towards the holiday.

I look at it this way: I love my Valentines (my Love and our two boys) 365 days of the year. Why would I refuse to celebrate that affection just because everyone else is celebrating on that same day?!

And, truth be told, I'm not unromantic. I love romance. I just don't reserve romance for February 14th. Jake and I take our romance to the redwoods, on a lake, to the snow, and to the beach. All. Year. Long.

Me and My Valentine

And after nearly two decades years of marriage, and twenty-two years together - the most important thing to remember: you are responsible for your own romance...and, even more importantly, sometimes it's not about romance; it's about family. 

These Days Are Long Gone...

So, that is the filter through which I view Valentines' Day now. To that end, I try to celebrate love at home with the boys. For now. They'll be off to college or on their own in a blink of an eye. Anything we can do that gets us around the table, laughing, and enjoying each other's company is the perfect way to celebrate love! No need to go out an spend a lot of money, though that can be fun, too!

Smash Bake Hearts

So, on a random Tuesday evening - read 'NOT Valentines' Day' - I decided to make some heart-shaped pizzas for dinner. The title of this post 'smash bake' is how R describes my baking. "You know, Mom, you prefer things that are less precise. You 'smash bake'." I can cop to that. These are made even more simple for a weeknight dinner because I used premade pizza dough and a jarred tomato sauce. I often do homemade everything...but not last night.

Ingredients 
serves 4 with leftovers for lunch the next day

  • four premade pizza dough balls (I divided them in half and made eight 6" x 8" hearts)
  • jarred tomato sauce
  • shredded cheese
  • various toppings (we used Canadian bacon, pepperoni, and more mozzarella)
  • Also needed: baking sheets, baking stones, heart-shaped cutters, and knives if you want to freehand any toppings


Procedure

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Press dough into whatever shape you wish.



Smear some tomato sauce on the dough. Add cheese and toppings.


Place in the oven and bake for 12 to 14 minutes.


The crust should be firm and the cheese melted.


Slice or serve whole.


Repeat until all of your dough and toppings have been used. Above is Jake's pizza. A skull, really, my Love?! 


"It's my 'Til Death Do Us Part pizza," he explained. Fine.


The boys loved the skull...more than all my painstakingly cut out hearts. We laughed and laughed about it. 


Happy Valentines' Day, all...if you celebrate! I hope yours is filled with a little laughter and a lot of love.

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