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Here we are once again at Valentine’s Day. In my opinion, it is a self-indulgent day to eat whatever you like.

Chocolate is the primary source of nutrition on Feb. 14, and we are definitely going to work that decadent pleasure into this column.

Folklore has it that in ancient Rome, Valentine’s Day was made a holiday to honor Juno, the queen of the Roman gods and goddesses. The Romans considered her the goddess of women and marriage.

In the U.S., Miss Esther Howland is given the credit for sending the very first Valentine cards to her friends and family. The commercial cards we see today were first introduced in the early 1800s.

Valentine’s Day represents love and food, which are very close to each other. A sumptuous meal followed by a delectable dessert is a wonderful way to spend an evening.

Some people celebrate the day on the weekend prior, as this year Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday. If you don’t care for going out with the crowds, you can make a special meal at home for the loved ones in your life. It can be fun to prepare something special during the week, and it won’t take all day to do.

When I worked at the hotel many years ago, we always did a special buffet for the guests, and there are such simple things that can be done with ordinary food. For instance, you can shape mashed potatoes in hearts on the plate. Put something red, such as a strawberry, as a garnish on any dinner and you’ve got something going. If you think about it, there are hundreds of little things you can do to turn any dinner into a special and romantic meal.

A simple and inexpensive treat is strawberries dipped in chocolate, and laid on a plate as a garnish. To do this, just purchase the freshest berries you can find. Take either chocolate chips, or the little squares of chocolate and melt them down. Melting in the microwave is just fine, just make sure to stir and don’t let it burn or stick to your bowl. While the chocolate is warm, dip the berries, keeping the green stem on, half way up the fruit. Lay it on a piece of wax paper until it hardens.

Decorating a simple cake with red frosting, or better yet, red trim around the cake, is a nice touch for your someone special. Red candy hearts are can be scattered around the cake top. It will look like you did an incredible job of decorating. Easy, simple and inexpensive are the ways to go.

Today’s recipe is for a chocolate Valentine cake I dug out of my archives. You can make it any time of year, not just this week. I haven’t made it in a while — I’d pretty much forgotten about it. But now that I’ve found it, I believe it will be dessert on Tuesday.

Happy Cupid day to everyone. Treat yourself to a delectable dessert that is sure to make it’s way into your family’s hearts.

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