The joy of Christmas

Not long before Christmas we had two storms and rain. The landscape was not white like it often is during this time of year. When we went on a little walk down to the beach, many of the large trees that sway in the wind during our summer excursions had fallen. This was the landscape on Christmas.

winter storm CollageInside there was a contagious excitement only children know how to spread. The sparkling eyes and smiling faces shined, as soon joulupukki or Santa Claus would be arriving.

christmas elfchristmas treeBut before he arrives, there is Christmas dinner and for some reason the appetites are not always the best on Christmas. The night before the salted ham was put in the wood fired oven after the fire had died down and the coals pushed aside. The 7 kilo/15.5 pound ham was in the oven for about eight hours. It is allowed to cool and it is served cold with the Christmas casseroles.

wood ovenchristmas hamLast year I shared recipes for the rutabaga and carrot casserole. The casserole or laatikko tradition is a little different in each family but one thing that is similar is that most are made from root vegetables. Carrots, potato and rutabaga are probably the most common but many families also serve a beetroot casserole and some even make their liver casserole. While these casseroles are traditionally Christmas food in Finland they can be frozen unbaked and served later during the cold winter months as a side.

beetroot laatikko

Beetroot casserole

three beetroots, boil peeled beetroots until tender so a fork can be inserted.

3 onion minced very fine
2 dl/1 cup cream
100 g/3.5 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1 dl/ 1/2 c Greek or Turkish yoghurt
black pepper
beetroot with onion and blue cheeseGrate the cooked beetroot and mix in a bowl with minced onion and crumbled blue cheese. Add all of the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined. Spoon into one large casserole dish or several small ones and bake at 200 C/390 F for a half hour or bake at 160 C/320 F for one hour. I made three small casseroles with this amount.

Christmas Collage


  1. what a lovely post! i pondered the storm and how it altered your landscape, and then i smiled at those big beautiful innocent eyes, and then i became hungry and suddenly craving a beet – something!- and then —– that photo that captures the clasped hands – the joy and innocence of young ones – wow. thanks so much; it’s my luck that i’m home and online to appreciate this! z


    1. Thank you so much! It has been several years since we last had a snow-less Christmas and rain storms in December. This time we had green lawns and the landscape of November. I loved the clasped hands as well, they tell of the excitement the little ones feel. Happy New Year to you and thank you for stopping by!

  2. Before we left Michigan for Minnesota there was a big rain storm that washed away most of the snow. I think I’ll always wish for a white Christmas, whether I’m little or grown up. The beet salad looks wonderful. I love the addition of blue cheese, I bet it gives a wonderful edge to the dish. So glad you and your family had a lovely Christmas 🙂

    1. Yes, I think I will always wish for a white Christmas as well. It makes everything look so clean and hides the yard work that needs to be done in the spring. 🙂 Happy New Year to you!

  3. I love this post, the photo’s are magical. They truly capture the joy and excitement and innocence of the little ones. Your beet soup sounds delicious and that ham, oh I love baked ham. Have a very happy New Year!

    1. Thank you Suzanne! The baked ham is everyone’s favorite. The other foods may instigate varying opinions 😉 but the ham does not divide opinions! Happy New Year to you!

  4. Oh, this looks like Christmas the way Christmas should be – inside! The happy little ones and a juicy beetroot casserole. So you had the storm too? – well it surely changes the landscape. We’ve had too many storms this autumn now – enough is enough. Happy New Year!

  5. Happiest of Christmases to you! Wow, those landscape pics are so dramatic, with the gnarled broken trees. Your beach vista is lovely, and so different to ours. Glad to see your baked ham – I can imagine how intense the flavour would be after 8 hours! Happy new year, and wishing you all the best for 2014.

    1. Thank you so much Saskia! The beach was lovely even though the fallen trees crossed the paths. They are quite majestic and I was glad that I was at home, safe when they had come crashing down! The Christmas ham is the undivided favorite in our family. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  6. The landscape outside may be changed but all is as it should be indoors; surprise and excitement, joy and good food. Even the littlest one seems aware of the wonder of it all.

    1. The little one loved the wrapping paper and ribbon 🙂 as they often do at that age and he is nearly always giving a smile to anyone who will smile at him. Happy New Year to you!

  7. What a great post! Sorry to see the damage caused by the storms, though. Winter storms can be fierce! Your beet casserole sounds delicious! Love the photos of the children. Look how the little one’s eyes are all aglow! How cute is that!

  8. Merry Christmas season to you and your family, Laila. Ah, it must have been an exciting time with Santa judging from the light in the children’s eyes. 🙂

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