tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Elma’s travels

by tableofcolors

Last weekend we escaped for 24 hours. I have come to think that they are almost one of the best kinds of retreats. Certainly it does not offer the opportunity to travel somewhere far, but I have realized that often we don’t really explore all of the neat places that are close to home, not to mention that traveling close to home is often quite budget-friendly and usually organizing a babysitter is a fairly easy task. We drove a little over an hour East to Imatra which is almost right at the border between Finland and Russia. It was a place that Elma* had visited during her travels to Finland as well. She had come with great expectations, as there is a the State Hotel in Imatra that has been built in 1903 to represent a jugend-style castle. There had been two previous wooden hotels in the same location looking over the waterfalls and rapids but both had burned. It was a location favored by the Russian aristocracy and it can be called the oldest tourist attraction of Finland as even Russian Empress Catherine the Great visited in 1772. And so Elma had significant expectations. state hotel imatra salonIn her writings she describes the carvings of the animals that she thought were rather funny and the art that could be found in all of the rooms. She felt that she saw more art in one stay than in a normal year unless one visited art galleries. She described that the interior was rather simple with the crowning element in each room being a round green enamel wood-burning fireplace. The simplicity left room for the artwork, which in her opinion were not always of the highest quality, but were an improvement over the “The Lone wolf” print that could be found in nearly every waiting and sitting room in the USA (1930s) at that time.

state hotel imatraRight below the hotel is a small canyon that used to be full of rushing water. Today it is void of water except on certain days when they run water for show. I guess she had heard of it called the Niagara of Finland and wrote that they had heard too much and had imagined it to much wider and larger. But the nature in the area and in all of Finland found a place in her heart. She said that just five minutes outside of Niagara the spell is broken, but in Finland the enchantment continues all around.

imatra“In Imatra, the forest, roads and villages all give of themselves to afford an befitting view. Indeed, when traveling in any direction in Finland the enchantment does not break. In between there is changes (in landscape) but this natural picture has no gaps and it flows like a poem. The plentifulness of wood and the force of the water are ideal for the factory. Practicality and beauty are combined. The company’s railroad goes through picturesque forest and the factory looks like a large vacation home situated right above the river. The workmens’ wives use a shared laundry room, which they are able to use on certain appointed days along with the laundry machines and wringer. And while children play the talkative tongues of the mothers’ make this difficult work day a day of joy.”

saimaa fallsThe Imatra Falls enjoyed their peak in tourism during the late 1800s and early 1900s. St. Petersburg was only about 40 kilometers away and during that time Finland was an autonomous part of Russia meaning that travel across the border was simple and wealthy Russians came to Finland as it was so much closer than central Europe. But as often happens with the advance of technology and industry, a dam was built in 1929 which dried up the falls except for on certain days.

These two links show the Imatra falls in the old days. The one above is a slide show of old postcards that showcase the landscape of the rushing falls. The link below is series of old photos of people posing at the falls. Perhaps this is the scene that met Elma when she arrived in Imatra.

We didn’t stay at the old State Hotel, rather we stayed at the Holiday Club Saimaa which is about 16 kilometers outside of Imatra. The scenery is beautiful there and we enjoyed a walk along the shores of the Saimaa, Finland’s largest lake and Europe’s fourth largest lake.

saimaaJust a few weeks back the landscape was quite brown, but with all of the rain, there are buds and sometimes even small leaves on trees. The green is the fresh spring green, that comes and goes just as quick before the deeper greens of summer. Even the hotel restaurant, Le Biff had light greens on it’s menu as it had a separate asparagus menu which I tried.

asparagus tart starter le biff

Asparagus tart and small salad with pesto dressing

As a suprise, all diners that evening received little cups of fresh asparagus and pea soup before their starter. The flavor was fresh and peppery and so I decided to give it a try at home this week.

asparagus and pea soup

Fresh aspargus and pea soup

600 g/21 oz fresh or frozen peas (I used frozen)
One bunch of asparagus, trimmed and washed
enough water to just cover the vegetables (or half and half water/vegetable stock)
juice of one lemon
handful of parsley, chopped
salt
black pepper

Wash and trim the asparagus. I always use a vegetable peeler and peel the woody parts away on the stalk. Chop into bite size pieces and place into a medium size pot. Add the peas and cover with water. Alternatively you may use half water and half vegetable stock. Place on heat and allow to simmer until the asparagus is tender. Add lemon juice, salt and black pepper and a handful of chopped fresh parsley.

Using an immersion wand, mix until fairly smooth. I left a bit of texture. Serve as a starter or as a lunch with fresh crusty bread and garnish with black pepper.

fresh asparagus and pea soupquality time

*Elma is my Great-great Aunt and a colorful persona who lived in the Finnish quarter of Minneapolis and visited Finland in the 1930s.

Previous posts about Elma: Some Mean Coffee, Easter Mummus, a Bobcat and our very own Wild Thing, Following Elma’s footsteps, Keepsakes in my Kitchen, Elma, In my Kitchen in the Bleak mid-winter, Memories of times passed

historical resource: Historical pages of the city of Imatra

May

by tableofcolors

My bucket list of places to see in Stockholm seemed to just grow after visiting there. Three days was clearly enough to whet the appetite. We did have the opportunity visit some restaurants and the old market hall or Saluhall in Östermalm and Rosendals Trädgård, a beautiful garden center with a lovely café and bakery. The bakery has a wood burning oven with which they bake their breads. I could see the smoke rising from the chimney into the blue sky. The bread was perfect. Perfectly moist and chewy on the inside and a crusty crust that crunches a bit when you bite into it. Rosendals, meaning the Rose Valley, has a long history of gardeners going back to the later 1700s. It is located on the island of Djurgården which is situated behind Skansen, a historical outdoor museum and zoo. While we did not have time to visit Skansen, it is a place I will be taking my girls. But I do think they would have liked Rosendals as well, and am very grateful to the lovely Mizz Marzipan for all of her suggestions.rosendals collage

Rosendals has a lovely café and everything they serve is organic. During the growing season they try to serve as much of their own produce as possible.

 

rosendals stockholm collagerosendals  organic roastbeefFor lunch they had three different lunch time options in addition to the sandwiches and sweets on display on a large table. We had their roast beef that was nestled on top of a roasted endive half and a spring onion that still had its roots intact. The roots were actually quite delicious as they had become almost crisp from the grilling. Lunch starts at 11.30 and we arrived a bit before. As soon as lunch service started, the parking lot off to side began filling up and the line became long. It clearly was a popular place to come enjoy the beautiful spring day.

specerietOne evening we had dinner at a restaurant called Speceriet which is located in the Östermalm area of Stockholm. Instead of having separate tables, there were three community tables. Our timing was perfect. Just a bit after we were seated the place began filling up. As they do not take reservations, it all depends on your luck and timing. I think that it is a place that would be easy to come to by yourself or with your friends and family. We had goat kid that rested on a bed of roasted beetroot and goat cheese.

goat kid speceriet stockholmAlso situated in Östermalm is the old Market Hall or Saluhall. We found it slightly by accident as we were wandering about and ended up visiting it twice. Once we had lunch there, and my lunch plate of pickled herring reminded me of our family’s summer go-to fast-food when we are in rush.

old saluhall stockholmplate of pickled herringEvery summer when we have been spending the day outside and there is not the desire to linger in the kitchen longer than necessary, we boil up a batch of new potatoes and open a jar of pickled herring and make a quick salad. I think it could be the perfect lunch for May Day as well since the sun is shining today. This time around I sautéed a bit of asparagus in coconut oil. It turned out delicious and a bit crispy.

sautéing asparagus in coconut oilmay day food

Yesterday I had a meeting in Helsinki and afterwards there was the opportunity to walk around the city and observe the city as it had donned their caps for Vappu or May Day. It is traditional for people to wear their white gradution cap. Some of them are already old and yellow but perhaps even more prized than the clean white ones, as it was not as common for everyone to have graduated from lukio or the Finnish high school back in the 1920s, 30s, or 40s.

helsinki may day vappuhelsinki cityscapeBack at home the kids were just as excited if not more so with their contagious energy.

clown

vappu ballons mayday at homeHappy May Day to all of you my dear readers!

Torpatoffeln shoes made in Sweden

Torpatoffeln shoes made in Sweden

I almost forgot, Lisa! Here is a snapshot of the shoes I bought in Sweden that I promised to post…they are comfortable to wear and I do gain a few inches of height. :)

Some Mean Coffee

by tableofcolors

When Elma was on her tour of Finland, she visited Stockholm for short while crossing the Gulf of Bothnia by ship. Elma is my Great-great-Aunt, and I have been sharing bits and pieces of her travels and her writing. The ferry over is still the typical way to travel from Finland to Sweden, but last week we decided to fly with my sister Kaija, who is currently on her tour of Europe. Taking the ship across takes the whole day or night, depending when you leave and we felt we just didn’t have that extra time. In addition, plane tickets were actually less expensive.

tukholman matkaWhen Elma had been on the ship, she had ordered “Kalt Watten” at dinner but the waitress did not understand and brought mineral water.

I requested normal water and one gentleman came to help. He interpreted and asked if I would like drinking water and I answered, “Of course, I do not wish to bathe.” She then brought me water, but it was not cold. This man was a Swedish journalist, who had been in Finland writing about the Lapua movement (which was a radical nationalist and anti-communist movement and was banned after a failed coup-d’état in 1932.) He praised Finland but was happy to get away. Although he had visited Finland many times, he felt they were brusque. I told him that the Finns were the best, the most honest, solemn and as deep feeling as can be, but that for their own protection they have a hard shell into which they escape. But once you break the shell and win their trust, you will have a friend for life. He laughed and said that I have been sold to my own nationality, but did admit that what I said was true. A nut is sweet to eat if your teeth do not first break biting into the shell.

gamla stan

Elma did not write of what she might have seen in Stockholm, as it seemed like she was in a hurry to get back to Finland. She only had a couple more days after returning before her boat to America was scheduled to leave. And so I will share something of what we saw and experienced.

kings castleIt had been years since I had been in Stockholm last, 17 to be exact. We were with a group of teenagers focused more on having a jolly time instead of actually enjoying the city. I remember that some of us tried to make guard at the Royal Palace smile or lose composure. I think that we did not succeed very well. This time I just took photos like all well-behaved tourists.

kungsträdgården cherry blossoms kings garden

Just the beginning of the cherry blossoms in Kungsträdgården, The King’s Garden

Before our trip, I sent Marissa from Miss Marzipan a note asking her for suggestions of where we should go. I received a whole list of wonderful suggestions. We only made it through some of them, giving a good excuse to plan a new trip in the future. I could imagine that my older girls would absolutely love the Drottningholm castle and gardens and everything there is to see. Perhaps we will make a mother-daughter trip there sometime, as Stockholm is really quite accesible from Finland.

airbnb södermalmKaija had reserved us a room through airbnb, which is a service on the internet that people may rent out rooms from their home or even an entire flat. This time we had a room and our host Siwa, made us feel so welcome and comfortable in her cozy apartment right in the heart of Södermalm. I really like the vibe in Södermalm which is full of old building built in the 1700s. We saw parks full of moms giving their babies a ride in the swings and lots of dads pushing their little ones in perhaps Emmaljunga prams. I saw several nice looking second hand shops and we stopped in one. I really liked the fact that they had made an effort to organize the used clothing by color. Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed at the flea market when everything seems to be in one giant unorganized pile, that I almost do not know where to start looking. I suppose that is a skill that some just naturally acquire and others have to practice.

RödaKorset Hornsgatan 54

RödaKorset Hornsgatan 54

In all truth, we didn’t really shop at all, but at one point we needed directions to the pharmacy and so we decided to stop in a shoe store that almost seemed like it was calling our name. It became an expensive way to find the way to the pharmacy as we both left with contemporary wooden clogs, made in Sweden. And I love them.

Miss Marzipan suggested that we check out some of the local coffee shops and much to our delight a couple of them were situated not far from our home away from home in Södermalm. The following places serve up wonderful coffee. Loved the window seats at Johan och Nyström’s. It’s the perfect way to people watch and check out whats going on in the street. One benefit of traveling outside of traditional tourist season is that you are able to observe everyday life as people come and go to work, spend time with their families and run errands.

Just as we were getting up to leave from Johan och Nyström’s an older gentleman biked up to the window. His bike had a dog bed in front of the handlebars and his dog sat in it all well behaved. He lifted his dog down and soon they were inside ordering a cup of coffee.

Drop Coffee Roasters Wollmar Yxskullsgatan 10

Drop Coffee Roasters Wollmar Yxskullsgatan 10

Drop Coffee Roasters is just a stone’s throw away from Johan och Nyström’s and is a place that would be perfect for a little meeting or for doing work outside of the office. There were several rooms and nooks and crannies. That is the beauty of old buildings. They are comfortable and have a charm that newer buildings just don’t seem to have.

Mean Coffee Vasagatan 38

Mean Coffee Vasagatan 38

Normally I do not drink coffee since I am so sensitive to caffeine, but I made an exception on this trip. I had a cup at Mean Coffee and Johan och Nyström’s. The flavor was smooth and tasted wonderful since I rarely am able to have such a treat. At Drop Coffee I had their ginger tea, made from real ginger and tasted quite similar to the ginger tea I have been making. It was the perfect thing to have after having caffeine. Mean Coffee is situated in the downtown area and is small but well designed. Everything is proportionate so it felt comfortable. The menu was quite simple, but effort had been put into the quality. For example they had two different smoothie options instead of six. I had their avocado spinach smoothie and it was lovely. And they do serve a cup of Mean coffee. Go try it, I promise you’ll like it.

Brandstationen Hornsgatan Vintage Shop

Brandstationen Hornsgatan Vintage Shop

evening sunset and the trains

Easter Mummus, a Bobcat and our very own Wild Thing

by tableofcolors

It seems to me that children have always loved dressing up as someone that they are not. I remember as a kid that whenever I dressed up, I was transported in my imagination and play into another time period and another place. Often play was significantly inspired by the books we read and often we would play Little House on the Prairie. This past weekend on Palm Sunday was the day when children all around Finland dress up as little Easter Mummus or bunnies or, like in our case since we didn’t have any bunny costumes, we had one Bobcat and one Wild Thing. Earlier in the week the kids had decorated pussy willows  that they brought to neighbors in exchange for a small chocolate egg or treat. They recite a poem that wishes the people of the house fresh and well wishes for the year to come.

Easter mummusAccording to Wikipedia, the tradition of Virvonta, originated from Orthodox Eastern Finland. The decorated pussy willows would be brought to the church the day before to be blessed and symbolized the palm branches that were used to greet Jesus as he rode the donkey into Jerusalem. The tradition of virvonta has spread across the country and there are slight variations in different areas. In some areas the children are called trolls that drive away bad spirits. Basically they are all dressed the same with rosy cheeks and freckles and colorful mismatched clothes and scarves.

virvonta oksatI was looking through the old photos of Elma and concluded that certainly children liked dressing up back then as well. Elma had, as I have understood, made costumes for the kids. The kids are my Grampa Jim’s siblings, Reino and Margaret. I wonder what they might have played back then. They look a little chilly just as my kids do, as there is snow in the background.

Margaret and Reino in  Finn costumesAlthough Margaret and Reino are now much older, I think they look almost the same. Perhaps it is the eyes or the shape of face, but I think that there is a small child in all of us that never really ages.

Andersons

Andersons having fun. Elma, top row on the left

On her trip to Finland, Elma visited the Eastern part and Viipuri or Vyborg which today is a part of Russia. She said that Finland had a tradition of asking all sorts of questions from the two women travelers when they wold check into a hotel. Sometimes the questionnaires would be two pages long. She reckoned that it was a remnant of border control practices that were used during the war between Finland and Russia. registering in hotels Elmas letters

“Name and address, where are you going and where are you coming from?” “rank?” I said that I do not have a rank (in society) “Well what do you do?” “Oh–what kind of work do I do?” That was easy to answer to. “Age” At first we would diligently write our age, but when we realized that they did not check our answers, we just wrote down an age that we felt like and one that we thought we could get by with. When you have lived for half a century in one place, where everyone knows everything about us, we didn’t want to carry all of our past from home with us and so we became younger and younger as our trip went on.

Perhaps it was the little child in her, that giggled silently, bubbling in her chest trying to make its way out when she had written 27 in the age box, although some telltale signs of gray could be seen. I giggled too, but not silently and when I told my neighbor about it we had a good laugh.

tasting 2It could be entirely possible that she might have tasted these rahkapulla as I believe they have originated from Eastern Finland. Then again maybe not, since they are traditionally made for Easter but some home bakers will make them year round. I think she would have enjoyed them as much as our Isabella did.

Rahkapulla

Make a double batch of pulla dough that can be found in the link here.
Once the pulla dough has proved, lightly flour the counter and pour the dough onto the floured surface. Knead it a bit and divide it into 6 parts. Roll out each of the six parts into thick rods and divide that into 6 parts. Roll the small pieces of dough so that they forms small balls. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow to rise. Meanwhile make the rahka filling.

500 g/17.5 ounces quark or alternatively a thick Greek or Turkish yoghurt that has been drained could be used
2 eggs
1/2 dl/just under 1/4 c heavy cream
1 dl/ 1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
zest of one lemon

Gently whisk the ingredients for the filling until combined.

After the pulla has proved, sprinkle with a little sugar and take a glass or cup and press it into each round pulla to make an indentation. Brush round edges of each pulla with eggwash. It is easier to do this at this stage. Spoon a generous tablespoon and a half into each indentation. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 200 C/390 F.

making rahkapullaMay you have a Happy Easter.

cutting easter grass

Cappadocia

by tableofcolors

pit stop

It it nearly two weeks since I returned from Turkey and it seems like it all took place in another world and time. But I keep going back in my mind. I must tell you now, since we are nearing the end of the year. My husband has been gone during the weeks for training and work since last August. I have been surprised how well it all has gone. A couple weeks before my scheduled Turkey trip I was really feeling the toll. Maybe there was too much going on, even if I have tried to really empty the calendar of everything extra. But the truth is that everything cannot be removed from the schedule. And so the trip to Turkey came at the most perfect moment. Usually things work out better than expected if not planned too perfectly in advance. Maybe it is the fact that then the expectations are not so high as well and all sorts of pleasant surprises come along the way.

mevlana and dervishes

Mevlana Monastery Museum and the Whirling Dervishes

After our day in Manavgat we started our drive to the Cappadocia region that we would be spending the next several days. Every two hours we would stop for a comfort stop as our guide called it, and often in public areas there were stray dogs that would lazily walk around. On the way to Cappadocia we stopped in Konya which is the ancient Iconium and place where Paul and Barnabas visited and preached to the early Christain congregation in 47-48 AD. It is also the place of the Mevlana Monastery which is currently a museum but also a place of pilgrimage for some. It is the birthplace of the Mevlevi order which joined ideology from Islamic and Buddhist traditions. The monastery had been a place of training for the Dervishes and the Mevlevi Order was well established during the Ottoman empire. In 1925 the Mevlana Order was outlawed but later some parts of the spiritual rituals have been allowed because of it’s tourist appeal. During the actual performance the Whirling Dervishes fell into a trance-like state. They requested that no photos be taken until the end when they would give a short demonstration for photos.

Ürgüp

Ürgüp

Göreme National Park

Cavusin, Göreme National Park

On the right hand side of the photo above, carved into the rock is the Church of St. John the Baptist. Some of the climb was a bit steep and slippier due to loose sand. Our own tour guide could not bring us there as we needed to do the climb at our own risk. A local fellow took us up there and the funniest thing happened on the way down. He told us that we must go down a different path since the one we came up would be too dangerous to descend. I differed in opinion. It really was not that dangerous. But we all followed him down a different route. The reason for this turned out to be that the path he brought us down would go past the shop of his friend and skirt some of the others. As one of the other young men noticed that he was taking the tourist group and potential customers a different route, there was heated debate in Turkish. Too bad I don’t understand the language! Every once in a while the other miffed shopkeeper would yell out to us in English, “Too dangerous!”  He thought the path that went past his shop was safer.

göreme national park collage

Monk Valley

The unique rock formations is due to the volcanic eruptions of the three volcanoes: Mount Ercyies, Mount Hasan and Mount Melendiz. Underneath the harder layer of basalt was a softer rock that erosion weathered away making for incredible formations that are often called fairy chimneys and look like they could be straight out of a storybook.

Fairy chimneys

Fairy chimneys

Elisafairy chimneys 2I have been thinking that I must explore some of the savory dishes that they make in Turkey especially once fresh local vegetables come into season. This past week I tried my hand at Baklava. I used a ready to use frozen filo pastry dough from the grocery store and it turned out to be quite simple. I think that the flavor would have been significantly better had I used a homemade version. Next time. The secret to Turkish pastry is that they make a honey sauce that is then poured over after it is baked. The same is true with the Baklava.

baklava outside

Baklava with Rosewater and Honey (inspired by the recipe from taste.com.au )
50 g/ 1.75 oz pistachio, roasted
100 g/ 3.5 oz walnuts, roasted
150 g/5.3 almonds, roasted
1 package 375 g/13 oz of frozen filo pastry (allow to thaw for 1.5-2 hours in package before using) and trim to size of pan
zest of one lemon, grated fine
125 g/4.4 oz butter, melted
50 g sugar
cinnamon

 

Honey sauce

100 ml/1 dl/ 1/2 c water
125 g/4.4 0z honey
100 g/3.5 oz sugar
juice of one small lemon, about 30 ml
1 cinnamon quill

1 tsp rose water

nutsAllow the filo dough to thaw in its own package so that it does not dry out. Place the nuts on a parchment lined oven pan and roast gently at 160 C/320 F for about 7 minutes. Let cool and grind semi-fine either with a chopper or a food processor. Set aside a little of the ground pistachio for garnish. Combine the finely chopped nuts with 50 g/1.75 oz sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon.

Warm your oven to 190 C/375 F.  Brush your square cake pan 25 cm/10 inch with melted butter and layer it with 6 layers of filo pastry dough, brushing each layer with melted butter. Add one third of the nut mixture and then add another three layers of filo dough, each brushed with butter. Add another third and repeat with another three layers of filo brushed with butter. Add the last third of nut mixture and finally add six layers of filo dough brushed with butter each time. Brush the top layer with butter and score the top layers with a sharp knife into 24 servings. I cut them part way through as I had noticed that it was the method used at our hotel Gypsophila Holiday Village. (You may see the Baklava in the photo below on the right hand side) Bake for about 20-30 minutes depending on your oven.

gyphsophila holiday villageMeanwhile prepare the honey sauce. Combine the ingredients above in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves over medium heat. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes on low heat and remove from heat. Discard the cinnamon quill and add in the rose water. After removing the Baklava from the oven, pour the honey sauce over the it while still hot. Sprinkle with ground pistachios and allow to cool before cutting all the way through.

daily lifeThere are so many pictures and stories to tell that sometime in the future, when I make a Turkish dish I will share more. If you have never been to Turkey, I definitely recommend it.

red tractor

Manavgat

by tableofcolors

It has been a few days since my friend Elisa and I returned home and already on the flight home it seemed as it the whole trip had been a dream. I think we might not have minded staying another three days in Turkey, but our trip with our tour group was planned for a week as well as all of the other arrangments, an extension was not an option. We had reserved our trip back in November and for both of us it was our first time in Turkey. We were a bit giddy, as we were leaving our kids and all of our responsibilities as moms behind for a week. It does not happen often. I must introduce Elisa. She is an artist and wonderfully spontaneous and I think we feed off of each other’s energy. I don’t remember when I have last laughed so much, you know the deep belly laughs that almost make your stomach and cheeks hurt. I think it was the therapy we both needed. And so some in our tour group started calling us “the teens”. Little did they know. There were a couple of couples in our group that were clearly younger than us, but they certainly acted more reserved and grown-up. Oh well, we had so much fun.

oulu airport lounge

A lounge at the Oulu airport that we fell in love with

I took close to a thousand photos but I have decided not to bore you with an overload of photography. I am trying my best to select the most interesting shots that perhaps tell something of the surroundings and of our experiences and divide our adventures into two separate posts.

manavgat riverboat

Manavgat river, part freshwater and part seawater

 

Life in Turkey seemed to be vibrant. The cities were modern and hotels were gorgeous and well-taken care of and customer service was splendid and sometimes even a bit much. But we learned the skill of smiling nicely and saying no thank you and walking away if it became too direct. Sometimes close by to the well cared for areas there might be a shanty-town. It was apparent that there was a large rate of disparity in the level of income. 2015-02-27 13.38.55On our first day we went on a riverboat along the Manavgat river that empties into the Mediterranean Sea. The river is partly freshwater and partly seawater and along one side was a long skinny peninsula of sand. After our lunch of grilled fish or chicken on the boat we had about an hour and a half to enjoy the turquoise water. There was a salesman selling scarves and we took a fancy to their changing colorful shapes in the wind.

merditerranean seaThe tourist season had not officially opened yet and everywhere we could see preparations for the summer season. We were both pleased to be there before the crowds. Sometimes it is easier to see things without the masses even though the trees were just budding and I am sure that even in a months time, everything would be so much greener.

flying scarves and wavesThe Turkish diet is laden with vegetables and their sitrus fruit was like it had actually grasped a few rays of warm sun and packaged it into the pulp. All over there were fruit stands and for a few Turkish Lira or an couple euros you could have a glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate or orange juice. As we started our drive into the mountains on our second day, we passed fields of orange trees all in straight lines and speckled with orange dots.

turkish fruits

Shipyards along the Manavgat river

Shipyards along the Manavgat river

Of course I had to bring home a few treats. We stopped at a spice and treat store in Ürgup, which was an old and small village in the middle of the beautiful rock formations Cappadokya. So this month in kitchen I have treats that have traveled in my suitcase for all of the loved ones back home. Yesterday we cut all of the treats into little bite-size pieces so everyone could sample a little of everything. A prominent ingredient used in many foods both savory and sweet was chickpeas and sesame seeds. I really liked the nutty flavor and texture. In general, sweet desserts were not overly sweet, as often a sauce of thinned down honey was used to give desserts a some moisture and just a touch of sweetness.

Turkish delights collage And so this month in my kitchen I will be exploring and using spices I brought back with me and maybe try my hand with baklava. In my next post I will bring you into the mountains to explore the unique rock formations and maybe some new flavors. I feel like I am reliving my trip again.

This post is part of Celia’s In My Kitchen series that she hosts monthly. Check out her blog to links to kitchens all around the world.

IMG_9086

Following Elma’s footsteps

by tableofcolors

The other week, I had some business in Helsinki and I decided to take a couple hours after my obligations to take a little Elma tour. I know that Elma had visited in the summer and so you will just need to imagine that everything is green and maybe the sun would be out. The day I went, it was wet and there was a wind blowing. But I do think that the excursion was really quite interesting. It became interesting completely by accident, and I will soon tell you why. Elma had mentioned in her writing that she had eaten at the Kappeli Restaurant which is right in the middle of the Esplanade and overlooks the harbor. Across the walkway from the Kappeli is a bandshell and Elma mentions that the people were wandering about in no hurry at all.  “…There were children with their nannies, old grandmas knitting under the shade of the trees, and doves flew around in flocks creating a charming picture of the old world.” The building itself is quite decorative and is known for its glass rooms. I have eaten there a couple of times and have been intrigued with old decor. Fun to think that we have both visited the same spot.

If you are new to the blog, check out the links below for the story on Elma, my great-aunt.

 

kappeli

Elma artikkeli esplanade ja kappeli“We often would eat at the Kappeli, a restaurant made of glass with a small garden on the outside where we could sit for hours and men would lean on their canes. We found the canes quite amusing as they were a symbol of manhood. As soon as a boy has finished the Lyseo or high school, his relatives would gift him a cane. One could see such child-like faces and yet they would carry the canes with grandeur.  One such Finnish athlete said that he was intending to buy a new cane. I told him that in America only the weak that could barely walk would use a cane reluctantly. He wondered, but since he admired America, decided to not buy the new cane.”

lasihuone kappeliAs I was taking pictures of the Kappeli, I could hear squealing and screaming and of course I had to turn and see what was causing the commotion. I had forgotten that it was penkkari or penkinpainajainen day, or the day when the students in the last year of the Finnish high school or lukio are celebrating their last day before they start studying for the matriculation exams later in the spring. Each school has a theme and everyone dresses up accordingly. They all load up on trucks and drive through the city, screaming and throwing out candy much to the joy of my children.

penkkaritcandy and havis amandaElma does not go directly up north and visit the homes and farms of her parents but I decided that I would share that with you now in this post and return to other parts of her trip later, as I feel that the homes and communities that Ida and Isaac left behind forms the beginning of their immigration journey.

Kauvosaari 2In Elma’s papers was a sketch of Kauvosaari which is a part of Ylitornio. Her father Isaac was originally from there. “Kauvosaari is a small island in the middle of a river with a quick current. It is a loved place. The island has a forest, rock fells and glows purple with the atmosphere giving it the color purple. I found the stone foundation of the Kauvosaari house, but it had been brought to the land where it now stood large and vibrant, made with countless logs crossing with each other and painted red. It was still intact, good for still many generations to come. I picked the Lilly of the Valley where my forefathers have perhaps picked before me…”

source: wikipedia

Ylitornio and Raahe cirled in red, source: Wikipedia

It was quite common in those days for immigrants to first go to Norway often stopping for a while in Finnmarken or Tromso before continuing to the United States. Even today, some young people go to Tromso for a season to work in the factories handling fish, and in Finnmarken you can get by quite well with the Finnish language. It appears to be, that according to my Grampa’s cousin Matthew, there is documentation that the Kauvosaari brothers (later Anderson) immigrated through Norway. Perhaps in this documentation there is a year marked stating the time of immigration. I know that many left Finland during and after the years of famine in 1866-1868. It was the last famine of its kind and 8% of the Finnish population died during those years. By looking at the family photographs of Isaac and Ida, I am guessing that Anderson brothers left some years later.

Gramma A. home place @ Raahe

Ida Anderson’s home place in Raahe

Elma also visited shortly in Raahe. Raahe is small city with a harbor located on the Gulf of Bothnia. In Elma’s writings she describes her fourth of July in Finland and the experience of her mother Ida, when she first arrived in New York City.

“Although it was fun, it was the quietest Fourth of July I have ever experienced–my first in a foreign land. My mother’s first Fourth of July in a foreign land was completely different. She was fourteen years old when she arrived as an immigrant into the harbor of New York on July fourth. She thought the country was at war because of the noise and shooting happening from the ships. Her only thought was to get away from it all, and since she did not understand the language of the land she had to trust in only God, that she might survive.Elman artikkeli fourth of july

I wonder, was she alone when she immigrated. And how brave for a fourteen year-old to leave everything that is familiar for a new country and new language. Grampa said that she worked in a hotel in downtown Minneapolis as a cook and that is where Isaac and Ida eventually met. Perhaps in her home in Finland, that is in the picture above, her mother might have a large wooden bowl used for bread baking. Rye bread has been a staple in Finnish diets for years and it is made with a bread root. Some say that the rounded and plump versions were meant for eating right away and the flat shaped breads with hole in the middle, so it could be hung up to dry was for later when fresh bread was not available. Depending where in Finland one lived, bread was not necessarily made every week. If it was made more often, there might be some of the bread starter left on the sides of the bowl to dry for the next baking day and if bread was only made a few times a year a new starter was made some days before.

elma and ida

Elma and Ida

Some time ago I received two different bread starters from opposite sides of the globe. One is from Australia from the lovely Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and the other I brought back from the US on my last trip last spring from my lovely Dad. Originally I had not thought of giving the starters names, but Celia asked if they could be named and so I posed the question to you last week. I have decided on Elma and Ida, as they are both travelers going long distances. The bread on the left is made with Elma coming from Celia. I have used strong bread flour with it and added some spelt and oat bran to the dough. The loaf on the right is made with Ida, coming from the kitchen I grew up in Golden Valley. Although neither bread is similar to the Finnish rye bread, I have added rye flour to the Ida giving them both a distinct flavour. My children have really fallen in love with the bread and I have been making a few loaves at a time several times a week. This way, I end up not having to do too much work as I have put my KitchenAid to knead the dough. And little by little I have been learning the trick, and the trick is patience and time. When there is no rush, it works every time like a charm. I had asked my Dad for some thoughts on baking bread as he as been doing it for years.

“I have always liked the concept of a sour dough. It is a slow food that
needs a bit of forethought and time. The whole idea is that every house has
its own sour and its own flavor. While it requires a bit of forethought it
is essentially an easy and simple process, but like most easy and simple
processes it has some rather complex biology that has to happen on a regular
basis.

Of course, the best way to start a starter is make friends with someone who
has a starter that has a flavor that you like.

You can of course start a sour yourself but it takes several weeks and
several “generations” to get it to be stable with a flavor that you will
like. I didn’t have a starter about 7 years ago, (maybe this one is about
Aleksi’s age?) but I figured if the Egyptians had figured this out 6
thousand years ago then I probably could too.

bread starters Elma and Ida

The most important ingredient to the process is patience. It is important to
understand that it is a biological process and that if you create the right
kind of environment you will get the right kind of biology. My opinion is
that it is important to keep your sour exposed to the air. You will get some
wild yeast from your environment as well as other organisms that are
specifically in your house and home. It is also important to understand that
you will get some activity but it will probably not be the right strain
right away and that it will take some generations to develop and cultivate a
dominant culture that both has a consistent and stable population as well as
generates a good flavor. Eventually by cultivating this sour in your home
you will get the flavor from your home environment. Every sour eventually
becomes different according to the environment of the home.”

two roots of breadbread risingCelia’s wish was that her bread starter could be passed on other interested bread bakers. And so if there is interest, I will gladly share some of either starter with you. Celia has wonderful step-step tutorials to baking with a sourdough in her blog. Check out the following links:

Bread #101: A basic sourdough tutorial

An over-night sourdough in pictures

If you have extra starter on hand, check out Celia’s link for these wonderful sourdough pancakes. I made them one evening for supper and they were popular with the children.

 

lucky charm bread

What I have been doing is a combination of fresh starter in the fridge according to Celia’s instructions and also allowing a thin layer of dough to dry in the bowl. Once completely dry, I have scraped it off and poured it into a plastic bag and kept in a dry place. I like have the dry starter on hand as a back up just in case someone was to spill my fresh starter. I make sure that the fresh starter is able to get air at all time and I have been using a Tupperware dressing shaker, that is tall and narrow and does not take up too much space. I leave the cap on the cover open for air and it has been working perfectly.  bread in a bag

 

 

Old Market Hall in Helsinki

Old Market Hall in Helsinki

Links to posts on Elma and the Anderson family: Memories of times passed, In my kitchen in the bleak mid-winterElma, Thing One and Thing Two, Keepsakes in My Kitchen,

A Princess with Eye-whiskers

by tableofcolors

Happy Valentine’s to all of you dear readers. The children wanted something to make the day special and at first I wasn’t quite sure what that something might be. We ended up cutting out large paper hearts out of paper and taping them on the wall. Each heart had a name of a family member. Everyone could in turn go and write a message or draw a picture. I think that this might become a new tradition for our family. It’s great bonding and costs no money and really, I don’t think we pass out compliments enough as it is.

valentine collageYesterday with the help of the little ones we made chocolate whoopie pies. Click here for the original recipe from gifts.com. The original recipe calls for red food coloring. I usually do not use food coloring but I did follow the recipe and put 2 tablespoons in, but ours did not turn out red. Since I don’t have an official whoopie pie pan, I used the fairy cake/madeleine pastry baking tin that I found from the flea market last summer.

valentines day whoopie pies

Follow the instructions for the whoopie cakes in the link. The recipe made 15 whoopie pies. I found that they became rather rounded and the top side was not quite as smooth as bottom side. I cut the tops off and filled them as well, that way everyone was able to have seconds if desired. The tops just weren’t as cute as the bottoms but they tasted just as good.

Whoopie filling
1 tub of marscapone 250 g/8.8 oz
1 dl/1/2 c of Turkish or Greek yoghurt
powdered sugar to taste

Whip the marscapone cheese just enough so that it is softened. Combine with the yoghurt and add in the sugar. I prefer filling is not too sweet.

powdered sugar heartsbella valentineMy little valentine Bella was so excited about the hearts. She was the first one to start decorating them and I happened to have a package of completely new washable markers in the cupboard. She is living the princess stage and I think it is so sweet as she wears her little pink ballerina tutu dress as her pyjama every night. Perhaps she sees princess dreams at night. She did spend a good hour or so drawing the princesses for everyone. She told me that all her princesses were given “eye-whiskers”. Might you guess what they are? Happy Valentine’s!

Keepsakes in my Kitchen

by tableofcolors

In my kitchen this month I have more keepsakes. All sorts of treasures from old letters, Karelian pies that my children love, to two bread starters coming from opposite sides of the globe. The first starter is from my Dad and I brought it over when I last visited the States. The other starter I received from Celia’s kitchen in Australia. My children made it to the mailbox before me and thinking that the envelope was a belated Christmas card, they had managed to tear it open. It came with a lovely letter and simple instructions, and the request to give the bread root a name preferrably something that refers back to the original which is named Priscilla. Thank you so much for the mail Celia! So now I have two starters on the counter bubbling away. Would you have a suggestion what I should name these twin starters?

celia's breadroot

A little while ago I received a scanned article from my Grampa written by Elma (my great-great-aunt) in my inbox. The article tells of her story of when she came to visit Finland in 1930s. I have understood that one reason why she came to Finland was due to a broken romance. I have read it through a few times and have found myself smiling and even laughing outloud on a few occasions. The article has nineteen pages and so I will share some of the anecdotes over the course of a few posts. Back then, travel was not as common as today and so this was her first trip to Finland along with her first impressions. As she describes the places she visits I can almost imagine it since I have visited many of the same places as well. The cobble-stones that she mentions in the excerpt below are most likely the same ones still in place today. I could not even imagine walking over them in heels! Perhaps we have walked the same path along the Esplanade. She toured Finland for ten weeks and in those ten weeks she wore out two pairs of shoes out of the five that she had taken with and the only ones that really were durable were the ones patched up with Finnish leather. Elman artikkeli 2As they approached the Helsinki harbour, she tells of the emotion that many of the passengers experienced. It was emotion that she did not quite understand at the time, but as time and her trip went on, she started to feel the patriotism of her Mother’s and Father’s homeland. Later on she states that Helsinki kind of grows on you with its white cathedral in the background and the islands and land that just seem to appear out of the sea.

December 12, 2007 One relieved graduate with her Master's degree under her arm

Helsinki Cathedral: December 12, 2007 One relieved graduate with her Master’s degree under her arm

Upon arriving in Helsinki, it was not until the next day that they would actually step on land as they used small boats to bring the passengers from the ship. And a ship with passengers with 800 travelers would take some time indeed to unload. I suppose traveling in that time was something that was done with leisure. Not because they chose to, but because that was the only way to do it, as it was not possible to quick hop on a plane and visit Paris for an afternoon coffee as one of my friends once did. She had spent thirteen days on the ship and it had started to feel a bit like home. After making it on land she had been so hungry that she had headed to the first restaurant. I wonder if she ate at the indoor old market hall that is a red brick building that had been built in 1889. The old market hall building is the one with many people standing in front of it, perhaps holding an outdoor market as well.

Old market hall built in 1889 and the cityscape of Helsinki. http://vanhakauppahalli.fi/history/

Old market hall built in 1889 and the cityscape of Helsinki, year unknown. photo credit: http://vanhakauppahalli.fi/history/

“This restaurant was one where the women that worked in the outdoor market ate. They were dressed in blue dresses and wore white scarves on their heads and a small purse attached to a strap hung off their shoulder. I thought all women dressed in the same way, but I was told otherwise. I asked for a sandwich, and they asked what kind, ham? I choose the ham, and it was the best bread with ham I had ever tasted–not a sandwich as we know it, but a piece of bread with butter and slice of ham. Then I ordered a little bit of everything and drank an entire pot of coffee. It all tasted so good that I ate so much, I could barely walk after that.”

Elman artikkeli 4 saimaa

After Helsinki, Elma and Lyydi, a friend and travel companion headed to Eastern Finland and into Karelia that after the Winter and Continuation War belonged to Russia. She describes Saimaa which is located in Eastern Finland and is Finland’s largest waterway and expands over 4,400 square kilometers (2,734 miles) in the excerpt above.

“No one can explain the beauty of the Saimaa. With thousands of islands, it makes it seems as if it actually is thousands of lakes connected together. The sky above is the Finnish flag, blue and white, bluer and whiter than anywhere else in the world. The lake is at times a clearer blue and sometimes silver, but always crystal clear. The reflection of the islands in this perfect mirror and are green, blue and purple depending on the distance.”

Saimaa, September 2014

Saimaa, September 2014

Elma 5

Elma, date unknown

 

 

She does not mention if she ate the famous Karjalanpiirakka or Karelian pies. They are like little handpies that have a crust made of rye flour and filled with rice porridge. While they sell them here in all of the shops and bakeries, I believe that handmade and homemade ones are the best. But I would like to think that most likely she tasted them at some point. She does mention in her writing that often when visiting and eating, she would have to dine by herself as this was the custom of showing respect to the guest. She often would request to dine with the others, but they did not take note and just thought she was being humble and polite, trying to rather unsuccessfully refuse the honor of being the guest.

making karjalanpiirakkaThe karjalanpiirakka has very simple and inexpensive ingredients but it is fairly labor intensive. Often when we have made them for bake sales, we have a large group of people. One person has come earlier to cook the rice porridge as it is best to luke warm or cool for easier spreading. The rest of the crew shows up later to make the crust, which is actually quite simple and quick. Then an assembley line is set up. One will cut dough into portions that will then be divided into small disks to be rolled out by a group one. Group two will take the rolled out disks and fill the crusts with rice porride and crimp the sides. The third group will take care of the baking. The oven should be as hot as it goes as these traditionally have been baked in the wood burning stone oven that can be still found in most homes in Finland still today.

riisipuuro rice porridge

a wedding gift of ours: a double boiler pot intended just for porridge

Karjalanpiirakka, recipe from Hyvää Ruokahalua edited by Anna-Maija Tanttu
Rice filling

2 dl/just under 1 c water
2.5 dl/generous 1 c pearl rice
1 l/generous 2 pints of milk
2 tsp salt

Place the rice and water into a double boiler and allow to cook until the rice has absorbed most of the water. Add the milk and allow to simmer until thickened, or about 30 to 35 minutes. Mix in the salt and allow to cool.

Crust

2 dl/ just under 1 c cold water
1 tl salt
4 dl/1.7 c rye flour
2 dl/just under 1 c flour
1 tbsp butter or oil

Prepare the crust by mixing the salt and water together. Next mix in the flour. My tip is to not add in all of the flour at once, otherwise it will become too crumbly as mine did. Add in 2/3 of the flour and knead, adding the remaining flour as needed. Finally add in the oil or butter and knead until it becomes a smooth dough.

carelian pie dough collageDivide the dough and roll into thick rods that can be then divided into small disks to be rolled out. Roll out the little disks into oval shapes on a counter sprinkled with rye flour.

rolling out karjalanpiirakkaIf you need to take a break, make sure to cover the dough with cling film. Before filling the crust with the porridge, make sure to brush off the excess rye flour. Fill each rolled out disk with rice porridge leaving about 1.5 cm/generous 1/2 inch unfilled from the edge. Using both hands, crimp both side simultaneously going from one end to the other making an oval with rather sharp tips. I baked mine at 250 C/480 F for about ten minutes. Traditionally the karjalanpiirakka is dipped in a bath of hot milk and a knob of melted butter after baking. This is to soften the crust. I prefer the crispy rye crust and so I skip this stage, and I know that many others do as well. So it really is a matter of taste.

baked karjalanpiirakkaServe the karjalanpiirakka with egg butter. Hard boil 4-5 eggs for about 5-6 minutes depending on what you prefer. I prefer that the yolks are not soft but have a definite deep yellow color to them and are soft in texture. Allow to cool in a cold water bath for just a bit. Cut 100-150 g/3.5-5 ounces of butter into large cubes and place into a medium size bowl. Remove the shells from the eggs and using an egg slicer, slice the eggs twice making for small cubes. Using a fork, mix in with the butter. Add a sprinkle of salt to taste if needed.

two roots of bread

On my counter is a pair of bread starters bubbling away. Next week I will share some fresh sourdough bread and more of Elma’s trip as she visits Kauvosaari and Raahe the birth places of her parents Isak and Ida Anderson who immigrated from Finland to the United States via Norway in the late 1800s.

This post is a part of Celia’s In my Kitchen series that she hosts every month. In the sidebar of her blog is list of blogs from around the world, featuring what might be in their kitchen that particular month. This month she is featuring Kim, a fellow blogger who lost her home in fire. There is a link in her blog to a fundraiser to help her put a new stove in her kitchen and rebuild their lives.

note: At the end of Elma’s article it says that it is written originally in English by: Miss Elma Anderson of Minneapolis, Minnesota

Translate into Finnish by: Miss Lillian Kovala of Ashland, Wisconsin

and revised later by Laura (Mrs. Matt) Myllys of Minneapolis, Minnesota

The language is most likely quite old as it has come over with the previous generation of immigrants on the boats. Often in the new country, with a new language at its side the old language does not evolve in the same manner as in the home country, keeping many attributes of the past alive.

 

Thing One and Thing Two

by tableofcolors

I obviously have never been a little boy and to be truthful I was a little nervous when I was expecting Erik as to how I would cope as a Mom to a boy after our girls. My qualms were unfounded. Such sweethearts my boys are even if they do keep me on my toes both in mind and body. Erik often will have facts and quiz me during the day. I took him grocery shopping the evening before his party so that he could decide which chips and soft drinks we should buy. He decided on “Sahara” chips as it had a picture of a desert on the package. As we walked down an aisle, he would stop to inspect a package of macaroni or some sausage and explain his world to me. He told me about how the Crusaders invaded Jerusalem and quized me to see if I knew what prehistoric species are still living after the “turmoil of the dinosaurs” as he calls it. I fortunately had been pop-quized on the subject before and so I passed. If you do not happen to know that the alligator and gar are both prehistoric…and he went on to explain that from the scales of the gar, indigenous people made arrowheads. FYI

erik and snowmenAs we were in the baking section there was a package that had a picture of macarons. He stopped and very dramatically exclaimed, “This is what I have always wanted for my birthday!” And yes, indeed it would be have been a great idea as his cake was to be a hockey cake and so the macarons colored black could have been little pucks. But my time was running short and so I promised that we would try to remember next year. Fortunately he was perfectly pleased with the melting snowmen.

melting snowmenI happened to have about one pound or half a kilo of gingerbread dough still in the freezer leftover from Christmas. This helped speed things up considerably. You may find the recipe to the gingerbread here. I thawed out the gingerbread dough so that it was still cool but not frozen and rolled it out and made cutouts with a round cookie cutter.

Melting snowmen

24 round cookies (ginger, sugar or a cookie of your choice)
2 egg whites
powdered sugar
12 large marshmallows cut into halves
50 g/1 and 3/4 oz dark chocolate, melted

Buttercream
Basic buttercream (from the book, Maailman Parhaat Kakut by Barbara Maher)
125 g/4.4 oz unsalted butter
250 g/8.8 oz confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tbsp milk or cream to make it more pliable
a few drops of red and yellow food coloring for making the orange noses

Separate the egg whites from the yolks and mix enough powdered sugar with the whites so that the frosting becomes a soft white with some consistency. Make sure that it is not too thick so that ou are able to squeeze through a parchment paper icing bag or a plastic bag with the tip cut off.

First make the outline of the puddle for the melting snowman on each cookie. By the time all twentyfour outlines have been made, fill it in with zig zag line of frosting. You do not need to fill in every spot as the frosting will spread out. If needed, use a palet knife or a butter knife to help spread the frosting out. Place the marshmallow where you would like the head to be. Next melt the chocolate and make an icing bag out of parchment paper. Spoon the melted chocolate into it and make button, eyes, a smile, and stick hands.

Next make the buttercream and color it a desired orange. Make another icing bag out of parchment paper or use a plastic bag with the tip cut off, give each snowman a carrot nose and a scarf.

making melting snowman cookiesDuring the first few minutes of the party, the house was quite quiet and I was just beginning to wonder if the next two hours would actually pass in considerable peace. I shouldn’t have wondered. As they warmed up we barely had to come up with party games as they had a fast paced game of indoor tag so that their cheeks were quite rosy from the exercise. Even some of our girls got involved and soon there were about eleven kids zipping about. I know that photos below are not quite in chronological order with the previous post of Elma and represent the next generation when they were children, but I promise that I will get back to Elma and all of the interesting stories that belong to her era. When these photos of my Grampa and his cousins arrived in my inbox, I felt like they could have just as easily walked in my door for a wild game of tag with their irresistable grins. I kind of felt like I had Thing One and Thing Two come over from the Cat and the Hat, but just add in Things Three through Nine to the count.

Anderson cousins

Anderson cousins

“There comes a time in every rightly-constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.”
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Jim and Don

Jim and Don

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” -Willian Shakespeare

 

Anderson cousins

Anderson cousins

And I do believe that they might have like my melted snowman gingerbread cookies just as well as Thing One through Nine did at the party the other night.

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