Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Mandarin ducks have been used for centuries as the most traditional symbol of love in Feng Shui practice, so for Valentine's Day dinner, we ate duck.  It's like Feng Shui for your tummy, right?  Seriously, though, I've been wanting to make this crispy-skinned duck with Sichuan peppercorns and star anise since I saw it on the Cooking Chanel months ago.  It was the perfect special but week-night friendly dinner.

This was my first time cooking duck and I was surprised by how simple it was.  I scored the skin and then let it stand in the marinade for about half an hour.  Next time, I'd leave it for longer.  I seared the skin in a hot skillet and then finished it in the oven, leaving the duck a nice medium.  While it was in the oven, I mixed equal parts hoisin and orange juice with just a shot of soy sauce as a quick sauce instead of the fruitier version called for in the recipe.  It was delicious and quicker than cooking a chicken breast.  I don't know why I haven't made duck before!  As simple sides, I mashed some sweet potatoes with Chinese five spice powder and stir-fried green beans in sesame oil.

Although Geoff and I agreed to take a trip this year instead of exchanging gifts, I did make a small, sort of romantic present...mostly because I wanted something to put on the wall in our bedroom.  (So what I'm saying is I made a present for myself.)  Following these directions from See Kate Sew, I made a patchwork map of the U.S. with fabric scraps.  Rather than filling in all of the states, I only filled in the states we have visited together.  Over the coming years, we can work on filling in the rest.  I'm regretting not getting to Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Delaware while we lived in Pennsylvania.

After dinner, we had planned a quiet night in.  However, we ended up getting free tickets to see a local production of Rent at the Woodlawn Theater.  Although an rock opera about people dying from AIDS is not your typical Valentine's Day fare, the show was amazing with some really talented actors.  Having these sorts of shows is definitely one of the major benefits of having moved to San Antonio (75 degree days in the middle of February is another).  Now I'm ending my day listening to Geoff play guitar, something I never get tired of.  I hope you all had a Valentine's Day filled with love in every form it takes.

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