The Winter Olympics are one of my two must-see sporting events (the other is the Summer Olympics). Obviously, figure skating is a highlight. But I also love watching more obscure sports like ski jumping, aerials, and luge. I even enjoy the dramatically narrated profiles of Athletes Who Have Overcome Adversity and heartwarming Olympic-themed commercials. But my favorite part is watching the athletes during the opening ceremony's Parade of Nations, as they march in beaming with the exuberance of having made it to the Olympics after years and years of incredibly hard work. My sister and I also keep a running fashion critique of each nation's outfits (worst of 2014: the German rainbow parkas, with the American ugly sweaters a close second. Best of 2014: the Tonga palm tree parka, and my inner knitter gives honorable mentions to the lovely sweaters worn by Andorra and the Slovakian team's scarves).
For our Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony party food, I went with a Russian theme in honor of the host country. Since I had exactly an hour for dinner preparation between getting home from work and the start of the opening ceremony, the centerpiece of the menu was slow cooker vegetarian borscht (borscht might as well be the official food of the Sochi Games: they're planning on serving 70,000 gallons of it). Although my menu wasn't perfectly authentic, it was a delicious kick off to our next two weeks of Olympic viewing.
- Vegetarian Borscht, recipe from VegSocialWorker on Food.com. The recipe calls for you to transfer the cooked soup from the slow cooker to the blender for pureeing, but this gave me visions of purple stains all over my white counters (side note: why did anyone think white kitchen counters were a good idea?) Instead, I cut the beets, potato, and onion into 2 inch chunks before cooking and mashed the cooked vegetables right in the slow cooker with a potato masher. I used pre-shredded packaged cabbage to save on some prep time. Be sure to serve the borscht with sour cream, fresh dill, and lemon wedges: the garnishes make the soup something special.
- Russian Black Bread, recipe from the Smitten Kitchen. Since there were only three of us, I halved the recipe and ended up with one very respectable and hearty loaf of bread.
- Parade of Nations deviled eggs. No, they're not Russian, but Mike and I are incapable of throwing a party without deviled eggs. I found the little flags at a party supply store, and Mike used the classic recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook.
- Salami, pepper jack cheese, and dill pickles. Not Russian either, but they paired very nicely with the bread.
- Gold and silver wrapped chocolates in the shape of coins/Olympic medals from Amy's Classic Confections.