Ushering in the New Year with Food and Friends.

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already the new year, guys! It’s January 1, 2017 today. How did you celebrate New Year’s Eve? With a display of fireworks in the sky? By popping the wine and champagne bottles? Getting drunk and teeter-tottering along the sidewalks, singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’? Regardless of how you celebrated the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, we are all lucky to have been able to wake up on the first day of the new year with a fresh mind.

Here’s how I celebrated my New Year’s Eve — with friends, fun and food! It was my first potluck dinner party yesterday which I cooked up a pot of herbed and spiced couscous with roasted red and yellow bell peppers and streaky smoked bacon (photo below). I added black pepper, parmesan cheese and paprika for the extra taste. I was a bit apprehensive as to what the reception would be for my couscous but I was relieved when my friends helped themselves to second and third servings. One of them even took the remainder home for her sister! I was very pleased indeed.

My husband cooked his first dish of ‘kangkung belacan’, a Malaysian version of spinach in spicy chilli paste. There were many recipes for it online but seeing as it was his first time making that dish, I suggested he buy the ready-made paste instead of making it from scratch. We made a mistake with the portion of spinach to buy as the uncooked bunch had looked like it could feed six people. Only after cooking the vegetables did we realise that it certainly wasn’t going to feed six hungry mouths. Well, there’s always a next time then!

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My friend lives in Selayang, which was quite a distance from where we currently live so it took us quite some time on a few highways before reaching our destination. Thanks to Waze, we avoided a number of backed-up roads carrying all forms and manners of the New Year’s Eve revellers. It was dinner-time when everyone arrived! We had lasagna (prepared by the hostess), fried chicken (courtesy of a friend who came yesterday), couscous (cooked by yours truly), kangkung belacan (made by my husband), raspberry chocolate tart (baked by the sister of another friend who came yesterday), salted gula melaka chocolate truffles (by cocoraw) and 2 bottles of wine (a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay). It was a lot of food indeed for just six people.

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After dinner, we adjourned (the hostess’ favourite word of the night!) to the living room where we made ourselves comfortable and played a game called ‘Who is the Impostor?’. It is an app which you can download onto your smartphone via Apple iStore or Google Play and have at least 6-12 people playing with you.

It truly is a game wholly suitable for parties where many people can join in the fun. All you have to do is to keep guessing and wondering which one of your friends is being deceptive. From singing to silly accents and hotly contested facts, your best description is your secret weapon used to describe your top secret word and convince your friends that you are not the Impostor. Play words from dozens of different themes from things you see around the house, celebrities, food, pop references… You can even send in your very own ideas!

The rule is to play with two friends or more, at least up to 12 people. The game works in 10 languages based on your smartphone settings, and can easily be turned into a drinking game as well! You also have the option to save your own player photo selfies or share them right onto Facebook. Based on how much deception we had last night, there wasn’t a time when the fun would ever stop.

We played right up to midnight, when the clock struck 12 to mark the end of 2016 and the start of 2017. We celebrated with more wine and laughter, some group photos taken in the middle of the street of the residential neighbourhood, followed by some more wine and tasty treats… We stayed up a little longer until one of them had to leave. The rest of us spent the remaining hours talking until the hostess herself fell asleep on the carpet in her living room. That was the signal for us to take our leave. It was indeed the best night ever!

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My husband and I had the best sleep of our lives after having consumed so much wine. I came home with a swollen lymph node after having drank more wine than usual. When we woke up on a brand new day almost at lunch time, all we wanted to eat was something simple. Above is my homemade version of a Neapolitana pasta with nothing but tomato paste, parmesan cheese and herbs.

So, what are you looking forward to in your 2017? What will your new year resolutions be? I, for one, would love to be more active this year and maybe work towards getting a promotion as well. Since it was so hard to get confirmed which I eventually did. Now to get that promotion too, which is just as hard as getting a confirmation. Oh and I also plan to make more time for myself to do the things I love to do, like reading more, typing on my typewriter more, saving more money so I can go for more vacations…

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