My sentiments about one certain annual February date that I refuse to call a “holiday” do not come from any inherent bitterness. I am not a bitter person. Nor are they the result of traumatic experiences with an ex-boy who not only cheated on me, but cheated on me with my friend and not only cheated on me with my friend, but decided to tell me about it on or about February 14th.
No, that hasn’t affected how I feel about Valentine’s Day at all.
Historically, I have never “gotten into” Valentine’s Day the way Hallmark, DeBeers (whose commercials, I’ll have to admit, are pretty damned good), and every restaurant with a prix “f**k your wallet” fixe menu want me to, because it has always been, and always will be, a manufactured holiday that has been completely stripped of all of its original significance. The day is supposed to be dedicated to celebrating love and romance, but how many people really know the history that drives the day named after St. Valentine? How many people know that there are, in fact, numerous unconfirmable legends about this guy named Valentine and how and why he was martyred? Not even I know, and I could have looked it up in the time it took to write this introduction!
I understand that in this hyper-capitalistic world we live in today, there isn’t a single holiday that has not been a victim of utter commercialization. However, Valentine’s Day seems to be the one with highest ROI (Return on Insignificance), snapping up the most revenue for a saint who has no more meaning than say, St. Dichu.
Do you not know of St. Dichu?
Dichu was a swineherd in Ireland who was martyred for something of which I am not totally sure, but anyone who wrangles pigs for a living is a saint in my eyes. Why can’t we celebrate St. Dichu’s Day by exchanging gifts of pork and asking one another “Will you be my Dichu?” We can. I would posit that bacon, prosciutto, and pork chops have the same appeal, if not more, as a flimsy index card with a heart scribbled on it, roses that will wilt in three days, and cheap chocolate that tastes like *ahem* ash. The point is that because there is nothing stopping us from celebrating any one of these 10,000+ saints, and because St. Valentine is no more important than St. Dichu, we are spending exorbitant amounts of money on ridiculous gifts that will end up on the dollar table at your garage next summer just to prove to someone you love him or her.
Valentine’s Day is meaningless!!!
Which is, of course, exactly why I baked a bazillion baby brownie hearts to deliver all over the city like a Goddamned fat fairy angel in nothing but a pair of Depends.
Put on your favorite love song. Or you can be like me, who has pathetically fallen into the depths of “Easy Listening” aka “Adult Contemporary” aka “OMG I Hate Myself” and listen to Sade’s “By Your Side.”
½ c. melted butter
1 c. sugar
2 large eggs
½ tsp. vanilla
½ c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ c. of chocolate chunks or nuts
Preheat oven to 350.
Line an 8×8 baking pan with foil and grease the foil. You can use a 9×9 pan, but the hearts will be flatter. I don’t know if that has any significance here, but if you want to read into it, you can.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together ½ c. melted butter, 1 c. sugar, 2 large eggs, and ½ tsp. vanilla. Stir in ½ c. all-purpose flour, 1/3 c. cocoa powder, ¼ tsp baking powder, and ¼ tsp salt. It is up to you whether you want to defile your brownies with up to ¾ c. of chocolate chunks or nuts.
Scrape batter into baking pan.
Bake for 19 minutes. Exactly. Unless your oven is different from mine.
Let the brownies cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then pull the brownies out of the pan with the foil to cool on a flat surface.
After the brownies have cooled completely and you’ve basically worked yourself up into some chocolate-starved frenzy, cut brownies into hearts using a heart-shaped cookie cutter because you know the only reason you use a cookie cutter to make shapes is so that you can eat the scraps with impunity!!!
God, I love Valentine’s Day.