It is St. Valentine’s Day and it brings to our minds the thought that what matters in life the most are the little, sweet things, as long as you share them with someone! As one of our favourite Greek song says, beauty lies in simple things, like drinking a cup of coffee in the company of somebody.
On our part, for St. Valentine’s Day we will share with you some sweet writings, paintings and photos, along with a sweet, flourless brownie with berries and almonds, and mostly a wish, everyone’s hearts and lives to fill with even more, true love!
This time we will not devour the whole thing…
Love is a subject that has always dominated the arts, as it is an inherent characteristic of the human. Especially painting, that speaks with images instead of words, appeals to everyone and can express universal ideas and feelings. A painting can “touch” us and “speak” to us with its subject, forms, colours, action, the story it narrates. It can make you come up with your own story, make assumptions about its protagonists, their intentions and feelings, identify or disagree with it, get inspired and reflect. In order to get into the mood of our “loving” article we chose some paintings that make us feel nice… What about you?
We may disagree with the commercial side of this celebration of love, but we always like to find opportunities for nice thoughts and ideas. And what can be nicer than love? We read that, actually, very little is known about St. Valentine. The Orthodox Church, though, has its own Saints of love, Saints Apostles Akylas (Aquila) and Priscilla, whose memory is honoured not on the 14th, but on the 13th of February. Archbishop Christodoulos had suggested for young people to celebrate their love on this day, and we will follow his advise.
We learned that Saints Apostles Akylas and Priscilla were a virtuous and godly couple from Pontus who lived in Corinth, Greece and worked as tentmakers. When Paul the Apostle visited Corinth to teach the Christian faith, the couple offered him warm hospitality, as his preaching had touched them. They got preached and baptised by the Apostle and then followed his at his tours as helpers. Paul the Apostle in his letters mentions their virtues and Christian faith, writing that for their services and courage, not only himself, but all the churches of the nations bless them. Saints Akylas and Priscilla were martyred in the end by the persecutors of Christianity, who arrested them and cut their heads off.
Who wouldn’t be touched by words such as those that Paul the Apostle wrote about love in a letter to the Corinthians? Without love we have nothing and we are nothing…
St. Paul’s Hymn of love
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Paul the Apostle, 1 Corinthians 13 (source).
Love never fails, which means love never ends… These days we need beautiful, sweet examples and mostly we need each other, because individualism and egoism can bring only loneliness and misery. The sweetest example we can think of are couples who lived their whole life together, with its joys and difficulties, such as Mr. Kostas and Ms. Christina, beloved relatives of ours.
According to psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, as mentioned in the book Development across the life span by Robert Feldman, the last period in man’s life is the stage of ego integrity vs despair. During this period, the person contemplates on his life, evaluates and accepts it. If the evaluation’s outcome is positive, one gains a sense of completeness and integrity, a satisfaction about the life he had lived.
Imagine looking back at your life and seeing that you have spent it together with someone, unseparated and dearly loved, close to your family and with lots of love and caring for the people surrounding you. And imagine the opposite… As Erikson believes, people who look back at their lives with dissatisfaction feel depressed, angry and despaired. That Greek song comes to our minds again… It speaks about someone who woke up happy in the morning, stopped nagging and started her life from the beginning by looking at the city tenderly and chasing away the grey clouds. It was a different day, she told him good morning and hugged him, and together with everything else she felt love for herself, she felt as she was shining.
At Eat Dessert First Greece we have lots of love and we want to share it. The simplest way to do so is to share with you a dessert we made for St. Valentine’s Day, a fudgy, flourless brownie with berries and almonds. It is very easy to prepare, you have time to make something sweet for those you love!
Flourless Brownie with berries and almonds
Ingredients for the brownie
|Dark chocolate||300 gr|
How to make the brownie
First of all, melt the butter in a small saucepan and leave it aside. It must cool down to 40-45°C.
Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk by hand. Add the melted butter by pouring it slowly, while continuing to whisk. Cut the almonds roughly, so that their flavor and texture don’t disappear in the brownie. We used the almonds unpeeled, because we wanted to use their taste and texture and also because many nutrients are found in almonds’ skin. However, if you wish to peel them, soak the almonds in boiled water for fifteen minutes and then rub them with your hands, the skin will come off right away.
Melt the dark chocolate in a bain marie and let it cool to 40°C. Pour it slowly into the mixture, whisking constantly. Finally, add the berries (we used frozen).
The brownie has a very fudgy texture, not a cake-like one, and so it tends to crumble. It is best to bake it in a springform pan and use non-stick parchment paper on the bottom. But we wanted it to be heart-shaped, so we used a metal pan, which we greased with melted butter and sprinkled with cocoa powder so that the brownie doesn’t stick.
So, fill your cake pan and bake the brownie in a preheated oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes, depending on the oven. Let the brownie cool and then you can cover it with a simple sugar glaze and decorate it with berries or whatever else inspires you!
Cut a delicious piece and offer it to someone you love! A sweet brownie for the love… Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone, not only those in love… love is all around us, we just have to want to see it!
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