A most exciting and magical thing recently happened to Jan and me. We were invited to a summer dinner party at the home of Brad and Jackie Thomas. For some time, we had said “let’s get together some evening for dinner.” Jackie made it happen when she invited us along with Judith Howard and Pete Hugret.
In the busy world today, entertaining at home is still in the minority of joys for most people. Our evening of dining, visiting and appreciating beauty was one that we will long remember. It brought to mind how the joy of entertaining in one’s home is truly one of the best fragrances of life. The fragrance of life is often measured most accurately in the giving of ourselves. Entertaining guests is an endeavor that brings forth inspiring horizons of newer and great canvases to paint. When six people can enjoy easy conversation, laughter, and fine culinary skills of the hostess, the evening is one that beckons ever forward joyfully.
The Thomas home was created by Harold and Esther Montgomery when downtown Minot was the hub of the city and when looking north you could mainly see hills. It is set on a heavily wooded site in south Minot. The ivory brick front features a classic Regency style and is most inviting. The evening brought perfect weather as we were greeted at the front door by Brad and Jackie. Coming into their home reveals the workmanship of the carpenter as we stood in the elegant foyer that features a coved ceiling. It is only natural for your eye to travel immediately to the living room where some of the most impressive views of Minot are displayed. Proportions offer views of the beautiful wooded hills that lead your eye to the Discovery Center and beyond. It is easy to see why the Montgomerys selected this sight.
The pairing of couples could not have been more perfect. Judith and Pete had restored a home in Eastwood Park and most recently the Ellison home. Jan and I had restored a Montgomery Ward catalog home in Rugby. In the ambience of a lovely table setting, Brad and Jackie turned back the clock to a more genteel time. They revealed a board that is an important artifact of this man. This board had been discovered during remodeling. It documents who built this home and when. It states: This house was built between Sept. 1968 and April 1969 by Harshberger Construction, FW Harshberger, owner construction company dates from 1906 started by EB Hershberger.
Conversations bring forth connections and this evening was a perfect example of this. The late Floyd Harshberger was the husband of the late Ione, and she was originally from Rugby. I had the delight and honor of getting to know Ione and our conversations centered around Rugby, good cooking and the talents of her husband as a master carpenter. Seeing the quality of this man brought forth all that Ione had mentioned about Floyd’s talents.
Skilled are Brad and Jackie, who with the help of Jackie’s father, LaVerne Hight, have — through preservation — kept the original beauty of this home which features crown moldings, marble floors and original chandeliers. When they first started to remodel, LaVerne asked Floyd to come back and help and he did. So just for a minute let us pause and think about this. Floyd put his signature on this man and years later he was asked to return. It tells volumes about Floyd’s commitment to his craft.
Brad is an avid reader so the cozy library is a natural fit for him. He and Jackie have collected maps from each place they have visited, and they are also accessible in this room and constituted some of the decorating.
It is easy to see the deep and abiding pleasure that has been taken in furnishing the home. Brad and Jackie have infused their dwelling with beauty, comfort and classic charm. Brad’s uncle had a passion for mahogany, satinwood and rosewood and these are the main woods present in many of their furnishings including an amazing world globe. They have created an elegant home and endowed the interior with the imprint of their personality by furnishing it with family heirloom furniture.
Our menu was created and prepared by Jacqueline and included the following: Rose’ wine spritzers, crab stuffed mushrooms, mini phyllo brie cheese bites, a welcome cocktail, tomato basil soup demitasse style, chicken breasts edinisle with dried beef, bacon wrap and sour cream , white rice, carrots with brown sugar whiskey glaze, fruit garnish, frozen white chocolate raspberry mousse torte with raspberry puree and fresh mint. We also enjoyed a delicious edible hibiscus flower. Jackie’s culinary skills were nurtured by her mother, Pat, who for many years prepared wonderful meals for performing artists with the International Artists Series.
Just as the view from their living room window caused Pete, Judith, Jan and me to pause and appreciate the beauty of Minot, this beautiful evening that put a pause in our busy lives reminds us that entertaining at home is a great way to cherish friendships and appreciate Minot history.
Frozen White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake
By Jackie Thomas
1 9-oz. box chocolate wafer cookies, broken into pieces
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup Royale Chambord (black raspberry-flavored liqueur)
1 ½ tsp unflavored gelatin
2 (12-oz.) packages frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed, drained, juices reserved
½ cup sugar
12 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker’s), finely chopped
2 cups chilled whipping cream
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ pint basket raspberries
For crust: Finely grind cookie pieces in food processor. Add butter; blend until crumbs are moist. Press mixture onto bottom and halfway up sides of a 9-inch diameter springform pan with 2 ¾ inch high sides. Freeze while preparing mousse.
For mousse: Place liqueur in heavy medium saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin over liqueur; let stand until gelatin softens, about 20 minutes. Press raspberries firmly through sieve into large measuring cup. Add enough reserved juices to puree in cup to measure 1 2/3 cups berry mixture. Add berry mixture and ½ cup sugar to gelatin mixture. Stir over medium-low heat just until sugar and gelatin dissolve, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add white chocolate; stir until melted. Transfer raspberry mixture to large bowl. Chill until thick but not set, stirring often, about 2 hours. Beat cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold cream into raspberry mixture in 3 additions. Transfer mousse to crust; smooth top. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. (Can be made 4 days ahead. Cover; freeze.)
To serve: Let thaw slightly and cut around pan sides; release pan sides. Place torte on platter. Decorate with fresh raspberries. Enjoy!