Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hello, Chickens, and a very happy day to you all!  I hope that you are spending the day in some sort of celebration.  If you are attached, I hope you and your darling are indulging in romance aplenty, whatever that looks like for the two of you.  And if you are single, I hope you are unapologetically celebrating your freedom, and toasting with like minded pals.

Charming Suitor and I are, as it should surprise no one, pretty romantic on a day to day basis.  I think we both know that finding each other in, let us acknowledge, the second act of our lives, so to speak, we are aware of both the time behind us that we missed not knowing each other, and the need to not waste a moment of the gift we've been given in each other.

Romance means different things to different people, so I don't mean to imply that the way we do it is right or better, just that it works for us.  There are the little things.  Every night before bed we have small glasses of champagne, to toast the day, to toast our love, to send us to sleep with little tickly bubbles in our noses.  It is the perfect nightcap, and a wonderful tradition.  

Gifting can be complicated with couples, but luckily for us we are pretty much on the same page.  We believe in happy presents, those little random gifts, small things you find along your path that make you think of the other person and know it would make them happy.  We don't wait for holidays or special occasions for these, we just find, and give.  Because sometimes an unexpected treat on a Tuesday is just the thing.  For the holiday season, we don't give to each other, we make donations to causes that are near and dear to loved ones hearts, and give each other the gift of time.  We both take off the week between Christmas and New Years and spend it lazily at home together, indulging in naps and afternoon movies and complicated meals that we can cook together.  No work, no "have tos", no projects, just us together is all we need and the best gift we could either of us ask for.  

While the Chateau is under construction, birthday and anniversary gifts tend to be of the practical household variety.  Did you know that the Fourth year anniversary gift is appliances?  Well, it was in this house!  

For those of you who know us, you know that both Charming Suitor and I are Francophiles.  We have both been fortunate to spend a lot of time in France, both separately and together, and went there for our honeymoon.  So ever since we bought our house, since it looks like a little castle, we've been calling it The Chateau.  More specifically, Chateau de Pamplmousse.

Pamplemousse is my favorite single word in French. It means grapefruit, which is one of my favorite flavors, but I think even if I didn’t like the flavor of grapefruit, I would still love the word. Just say it once, out loud. C’mon, no one is listening. Pamplemousse. Pronounced POM-PLA-MOOSE. Isn’t that fun? Don’t you want to say it again? I always thought if I ever had a restaurant I would name it Pamplemousse. Except your Polymath does not want to work that hard. 

Pamplemousse is also Charming Suitor’s favorite word in French, something we discovered early on in our courtship. He has spent years trying to get his friends to name their pets, and alternately children, Pamplemousse. He will occasionally look me in the eye and say “You had me at Pamplemousse.” which I am sure is making you throw up a little in your mouth right now, but it literally makes my heart melt every time. 

My license plate is PMPLMUS.

So, in celebration of Valentine's Day, and the progress on the house, I thought I would do a special pamplemousse themed big giveaway for all of you!  And I've got some wonderful partners on this one.

First and foremost, as I have said before on this blog, It is important to know something about me.   I think most sparkling flavored waters taste strongly of furniture polish.  But I do like fizzy water, and have been avoiding pop for a while now, trying to stay away from artificial sweeteners as much as possible. 

So when LaCroix came out with a grapefruit version of their flavored sparkling water a few years ago AND called it Pamplemousse, I had to try it. I don’t know if I love it as much as I do because I was psychologically pre-disposed to like it based on the name, but the fact is that we now drink about two to three cases of it a week since CS loves it too, as do some of my closest friends, so I believe it is really just tasty. Very lightly flavored, and oddly great with most food. No artificial colors or flavors or salt or sweetener, so it is good for my program. 

And the lovely folks at LaCroix have sent me some vouchers for free cases of their products to pass along to the lucky winner!  You don't HAVE to use it for Pamplemousse flavor, but I do strongly recommend it.

I also do eat quite a bit of grapefruit in season, but as you can imagine, once I needed to reduce my added sugar intake, I needed to do a bit of research to find the grapefruits that are sweet enough on their own so that I didn't miss that little sprinkle of sugar.  Enter Wonderful Sweet Scarlett's, a new brand of Texas Red Grapefruit that I have become really fond of.  I have to be honest, I never really looked for a specific brand of grapefruit before, and came across these because my local grocery store had them and they looked good.  But when I tasted them, really sweet punchy grapefruit flavor with almost no acidity, I checked that little oval label and remembered it.    

The folks at Wonderful Sweet Scarlett's have put together a terrific gift basket for you!  

This basket has some delicious Wonderful Sweet Scarletts grapefruit, a circular bamboo cutting board, an apron, a grapefruit spoon and grapefruit bowl, as well as a Valentine's heart shaped cookie cutter.  And I've got some fun recipes below to use those grapefruits to their fullest, sweetest potential.

Last but not least, we had some guest soaps custom made for the house in a delicate grapefruit scent, so I will be sending a personalized signed copy of Recipe for Disaster and a bar of the official Chateau de Pamplemousse soap to the winner as well.

To enter to win, leave a comment below on your favorite way to celebrate (or not)Valentines Day by 11:59pm on February 19, and I will announce the winner on the 20th!

Here are some of my favorite grapefruit treats:

Oleo Saccharum is a wonderful bittersweet grapefruit syrup that is classically used for cocktails, but once you have some on hand, you'll find all kinds of uses for it.  I love it drizzled over vanilla Greek yogurt and sprinkled with toasted slivered almonds for a light dessert, splashed into chamomile tea for a sore throat, or as a fun substitute for maple syrup on french toast. But I've given you a recipe for a cocktail...

Peels of 8 grapefruits, removed with a peeler with minimum pith
1 c sugar

Place all of the peels in a Ziploc bag with the sugar and press out the air.  Mush around to begin to release the oils.  Let sit at room temp at least 6 hours to overnight dissolve the sugar, smushing it around occasionally, then strain into a bottle for use.

Makes about 1/3 c

The Chateau de Pamplemousse Fizz

1 1/2 oz gin
1 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Dolin white vermouth
1/2 oz oleo saccharum
1 oz LaCroix Pamplemousse

Mix the gin, aperol, white vermouth and oleo saccharum in a mixing glass over ice, and stir to combine.  Strain into a rocks glass with ice cubes, and top with the LaCroix.  Serve with a half-slice of grapefruit to garnish.

Grapefruit Cornmeal Cake
Serves 12

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ½ c all purpose flour
½ c medium grind cornmeal
1 ½ c granulated sugar
2 t baking powder
½ t kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 T grapefruit zest
¼ c fresh grapefruit juice

2 c confectioners sugar
¼ c poppy seeds
1/3 c fresh grapefruit juice

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter a 9 in cake pan, line bottom with parchment and butter parchment.

Whisk flour with cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Whisk melted butter with eggs, zest and juice.  Add butter to dry mixture in slow steady stream while whisking constantly.  Scrape into pan and bake 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and invert on the rack, peel off parchment paper and carefully flip cake right side up.  Let cool 30 minutes.

Mix glaze ingredients until smooth.  Pour glaze all over still warm cake and spread over top and sides.  Let stand until set, 30 minutes.  Store in airtight container for up to three days.

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath


  1. Happy Valentine's Day!

    My V-Day traditions are pretty simple - I like to eat a breakfast burrito in bed from one of my favorite places (conveniently named Valentine's), preferably delivered and shared with my Valentine, and I like to honor Amy Poehler's Galentine's by sending a sweet note to the ladies who make it work all year long. And bake. Love to bake, and love grapefruit - I have some grapefruit curd in the fridge right now!

  2. Make a fantastic dinner for myself and stay in my jammies all day especially on a snowy day like today in Chicago! Happy Valentines Day! ����

  3. staying home and doing nothing is the best way to spend valentines day!!!!!!!!!

  4. Happy Valentine's day. I just read out to lunch and loved it. I also thought your blog post was so sweet and loved in the book how she loved pamplemousse. I like to just watch romantic movies on Valentine's day and eat chocolate and chocolate covered strawberries

  5. As a single woman who has not YET met her "Charming Suitor" I celebrate Valentines Day by being my own Valentine. Knowing flowers and champagne won't be sent to me, I get them for myself. I re-read a favorite book, go for a long lovely walk (I live in a weather friendly city) or drive to the beach and look at the ocean. I also say a prayer of thanks for the wonderful man i'm going to meet (someday) and ask that it happen sooner rather than later. Then i come home and have a wonderful cocktail of Vodka and jus de pamplemousse avec un
    resserrement de la chaux!

  6. I like to spend the day doing all the things I feel guilty doing on other days -- watching movies while putting off more important things, eating chocolate, staying up late and baking treats.

  7. Since Valentine's Day in New State tends to be cold -- this year, it's bitter cold, we like to bunker down inside and watch old movies, make a homemade pizza, and snuggle. We usually go out to dinner the day before or after, since the restaurants aren't quite as crowded.

  8. Grapefruit is hands down my favorite flavor. Unfortunately.I also have high blood pressure and take statins, so grapefruit is verboten. However I have been known to cheat with ruby red juice as I am weak and pathetic.Your recommendation of LaCroix water has encouraged me to seek it out as I already know I'm going to love it. For Valentines Day I took a lucious nap with my kittys and ordered some long underwear from llbean because it is -30 outside. I also ate a forbidden heart shaped donut given by a friend.

  9. Oh my gosh...MY favorite word is pamplemousse too! I swear! I buy pink grapefruit Method soap by the case because the scent was listed got it...pamplemousse! husband and I don't really do much for valentine's day - usually just lunch or something simple. Today we went for brunch with my parents.

  10. My husband purchased the large nailhead-trim ottoman that matches our sofa! True love! Oh, and roses, there were roses!

  11. We made dinner together - sirloin, parmesan 'taters, and salad. I had given him some pecan turtles and he presented me with a mixed bouquet of roses and lilies.

    I think I first discovered you when you posted about La Croix pamplemousse some years ago...getting it delivered from amazon if I'm not mistaken.


  12. It's actually my anniversary on Valentines Day and my last name is Hart. Can you get any more romantic (and corny) than that?

  13. I knew I would love your writing as soon as you mentioned LaCroix Pamplemousse. My husband and I had our first date about ten years ago just before Valentine's day at a tiny local pizza place. Our 1st valentines as a couple a year later, I had to work that night and I came home to a heart-shaped pizza and angel food cake with strawberries. The next year we tried to go out and hated the crowds so we came back home and ordered pizza, that was when we decided to make a formal tradition of pizza and angel food cake with strawberries, which we've done every Valentine's day since!

  14. My husband and my first date was just before Valentine's day at a tiny pizza place ten years ago. The nect year I had to work Valentine's night and came home to a heart shaped pizza. The next year the crazy crowds kept us in and we ordered a last minute pizza. When we realized the trend, we made it official. Every Valentine's Day since we've had pizza and it's been such a fun, intimate tradition.

  15. Wine tasting (locally) and then a nice surf & turf candlelight dinner!

  16. Our tradition is to simply be together, and see where the day takes us, without stress or fuss.

  17. Staying home, watching movies all day is my favorite way to spend Valentine's Day..

  18. Staying home, watching movies all day is my favorite way to celebrate Valentine's Day.....

  19. Happy Valentine's Day!
    From our wedding Anniversary on February 8th to Valentine's Day is known as "Love Week" in our house. And live means...Chocolate! So for a week we've been eating all kind of chocolates, cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, and crepes with Nutella (of course). My jeans might be a little tight next week, but my heart is full of love and happiness. But my stomach could do with some La Croix right about now 😊!

  20. I made a fantastic special dinner and dessert for myself and made sure I had some pretty fresh flowers for myself. I love peonies. I also went to my favorite yoga class and took a relaxing bubble bath. So, basically self-care and self-indulgence.

    1. Congrats! You are the winner! Email me your shipping address with phone number to and I will get everyone to have your prizes on their way! Thanks for reading :)

  21. Hanging out on the couch watching TV and making a good dinner!

  22. My husband and I had dinner out at a fancy steakhouse in our town. Which was no small feat since we needed a babysitter and my daughter is right in the middle of her separation anxiety phase! We exchanged cards over appetizers and I cried in the restaurant because it was so sweet!

  23. My husband coaches high school basketball so I am often at a game for Valentine's Day!

  24. My husband and I honestly prefer to stay in and order takeout or cook a yummy meal ourselves. And now that we have a three-month old, staying in as a family!

  25. My husband and I take a 7.5 mile round trip hike (with our beloved Chihuahua Trixie) to the top of the Verdugo Mountains near the L.A. Basin. Once there, you can see the ocean and the Catalina and Santa Barbara Islands to the West along with Downtown L.A., Griffith Park, Hollywood sign; and to the East, North and South, you see a total of 7 different mountain ranges. It's the most magnificent thing I've ever seen in my entire life - especially in the middle of so many big cities. We pack in gourmet sub sandwiches and treats and have an amazing picnic under a shady pine tree with a bench at the top. It truly feels like you're on top of the earth and straddling two totally separate sides of it.

  26. I write this at 3 a.m. at the end of a one of a kind day. Our two-mom family spent our V Day visiting my ill father-in-law at the hospital an hour away. The five and eight year old girls bickered in the back as we slugged back home through a snowstorm. We ended our idyllic holiday with my wife cleaning up puke from the littlest's bed as I get her in a little nest in our room.
    As my wife and I collapse into bed, little one says, "I hope you had a great Vawentine's Day."
    "Oh. Uh. I hope you did, too, honey."
    "I weally did."
    My love and I ended our day by holding hands and shaking with silent laughter at the craziness of it all.
    Yup. She's my Valentine, alright.

  27. Valentine's Day is celebrated by spending the day together and having take-out or cooking a delicious meal.

  28. Valentine's Day means spending a relaxing day with my partner, and me indulging his sweet tooth with a great meal and fantastic dessert. As I live and breathe pamplemousse and he does not, it's not a flavor that ranks high for a shared food flavor. It would all be mine, should I win. ;-)

  29. Spent at home with a good meal, cooked together and a really fantastic dessert.

  30. I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day. For that matter I don't like Mothers Day, Fathers Day or any other similar holiday. I much prefer to show the people I love them every day rather then when a calendar tells me too. I actually had one of the most fun Valentine's Day last night. My office is working with Indian based computer programmers. I actually had to go to India in Nov to meet with the programmers. Two consultants (one of whom i worked closely with in India) are in the states. They have been living in a hotel for months and they were both dying to cook. And I was dying to learn how to cook indian food. I invited them, and a co-worker and his family over for dinner. His daughter ended up getting sick (and had head lice) so her and her mom couldn't come. The lice freaked me out, so I made him and his son wear hats at my house. They had to stop off at Big Lots to buy hats and ended up getting hats in the St. Patrick's Day isle (which they wore the entire night). I couldn't stop laughing every time I looked at them. I was the one girl surrounded by 5 men. We used pretty much every pot I owned. My house still smells like curry, but dinner was amazing!

  31. As I dont yet have my own Charming Suitor, I have dinner with other single friends and we all enjoy each other's company!

  32. We watch a movie and eat pizza. The movie is generally an action movie from the 80s-90s and this year the pizza was homemade. I don't have very strong feelings about Valentine's Day but I like that we take the time to hang together.

  33. As a teenager, I longed for candy in the beautiful heart-shaped box, but that was in the bad old days, when a proper Valentine had to come from a man. A man who read my mind and knew what I longed for. It was a happy day when I realized that all I had to do was ask, or even better, buy it for my own damn self! Now, one of us picks out the box, but we wait until the day after Valentine's Day, when we can get a cheaper or larger box. I love that damn candy!

  34. Each year we write each other a card to open the following Valentines Day. It includes wishes for where we want to travel, buying something for ourselves, and then something silly. We look forward to it every year, and it's nice to "visit " with our last year selves.

  35. My friends and I have a "SAD" celebration (singles awareness day) where we bring bottles of wine, make dinner, and sit around and tell stories all night long. We instituted this a few years ago, a way to remember that love exists in many forms, and across many years.

  36. We typically make plans to go to a great restaurant, just the two of us, and then come home to drink lots of champagne on the couch and watch movies. It's a pretty great combo - some time to be out and about and feel a little fancy, followed by yoga pants and couch time. Does it get better than that?

  37. My husband and I are not romantic and we're fine with it. We do acknowledge daily that we still love and want to be with one another while everyone around us seems to be having a midlife crisis. Valentine's Day only gets celebrated with a card and a kiss while the teenage daughter rolls her eyes.

  38. First of all, PLEASE... I am waiting for a new book from you.... Please!
    Valentines Day- we seem to end up at our favorite italian restaurant with our daughters- just one this year... the oldest is in college in Austin (I sent her 2 pints of Sprinkles Red Velvet Ice cream for a valentine!)
    In 3 years, we will have an empty nest and have to figure out something new!

    We are addicted to La Croix and pamplamousse is my favorite!!

    You are so lucky to be traveling. Such a luxury!

  39. My husband and I used to make a Valentines Day dinner together, but now with two little ones we don't have the time to make it a fun evening event. Now a bottle of wine and some Manchego cheese is perfect time spent together on Valentines day. We know we will have more time to cook together in the future as the kids get older.
    Thanks for the great giveaway. Your books are wonderful, I love the characters and mouth water descriptions of food and recipes intertwined into the books.