Easily the best Valentine's Day I've ever had was about twelve years ago. T and I brought my then teen-aged daughter and her friend to Oak Street Cinema for a viewing of the 1968 masterpiece Planet of the Apes. Nothing is more romantically campy and profoundly funny in its own self-importance than a movie with lines like, "Time bends. Space is boundless. It squashes a man's ego. I feel lonely. That's about it. Tell me, though. Does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother? Keep his neighbor's children starving?"
And who better to utter these phrases than the self-importantly brilliant Charlton Heston, as George Taylor? "Do you have any weapons? Any Guns?" George asks. When told they wouldn't need them, the future NRA president states, "I'm glad to hear it. I want one anyway."
As you plan your Valentine celebration, I hope you'll consider adding Planet of the Apes to the evening. If simian survival, Bright Eyes, and missing links don't trigger a little amour, chocolate truffles and red roses probably cannot rescue you either. Serve water, melons, corn on the cob, and coconut. For dessert, bake a Banana Flip Cake and swing from the chandelier. But whatever you do, do not tell your love to "Take your stinking paws off me you damned dirty ape." That could possibly kill the mood.
Banana Flip Cake
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon banana extract
6 ounces milk
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Beat butter for about 30 seconds. Add sugar, vanilla, extract, and egg and beat one minute.
Continue beating and add dry ingredients and milk alternately in batches. Spread batter in buttered and floured bread pan. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.
Cool on rack 10 minutes, then remove from pan. Serve with banana cream and nutmeg.
1 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whip cream to stiff peaks.
In blender puree corn syrup and banana together.
Combine cream, puree, and vanilla. Sweeten to taste with powdered sugar.