By Danielle French

Happy Valentine’s Day

I confess, I’m not much for Valentine’s Day. Despite my better instincts, I always set my expectations too high – expectations of special things happening – flowers, dinner out, or a surprise dinner in. Expectations are usually about what we hope will happen and sometimes, when we expect our significant other to be a mind reader, we set ourselves up for disappointment; hopes are dashed and then we only have ourselves to be angry with.

Over the years, I’ve come to have a different perspective on this day. I now think of Valentine’s Day as a day of love – for anyone – and an opportunity to do something special, no strings attached, and definitely, no expectations whatsoever. For me, it’s about expressing how I feel to my children, my partner Shawn, a friend, or my parents. Simple as that. And the way I express love is by making them something good to eat.

Shawn is not a believer in the one-day-a-year approach. He says every day is Valentine’s Day, but I’m not so sure about that. I think we do have to step outside of our routine every once in a while and actually think about doing something special for those we love. I remember the first year Shawn and I were dating, when Valentine’s Day came around, once again, expectation reared its demanding little head. When he forgot all about it – not a flower, not a heart-shaped box of crumby chocolates, nothing! – I’m embarrassed to admit that I was disappointed and grumpy. I felt silly about my dashed hopes and grumpy disappointment; I was hoping for some romantic gesture from him, but from his perspective, he does nice things all the time, and his feelings of love are expressed in a number of ways: building something that he thinks I need, or moving some earth around with the tractor to make way for a garden or a structure.

Whatever you do today – share dinner with someone you love, stay home and listen to music with glass of wine in hand and read a book or watch a show. Enjoy the day and appreciate those around you. Here is a cocktail recipe to start off the evening.

Blackberry Orange Champagne Cocktail

Muddle 3 blackberries in a cocktail glass with ¼ tsp (1 mL) sugar and 1 ounce of orange liqueur such as Cointreau. Top with chilled sparkling white wine. Garnish with a strip of orange rind.

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Danielle French - Ash Naylor Photography

About Danielle

Looking for a simpler way of life for her four daughters and herself, Danielle moved from Toronto to this farm in the Bethany Hills of Southern Ontario, and over time together with her family and her partner Shawn, restored the barn, the iconic heritage silo and the land.

Danielle loves to create unique settings and menus for the many events she offers at South Pond Farms, such as authentic farm-to-table gatherings, bread-making workshops, culinary classes, and weddings. Danielle’s vision is to inspire others to share her vision of a traditional life and way of cooking and to feel the sense of history on this beautiful land.  

Danielle was also the host of a television series called Taste of the Country

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