When my family moved to the USA school for me was about learning the language and keeping up with the curriculum. Learning the culture and traditions of American school was also a big part of my school days. One new experience that particularly sticks out is Valentine’s Day traditions.
During those years (mid 80s) the holiday was not as big in Mexico as it is now. While I did know that it was a day for celebrating love and friendship to me it was an adult day. In the states I learned it was celebrated by everyone.
Once February began the red and pink holiday decorations hung from my elementary school’s ceilings, walls, windows and doors. To me it was as though the world had turned into one giant red construction paper heart. My first American Valentine’s Day my teacher sent home a letter explaining that there would be a party and how I needed to prepare for it. Basically I needed to bring a treat and Valentine’s Day cards to exchange with my classmates.
I still remember going with my parents and siblings to pick out our cards. I walked the special holiday isle setup by the store. There I took my time deciding what type of card I wanted to give my classmates. It was fun looking through the cards but the decision was difficult. Thoughts like if I pick this one they’ll think I’m immature, and this one is too girly, raced through my head. Thankfully there were boxes with mixed cards and messages. Phew!
Every year it was the same. We went to the store and after making my decision I walked with the box in hand towards the shopping cart. We’d make our way home were I’d lay belly down on the carpet writing out my list. At the top of the list came the names of my best friends, then good friends and so on working my way down to the classmates I didn’t particularly like. I would fill in each classmate’s name and some also received special friendship messages.
At the classroom’s Valentine’s Day party we were served heart candy with sweet and funny messages, chocolates, cookies and cupcakes. This too was when classmates would exchange the colorful cards. Envelopes in hand we shuffled through the classroom handing them out. Everyone received a card and candy from me. It didn’t matter if I didn’t consider them a friend. Leaving anyone off the list was not something I had the heart to do. Wether the kid liked me or not also didn’t matter. What mattered to me was that I knew I wasn’t treating anyone differently. Being the new kid and being treated differently was something I understood well.
All these years later the memories I recall are happy ones. Back then worries of fitting in were my concern now I see how silly and innocent it all was. As the years went by I very much looked forward to school Valentine’s Day activities and celebrations. Well, high school was another matter but we’ll talk about that another time.
Speaking of memories, yesterday I remembered these pork chops are one of my husband’s favorite meals. In fact the recipe is his and one he taught me. I shared it a couple of years ago and wanted to share it again with the recipe print-out option. Also because it is a great recipe and one that deserves attention. Not to mention the fact that it would be a great meal to cook for your significant other on Valentine’s Day.
- 3 small apples (I used a local variety of Jonagold)
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tbsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp. ghee (clarified butter) or 1 tbsp. olive oil
- bone-in pork chops, I make 2 per person
- small jar of creamy horseradish (sometimes called prepared horseradish)
- salt, to taste
- ground black pepper, to taste
- olive oil to lightly coat
- Preheat oven to 200C or 392F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then set a side. Core the apples and cut into even sized wedges. In a small bowl mix all of the spices. In another coat apple wedges with the ghee or oil. Gently toss the apples and spice mixture until wedges are well coated. Spread the apple wedges on baking sheet place in center of the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until tender.
- Preheat broiler for 10 minutes. Pat dry the pork chops and brush with a little bit of oil. Rub the chops with a little bit of salt and black pepper on both sides. Place the pork chops directly on oven rack/broiler rack closest to heat. Cook for 8 minutes or until brown then flip and continue cooking for another 8 minutes, or until cooked through. Cooking time depends on chop's thickness so keep a close eye on them and check for doneness.
- Pour some prepared horseradish onto a small bowl. Use a spoon to spread a thick layer of horseradish ontop of each pork chop. Place the coated pork chops back on the broiler and cook until the horseradish is dark and charred. Check on them often to prevent smoking and burning.
- Serve the horseradish pork chops with savory baked apples and your favorite green vegetable or salad.
Valentine’s Day is in exactly one week. Here are some scrumptious recipe ideas for your romantic dinner. Enjoy!
– Tapas and Fruit Sangria
– Mahi Mahi Fillets with Preserved Lemon Sauce over Salad Greens
– Shrimp Creole Inspired by Emeril Lagasse
– Lemon Garlic Stuffed Brook Trout
– Lemon Pepper Linguine with Shrimp
– Spicy Spaghetti with Sun-Dried Tomatoes (vegan)
– Spaghetti Tricolore Con Salsiccia di Maiale or Tricolored Spaghetti with Pork Sausage
– Curried Chicken Farfalle Pasta
– Pork Tacos In Red Indian Chile Sauce
– Sri Lankan Pork Curry
– Red Chicken Pozole
– Hubby’s Grilled Bratwurst and Sauerkraut Sandwich Recipe
– Hubby’s Enchilada Style Chimichangas (Tex-Mex Recipe)
– Bistec en Salsa Roja (Steak in Red Salsa) or The Nameless Dish
– Nectarine Goat Cheese Galette, Made with Olive Oil Pastry Dough
– Buckwheat Crepes and Buckwheat Crepes with Roasted Vegetables
– Arugula, Maché Strawberry Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
– Spicie Poached Pears – Dessert for 2
– Pastel de Chocolate Mexicano or Mexican Chocolate Cake
– 25 Man Approved Valentine’s Day Meals