January tends to be a quiet month, with the chaotic bustle of three months of holidays and parties having come to an end abruptly with the turning of a new year. As such, Vivian and I have started the tradition of hosting food-sampling parties at the end of January, cheese parties on odd years and hors d’oeuvres on even ones.
We hosted our second hors d’oeuvres party on Saturday with a handful of our culinarily-savy friends: Phil and Jen (of course), Cameron and S. Jael, Jenny, Libby, Tamra, Mark, and Lisa. We also had an unexpected guest early on in the evening: a fluffy little dog named Po who came knocking to come in out of the cold. I gave her a ride home as the rest of the gang practiced their moves and got ready for a showdown.
As usual, we had a lovely assortment of contestants: shrimp, bruschetta, chicken salad, blue cheese cookies with fig jam, chicken peanut salay, and a handful of other worthy contenders. Vivian and I broke out some baked brie and garlic, escargot, and even some caviar, adding to the European flavor of the evening’s dishes. The winner of the night was Phil’s smoked salmon puffs, which were made some scratch. (He even smoked the salmon himself!) We had some games and movies in the wings for the rest of the evening, but as usual we wound up just enjoying each other’s company for most of the night with the help of Riesling and chocolate wine.
The next day at church, our Mongolian missionary Ingrid Kimmons dropped in to pay us a visit and share new from the far east. She came at the perfect time, since the polar vortex has drifted back north and left us with balmy 60-degree weather to enjoy. Hannah and her little friends got to play in the leaves after church, and then we took her to the park for a picnic lunch afterward. One thing I’ve learned about Nebraska weather is that there are plenty of gorgeous days to enjoy if you take advantage of them.