Friday, February 13, 2009

St. Valentine's Day - A Celebration of Heroic Love

St. Valentine's day is a commercial dream, with its greeting cards and chocolates and big sparkly gifts for those you love. I'm not one to shun any reason for chocolate consumption! But, in celebrating this Feast in my home, I wanted to show the children that St. Valentine was not the patron saint of chocolate consumers, but rather a martyr who would offer his life out of love for Our Lord. This was the connection I wanted to make to St. Valentine's day.

Tradition holds that there are actually three martyrs named Valentine associated with February 14, Valentine of Rome, Valentine of Terni (whom some scholars believe to be the same person as Valentine of Rome) and another Valentine of Africa of whom not much is known. One thing is certain about all three of these men, they died out of heroic love for Our Lord and His Church.

There are differing traditionally held beliefs associating St. Valentine's feast with that of romantic love. Some believe that it was an attempt to "baptize" a pagan ancient Athenian celebration of the god Zeus and Hera's marriage. Others tie the the day to an ancient Roman feast that had tones of romance called Lupercalia, which took place on February 15. Another connection is made through the observation that birds naturally choose their mates in the second week of the second month - February 14.

For the Feast, I wanted to tie in the connection to the martyrdom St. Valentine underwent. The most traditionally held story is that St. Valentine was a priest, and possibly a bishop around the middle of the 3rd century. He was imprisoned for his faith and refused to convert to the pagan religion. While imprisoned, he converted one of his jailers and stories relate that he cured the jailer's daughter of blindness writing to her the very first valentine, a note that said simply, "From your Valentine."

Red is the color that is symbolic of martyred saints, and also of love. The vestments worn today (for those Masses following the traditional Church calendar **see note below**) are red. My meal tonight would be red in honor of the martyr and his heroic love!

Baked Red Snapper

~ 2 pounds red snapper fillets [NOTE: Cod is a much more inexpensive option here! Red Snapper is great if it fits your pocketbook. Choose a mild, white fish. 2 pounds generally feeds about 6 (adjust for teens!)]
~ Tony Chacheres original seasoning - you can find this in your grocery store on the seasonings aisle, but any seasoned salt will do in a pinch
~ 1 stick of butter (or...1/2 stick of butter and 2 tablespoons good olive oil)
~ 1 cup (1 small/medium onion) - diced
~ 1 cup celery - diced
~ 1 cup bell pepper - diced
~ 2 garlic cloves - minced
~ 1 (8 oz.) can of tomato sauce (I used a 15 oz. can in my meal because we like extra sauce)
~ 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
~ 1/4 cup of white wine (Optional: substitute water)

Rinse fish and pat dry. Sprinkle with a little Tony's seasoning and keep cool. In a large microwaveable casserole dish, combine butter, diced onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic cloves. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add worcestershire and tomato sauce and microwave for 5 minutes more. Remove and add wine and stir. Add the fish fillets, covering each fillet with sauce. Microwave for:
3 minutes for thin fillets
5 minutes for thick fillets

The fish should be flaky. Let the dish stand covered for 5 minutes. Serve over rice.

This recipe is originally from a cookbook entitled, "Tony Chacheres Microwave Cajun Country Cooking". It is no longer in print.

Roasted Red Potatoes

12 - 14 small red potatoes
Good Olive Oil

Rinse potatoes, but leave skins on. Cut potatoes into bite size pieces and add to a large bowl. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle chives, salt, and pepper over potatotes. Toss to cover all potatoes. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender, tossing potatoes once or twice to ensure even browning.

Some other foods to consider for a martyr's feast incorporating as much red as possible:
**Red wine
**Roasted Red peppers
**Strawberry Shortcake
**Red Velvet cake

...and for tonight, we're having some of Charlotte's incredibly addictive and sweet Valentine Dots. I hope it's ok with Charlotte if I share her delicious Valentine treat with you!

You'll need:
1 bag of pretzels. I used the heart shaped small pretzels
1 bag of Hershey's Kisses, some plain chocolate, some white chocolate striped
1 bag of Valentine colored M&M's

Set the oven to 200 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Arrange the pretzels in a single layer and add a Hershey's kiss on top of each pretzel. Place them in the warm oven. Let them bake for about 8 minutes. The plain chocolate Kisses won't melt completely, they'll get shiny. The white chocolate Kisses will melt quickly. Remove from oven and press an M&M in the top of each soft Kiss. Let them cool and enjoy!

I must warn you, these are extremely addictive!

May your St. Valentine's day be filled with a heroic love for Our Lord!

****A Note: After the revision of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969, the feast of St. Valentine was removed and replaced with the celebration of Saints Cyril and Methodius for February 14. Catholics who follow the traditional Roman calendar still honor the martyr, St. Valentine on February 14. Pin It


  1. What a perfect meal for today, Jennifer. We don't eat meat on Saturdays because of the sabbatine privilege, so this is an excellent idea for today. Have a blessed day!

  2. Such a gorgeous feast meal! I can't wait to try that fish recipe.

  3. Oh!!! That looks SO very delicious! I had planned to pick up a couple heart shaped pizzas from Papa Murphy's, but after seeing this post, headed to the store instead!! Thanks Jen!!

    Happy St. Valentine's Day!