Lunch for two…or for eight

The other day I was just thinking about years past and about us. Our fairytale started when we were both in our late teens, the world was wide open with options. It was a lovely time. We’ve had fourteen quite extraordinary years together. There has not been a boring moment. Our six beautiful children make sure that everyday is full of activity. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs and crash courses as well. Now as I look back, I feel like we got married as kids and grew up together. Legally we were definitely adults and not in our teens anymore, but just barely. For the most part, we get along great even though we are both the first born children from large families. I guess in theory it shouldn’t work since we are both used to bossing directing people around, but fortunately that is just a theory. In reality, we rarely argue although we do get into very animated discussions. Ultimately, we want to get along.

butternut squash and sweet potato

One of our first crash courses was learning how communicate. He came from a family where everyone is very direct and I came from a family that was not so direct. He was used to receiving and giving direct commands and I was not. I was more used to reading between the lines and he was not. I would like to think that through these years we have found a middle ground that works for both.

squash and sweet potato

We have some standard topics that we discuss with irregular frequency and feel quite strongly about, one of them being immigration policy. See, in the end we usually actually agree with the ultimate goal or solution but our ways of achieving the goal differ quite often. He is soldier and I am a political scientist. If all else fails we just agree to disagree. I personally don’t think that we need to agree on everything in order for our marriage to work. We like to give each other a little space. For us it works.

spelt breadWe’ve also learned how to genuinely support each other. In the early years, we might have claimed that we support each other but we didn’t really know what it was in practice. We might have counted dish or diaper changing turns back then and said that we support each other with our career plans. In reality, we had to learn how to put those words into actions. We were learning how to be a mother and father. It is a whole process of growth. We’re still not done growing. We don’t count dish turns or anything else anymore, we try to help out where we can and if one is a bit tired the other ones cuts some slack. My husband is not the type to bring flowers. But sometimes when I am a bit tired he will tell me to go out and do whatever I would like to for a couple of hours. After skating 10K and enjoying coffee at a local place, coming home feels great. Especially since the house has been cleaned while I was gone. He gets the kids organized and moving, faster than I am ever able to and they produce magic. These are his flowers.

squash soup eggs in the basket

Anne from Life in Mud Spattered Boots inspired to make these Eggs in the Basket toasts. They turned out perfect with the whole grain spelt bread that I had made earlier in the day. The trick that I learned from Anne is that the piece of bread needs to be thick enough. I had tried sometime earlier with thinner slices and ended up having egg all over the frying pan.

Egg in a basket

Slice thick slices of bread and butter on both sides lightly. Press a cookie cutter in the middle. Place both the pieces separately on a frying pan at low heat. First toast one side and then the other. After the bread is flipped, carefully break one egg into the hole and allow to cook until the egg white is set. This took several minutes for me. Enjoy with soup with someone special.

Whole-grain spelt bread

The trick to making a bread with spelt is to keep the dough moist and a bit sticky. This way your end result will be loaf with a soft texture.

0,5 l/2 cups warm water
one block of fresh yeast (50 g) or one package of dry yeast (11 g)
1/2 tbsp sea salt
1 generous tbsp brown sugar
1 dl/ 1/2 c wheat bran
4 dl/1.7 c whole-grain spelt flour
5 dl/ 2 c flour
3 tbsp olive oil

I used a stand mixer with the dough hook, but you may knead the dough by hand as well. Place the warm water, yeast (I often use frozen fresh yeast that I just place directly into the bowl and allow to thaw), brown sugar and salt. Mix and allow to sit for a few minutes. Continue by adding the wheat bran and spelt flour and one third of the flour. Knead the dough and continue adding the rest of the flour in small increments. The dough should not be too dry. Allow to rise until doubled and split into two. This amount will make two loaves that have a raw weight of about 570 g/20 ounces. Work the dough on a well floured surface so that the air bubbles are released. Shape into loaves and place into bread pans or in a long shape on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 200 C/390 F for about 18-20 minutes or until the bread sounds a bit hollow and it has a nice color on the bottom as well.

Butternut Squash Soup

3 tbsp olive oil
700 g/2 lbs sweet potato, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 onion, chopped
1.2 kg/2.6 lbs butternut squash
water to cover the vegetables (about 1 and 1/2 liters/1.6 quarts)
0.5 l/2 c stock
250 g/8.8 oz marscapone cheese
sea salt
black pepper
dash of nutmeg

Peel and cut the vegetables into large chunks. Place into a large pot with the olive oil and sautée for a few minutes so that the vegetables release some of their flavors. Pour the water and stock over the vegetables and allow to simmer until tender. Remove from heat and using an immersion mixer, purée until smooth. Return to the stove top and add the marscapone cheese. Simmer until smooth, mixing at the same time. Take of heat and serve.

soup and sandwichThis could be a lunch for two or it could be for eight. For us, it was a table with eight, including all of the special people in our house. Today I feel that there is a stronger bond of love than ever before. May your adventure called life continue in a pleasant way. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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64 Comments

  1. What a wonderful relationship you have with a great man, Laila! I know how you feel – it really IS like we’re blessed when we’ve been able to grow up with and grow together with the loves of our lives. Pete and I have been together for over 30 years now, since we were 18, and it’s been the best thing ever. I no longer feel like we’re a close unit, I now feel like we’re a single unit. Before we married, we had to go to church prescribed couples counselling (standard procedure), and we filled in heaps of questionnaires. The minister said to us, “you two are completely different in almost every way, but you answered all the questions on how you would resolve a dispute identically”. I honestly think that’s why our relationship (and maybe yours) has worked so well – it’s not about having the same views on everything, but about figuring out how to resolve disagreements when they (inevitably) arise.

    Oops, sorry for such a long comment! Thank you for a wonderful post, and Happy Valentine’s Day to you both! xx

    1. Loved your comment Celia. I do think we both have been very lucky and blessed. We met when we were eighteen as well, looking forward to everything in life with excited anticipation…but maybe we still do but in a little different way. Happy Valentine’s to you and yours!

  2. Beautiful post inspiring to other families. Much in common in differences that work, variables in the weather, yet it is our weather, shared, and the crops keep growing, neither withered or flooded, and we’re glad. Your photo accompaniment was just right, and, makes me want to get the stoves fired up.

  3. Our relationship has lasted 30 years and we are both first born children and very different from each other… but it works. We were older when we got together, me 30 and him 35, and five years later we had our daughter… so we had had enough time to figure ourselves out and how to work together to achieve our goals and raise our daughter. Very few flowers in our house, but like you, my flowers are that he helps clean up the kitchen after dinner, and many other small things that endear him to me. Aren’t we lucky? Thanks for your lovely post.

  4. I really enjoyed this post. A beautiful piece of writing. As I was reading about your relationship, I began reflecting on my own. We also met as teenagers and married young. I loved the photo in which you juxtapose two similar but slightly different loaves of bread. Brilliant. It is also interesting to hear that in other lands people have strong debates about their country’s immigration policy. My husband and I are appalled at the current government’s approach to refugees situation in Australia. But I won’t start on that one! Thank you for making sense of Valentine’s day, without flowers, but with a tribute to your relationship.

    1. Thank you Francesca for your kind words. I had to chuckle about your debates on immigration policy…another one of our “favorites” is how the same word/term/phrase may mean something quite different in another culture…really exposing the values of the people. Those discussions certainly keeps things interesting. 😉 Have a wonderful Valentine’s!

  5. Thank you Laila for this beautiful piece:

    I will always remember the words of Antti’s Pappa Juhani at your wedding when he quoted Ecclesiastes 4:

    “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
    For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
    Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
    And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

    Juhani then explained that the third strand of the cord is the holy spirit which lights your home with the Gospel.

    God has blessed your home.
    Love Isi

  6. What a wonderful post. So full of love & learning, the way relationships really are. We call your egg basket dogs eyes, harking back to a childhood snack my other half used to have as a kid. I have no idea why but they are delicious all the same. thank you for sharing your story 🙂

  7. Your husband’s flowers are far better than a stop-by-the-shop bunch of flowers, which are nice, but when my family was young, more help around the house would have made me extremely grateful.

    1. I must say that I really enjoy his flowers and it is true that when the children are young an extra set of hands is often needed…as the work never ends…it is a quiet moment here right now and plenty of things to be done and here I am sitting on the computer 🙂

  8. Beautiful love letter to your family, and husband! I am sure you will both continue growing together in the best ways possible, thank you so much for letting us take a peek into your life, knowing that marriage isn´t always that fairy tale that we are told as children, but after the “wedding” part, it is a relationship that has to be taken care of and stoked, as a fire, for it to continue to grow. Oh, and the recipes are perfect! Happy Valentine´s to all 8 of you! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Carla for your lovely words. Yes, it is true that life is not a fairytale on most days, and we do not have control over all things. But we can try to take good care of our relationships with our loved ones and enjoy the special days that every once in a while make an appearance. Happy Valentine’s to you and yours.

    1. Thank you Karen. Hope you have a chance to try the soup. I just made it again this past week and it is popular for both adults and kids…as there is nothing to pick out for the little ones. 🙂

  9. Can you believe I did not discover eggs in a basket until after college?? My good friend from LA made them for me during a visit and I was blown away! I love eggs in all shapes and forms. My favorite meal as a child was scrambled eggs and rice. Comfort food at its finest!

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