Tags Posts tagged with "Valentine’s Day"

Valentine’s Day

A Valentine’s Day treat

Harbormen Chorus’s Antiquity Quartet, Fred, Dave, Gary and Vic, visited the Times Beacon Record News Media’s home office in Setauket on Feb. 14 to serenade the staff for Valentine’s Day. The group sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “Don’t Be a Baby, Baby” and “Love Me Tender” to a group of adoring fans.

Video by Rita J. Egan

 

The Harbormen Chorus again this year will send out quartets of handsomely dressed gentlemen to entertain loved ones for Valentine’s Day. In their long-standing tradition, they offer the finest, unique and most memorable gift — The Gift of Song! The quartets sing anywhere in Suffolk County: in offices, homes, restaurants, even bowling alleys and mechanic’s shops!

For information and to book a visit for only $75 (includes two love songs along with a box of chocolates, flower and personalized card), call 631-644-0129. The Harbormen Chorus is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and regularly supports the Good Shepherd Hospice at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson with donations and song.

Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

Looking for a romantic way to enjoy Valentine’s Day? Come to the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport and spend an evening with your Valentine at Eagle’s Nest, the Spanish Revival mansion of Rosamond and William Vanderbilt on a hilltop above Northport Bay.

Your evening begins with music, passed hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer in the Memorial Wing, amid Vanderbilt’s exotic collections. Embark on a guided tour of the mansion through the family’s private living quarters decorated for Valentine’s Day. See rooms celebrating the romances of Rosamond and William Vanderbilt, Romeo and Juliet, Napoleon and Josephine and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and hear about the legend of St. Valentine. 

Tours, which will be held on Feb. 14 and 15, begin at regular intervals from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 per person, $35 members. To order, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Valentine’s Day at the Vanderbilt mansion. Photo by Maryann Zakshevsky/Vanderbilt

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to make plans for that special day. Why not treat your Valentine to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at Eagle’s Nest, the elegant Vanderbilt mansion where Hollywood stars and European royalty dined with one of America’s most famous and powerful families?

On Saturday, Feb. 9, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will hold its annual Valentine’s Day dinner (a major fundraiser for education programs) with limited seatings of 50 at 6 and at 8 p.m.

The grand, 24-room Spanish Revival mansion on Northport Bay — listed on the National Register of Historic Places — is one of the most glamorous and romantic settings on Long Island.

Many rooms in the mansion will be decorated with Valentine themes, including the romances of Rosamond and William Vanderbilt, Romeo and Juliet and Napoleon and Josephine. Others feature the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (frequent mansion guests) and their beloved pugs, the legend of St. Valentine and Valentine cards and candy.

The evening is a rare opportunity to enjoy an intimate dining experience with a spouse, partner or special friend and to celebrate in Gold Coast style.

“Many people have used the storybook atmosphere of the Vanderbilt mansion as a romantic backdrop for first dates. Several people tell us they proposed marriage here. And each year many couples come to the Vanderbilt for their wedding ceremonies. This is a perfect place for a romantic dinner,” said Lance Reinheimer, the museum’s executive director.

As a guest, your evening will begin with passed hors d’oeuvres, prosecco, wine and beer in the Memorial Wing of the mansion, amid Vanderbilt’s exotic collections of ethnographic artifacts from Africa, Asia and South America.

After a brief tour through his private living quarters, you will dine in the Northport Dining Room Porch, where the Vanderbilts enjoyed leisurely dinners with their family and friends.

Dinner will be a choice of prime rib, balsamic glazed chicken stuffed with goat cheese, heart-shaped ravioli a la vodka or salmon stuffed with crabmeat. Viennese desserts follow in the Lancaster Room, with a side trip to the Vanderbilt Library and the Moroccan Court.

Tickets are $150 per person, $135 for members, by reservation only. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Three Village Historical Society Archivist Karen Martin dug up some Valentine’s Day cards from the organization’s collection. To learn more about the history and manufacturer of Valentines in the U.S., the historical society suggests checking out http://www.worcesterhistory.org/blog/whitney/. The Three Village Historical Society is located at 93 North Country Road in Setauket. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Raspberry-Chocolate Linzer Cookies

By Barbara Beltrami

There’s no day like Valentine’s Day to conjure up sweet talk, sweet sentiments in sweet cards and everlasting promises of eternal love and/or imminent romance. Those who subscribe to its traditions take them very seriously. Those who do not scoff at what they call the holiday created by the greeting card industry. Norman Rockwell-ish as it may be, there is something sweet about the old-fashioned image of a man holding a sumptuous bouquet of red roses and presenting a huge heart-shaped box of chocolates to his sweetheart.

Which brings me to another thing. No matter how Valentine’s Day is observed, or not observed, like any holiday, it provides an excuse for capitulating to that sweet tooth in all of us, that secret valentine of the appetite.

Raspberry-Chocolate Linzer Cookies

Raspberry-Chocolate Linzer CookiesYIELD: Makes three dozen cookies.

INGREDIENTS:

2¹/₃ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1½ sticks unsalted butter at room temp.

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon almond extract

2 cups chocolate chips, melted over boiling water

Raspberry jam

Confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time; add the extracts and beat to thoroughly combine. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat the dry mixture into the wet one. Gather the dough into two even pieces, enclose in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm and solid.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F. On a flour-dusted board roll out one piece of the dough to ¹⁄8-inch thickness and using approximately a 2½-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on cookie sheet. Re-roll any scraps to form solid pieces for more cookies. Repeat procedure using second half of dough, except this time use a 1-inch round or heart-shaped cutter.

Bake cookies for approximately nine minutes and remove from oven just as they start to brown. With spatula, remove from cookie sheet and place on rack. When cookies are cooled and crispy, spread a level half teaspoon of melted chocolate on each large cookie; top with a level half teaspoon jam and carefully place another cookie on top. Dust tops with confectioners’ sugar and place on tiered or flat cookie plate. Serve with coffee, tea, milk, hot chocolate or dessert wine and, of course, love.

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup water

5 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

In the top of a double boiler combine the chocolate, sugar and water, stirring occasionally; heat until the chocolate is melted. Beating hard after each addition, while the double boiler is still over the heat, add the egg yolks, one at a time. Remove mixture from over the hot water and set aside to cool while you beat the egg whites until stiff. In a large bowl, gently fold the egg whites and vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Distribute the mousse evenly among  eight sorbet or wine glasses and refrigerate covered overnight or at least 10 to 12 hours. Serve with whipped cream, fresh strawberries and delicate wafer cookies.

Cherry Sauce

Cherry Sauce

YIELD: Makes 2½ cups.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound sweet fresh or frozen and defrosted cherries, pitted

½ cup water

¹₃ to ½ cup light corn syrup (depending on tartness of cherries)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Fresh squeezed lemon juice, to taste

Kirsch liqueur, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the cherries, half the water and the corn syrup and bring to a boil. With a wire whisk, stirring constantly, blend the cornstarch and remaining water with the cherry mixture. Over medium heat, cook until clear, about one minute. Add lemon juice and kirsch. Serve warm over vanilla or chocolate ice cream, sponge cake, angel cake, pound cake or cheesecake.

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Here are some sentiments about that undefinable emotion: Love.

Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colors seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there is no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.

            — Bob Marley

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

            Lao Tzu

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our full potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.

         — John Lennon                                         

I heard what you said. I’m not the silly romantic that you think. I don’t want the heavens or the shooting stars. I don’t want gemstones or gold. I have those things already. I want … a steady hand. A kind soul. I want to fall asleep, and wake, knowing my heart is safe. I want to love and be loved.

              — Shana Abé

A serenade by the Harmonic Tides Quartet will make your Valentine’s Day special. Photo by Chris Beattie

On Feb. 13 and 14 the Harbormen Chorus Quartets are again singing their way into the hearts of many an oftentimes surprised Valentine recipient.

Four elegantly dressed gentlemen travel to homes, offices, schools, restaurants, hospitals, nursing facilities and other locations in Suffolk County to serenade that special someone with love songs. Along with the professional performance, the singing Valentines will deliver a box of chocolates, decorative rose and personalized card. Call 631-644-0129 for more information.

The Harbormen Chorus sings four-part, a cappella harmony at many venues, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and donates a portion of the proceeds to Good Shepherd Hospice.

Cocoa components reduce cardiovascular risk

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

Valentine’s Day is one of the wonderful things about winter. For many, it lifts the mood and spirit. A traditional gift is chocolate. But do the benefits of chocolate go beyond Valentine’s Day? The short answer is yes, which is good news for chocolate lovers. However, we are not talking about filled chocolates, but primarily dark chocolate and cocoa powder.

The health benefits of chocolate are derived in large part from its flavonoid content — compounds that are produced by plants. These health benefits are seen in cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure. This is ironic, since many chocolate boxes are shaped as hearts. Unfortunately, it is not necessarily the chocolates that come in these boxes that are beneficial.

Let’s look at the evidence.

Effect on heart failure

Heart failure is very difficult to reverse. Therefore, the best approach is prevention, and dark chocolate may be one weapon in this crusade. In the Swedish Mammography Cohort study, those women who consumed dark chocolate saw a reduction in heart failure (1). The results were on a dose-response curve, but only to a point. Those women who consumed two to three servings of dark chocolate a month had a 26 percent reduction in the risk of heart failure.

For the dark chocolate lovers, it gets even better. Women who consumed one to two servings per week had an even greater reduction of 32 percent. However, those who ate more than these amounts actually lost the benefit in heart failure reduction and may have increased risk. With a serving (1 ounce) a day, there was actually a 23 percent increased risk.

This study was a prospective (forward-looking) observational study that involved more than 30,000 women over a long duration, nine years. The authors comment that chocolate has a downside of too much fat and calories and, if eaten in large quantities, it may interfere with eating other beneficial foods, such as fruits and vegetables. The positive effects are most likely from the flavonols, a subset of flavonoids, which come from the cocoa solids — the chocolate minus the cocoa butter.

Impact on mortality from heart attacks

In a two-year observational study, results showed that chocolate seemed to reduce the risk of cardiac death after a first heart attack (2). Again, the effects were based on a dose-response curve, but unlike the previous study, there was no increased risk beyond a certain modest frequency.

Those who consumed chocolate up to once a week saw a 44 percent reduction in risk of death, and those who ate the most chocolate — two or more times per week — saw the most effect, with 66 percent reduced risk. And finally, even those who consumed one serving of chocolate less than once per month saw a 27 percent reduction in death, compared to those who consumed no chocolate.

The study did not mention dark or milk chocolate; however, this was another study that took place in Sweden. In Sweden, milk chocolate has substantially more cocoa solids, and thus flavonols, than that manufactured for the U.S. There were over 1,100 patients involved in this study, and none of them had a history of diabetes, which is important to emphasize.

Stroke reduction

I don’t know anyone who does not want to reduce the risk of stroke. We tell patients to avoid sodium in order to control blood pressure and reduce their risk. Initially, sodium reduction is a difficult thing to acclimate to — and one that people fear. However, it turns out that eating chocolate may reduce the risk of stroke, so this is something you can use to balance out the lifestyle changes.

In yet another study, the Cohort of Swedish Men, which involved over 37,000 men, there was an inverse relationship between chocolate consumption in men and the risk of stroke (3). Those who ate at least two servings of chocolate a week benefited the most with a 17 percent reduction in both major types of stroke — ischemic and hemorrhagic — compared to those who consumed the least amount of chocolate. Although the reduction does not sound tremendous, compare this to aspirin, which reduces stroke risk by 20 percent. However, chocolate consumption study was observational, not the gold standard randomized controlled trial, like aspirin studies.

Blood pressure

One of the most common maladies, especially in people over 50, is high blood pressure. So, whatever we can do to lower blood pressure levels is important, including decreasing sodium levels, exercising and even eating flavonoid-rich cocoa.

In a meta-analysis (a group of 20 RCTs), flavonoid-rich cocoa reduced both systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure significantly: −2.77 mm Hg and −2.20 mm Hg, respectively (4). These studies involved healthy participants, who are sometimes the most difficult in whom to show a significant reduction, since their blood pressure is not high initially. One of the weaknesses of this meta-analysis is that the trials were short, between two and 18 weeks.

Why chocolate has an effect

Consuming a small amount of dark chocolate twice a week may lower the risk of heart disease.

Chocolate has compounds called flavonoids. The darker the chocolate, the more flavonoids there are. These flavonoids have potential antioxidant, antiplatelet and anti-inflammatory effects.

In a small, randomized controlled trial comparing 22 heart transplant patients, those who received dark flavonoid-rich chocolate, compared to a cocoa-free control group, had greater vasodilation (enlargement) of coronary arteries two hours after consumption (5). There was also a decrease in the aggregation, or adhesion, of platelets, one of the primary substances in forming clots. The authors concluded that dark chocolate may also cause a reduction in oxidative stress.

It’s great that chocolate, mainly dark, and cocoa powder have such substantial effects in cardiovascular disease. However, certain patients should avoid chocolate such as those with reflux disease, allergies to chocolate and diabetes. Be aware that Dutch-processed, or alkalized, cocoa powder may have lower flavonoid levels and is best avoided. Also, the darker the chocolate is, the higher the flavonoid levels. I suggest that the chocolate be at least 60 to 70 percent dark.

Moderation is the key, for all chocolate contains a lot of calories and fat. Based on the studies, two servings a week are probably where you will see the most cardiovascular benefits. Happy Post-Valentine’s Day!

References: (1) Circ Heart Fail. 2010;3(5):612-616. (2) J Intern Med. 2009;266(3):248-257. (3) Neurology. 2012;79:1223-1229. (4) Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012:15;8:CD008893. (5) Circulation. 2007 Nov 20;116(21):2376-2382.

Dr. Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit www.medicalcompassmd.com or consult your personal physician.

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