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Rose petals are all over internet recipes these days! I wonder if you have noticed this too.  Sprinkled on cakes and infused in creams and mixed with dried orange peel in harissa in all sorts of spicy North African-inspired dishes.

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Because roses are associated with romantic love, they’re an iconic Valentine’s Day flower.  There is in the perfume of roses something so love-ly indeed.  A few years ago, during a very low ebb, a friend who is a herbalist gave me a gift: a tincture of rose to spray on myself as a kind of self-love potion.  “A hug in a bottle,” she called it.  It worked.  That’s what a lot of us need: self-love potions.

I would say that’s exactly what this is in that photo above.– Rose Petal Tea, fermented with water kefir grains and coloured with the smallest teaspoon of pomegranate molasses. It’s a bubbly, lightly perfumed, gentle, probiotic toast to oneself or a friend while you listen to Emmylou Harris singing about the Wheels of Love spinning you around:

Or maybe you’re obsessively replaying Kate Maki’s singing that beautiful bittersweet Townes Van Zandt song “I’ll Be There in the Morning”–  “your softest whisper is louder than the highway’s call to me.”

In London in January I made a journey to Persepolis in Peckham to buy Persian rose petals….. And then came home and received a beautiful pack of rose petals from the inspirational Sara who with hubby Bruce runs Fine Pluck nearby in this neck of Mid-Wales, and makes beautiful tea blends with herbs and flowers they’ve grown and foraged.   If you are in Britain and need to purchase on-line, I truly recommend this company.  The herbs are so fresh indeed, the packaging couldn’t contain the fragrance, which is intoxicating.

One of the blessings I feel most profoundly in life is the strengths of my female friendships, and to thank one particular friend for a particular favour, I made the tantalising Parsnip Cake in Rachel de Thample’s new book Five, which I am going to write about soon. Instead of baking it in two sponge pans, I decided to use my new budget-but-beautiful rose-shaped pan:

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Better a broken cake than a broken heart!  And I (re)learned the lesson to allow a cake to cool fully before easing it out of these bizarre, new-fangled silicone molds that a lady in the queue at the supermarket warned me was “fiddly” even as I silently dismissed her as pessimistic and interfering.   Woe would have been me were I not practicing my anti-perfectionism, and thought to decorate the frosting with orange peel and those good old rose petals, and learned that parsnips and rose are a beautiful match–who would have guessed it? But truly are, so expect some experimentation.

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Meanwhile, I got a little inspired by this old Valentine:

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and by the idea to dress popcorn in Sumac but instead I popped mine in coconut oil then sprinkled it with the Sour Grapes Chaat I made for this recipe.  All part of the endless cycle of kitchen doings…

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So with my Rose Petal Water Kefir, my broken and mended Cake of Parsnips, and spicy Sour Grapes Popcorn, I offer you, Dear Reader, a few links for your Valentines Day edification:

Here’s an interesting look at classical aphrodisiacs with ingredients such as Deer Penis and poultices of bull pat.

This one is about Shaping the Oral Microbiota through Intimate Kissing.  Much is coming t0 light these days ab0ut gut health and mood and happiness—  maybe lots 0f kissing or not kissing or the particulars 0f your kissing partner’s microbiota plays a part?

And an idea which captivates me, putting ourselves or parts 0f our body in our cooking and seeing if there’s a “magicality of cuisine” — this is about plantain-leaves-as-a-love-philtre-in-19th-century-liberia but surely one can imagine relevance for today and here and now?

Remembering last year at this time, playing Ancient Aztec and fermenting cocoa with chillis…

And finally, a recipe, to breathe fire and soul closely, that onion thing that some people, not everyone, can do: Fermented hot pink onions through which I say, Happy Valentines Day to you. Is this the randomest post yet? Please forgive me. I yam what I yam, a self-love sentence, if ever there were one…

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