I am not much of a party person. I just don’t find parties very exciting. I don’t understand why I would want to stand in a room, crowded with people, music blaring and just talk. If I want to talk with someone, I choose to do it sitting down, in an environment where I’m not competing with loud music and dozens of other people.
Julio, on the other hand, adores parties. He would attend a party every night if we let him.
So I try to compromise with the boy. I’m actually just not much of a standing-around-and-talking-party person. I do like other parties. I love dinner parties, for obvious reasons. And dance parties are a wonderful thing; if you just take that other kind of party mentioned above and let me dance (and preferably not be the only one dancing), I am perfectly happy. Oh yes, and I also like themed parties. When a party is an excuse to dress as something else or reminisce about a previous era, the event is vastly improved. So Julio and I are both happy.
I also like planning parties, especially themed parties. So, naturally, when Andrés suggested hosting a Lithuanian-themed party in honor of his Lithuanian heritage/citizenship, I immediately started preparations. This wouldn’t just be a party, it would be the best Lithuanian-themed party our guests had ever attended. We would have Lithuanian food, Lithuanian drinks, and Lithuanian games. Not just standing around and talking, but talking about Lithuania.
The party, which took place on Saturday, was a success. There was a lot of fun, a lot of guests, and a lot of Lithuania. But mostly, there was a lot of food. When everything was over, we couldn’t even fit the leftovers into the fridge!
One of the few items that did disappear, and disappeared quickly, was a traditional Lithuanian drink I had made for the occasion. This is a pretty divisive drink, either you really like it or you really don’t want to take a second sip. It is made from honey and water, which is quickly fermented by yeast (causing it to become bubbly and sour but still have a low alcohol content, only 1-2%). After fermentation you add raisins and lemon juice to balance the flavors. The flavors, in case you’re curious, were described both as “soda-like” and “sangria-like.” While I was on the not-another-sip side of the aisle, I will certainly be making another batch for our next Lithuanian party. And I also owe a bottle to the trivia winners, who requested it over a bottle of wine.
Another dish I made, not quite as popular as the Kvass (which I think won for its originality), but much tastier (in my opinion) and more versatile were these poppyseed cookies. The recipe isn’t authentic Lithuanian, but I thought it seemed Lithuanian-inspired. Plus, cookies make every party better.
Andrés will let you know about the other, more authentic, Lithuanian dishes he made for the party soon. I hope you can wait!
Lithuanian Honey Kvass
Adapted from a website of Lithuanian recipes
2 cups honey
5 liters water
20g (4 tsp) yeast
1 cup raisins
juice of two lemons
Bring water to a boil and add honey, stirring until it has completely dissolved. Allow honey-water to cool until it is ~110 F. Add yeast and allow mixture to ferment for ~24hrs in a warm place, until a layer of foam develops on the top of the mixture. Remove the foam. Add raisins and lemon juice, then bottle the kvass and store in a cool place.
Poppy Seed Wafers
From Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce through Thin Crust, Deep Dish
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 egg yolks (save whites)
1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
12 tbsps (6 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsps sugar
2 tbsps poppy seeds
Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Using your fingers, squeeze the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly. Add cream and egg yolks and continue squeezing with your hands until the texture comes together.
Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a log that is 3/4-in wide, flouring the dough and work surface as necessary. Wrap each log in plastic and chill for two hours.
Mix sugar and poppy seeds for topping and spread out on a flat surface. Brush one log with egg whites and roll in the poppy seed mixture until evenly coated. Repeat process with other log, then slice logs into 1/8-in thin wafers with a sharp knife and place on lined cookie sheets.
Bake the cookies for 15-17 minutes in a preheated 350 F, rotating the sheets halfway through. The wafers are done when they are a dark golden-brown with a darker ring around the edge. They should smell quite nutty.