On Saturday, January 28th, 2012, Caitlin and I got engaged. I proposed as we sat in adjoining arm chairs, as we watched the sun slowly setting over the Chesapeake Bay. Later that night, we had dinner in the town of Easton to celebrate the occasion.
The next day, after a warm breakfast with our innkeepers, we strolled about the towns of St. Michael’s, Easton, and Annapolis, hands in tow. Later that evening, we shared the news with our friends and family. And then, on Monday, I got ready for work, and Caitlin boarded a plane for Europe, for what has become an all-too-regular business trip. I haven’t seen her since.
It’s been over two weeks since we got engaged. But in that sixteen-day span, only two have we spent together. And with the time-difference and our own demanding schedules, even the passing phone call has become a challenge. This past weekend, I spent nearly every waking hour either studying for the upcoming Bar Exam or finishing work assignments in preparation for it.
On Saturday, I took a break to go to the grocery store. On Sunday, I took a break to get a haircut. And that was it. Those were the two moments during which I left my apartment. And yet, between the two of us, I had the better weekend.
With that in mind, I decided to bake my fiancée, my Valentine, a cake. The picture serving as a reminder of what awaits her return.
Too often, Valentine’s Day feels like little more than an attempt to force men to buy roses and chocolates, to go through a series of empty gestures out of some forced feeling of guilt or obligation, as if our marching orders came directly from Floral and Confectioner Headquarters.
And that seems like such a waste. Valentine’s Day could be more and it could even be genuine.
If Valentine’s Day should be anything, it should be about your own self-expression, about making the gesture that comes to your mind. Valentine’s Day should be an opportunity to think about the other person in your life — that person who shares your thoughts and emotions. It should be about celebrating your significant other in the manner which you find most appropriate — roses and chocolates and singing cards be damned.
Caitlin, on this Valentine’s Day – with your phone inoperable, your instant-messaging service disabled, your six-hour time-difference, and your twelve-hour days — I still wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you, and wishing you a very happy St. Valentine’s Day.
There’s a slice of cake waiting for you.
ST. VALENTINE’S DAY POUND CAKE
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hour 10 minutes, plus 10 minutes for cooling
YIELD: Serves 18 to 20
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Desserts.
WHAT TO GRAB:
3/4 cup butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 lemons zested
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
8 ounces low-fat sour cream
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 10-inch tube pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture, alternating with the sour-cream, but beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
3. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and allow it to cool completely.
4. For a Valentine’s Day treat, put four small pieces together, and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make heart-shaped cake slices. Serve with fresh fruit and whipped cream!