There are bees in my kitchen

It is a clear sign of August when the bees take over. In July, they leave us alone and mind their own business but it seems as if they know the calendar. As soon as the August arrives they come in if the patio door is left open and I end up chasing after them with my vacuum cleaner. It is the most efficient way to dispose of them. When I went to go pick a few sprigs of mint for the photos this morning, the mint flowers were covered with bees. They had decided that the mint belonged to them and so I, ever so cautiously waited for a bit of a flower to free up and slipped in my scissors to claim a sprig. The other day I made a mint pesto for a potato salad inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi. He uses mint often and I find his cooking to be quite ingenius. So I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try a new flavor combination. It really worked out quite nicely and the mix of mint and peppermint from my patio planting boxes brought the perfect amount of freshness. I actually got enough of the mint pesto to freeze some of it in a penguin shaped ice cube tray for later use.


mint pesto CollageI just recently had a birthday and the potatoes were from my neighbor next door from their own potato patch. Another friend had brought over some the fresh produce from their garden as a gift. In my kitchen is trayful of fresh, organic treats waiting to be used. Both gifts were perfect for a foodie like me.

fresh produceMy next day after my birthday turned out to be quite exciting in more ways than one. It had been quite windy all morning and afternoon and the weather forecast was promising thunderstorms. We had been planning a kayak and canoe excursion with some friends. My husband who had made all of the arrangements decided that we are not going to give up and cancel. Afterall, it was my birthday present. Sometimes the thunderstorms pass over and may be quite local. And sometimes the weather forecast may be inaccurate. We loaded up in our van to pick up the trailer with the kayaks.

kayaking and the storm CollageAs we arrived to the rental place, the wind picked up and the storm arrived. A tree right behind the trailer came down and it rained so hard it felt like we were in a car wash. Finland usually does not have very strong storms. This storm was quite strong. I really wasn’t sure what we should do. We had all hire babysitters and made arrangements. My husband was still going kayaking. We waited out the storm and headed to the river a few kilometers aways. Good thing for axes and saws. We had to clear the road. Along the way we saw trampoline that had flown across a field and was bent in an arch. My neighbors trampoline was scooted across the yard and taken a gooseberry bush with it. All over there were trees knocked over and back home the electricity was out. After the storm passed, everything seems calm. And so we went kayaking and the weather was perfect.

kayaking CollageAround the same time I visited the Saturday morning outdoor flea market and found a lady that was selling vintage clothes and accessories. Everything was so well taken care of, clean and pressed. Then she told me that in the local old paper factory area called Taideruukki, is a cluster of creative businesses. Some of them sell local crafts and jewelry, vintage clothes and things, a photography studio and even a little coffee shop. What a find! And to think that I had not realized that it was in operation while it was nearly under my nose. I had to go visit to see for myself. I took with me our Isabella and her friend.

ruukinportti collageFrom there I found a creamer made by Opa. I used it to hold the mint pesto for my potato salad. The reason I was so pleased with my find was that it held a bit more than just 1.5 deciliters. Traditional Finnish coffee cups are very small but we tend to use larger mugs and so a larger creamer had been on the list for a couple of years.

mint pesto potato salad2Fresh potato salad with Mint Pesto
1 kg/2.2 lbs new potatoes, cooked until just tender and then cooled
600 g/21 oz oven roasted or grilled chicken cut into cubes
1 red onion
three handfuls of fresh peas
a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach
a small bunch of fresh chives and parsley

Mint poppy seed pesto
a large handful of fresh mint leaves, stems removed
(I used a mix of mint and peppermint)
generous dl/ 3/4 c olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp sunflower
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c poppy seeds
black pepper

Boil the thoroughly scrubbed potatoes until just tender and allow to cool. Prepare the pesto by placing all the ingredients in a blender or in a tall cup and mix with an immersion wand. Set aside.
Cut the cooled potatoes and chicken into bite size pieces. Chop the onion into thin rings. Finely chop the herbs. Roughly chop the spinach and toss in with the potatoes, chicken, herbs and onions. Dress with the mint pesto and garnish with the fresh peas. Fresh the left over pesto in an ice cube tray for later use.

mint pesto potato saladThis post is a part of Celia’s In My Kitchen series for August. On the side bar of her blog is a list of kitchens from around the world.


  1. I must rethink my potato salad, your’s is a “meal in a bowl” 🙂 Yum…wondered how that canoe, etc trip turned out with the storm! Hugs…

    1. I really like “meals in a bowl” especially in the summer. So happy the canoe trip worked out in the end…it seemed like the odds were against us. 🙂 Lots of hugs your way!

  2. It sounds that salad is delicious and it looks like that. Summer is on its way to the end. August is the month when ripened crops are gathered. You have for your salad the fresh potatoes, peas, herbs, etc.
    It seems to me you have there in Europe unusual summer this year. Some places is overheated, some have sever storms.
    Anyway, I hope you enjoy summer with your family.

    1. Yes, our summer is coming to a close. On Sunday we still had a very hot day but today as school started it was raining and cooler. We had about 30 days of very warm/hot weather with only a little sprinkle of rain a couple of times. The rain was very welcome today as the plants are quite dry but it also means that summer is not here for long. Thank you for stopping by.

  3. It’s wonderful that you have so many bees in your garden – I love bees. Although I wouldn’t want them in my house. Next time I have some in my house, I will think to use a vacuum cleaner!

    1. I really don’t mind the bees outside. They are necessary pollinators. The whole process is natural as they have no work to do as the old queen bees begin to die off. They even seem a bit aggresive and sting easier than in the summer. It is a certain sign of August and the end of the summer. Yes, do try the vacuum trick…no squished bugs on the glass. 🙂

  4. What a unique IMK post! It is gratifying to persevere when the weather looks dubious, and to have the efforts turn out well. Lovely photos. I have a small ‘jug’ collection because they are all so useful. Belated wishes for your birthday.

    1. Your boatload of mint sounds wonderful. Most of my mint is still waiting to be preserved. I have a vegetable dryer and was thinking that some of it could be dried and perhaps made into homemade mint tea.

  5. Wow – that sounds like a real Queensland Summer storm. They build quickly, have an almightly force of wind, rain and lightning and are gone just as quick. In Brisbane we have a storm nearly every afternoon like this in the height of Summer. We’re used to it but they can be very damaging. How curious that the bees want to come inside. Thanks for your (birthday) kitchen tour. xx

    1. Yes, it certainly sounds very similar. It came on so quickly that it caught us almost off guard. The bees are behaving the way they do every August as they leave the hives and the old queen bee dies. They can even be a little aggresive and the kids have gotten a few stings.

    1. Thank you Juli. It was indeed a wonderful day full of memories. I suppose the very normal and routine parts of life are more easily forgotten (even though I certainly cherish the very normal days) and the special days are the ones we often carry with as memories.

  6. what a lovely post. Great photos, as always. And that salad?!!! Brilliant! I’m so glad I finally ordered Jerusalem. I should probably get Yotam’s other books as well…

  7. That sounds like a birthday to remember. I am pleased you managed to still go kayaking. I love your penguin pestos. Your pesto salad sounds so refreshing. Fresh produce makes the best present.

    1. I was so pleased as well that the kayaking trip worked out. It did look a bit sketchy for a while and I even though we might have to decide to do something indoors instead.

  8. I am glad you were able to go kayaking anyway. Kudos to your husband for perseverance and not giving up.

    Your potato salad looks pretty and the herb combo is interesting indeed.

  9. Brilliant mint pesto to go with the potato salad. Mint is often used to season boiled new potatoes and also with peas here in the UK, so I know the combination works really well. I’m glad you got a good day kayaking and had an explore of the flea market (one of my favourite things to do). Hope the bees go soon. I’m not sure I would be as brave as you collecting the mint.

    1. How wonderful to hear…always something new to learn about different food traditions! I’m not necessarily brave but determined to get the photo and so I just waited the bees moved off one of the sprigs and made my move 🙂

  10. Laila, I’m so glad you got to go kayaking after all – sounds like getting there was as much of an adventure as the actual boating part! Lovely mint and how nice that you have bees! And how perfect would it be to get freshly dug potatoes as a birthday present! 🙂

    1. I am too, Celia! It was certainly a birthday adventure to remember. Yes, the potatoes were as fresh as can be as they had been just dug up…delicious sums it up. 🙂

  11. Laila, your potato salad looks lovely but I spy peas in there and I don’t like peas. My mum tried to make me eat them when I was a kid and I have never forgiven her.

    1. Hi Glenda, I’m sure you can just leave the peas out…one of our kids picked them all out. And I pretended that I didn’t notice as my philosophy is that they will eventually taste and eat if they just get used to seeing it on the plate. I don’t have the heart to force feed. Sometimes I do strongly encourage to taste at least one bite though. 🙂

      1. Laila. If only my mum had done that, I would have been eating peas long ago. I know they taste fine, now it is just the memory.

  12. Your salad is a complete meal and a delicious looking one at that. Your birthday sounds like one you won’t forget anytime soon. Here is to many more happy and healthy ones.

  13. Ohhhh be nice to the bees, we have a shortage here in Australia 🙂 That salad looks amazing! Thanks for sharing! Liz x

    1. I leave them at peace when they are outside..but when they come inside in the end of the summer they are a bit aggresive and some of the kids have gotten stung. 🙂 Hoping for a good bee season as summer approaches for you!

      1. Oh well that is no good! Yes I think I am going to buy a hive of native Australian bees, as the don’t sting! Liz x

  14. Hi Laila, Happy Birthday! Love the recipe for that Mint Pesto, I’ll be trying that soon; the mint in my yard has exploded so this will put it to good use! 🙂

      1. I’ve also dried it for tea and later use. I’m also experimenting with making mint liqueur, it’s only 2 weeks in but I’ll let you know how that turns out in the next few weeks! 🙂

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