By Bonnie Fishman / San Francisco Bay Area
A truer statement couldn’t be made at a more appropriate time than now. In 1965, the composing duo, Burt Bacharch (who passed away last week at 94) and Hal David, gave this song to legendary singer, Dionne Warwick to record and it has since become an anthem for us all. This is Valentine’s Week and the world really needs a little more love. There is so much hate and strife around the globe.
Here in California, we recently had a week of four mass murders in our state. These tragic occurrences have become so commonplace that feathers seem barely ruffled. Innocent people were gunned down. Can we even let that sink in or is it too horrific to contemplate, especially day after day? How about the constant bombings and hand-to-hand combat all over the world? I can’t even imagine what life must be like in say, Ukraine. Peace seems so elusive.
There seems to be an unending litany of hateful rhetoric all over social media, TV news, and print publications. Our previous president made it acceptable (and even preferred) to spout these evil statements. Were those thoughts in people’s minds and hearts all along and now it is simply okay to say them out loud? Pretty scary stuff.
Bringing it closer to home in our own personal worlds, we ask ourselves, where can we bring love into our lives? Where can we give more love? Valentine’s Day has mostly been regarded as a time to celebrate loving relationships between amorous partners. Should we stop there?
I’d like the holiday to be more inclusive. I’ve given some thought to being more kind and loving to the people within my circle. Sometimes, when I have an encounter with a grouchy cashier, I want to ask, “Would it kill you to be nicer?” Instead, I keep my mouth shut, lavish them with kindness and say to myself, they must be having a hard time.
I attend two different community groups a week that focus on loving kindness. One is a meditation at a nearby Thai Buddhist monastery. I wish they could take their show on the road! It’s all about getting in touch with your own light and love and sending that out in the world. The other is a group where people learn to listen to one another and support each other in their troubles with a loving hand.
We, as parents, try to teach our children to be kind to others. Every night at the end of NBC Nightly News, I wait for Lester Holt to say, “Please take care of yourself and each other.” Such a great sign-off.
I remember when I was a child on Valentine’s Day, Mom would buy books of valentines. We would punch them out, maybe do a little assembling, and address one to each kid in the class, whether they were your friend or not. When my children were kids, I would buy boxes of valentines. Everyone in the class received a bag full of valentines when they left school that day. What a sweet tradition. Where does all that hate out there in the world begin?
According to the Smithsonian magazine, Richard Cadbury began in 1861 putting cupids and rosebuds on heart-shaped boxes: “Even when the chocolates had been eaten, people could use the beautiful boxes to save such mementos as love letters.”
When my children were school age, we would take a vacation to a warmer clime each February during spring break. It often coincided with Valentine’s Day. I would do some careful shopping and stuff a red bag instead of a heart box for each kid to have on the plane to remind them what a loving time this was. The chocolate candies in the bags sure made for a pleasant trip.
What would Valentine’s Day be without chocolate? To celebrate inclusion this holiday, I’m making a Chocolate Bread Pudding that serves eight so that you can share your love. It is particularly delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream or Chantilly cream. Go all in!
Tell us here at The Insider what chocolate dessert you are making for your beloved friends and family. And please, have a sweet day!
Chocolate Bread Pudding
Yield: 8 servings
3 lg. eggs, separated, room temperature
3 oz. sugar + 2 oz. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. heavy cream
1 oz. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 lb. loaf egg bread (do not trim crust) cut into 3/4” cubes (@ 5 cups)
Spray a 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish or casserole with pan release. Reserve.
Place yolks in large mixing bowl. Whisk in 3 oz. sugar, vanilla, coffee powder, and cinnamon. Bring cream and butter to a simmer in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium to high heat, stirring frequently. Gradually whisk hot cream into yolk mixture, a little at a time to temper the eggs. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.
Beat egg whites in another bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in remaining 2 oz. sugar. Beat until stiff but not dry. Fold beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions.
Add bread and toss to coat evenly. Transfer mixture to prepared dish. Let stand 30 minutes. Cover pudding with foil. Bake in 325° oven until set, about 40-45 minutes. Cool pudding slightly before serving.
Bonnie Fishman attended the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London. Later, she owned and operated Bonnie’s Patisserie in Southfield, Mich. and Bonnie’s Kitchen and Catering in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. She has taught cooking for over 35 years and created hundreds of recipes. She is now living in Northern California.