The best days of winter

The best days of winter have arrived. The day is noticeably longer and in the morning when I come downstairs into my kitchen it is not quite as dark as it was just a month ago. The children are able to leave for school in the soft morning light and after they arrive home there is still some light to be outside. And in my kitchen there is a bouquet of yellow tulips reminding me that spring is on it’s way.

tulips 2

We have been skating quite often on the lake; just across the road and through the little patch of woods that line the shore. With the abundance of fresh air and exercise comes healthy appetites to match it. This month in my kitchen I have food that will hopefully satisfy the appetites. Not too long ago I made a discovery at the grocery store. I bought a package of crisp bread made by a local bakery, Leipomo J. Martin. I have a personal connection to the bakery as I worked there for a summer a few years back. After making the initial discovery of the crisp bread I have bought several packages. The flavor is wonderful as it is full of toasted seeds and whole grain bran. In fact, every year the Finnish food union hosts a contest for the most innovative and best tasting new product on the market. Five finalists are chosen from which the winner is selected. This crisp bread was one of the finalists for the Tähtituote award last year. In addition it was selected as the best crisp bread of the year by the Gloria Ruoka ja Viini magazine. Congratulations to the bakers!

skarppi näkkäriWe have been exploring the Suomen lasten leivontakirja cook book with my kids. They suggested the following Mimmi’s meat pie for supper and had intended to help, but something more interesting came up and so I found myself left alone in the kitchen. Jumping hurdles over the sofa pillows actually does sound like fun.

2014-02-03 18.15.20-2

I actually did not mind that I was left alone. The benefit of the kids disappearing from the kitchen at the critical moment was that I was free to adapt the recipe and add a generous amount of vegetables and seasonings. When baking or cooking with the kids, we usually follow the recipe quite closely so that it is easy for the kids to follow. Maybe it is a mother’s instinct but I do secretly try to add nutrients that the picky eaters might not so easily notice. Grated carrots is one that works in many recipes.

venison meat pie

Mimmi’s Meat Pie with Minced Venison

One of the benefits of having a hunter in the family is that we are able to enjoy truly organic meat. I used minced venison for the meat pie but you may subsitute with a ground meat of your choice. For a lighter version, make only half of the dough for the crust for a single crust pie. Place the filling in a lasagne pan lined with parchment paper and covering with the pastry. The recipe below is the traditional version.

Pie crust

250 g/8.8 oz butter, softened
1 dl/slightly under 1/2 c milk
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 dl/1/4 c oat bran
5 dl/generous 2 c wheat flour

300 g/10.5 oz minced venison or meat of your choice
1 onion, chopped fine
two cloves of garlic, minced
2 stalks of celery, chopped finely
2 carrots, grated
1 tsp roasted pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-2 tsp NoMU smokey peri-peri, contains a mixture of chili, paprika, garlic, coriander, black pepper, mustard, parsely, cumin, oregano, ginger and natural smoke flavor
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
8 dl/3 and 1/3 c cooked rice of your choice, I used a mixture of rice, barley, whole grain wheat, rye and oat kernels (or 3 and 1/2 dl/1.5 c uncooked rice)
meat pie fillingThis meat pie would be the perfect thing to make if you happened to have some left over rice from the day before. Feel free to add to the recipe those ingredients that you might have on hand. The filling can be seasoned quitely strongly since it loses some of its strength when put in between the pie crust.

If you do not have cooked rice on hand, start by cooking the rice and boiling the eggs. While they are cooking on the stove, start the pie crust. Beat the softened butter until it is fluffy. Next add the egg and milk. I used the paddle attachment on my stand mixer. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients. Fold the dry ingredients in with the butter mixture. Do not over mix. Place into the refrigerator while the filling is completed.

For the filling, chop the vegetables. Place the onions, garlic and celery and minced meat of choice on a large frying pan. Cook at medium heat until the meat is browned. Add the seasonings and other vegetables and continue cooking for a few minutes.

In my kitchen I have a collection of seasonings that work great with this recipe. The NoMU seasonings are among my favorites as they don’t contain any additives. Their flavor could be described as East meets West in the culinary world.

nomu seasoningCombine the cooked rice, chopped eggs, and meat and vegetable mixture. Remove the pie crust dough from the refrigerator and roll out 2/3 of it on a floured surface. Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add the filling and roll out the rest for the top crust. I cut mine into strips. Lay the top crust on the filling and seal the edges. Prick holes to let the steam out if the top crust is made from one piece. Brush with an egg wash. Bake in the oven for thirty minutes at 200 C/390 F.

hockey playersSoon the little hockey players will be arriving in the kitchen. And they will have a large appetite.

This post is a part of Celia’s In My Kitchen Series that she host every month. Visit her blog to see links to other  kitchens from around the world.


    1. Tulips are the first sign of spring for me…first they arrive in the flower shops and a few months later around Mother’s day they may appear in the garden. Have a wonderful day!

  1. Your meat pie is wonderful, the perfect food after exercising in the cold. The tulips are providing a little glimpse of spring and I love that, the light at the end of the very cold tunnel.

    1. I was just chatting with a friend that it won’t be long before spring is here and since we didn’t get snow until just a few weeks ago our skiing season will be quite short this time around. 😉 But we’re not complaining, spring is a beautiful season!

  2. The meat pie and the crisps look delicious, and beautiful, but those tulips really got me! I nearly always buy a bouquet of tulips in the late winter, for the same reason as you… and our winters are nothing by comparison! Just a good excuse to enjoy tulips! Lovely photography, thank you.

    1. Thank you Francesca. It has been a wonderful skating year this year. The snow came so late that the ice had a chance to form. They have been making their way to the lake or the school rink quite often.

  3. First the tulips made me smile. Then I saw your beautiful pie! I really like how you used strips of crust on the top. Sounds wonderful and I’m bookmarking to make this. Also like the sound of your NoMU seasonings…East meets West is my kind of flavors. Love this post!

    1. You are so nice! I hope you have a chance to try the NoMU seasoning sometimes in the future…I think you might be able to find them online. They were a pleasant surprise, and the best thing is that the little metal jars are completely reusable. Paint them with a coat of chalkboard paint and organize all your little things in them… 🙂 Let me know how the meat pie turns out if you have a chance to try it!

  4. Hi Laila. It all looks good, especially that crisp bread. Your kids playing in the snow makes me feel cold. They look like they are having a ball.

    1. Hi Glenda! Thanks for visiting. Our cold weather warmed up a bit and we stayed quite warm yesterday in the snow. Some of the kids were outside for over 4 hours. We had some snacks with us out on the ice. It actually felt quite balmy after the frigid temps. 🙂

    1. I was just thinking the same thing the other day…such a difference can be noticed from just a few weeks ago. By April, the sun will be coming up quite a few hours before we climb out of bed in the morning. Love the light!

  5. Laila, I was reading along with interest, and then I came to the last photo, and all I could think of was “tiny hockey players!!! How cute are they!!” 🙂

    But it’s a beautiful pie, made all the better by having access to such fresh meat, and I love the venetian blind pastry top. The crispbread sounds delicious too! And I can understand why pillow hurdles would be more appealing than prepping dinner.. 😀

    1. Thank you Celia. Yes, the tiny hockey players are so cute. I was thinking one day that some of these photos should be put in albums or a photo book. They will make great memories to share after they are all grown up.

      And I wouldn’t mind jumping hurdles either…

    1. The elk would work wonderfully! I’ve used moose meat as well and I would imagine that it is quite similar in nature to elk. Thank you so much for your compliments. Have a lovely weekend.

  6. Laila, what a beautiful blog you have… I look forward to reading more of your work!

  7. The tulips, the meat pie, the pillow hurdles- your home and kitchen is so filled with life and color and lovely flavors! Winter months are hard for me to bear, but you have a perfect antidote for the winter blues- LOVE!

    1. What a lovely comment. One thing that helps me get through the dark winter months is having something interesting to do…physical activity outside, even if in the dark is quite invigorating, but you are right, love is the most important.

    1. Thank you Imelda! We have been enjoying the super weather for skating this year, even though now we have a break due to the wet weather. Hoping for a little chillier weather before spring comes. 🙂

  8. I’m sure I’ve said this before but every time I read your blog I realise how big the world is and and how different people’s lifestyles can be yet still connect via the internet. I really can’t imagine dark and icy days but I so enjoy your posts. I also liked the recipe for the pie – I enjoy venison very much. I’m going to look for a butcher that stocks it so I can try the pie. Though I’m sure beef would be a fine substitute – it doesn’t sound as exotic!

    1. The internet and blogs really allow for mini trips(budget friendly 🙂 ) across the globe. For me, living in a climate where it is warm all year round would be quite exotic. I’ve always lived in a four-season location although I have taken a couple of vacations into warm areas during the winter and I loved getting the extra dose of vitamin D…It made the long winter seem so much shorter! Thanks for stopping by.

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