Steal This Valentine’s Day Idea

Eggplant and Cherries

I’m going to be real with you: the Vegend was my first (and now only) Valentine. Any previous “relationship” somehow started directly after the day and certainly didn’t last until the next one. I stormed the theater with a group of ladies to see He’s Just Not That Into You on V-Day 2009 and considered doing the same, solo, for 50 Shades of Grey in 2015. A typical February 14th had me silently cursing flower delivery guys for reminding me of my status. I know it wasn’t their fault; I never did respond to their catcalls.

But then the Vegend arrived.

After we moved in together, our date nights dwindled to appropriate levels–we were building a life together, after all, and that requires budgeting. So when Valentine’s Day came around and restaurant markups reared their heads, we decided to take a suggestion from my mother instead: “Why don’t you do a Chopped thing? You know, where they’re given the ingredients and have to come up with a dish?” This may be the only time the Vegend and I will agree with and accept motherly advice. We began plotting.

The rules were simple: I would give him one ingredient on which to base the main dish. He would give me one on which to base dessert. We’d have a full meal, half surprise, and on a budget. We both picked ingredients that were remarkably out of season–he offered up cherries and I offered eggplant–but we made it work. His creation–skillet eggplant parm (not breaded but still fried-ish)– and mine–upside down cherry cornmeal cake–were both delicious experiments and filled our apartment with wonderful scents. Also, leftovers for days.

Now, with a week left to spare, we challenge you to do the same. Gather your partner, your best friend, or a whole mess of acquaintances and challenge each other to whip up something delicious and homemade. It doesn’t have to look perfect or even taste perfect. It just has to be filled with love.

It goes like this:

    • If it’s two of you, decide who will tackle the main dish and who takes on dessert. The more people, the more parts of a meal you’ll get–amuse bouche, appetizer, soup, intermezzo, entree, dessert, etc.
    • Feel free to draw the ingredients out of a hat or just assign the ingredients to all involved. Each dish should be centered on a single ingredient.
    • Cook like nobody’s watching.
    • Take a photo and tag it with hashtag #iamvegend and we may repost your V-Day meal.*
    • Enjoy!


  • *If you happen to forget to take the photo before digging in, worry not. As long as there’s still food on the plate, we’ll consider your entry.
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