tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

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.

Elma

by tableofcolors

In my last post I started telling the story of the Anderson family. Writing it all down is proving to be an interesting challenge in a pleasant way. First off, everyone has a unique life full of twists and turns, anecdotes and little moments that live on in the memories of family members. But the question is where to start, what to tell and in what order. I have decided that similarly in the way that memories resurface often not following a chronological order, nor will these stories always follow the calendar. I feel extremely lucky that there are so many good quality photographs that have survived. And this is just from one side of the family. I know my Gramma Darlene has photographs and stories from her side of the family as well. Whenever I visit, I walk past the wall of frowning ancestors, as she calls them.

Anderson family about 1900

Anderson family, about 1900

But back to the Anderson family. Their oldest daugher was Elma. As I have understood Elma had a large personality and a big heart and loved children. She never married and perhaps back in her time she might have been called a spinster but today I am sure she would have called herself single. She worked as a stenographer or someone who typed letters and did translation work for the Finnish community. She lived above the store on 238 Humboldt and across the street was the church. I think that the church is beautiful in a very timeless manner. And I keep stopping at the photo as I go through them.

church on humboldtElma seemed to comfortable with who she was. She was not overly concerned with what others thought and I am imagining her to be a free spirit. She was an artist, a poet, told stories to children and listened to their stories in earnest. Although her mother was really quite short, Elma could not be called small. She had generous hips and was on the larger side and was quite athletic, walking, skating and swimming. She smoked in a time when women often did not smoke and I imagine that her office in downtown Minneapolis was filled with the clackety-clack of a typewriter and perhaps sometimes a cloud of smoke since she lived in a time when there were no designated smoking areas. The papers that she would run down to the post office probably had a signature scent that clung to them, that would then arrive in the recepient’s mailbox along with the papers. Really it was not that long ago that not every house had a typewriter or even a camera and now even our grade school kids might have smart phones that have cameras. So much has changed in one hundred years and yet the nature of people stays the same. My perception of the era of Elma, is that it was more proper and society perhaps had, maybe not more rules but different rules that had to be followed. When my Grampa told me that she would walk down to Cedar lake in her swim suit and bath robe I can only imagine that she was breaking some of those unwritten rules. Some would good-naturedly chuckle and smile. She was Elma after all. While I do not want to make implications on anyone, my Isabella keeps coming to mind. I have had people tell me that she is a free spirit with a mission. And she likes to pose just like Elma. But she is only three going on four and so I will let her grow into her own person and decide for herself who she will become.

Elma portraitElma 2

Elma 4

Grampa told me that she had great culinary skills and once when he was a kid their family visited her home. She made them a meal and promised all of the children that the first one to finish their plate would get a prize. Well, Grampa won! And it was a handkerchief that was white with a blue border and white stars. I can just imagine how proud he was with his light blue eyes sparkling, and he claims that he is still good at cleaning his plate. I don’t doubt that statement as they always seems to have delicious food.

Jim Wuollet

Jim Wuollet

I think Elma might have liked these gingerbread muffins. I know that it is past Christmas but I do think the flavors are fulfilling and perfect for any day in the winter.

gingerbread muffins

Gingerbread muffins

0.8 dl/ 1/3 c brown sugar
1 dl/ 1/2 c molasses
0.8 dl/ 1/3 c milk
1 dl/ 1/2 c oil
1 egg
1.8 dl/ 3/4 c apple sauce
just under 6 dl/ 2 and 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2-1 tsp cinnamon (according to taste)
dash cloves
1 tsp salt
100 g /3.5 oz marscapone cheese

A ball of gingerbread about the size of your fist

Frosting

1.5 dl/generous 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1 dl/ 1/2 c thick Greek or Turkish yoghurt
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c powdered sugar
gingerbread muffins unbaked

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl with a spoon. In another bowl, lightly whisk all of the wet ingredients and egg together. Make a well in the bowl with dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not over mix. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray and divide the batter amongst the 12 muffin tins. Using two spoons make a small well in each muffin and drop in a generous teaspoon of marscapone cheese. Roll out the gingerbread dough and make small cookies. Place one cookie on each dollop of marscapone cheese. Bake at 200 C/390 F for about 15-20 minutes or until a test skewer comes out clean.

Allow to completely cool. For the frosting whip the cream and then fold in the yoghurt and finally the powdered sugar to taste. It should not be too sweet and you should be able to taste the slight sourness of the yoghurt. Spoon a generous spoonful of frosting on each muffin and serve with coffee or tea.

gingerbread muffins 2

 

In age order: Elma, Emil, Ann, Wally, twins: Jean and Julie, and the baby Esther --1903

In age order: Elma, Emil, Ann, Wally, twins: Jean and Julie, and the baby Esther –1903

 

In my kitchen in the bleak mid-winter

by tableofcolors

My kitchen is still full of the remnants of Christmas and New Years. The tree in Finland is traditionally taken down after epiphany and so it will be up for a few more days, perhaps a week. When we put the tree up, our Hugo, who is now a year and a half was in awe and WOW and Hieno (nice) became his new words. In January there are still little angels in my kitchen that that fly like fairies across the house and ocassionally giggle very loud and have a sparkle in the corner of their eyes as they jump off the high stool and do many tricks with considerable grace but not necessarily very angel-like in manner. How I love their company.

angel black and whiteIn my kitchen this month I have been spending some time looking through old photographs and reading and rereading emails from my Grampa. The photographs are treasures and when I spend time in the kitchen cooking or putting away dishes it offers the perfect moment of my very own that no one can really steal, to let the mind and imagination soar back into a different era. How I wished as a kid that it might have been possible to travel in time. I suppose back then I had very romantic notions of the olden days. I have sometimes wondered how I would have actually managed, now that I am used to all of the modern conveniences of life and society.

 

Anderson Store in Minneapolis circa 1906

Anderson Store in Minneapolis circa 1906

Like most immigrant groups, the Finns created their own Finntowns in communities. Minneapolis had one of the larger Finnish populations. What was new to me was that many of the Finns that arrived were looking to homestead land in Cokato, which is about 50 miles West of Minneapolis and used Minneapolis as their big city. This took place in the 1860 to 1880s and if I remember correctly some of the Wuollets had also settled in the Cokato area. The pattern of life that was created was that the men would come into the city to work in brick-yards, sawmills and carpenters as well as other jobs and then return home in regular intervals. After the 1880s many of the children of the homesteaders moved and settled permanently in the city. I referenced the History of Finnish Community pages and it mentioned the grocery of Isaac Anderson on 238 Humboldt Avenue. The picture above is of the shop and was taken in 1906. My great-grandmother is the baby in the arms of great-great-grandma Ida Anderson.

Wedding portrait of Isaac and Ida Anderson

Wedding portrait of Isaac and Ida Anderson

There is an interesting story behind the sirname of Anderson. When Isaac and his brother John Kauvosaari emigrated from Finland the official at the port of entrance asked for their name. They replied with their names and I am assuming that the Finnish name of Kauvosaari was quite difficult to the non-Finnish tongue. The official next asked what their father’s name was and when they replied, Antti Kauvosaari the official gave them a new last name of Anderson.

Humboldt Avenue 238 Minneapolis Anderson store

Anderson store at an earlier date

Inside the Anderson store

Inside the Anderson store

I’m not quite sure exactly the kind of butter-nut bread that they might have been selling, but just a few days ago when we had ice-skating weather I was making a whole-grain bread with spelt and buckwheat. I rolled the dough into a quarter of an inch thick sheet and then drizzled with honey and sprinkled with pecans and dried sour cherries. It tasted wonderful after all of the rich holiday foods and the fresh air and tag that was taking place on the ice.

 

pähkinäleipäplaying tag

Whole-grain bread with sour cherries and pecans
3 dl/1 and 1/4 c warm water
1/2 block of fresh yeast (25 g) or 1/2 sachet of dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
1 dl/ 1/2 c spelt flour
1 dl/ 1/2 c buckwheat flour
about 5 dl/generous 2 c whole-grain bread flour with cracked wheat (8% fiber content)
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c olive oil

bread with sour cherries, pecans, spelt  and buckwheat
Mix the yeast in with the luke warm water. I usually have my fresh yeast frozen as I buy it in bulk and that way there is always some on hand and it doesn’t grow old. I learned the trick from my mother-in-law. I just add the frozen block to the warm water and let it sit for about 5-7 minutes and then add in the honey, salt, buckwheat flour and spelt flour. I used my stand mixer freeing up my hands and allowed for it to knead on the lowest setting. It is better to allow the flours to absorb as much of the water as possible, so haste is not encouraged when adding the flour. Add in little by little the whole grain bread flour. The dough should be soft and may be a little sticky. Allow the stand mixer to knead thoroughly or alternatively you may knead by hand. Add in the oil. If the dough seems much too sticky, add more flour to your liking. Allow to rise until doubled in size.

Spray a bread tin with a non-stick spray and warm the oven to 200 C/390 F. Once the dough has risen, sprinkle the counter with flour and tip the dough on top. Gently roll the dough out and drizzle with honey and sprinkle with the pecans and dried sour cherries. Roll up the dough forming a log and place into the bread tin. Allow to rise once again and back for about 20 or 25 minutes or so that the bottom of the bread has a nice color and sounds a bit hollow when knocked with your knuckle. Enjoy toasted with butter and maybe even a drizzle of honey. Perfect after skating fare.

angel wingsThis post is part of Celia’s monthly In My Kitchen series. Check out her blog for links into the kitchens of bloggers from around the world.

Memories of times passed

by

The children were all up today earlier than I was. It must be the anticipation and excitement as tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I remember when I was little my stomach almost hurt on Christmas Eve because of the excitement and my appetite was not at it’s best. Christmas is a time of memories of times spent together as a family and of making new memories for our little ones. On Thanksgiving I called my Grampa Jim and Gramma Darlene. I know that they have gathered pictures and studied the family history on both sides. Grampa has been sending me some photos along with some of their stories. In 2015, I would like to share some of these photos and stories with you along with recipes that have been an inspiration.

Grandma AggieI remember Great Grandma Aggie as a smiling white-haired lady with a quick wit. I remember sampling white chocolate truffles in her little apartment as a little girl around Christmas time, and if I remember correctly she preferred white chocolate. From the left is my great uncle Reino, great aunt Ellen, my grandfather Jim and my great aunt Margaret. This is what reading a storybook looks like in our house as well. Everyone likes to listen to the storybooks, even the babies. Some things never change.

gingerbread icecream moldI have been in a time pinch lately even though I have made the effort to take everything extra off the calendar. Not everything can be taken off the calendar as there are always doctor and dentist appointments and events at the schools that are important for both children and parents. The children had their last day of school this past Saturday. Two of them had Christmas church with their whole school and one had a Christmas program at school. We divided the parents and kids as we had to be in two different destinations at 8.30 am. But now we have slipped into our vacation schedule with no effort. We stay up a little later doing things together. Yesterday the kids decorated the tree. It might not look like something from an interior design magazine as the kids had been making ornaments at home and school during the past few weeks, but it has been decorated with love.

filling the moldOur dessert for our Christmas Eve dinner had been lacking inspiration. Due to the time pinch, it had to simple yet delicious and preferably something that could be done before hand to make things more relaxed on Christmas Eve. I happened upon this recipe on a Finnish blog called Heavenly bakings. It was the perfect recipe for my situation. as it couldn’t be easier and the result was both spectacular and not overly sweet. The traditional Finnish Christmas dinner with the carrot, rutabega, beetroot and potato casserole is quite heavy and so having a little slice of homemade gingerbread icecream seemed inviting.

gingerbread icecreamGingerbread Ice cream

 

4 dl/1.7 c heavy whipping cream
1 can (397 g/304 mk) sweetened condensed milk
8 small gingerbread to be placed on the bottom of the bundt pan
16 cookies roughly chopped/crushed, divided into two (8 cookies make about a generous 1 dl / 1/2 c of cookie crumbs)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
7 smaller cookies for garnish on the sides

Using cling film, line the small bundt pan and place the small gingerbread cookies on the bottom of the pan. Whip the cream until thick and fold in the sweetened condensed milk along with the cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Mix in half of the cookies crumbs setting the other half aside.

Spoon the cream mixture into the bundt pan until about 1/3 full. Next add one half of the cookie crumbs that had been set aside. Spoon in more of the cream mixture and then sprinkle the rest of the cookies crumbs. Add the rest of the cream mixture and stick the last cookies along the side in a vertical position.

Place in the freezer for several hours or overnight. Before serving flip over onto a serving plate and remove cling film. Drizzle with caramel sauce.

gingerbread icecream and caramel sauceWishing you a blessed holiday season. Merry Christmas!

holiday card 3gingerbread icecream and caramel sauce 2

Being thirteen

by tableofcolors

Finland is full of Christmas parties or as they call them, pikkujoulu. Our children love organizing a pikkujoulu and last night we had a houseful of thirteen year-olds. Watching your own children grow up often brings me back to when I was the same age. There is something a bit beautiful and at the same time a bit awkward about being thirteen. They are trying so hard to be grown-up and at the same time they aren’t quite there yet. Privilege and responsibility go hand in hand and it is a steep learning curve for the parents to find the fine balance between the two. I notice that it is easy to expect responsibility and at the same time I need to learn to let go and give the opportunity for a little freedom. They don’t learn without practice. How were your teenage years? I remember that the spoken opinions and just as importantly the non-verbal opinions made by my friends were very important. I was very much a goody-goody-two-shoes, which I am sure, annoyed some, and in general wanted to please everyone and never wanted anyone mad at me. While I still am that way deep down, I would like to believe that I have learned that not everyone can be pleased and unfortunately you can’t be everyones’ best friend.

pikkujoulu collage

recipe for the date cake treats can be found here

I remember going to the mall with my friends when we were about twelve or thirteen. It was right before Easter. We spent a good amount of time discussing if we were too old to take our picture with the Easter Bunny. Someone might think that we actually still believed in the Easter Bunny and…Gasp! That would have been disastrous! In the end we decided that we could take our photo with the Bunny and I have a copy of it in my album as a keepsake. So glad we dared!

The evening was fun and even our little ones joined the games. At first our Erik was complaining why the whole house was full of girls and no boys but he was satisfied after he was able to have first dibs at the table. Later when they played a game where one had to keep a straight face, he told me “Easy, I can do it no problem” and so I told him to go join. He is used to girls and so he had no qualms joining in and pretty soon everyone else was laughing but him. I had a hard time keeping a straight face as well.

pizzas in a tin collage

These pizzas-in-a-tin work great with the younger crowd but you could serve them just as well to youthful adults. I thought they were pretty good if I may say so myself and at the party they disappeared quickly. The dough is soft due to the mashed potato flakes.

 

Pizza-in-a-tin (makes about 35)

Crust
6 dl/2.5 c warm water
1 block of fresh yeast (50 g) or one sachet of dry yeast
2 dl/just under 1 c potato flakes
generous 1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 dl/ 1/2 c rye flour
about 9 dl/3.8 dl flour
2 tbsp olive oil

Sauce
500 g/17.5 oz pasta sauce (homemade or if you’re in a pinch ready made from the store)
500 g/17.5 oz crushed tomatoes
1 package (170 g/6 oz) bacon
1 onion, finely chopped
pepper, salt, oregano, basil

Grated cheese (I used a mix of mozzarella and emmental)

pizza in a muffin tin

Pour the warm water into a large bowl and add the yeast and brown sugar to it. Allow it activate for a few minutes. I usually use frozen fresh yeast and I just put the frozen block into the warm water and wait for it to thaw out (about 5 minutes). I use the dough hook with my kitchen aid but you could knead the dough by hand just as easily. Next add the salt, potato flakes, rye flour and half of the flour. Knead the dough for a few minutes. Add more flour and continue kneading. I never add all of the flour at once. If the flour is drier it will absorb more liquid than if it contains more moisture. The dough will be slightly sticky but still workable. As the dough is forming elasticity add in the oil. As I was in a pinch for time I did not allow it to rise, rather I rolled it out immediately and cut circles out with a cutter. I let them rise once in the tin.

I made the sauce while the kitchen aid kneaded my dough, but if you may let the dough to rise while making your sauce. Fry the bacon and chopped onion on medium heat until cooked but not crisp. Add the sauce, crushed tomatoes and seasoning. Allow to simmer on low so that some of the liquid has evaporated and it has slightly condensed. Remove from heat.

Spray muffin tins (I had three on hand) with non-stick spray and place the circle of dough on the bottom. Next spoon one tablespoon of sauce in each muffin tin and a sprinkle of grated cheese. Bake at 175 C/350 F for about 8-10 minutes or so that the bottom of the mini pizza has slight color.

Enjoy warm!

blue moment

blue moment–sininen hetki

 

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