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My Valentine will forever be my darling husband, Ian.  This will be the second Valentine's Day in our lives that we spend apart. :(

I have a beautiful cousin.  Her name is Brenda McLachlan.  When I was growing up, I thought she was everything I was not and would have liked to have been.  Looking back at photos, I can see that I was pretty too, except I had difficulty seeing that at that age (teenager).  When I was at university in Cape Town, South Africa and getting married to my darling Ian, my cousin sent me a cookbook as a present. The inscription inside the cookery book said, "The way to a man's heart is through his tummy!"   Little did she know that I would take that advice to heart and eventually become a cookbook author.  In those days, I didn't know the first thing about cooking and baking.  I was 21 but I'd not been allowed to cook and bake, save for a couple of things (crepes and caramel pie) while growing up.  The kitchen was pretty much off limits for me.  Only one small thing indicated that I had any talent in the kitchen and that was in Home Economics Cooking Class, I received an award for the highest marks in the school in my grade.  I only took that class for one year in Standard 6 (Grade 8).

I had a tiny wedding and no family was present, except for 6 friends - 8 of us in total.  My parents were in Canada at the time and Ian felt if his family was there and mine were not, I would break down in tears.  There is a story behind that, but I don't want to go into it. I had R20.00 (rand = South African currency) to spend on my wedding dress.  I walked around Cape Town streets in tears as I was having a great deal of trouble finding something that would suffice as a wedding dress for only R20.00.  I did find a simple yellow dance dress.  I paired it with a broad-brimmed white hat and bought some yellow flowers to put on the hat. I wore high heels with my dress.  I did feel pretty in it, so that was a relief, and we had a meal and dance at Kloof Neck Restaurant after the wedding ceremony at the church.  My husband has always felt a little bitter about his wife not having had the fairy tale wedding.  I would have liked my dad, whom I adored, to be there for me and to say nice things about me, but that is water under the bridge. I don't feel bitter, nor do I think about it very often.  Instead many years later Ian commissioned a now-famous artist, Jonathon Earl Bowser, to do an enormous painting of me in a dream wedding dress.

CLICK on the photo for a bigger image or go to the link above the photo of the painting.

Ian ran around with this silly smile on his face for 6 months.  I knew he was up to something, but could not figure it out.  I'm sure people think I'm the one that is full of myself, but that was Ian's way of making it up to me for not having had a fabulous wedding, which many young women dream about for years before the actual event.  For the record, I really enjoyed my wedding day and have wonderful memories. 

Below is a lovely recipe for Valentine's Day!  Hope you have a lovely day with your Valentine. Unfortunately, this will be the second Valentine's Day in our lives that Ian and I are apart.

This is such a cute dessert – makes a lovely presentation.  Every time I served this dessert, people simply loved it!  The leftover scraps will not go to waste either!  The first time I made this, Ian and I had a tea date in the jungle and I was working on Volume 1 of Low-Carbing Among Friends.  You guessed it!  This recipe is in that book, which by the way, thanks to our low-carbing friends became a national best seller!!

For other great Low-Carb, Gluten-Free recipes by the team & me:
Support your team, buy Low-Carbing Among Friends cookbooks at: 
http://amongfriends.us/Jen.php (Paypal/Amazon) - SALE priced!

Almond Crust:
1/2 cup ground almonds, OR (125 mL)
  almond flour
1/2 cup Gluten-Free Bake Mix 2 (125 mL)
Sweetener to equal 4 tsp sugar (20 mL)
3 tbsp butter, melted (45 mL)
12 oz regular cream cheese (375 g)
Liquid sweetener to equal 1 cup sugar (250 mL)
1/4 cup powdered erythritol (60 mL)
1/4 cup butter, melted (60 mL)
1/cup unsweetened almond milk, divided (125 mL)
1/4 tsp almond extract (1 mL)
1 envelope gelatin (15 mL)
4 tbsp ground almonds, toasted (60 mL)
1 tbsp powdered erythritol (15 mL)
1 tbsp melted butter (15 mL)
Maraschino cherries, cut in half

Almond Crust:  Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).  In food processor, combine ground almonds, Gluten-Free Bake Mix, sweetener and butter; process.  Press into shallow 9-inch (23 cm) glass pie dish.  Bake crust 10 minutes.  Allow to cool.

Filling:  In food processor with metal blade, process cream cheese, liquid sweetener and erythritol.  Add butter, 1/4 cup (60 mL) almond milk and almond extract; process.  In small saucepan, combine the remaining almond milk and gelatin.  Heat milk until gelatin dissolves and add to cream cheese mixture; process.  Pour over crust.  Refrigerate. 

Topping:  In nonstick skillet, place ground almonds and heat until ground almonds are turning brown, but not too dark. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. Stir in erythritol and butter. Remove set cheesecake from refrigerator and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter or any other preferred shape.  Gently press the cheesecake out of the cookie cutter using clean fingers.  Garnish the shapes with ground almond mixture and half or a quarter cherry, if desired.   Place on a pretty serving dish and refrigerate until serving time.

Yield:  14 servings
1 serving
181.8 calories
4.6 g protein
17.1 g fat
2.5 g net carbs