January 2009 Newsletter

January, 2009
CookiesItalian.com  NEWSLETTER

Valentine's Day February 14th 

Valentine's Day is the big day set aside for lovers.

On February 14 around the year 278 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed.

Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.

To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.

When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270.

Legend also has it that while in jail, St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it "From Your Valentine."

For his great service, Valentine was named a saint after his death.

In truth, the exact origins and identity of St. Valentine are unclear. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14 February." One was a priest in Rome, the second one was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third St. Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.

Legends vary on how the martyr's name became connected with romance. The date of his death may have become mingled with the Feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love. On these occasions, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius decided to put an end to the Feast of Lupercalia, and he declared that February 14 be celebrated as St Valentine's Day.

Gradually, February 14 became a date for exchanging love messages, poems and simple gifts such as flowers and Italian cookies.

St. Valentine lived in Rome - he was Italian - so we know he loved Italian Cookies! Send some to your valentine.

Valentine's Day Special Gift AssortmentCookie Gift for your Valentine.
Remember your special person with a sweet gift
Special for
Valentine’s Day
Two Dozen Cookies
1/2 dozen Italian Love Knots,
1/2 dozen Heart Cookies
1/2 dozen White Italian Wedding Cookies
1/2 dozen Valentine Message Cookies  -  Presented in a gift box.

Special for Valentine’s Day $24.97 plus shipping
(a $30.46 value - you save $4.51 per gift)

Must be ordered by February 7th for delivery by Valentine’s Day.
All orders shipped FedEx Feb 9th & 10th unless otherwise requested.

Here's a really easy cookie to make. I made these with my 5 year old grand neice a few weeks ago. She loved making the thumb prints - she had to use both thumbs to make the print big enough! Filling them with jam was her next favorite part of the process.  She got a little impatient with the long 25 minute baking time but the finished cookies were worth the wait.

I discovered that sugar free jam just doesn't work - it gets all runny. Just use real butter and real jam and eat fewer cookies - if you can!

Big Thumbprint Butter Cookies

1  cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2/3  cup sugar
1/2  teaspoon vanilla
1/8  teaspoon salt
2  cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
about 1/4 cup apricot, raspberry, or any jam of your choice

Preheat oven to 350º
Grease or parchment paper line a baking sheet
Cream sugar and butter in a large bowl
Add the vanilla and salt and mix until incorporated
Add the flour and mix at low speed until incorporated

Using your hands, roll the dough into golf-ball-sized balls and arrange them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.
Flatten them out a bit.
Using your thumb, press the top of each cookie to make a shallow well - roll your thumb back and forth to widen the well.
Use a small spoon to fill the thumb-print wells with jam.
Bake until very lightly browned around the edges, 25 to 30 minutes.
Let cool on the pan.
Store in an airtight container.

In Italy the Kitchen is Where You Find Love
La cucina (the kitchen) is the most important room in the house. It is the heart of the Italian home. This is the room where great dishes - both plain and elaborate - are prepared. The kitchen is the place where love is expressed in a special meal for a cherished family member or friend.

La cucina is also the hub of Italian family life. It is the place where family members first meet in the morning to exchange greetings for the day. It is the room where la famiglia (family) enters when everyone comes home at the end of the day; the place where the children drop off their books after school as they enter the house. It contains the table where the mail is left by a family member after it is delivered. A section of the counter may have a bowl of fruit and several types of bread ready to be shared at dinner.

La cucina often serves as the place where informal company is entertained with all kinds of goodies and pietanze (snacks) and coffee and cake or cookies. It is the room where conversations are held and important decisions are made over una bella tazza d'espresso (a good cup of espresso).

La cusina is usually a comfortable room in most Italian homes where much of a person's life is lived and much of a mother's love is given to her family and her friends.

By the way - If you want to view a short video on St. Valentine's Day click this link or copy it into your browser: http://link.history.com/services/link/bcpid6555686001/bclid1672160848/bctid1407959235

Till next time - have happy days.
Thanks much for your interest in Italian cookies and Italian traditions.
Come visit us soon or send a note

Arrivederci  -  Dio ti benedica
Rev. Fr. Mike
Copyright © 2009 Rev. Michael Librandi