Allez, venez et entrez dans la danse

a cheerful and contented mind
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[Today's subject line is from Laurence Sterne's The Grace.]

I was more birdwitted and last-minute about pulling it together than I would have liked, but tonight's party chez nous went quite well. (Example of birdwittery: my brain somehow failed to compute until this morning that chicken broth cannot be an ingredient in vegan pumpkin soup. Fortunately, this finally dawned on me before I'd finished the grocery run...)

Decorations: deep orange chrysanthemums on the front porch; maroon calla lily on the coffee table; yellow roses in the bathroom and study; mixed bouquets (more yellow roses, velvety purple-red coxcombs, some pale green wheat-like greenery I also picked up at the wholesaler's, and some of the greenery and pink-orange flowers (lilies? azaleas? not sure what they are) from last week's church arrangement.

Appetizers: shrimp crackers, roasted green peas, snow pea crisps, and deviled eggs. (The first three are Asian snacks.)

assorted beers (Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, Kirin Ichiban, and He'brew Genesis)
red wine: Red Guitar (2006 Navarra Temporanillo/Garnacha - supposedly "rich and smooth" but tasted pretty harsh to me; I'm going to use what's left in stew or sangria);
white wine: In Fine Blanc; Brampton sauvignon blanc (South Africa, 2004).
most discussed: Hitachino Nest White Ale (general verdict among all: spectacular); bubble tea (general verdict among the first-timers: "weird." The guest who'd had it before said that she liked that mine was less sweet.)

two pans of ribs -- one with Bull Head barbecue sauce, the other with homemade (ketchup, mustard, Worcestshire sauce, onion)
stir-fried green beans
sesame-lemon cucumber salad
sweet potato "pie" and radish "pie" (really more like popovers; from the freezer section of K&S Market)
dumplings: pork and leek, pork and Chinese spinach, mushroom, and spinach (also from K&S)
pumpkin soup

One guy opted for more ribs. For others, there were lychee-coconut and white peach jellies, sesame candy, red bean popsicles, and Klondike-Heath bars.

Here's what I ended up doing for the soup:

Vegan Pumpkin Soup (stock recipe modified from the one in Didi Emmons's Vegetarian Planet)

Saute for about ten minutes in olive oil: one large onion, one bundle of (three) leeks, two potatoes, and six carrots, all chopped.
Add four cloves garlic, a bit of chopped ginger (1 or 2 T), a gallon of water, and thyme (several tablespoon's worth), black pepper, salt, and paprika to taste. Bring to boil and then simmer for half an hour.
Turn off heat. Let cool a bit (enough so that the steam doesn't hurt your face when you peek in.) Strain out veggies (can save for shepherd's pie or puree for something else).
Add five cans of pumpkin (I think they were 12 or 16 oz.). Stir until smooth. Reheat and add more seasoning as needed.

If serving to non-vegans, I'd think about adding some Worcestshire sauce or sour cream for even more flavor. Red pepper flakes instead of paprika might be another variation.

Additional pleasures:

  • Rediscovering Ensemble Clement Janequin's Les Cris de Paris (especially "Languir me fais" and "Un mari se voulant coucher").

  • The dog did not snarf down an unattended plate of deviled eggs this time around.

  • Good conversations - topics included the local arts scene, photography equipment, Clint Eastwood movies, how tapioca is created...

  • As usual, preparing for guests got the BYM and I to get things done we wouldn't have otherwise. This is probably the cleanest the house has been all year, and that feels very good indeed.

  • I still have time to indulge in a full night's sleep before throwing myself into what's due next. And so to bed.

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