Everyday life in January

The kids have returned back to school and the Christmas tree has been taken down. Life has returned almost back to normal. Our little two year-old is a night-owl and still very much on a vacation schedule and sleeps like a teenager. I’m sure as the days pass, she will start going to bed each day a little earlier. I love Christmas, the school Christmas programs and family time but there is something quite nice about regular everyday life. We’ve been having gray weather and a warm winter. It seems like all of the cold went to the northern states in the US. I would suggest that those of you, living in the midst of the bitter cold send us half and everyone would be happier. The kids and I are able to spend hours in the snow, skiing in the fields and just playing. But since there is only just a bit of slush outside, I’ll invite you into my January kitchen for a cup of tea and to flip through a cook book my daughter received as a gift and maybe for something delicious and cleansing after the rich holiday food.

clipper tea  and tea cozyI will admit that my discovery of the Clipper teas started from the packaging. My first thought when I saw them was that they were so pretty. So of course I bought one box. Much to my delight the contents matched the promise of the packaging. The tea cozy is a gift from a dear friend from a while back and it brings a little color into my kitchen. It is reversible and therefore it can match the mood and season easily.

suomen lasten leivontakirjaThe photos in this cook book for children are inpirational. It explains all of the basics to baking very explicitly. We have already enjoyed tunafish sandwiches made by Silvia one evening. The rough translation of the title of the book is, “A Baking Book for Finnish Children”, by Ulla Svensk.

After all of the date cakes, ham, casseroles and cookies the smell of sautéed vegetables is so enticing and indeed the perfect choice for the season of sniffles and colds that seem to fly about. Fennel has many characteristics making it beneficial for health as it is gentle to the digestive tract and may reduce inflammation.


Sautéed fennel

These vegetables can be eaten on their own as a side or tossed in with some pasta.

1 bulb of fennel
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of piri piri (my piri piri contained chili, basil, garlic, onion and rock salt)
sea salt
black pepper
olive oil

Remove the stalks from the fennel and any bruised spots. Chop into fine slices. Chop the onion finely. Mince the garlic. Heat a frying pan to medium heat and add about two glugs of olive oil. Add the vegetables and seasoning and sauté for about 5 minutes.

sauteed fennel

The kitchen is the heart of the home and that is often where everyone congregates when they come home. The kitchen table is used for so much more than eating. Some might do their homework there while others draw and work on their art projects. It is a place to sit and talk about the day. As the family trickles back home after a day at work or school the first question is often, “What is for snack or supper?” I discovered this recipe on facebook from a blog called The Foodie Army Wife and decided to try it out. They proved to be very popular. And like the author said they almost jumped into the mouths of the hungry kids if I would not have rationed at all. We had them for supper along with some stewed rabbit meat, diced tomatoes, paprika, cheese, salsa and some freshly ground black pepper. In my husband’s family we always draw names among the siblings and sisters and brothers-in-law for Christmas. We usually complete the name-drawing at Christmas and everyone is informed even if they are not present and this way everyone has a whole year to think of a gift or perhaps do a little detective work to find out what might be pleasant for the gift receiver. I received this Peugeot pepper mill from my sister-in-law. It has been in daily use and turns with ease.

tortillas and vegetablesTortillas by The Foodie Army Wife

Tortillas or any type of flat bread is a symbol of an anciet food for me. I can imagine that just like I am making them for my school children, a mother hundreds or thousands of years ago might have made flat bread for their young ones that have returned after gathering herbs or berries. They might not have had formal education like we do today, but they had the school of life in order to learn the important skills for survival. The rules for survival in today’s world has changed greatly from times past. One thing has not changed though, children become hungry from time to time.

makes 12 tortillas

7 dl/ 3 dl flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
170 g/ 3/4 c cold butter, cut into cubes
1.75 dl/ 3/4 c hot water

You may use a food processor, a stand mixer or make them by hand. I used a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the cubed butter and mix until it forms a crumb-like texture. Pour the hot water in slowly and work into the dough so that it forms a ball. Do not overwork the dough. Cover in cling film and let rest in the refrigerator for a half hour.

tortilla doughAfter the dough has chilled, remove and cut into twelve pieces.

dough cut into pieces

Form balls and roll out into tortillas using a rolling pin. Fry on a dry pan at medium heat. Flip over once large bubbles start to form and there is some color on the bottom. Enjoy on their own or with your choice of filling.

This post is part of Celia’s In My Kitchen series for January. Check out her blog for links to many other In My Kitchen posts around the world.


  1. I would be attracted to the tea packaging as well! What fun to see what’s in your kitchen, and you’ve inspired me to consider making my own tortillas so I shall pin this on my recipes to try list. Thank you! Happy New Year.

    1. Thanks so much! The book was just recently published and so there is not an English version available yet…perhaps if there is popular demand there could be a translation made. 🙂

  2. I would love to join you in your kitchen for a cup of tea and a chat, the kitchen is the heart of the home. I love the cookbook, will have to look for something similar in English and the fennel salad is lovely. I am going to try your tortilla recipe very soon.

  3. That was a lovely cup of tea and I enjoyed my time at your table with your family. Thanks for the invitation. I agree; bread ties us to the ages and the wisdom of ages and ,most certainly, children have been asking “what’s to eat’ from time immemorable 🙂

      1. I have many good reasons to visit Finland, so may be one day I will. Looking through my bookshelf yesterday I rediscovered a book called Visions of Finland, given to me by a friend from Finland. Maybe the rediscovery and the title of the book are prophetic 😉

  4. I’ve only cooked with fennel a few times but this dish looks appetizing and easy to whip up! I love the imagery of a busy kitchen table where everyone gathers to talk or work. What a wonderful place to come together!

  5. I’ve heard a lot of people saying good things about Clippers teas lately. The packaging is definitely very pretty. I must give it a try; lemon and ginger sounds delicious.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂

  6. You are right about the kids always being hungry! Mine have yet to return to school (roll on Monday!) but I am already planning ways to feed them healthy snacks, either for their lunch boxes or when they return home. Thanks for the inspriration. I have often seen the Clipper Teas here but never tried them, maybe with my New Year’s healthier diet plan, I should try them! Cath

    1. It’s great to have snack and meal plans ready to go when the days get busy. The internet is a great resource and I use it constantly…but there seems to be so many great ideas and too few hours in the day. Hope school starts out great for your kids. All the best!

      1. Thanks, they left about an hour ago! Peace at last. I’ve found a great recipe in Woman and Home for a cereal bar and hope to post it soon. Plus I’m all organised for meals this week so fingers crossed my energy levels remain high enough to execute them!

  7. What a lovely, inviting kitchen! I really like the fennel recipe, it sounds like just what we need after new years and Christmas feasts. Thanks for the view of your kitchen this month!

  8. Laila, fabulous post as always, it feels like we’re sitting in your kitchen having a cuppa with you! And serendipitously, in this case I’m drinking my favourite fennel tea as I read your post! I love how your tea cosy matched your tea packaging, and the fennel salad and tortillas all look delicious. May 2014 be glorious, and may your 2 year old sleep! 😀

    1. Thank you Celia! I would love to have you over for a cuppa anytime! And what a coincidence that you were drinking fennel tea. And yes, I too am hoping that my 2 year will start sleeping a little earlier. We have been making progress, she was in bed around 11 pm last night…which is better than the midnight bedtime that she had the week before. Perhaps this week we can get her to bed at 10 pm. 🙂 little by little…

  9. Laila, your kitchen table sounds like an inviting place to gather and your color-coordinated tea looks like a cheerful way to contend with gray days. Happy New Year!
    P.S. You can have more than half of our cold weather — take it all, please! 😉

    1. Thank you Kim! We did get some cold weather yesterday and today even a few flakes slowly drifted down. The kids had much more fun outside today since there was some snow to play with. Happy New Year to you as well!

  10. Hi Laila- I, too, would be happy to share the cold weather with you- although yesterday is was in the 40’s F- today has started another cool down- our street looks like Swiss cheese with all the contracting and freezing going on!
    I love Ginger lemon tea- and I will look out for the Clipper brand- right now I am enjoying Stash teas- they are good and a bargain as well.
    I also love fennel- my favorite soup is fennel,apple and almond soup- from an old English recipe I found years ago.
    And tea cozies are so comforting to have around- they keep the tea and the heart warmer!
    Thanks so much for sharing- and a blessing upon the children who sit at your table!

    1. Your soup sounds wonderful! I would love to try it sometime. I will have to keep a look out for the Stash teas. We finally did get some colder weather. Yesterday and today it has been around 15- 19 F and a little snow as well. The kids enjoyed their time outside and came inside with bright rosy cheeks. 🙂

  11. Wow, your children are back at school already? In Australia, they are on holiday from mid December through until early February. Your sauteed fennel looks quite delicious! Thank you for sharing a peek into your kitchen.

  12. I absolutely love fennel and so happy to have another way to prepare it, thank you. Also, I couldn’t help but notice the author’s name on your daughter’s cookbook… Ulla… my mother’s name is Ula (one ‘l’) but close. She has no idea the derivation of her name but this makes one wonder…
    Lovely post.

    1. I just did a quick search and Ulla in Finnish comes from the name Ursula, Ulrika or Hulda. and according to the internet Ula is a variant of Ulla. 🙂 With more research more interesting things might uncovered about the name. Names are quite interesting! Thanks for stopping by.

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