by Eddy Robey M.A.

A Meal Made for Love
  On a night when snow may fall and trees are bare, we offer warm thoughts and gifts. The courage that we need to face cold gray skies and a sometimes angry world, seems brought to life in the brave colors of the flowers and cards we exchange. Everyone will think of affection in its many forms.
There will be Valentines traded by kindergarten classmates and relatives. Even the office coffee tray is likely to hold heart shaped cookies. This is a traditional day for sweethearts, but it is also a time for us to think of everyone we love.
There is no better way to show that spirit than a dinner made by caring hands. It need not be complex or exotic in its ingredients. There is no need to ruin the household budget. This menu is impressive because anything done in the name of love is always best.
The elements of a celebration can be accomplished both easily and inexpensively. Whatever you do will be appreciated, just because you have done it. A home made Valentine is the prettiest of all. Some of you will do this for a sweetheart, others will make it a family project; it can be a joy for anyone. An attractive table is not a hard task. Here is one way to do it.
You will need a white tablecloth of some sort, a paper one will do. Additional supplies are a bag of small red apples, a few sheets of red construction paper, some small paper doilies, and cellophane tape.
Spread the cloth on the table. Cut hearts of many sizes from the construction paper. They don’t need to be perfectly shaped, and will be even more charming if a bit uneven. Make loops from the cellophane tape and use them to fasten the backs of the paper hearts all over the top and sides of the tablecloth.
Place a bowl in the center of the table.
Put an apple in the center of each of several paper doilies. Cup the apple slightly and put it in the bowl. The doilies will form a bit of a ruffle when they are shaped by the apples.
When the bowl is full, the contrast of the white doilies and red apples will be very just right. A red candle set on either side of the bowl would be a perfect touch, if you care to use them. This is not a fancy table setting. Reminiscent of the Valentines we made as children, it is one that demonstrates the affection of the person who decorated the table.
This menu will be a simple one to prepare. Some of you will be serving this after a day at work, so I will give you as many ways as possible to prepare things ahead of time. Everything but the Rice can be cooked the day before, and then reheated to serve. The dessert only needs to be taken out of the refrigerator and allowed to come to room temperature before you have it.
A couple of ingredient notes:
First, grated Ginger root is available as a paste in a jar.
Second, be sure to use Coconut Milk, not Coconut Cream in the Soup recipe.
Both items can be found in the foreign food section of most supermarkets.
I hope your celebration of love is all that you could wish. All these recipes are written for 2 servings, but may be doubled or tripled, as needed.
Easy Tomato Soup
1 (8 ounce) tin diced Stewed Tomatoes in juice
1 cup Coconut Milk
¼ cup finely chopped Cilantro
1 teaspoon Chicken-Flavored Bouillon powder
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan.
Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
Cranberry Chicken
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Halves
1 Small Onion, chopped
1 Stalk Celery, chopped
¼ cup Seedless Raisins
1 (8 ounce) tin Whole Cranberry Sauce, stirred
1 tablespoon Grated Ginger root, or 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
½ cup Chicken Broth
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
¼ cup Flour
In a medium saucepan, cook the Onions, Celery and Ginger in 1 teaspoon of the Vegetable Oil, until the Onions are translucent.
Add the Cranberry Sauce, Raisins and Chicken Broth.
Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside.
Coat the Chicken Breasts with Flour.
Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of Oil in skillet over medium heat.
Cook and brown the Chicken Breasts until done. It will take about 3-4 minutes a side.
Pour the Cranberry mixture over the Chicken and heat to serve over rice.
Steamed Rice
½ cup Rice (Basmati is nice with this menu)
1 cup water pinch salt
Mix all ingredients in a microwave safe 1 quart dish which has a lid.
Place in the microwave and cook for 15 minutes on the defrost setting.
Stir and serve.
Curried Carrots
1 box frozen Baby Carrots, thawed
2 tablespoons Margarine
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Curry powder
1 teaspoon Lemon juice
pinch Salt
In a medium saucepan, melt the Margarine.
Add the Cinnamon and Curry Powder, then cook together over medium heat for one minute.
Add the Carrots and Lemon Juice.
Cook and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes.
Chocolate-Orange Pots de Creme
1 cup Pareve Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (6 ounces)
2 tablespoons Orange Marmalade
1 envelope Non-Dairy Whipped Topping Mix
¼ cup Orange Juice, cold
1 small tin Mandarin Oranges, well-drained
Place the Chocolate Chips and Marmalade in a microwave safe mixing bowl.
Cook in microwave on high setting for 1½ minutes.
Remove from microwave and stir until smooth.
Set aside for 5 minutes to cool.
Add the Whipped Topping Mix and beat with an electric beater until smooth. While the beater is running, add the Orange Juice and beat at high speed for 2 minutes.
Spoon into 2 (4 ounce) custard cups.
Serve at room temperature, garnished with the Mandarin Orange pieces.
  Copyright 2002 Eddy Robey
Excerpts from It's Not Just Chicken Soup.
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