Eighteen days until Christmas

There are eighteen days until Christmas if you ask the Finnish kids and if you ask the American kids there are still nineteen days. Today in the kids’ entryway where the calendar is on the wall, there was a little spat between two of the girls. One claimed that there are eighteen days and the other nineteen days. Both were right, it just depends how one counts the days.

huuteinen peltoYesterday the field was tousled like a messy mop of blond hair. Today in the morning it was covered with a heavy layer of wet snow. It was cold enough that it made everything look white. This is what our children have been waiting for. When it is dark before four in the afternoon they often come and complain that there is nothing to do. Perhaps it was the lack of fresh air that instigated the spat in the entryway. It all changes with a little snow and head lamps. They can easily be outside for hours and come inside with rosy cheeks and in much better spirits. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the snow stays.

Finnish flag and independence day

Today is the 97th independence day of Finland. Peace arrived in the mid of winter. Last night at our literature club we discussed the well-known novel, The Unknown Soldier (Tuntematon Sotilas) by Väinö Linna. I received a copy of the English translation of the book at the young age of eighteen from my honey. Now after living here in Finland for almost fifteen years I am glad to be reading it again. I have come to learn how society has been shaped by it’s history. The book tells the experience of war in a rather truthful unglorified manner. All of the stress, fear and feelings can be sensed. My almost six year old in the picture above has been asking me recently why we have wars. One day we were discussing the Ukranian situation with kids, when my eight year old asked me why Russia needs to be so greedy. Difficult questions to answer. I understand the need for the armed forces as their primary task is to protect and defend and in all truth, soldiers are probably the last ones to actually want a war. Always in wars someones gets hurt and families become split and it is a sure test of the human spirit. Below are two links to the Finnish song, “Veteran’s Evening Call”. The first is accompanied by a slideshow of photos from the Finnish wars. The second youtube link is of the same song, but is sung by a compilation of men’s choirs of which many of them are eldery and there are many war veterans standing in the front rows. Almost all of the rest standing behind the veterans are children of veterans. Jorma Hynninen is the solist and their powerful memories of the war is transmitted to younger generations. They are passing down history in the age-old tradition of singing. I think the performance is very powerful.

Traditionally on the Finnish independence day two candles are placed at the windows. The exact origin of the tradition is not known but according to wikipedia, the burning of two candles was used on the February 2nd to commemorate the Finnish poet Runeberg as an action against Russification. The two candles in the window was also used in 1915-1918 to designate safe-houses when Finnish jaeger soldiers secretly made their way from Finland in to Sweden and continued their way into Germany to receive training. It seems as if the two candles in the window are a symbol of independence.


In my previous post I promised a recipe for a gluten-free no-bake pumpkin cake in just a few days. It has been more than a few days now but I promise that I have not been sitting lazily on the sofa. In fact it has been quite exciting. I have been creating a new blog that I will be writing in Finnish called, Jenkki mutsi maalla. Jenkki in Finnish is a slang term for American and it probably derives from the word Yankee. Mutsi is slang for mom and maalla means countryside. In other words the name means, Yankee Mom in the Country. I will be working with Kluuvikadun Coffee Roastery and Leipomo J. Martin which is a bakery. I will definitely continue tableofcolors and the intention is that they will not be copies of each other. They may occasionally have the same recipes and perhaps sometimes even the same story but they will live lives of their own.

gluten free pumpkin cake

This cake was originally made for the reception of my friend, Kaisa Peni and the debut of her Christmas recording, Ihme. In my previous post is a sample of her singing. If you click on her name it will bring you to her website. For the English version click on the English tag on her website. It could make the perfect Christmas present for someone special that enjoys peaceful music.


Gluten-free Pumpkin Cake (no-bake)
150 g/5.3 oz gluten free gingerbread cookies (I used one package of Semper gluten-free cookies)


One half of the package of cookies is for the crust and the other half is mixed into the filling
25 g/just under an ounce of melted butter
1 tbsp sugar


2 dl/1 c whipping cream
2 dl/1 c quark (or other sour dairy product)
1 and 1/2 dl/ 2/3 c pumpkin purée
0.6 dl/ 1/4 c sugar
0.6 dl/ 1/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of cloves and ginger
3 gelatin leaves
1/2 package of gluten-free gingerbread cookies (set aside one or two for garnish)
1/2 dl/ 1/3 c boiling water

Line one 15 cm/6 inch springform with parchment paper. Melt the butter and crush the gluten-free gingerbread cookies and divide into two. Place one half of the crushed cookies into the lined springform. Melt the butter and mix with the crushed cookies in the spring form. Add sugar and mix. Pat firmly to form the crust. Set aside.

Place the gelatin leaves into a bowl with cool water. Allow to soak for about 10 minutes. Make the filling meanwhile.

For the filling whip the cream and then add the quark. Next fold in the pumpkin purée, sugars, the other half of crushed cookies, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Next boil the water. Remove the gelatin leaves from the cool water bath and gently squeeze excess water away. Place in a small cup. Pour the boiling water over the gelatin leaves and mix until melted. Pour in a stream into the cream and quark mixture mixing continuously until incorporated. Pour the mixture into the springform and cover with cling film and place into the refrigerator or freezer for a quicker set. Allow to set in the refrigerator for about four hours or in the freezer for an hour.


1 dl/just under 1/2 c of whipping cream
160 g/5.6 oz quality dark chocolate

Bring the cream to boil in the microwave. Add the roughly chopped dark chocolate to the hot cream and stir until smooth. Remove the springform place cake on a rack. Pour the ganache over the cake. Garnish with a gluten-free cookie or two. Enjoy!


    1. I really like the cake…it wasn’t too sweet and the dark chocolate ganache really fits. Hope you have a chance to try it out sometime. If you don’t want a gluten-free version, regular gingerbread could be substituted.

  1. Seeing the words 18 days until Christmas makes my heart palpitate! I just don’t know what is happened to time. I too am hoping for a white Christmas. It won’t be in Houston but perhaps in Maine while we are there.

    1. Oh, I know! Today one of the girls came into the kitchen and said there are only 16 days…where does the time go? We’re all hoping for a white Christmas here as well. It rained all last night and by morning the lawn was completely green.

  2. A bit of history on Finland’s important day, nice…and good luck with your new blog etc. Another thing on the busy woman’s list:) Only 18 days! I better get busy! Hugs…

  3. The new blog sounds great. All the best with it. I am pleased to learn more about Finland’s history. The video of the massed choir is particularly moving. There seems to be pride in the words of the song but also great sadness.

    1. The video of the concert with the massed choir took place in 2010. Many of those veterans are not with us anymore. I think it is really touching and a living piece of history, thanks to modern technology. I have listened to it nearly every year around the Finnish independence day as it is often passed around on social media and thought to share it now. Perhaps other will enjoy it as much we have.

  4. I am so excited for your new venture, I know it will be an amazing success. It sounds like it will be a fun collaboration. It always sounds magical at your house, don’t you love it during the holiday’s the children are so excited, the excitement is palpable and I think to the little ones even one day sooner 18 rather than 19 makes a difference one less day to wait for the big day.

    1. Thanks Suzanne, I’m excited as well. 🙂 I do have to say that children are the ones who bring the magic with their anticipation and bright shining eyes. It can be quite contagious.

  5. Living in countries other than my own made me reflect on the history of my new homes, and it opened my eyes wide. Suddenly, I understood so much about the history of those places and as if puzzle pieces were falling into place, lifestyles and traditions previously foreign to me made sense. Europe and Scandinavia has such a long history compared to Australia, and even compared to America, and thankfully, I’ve never lived in a place where war has raged around me. It must have a profound effect on those who have, and I think that would filter down to their children, and thus a society.

    Good luck with your new blog and I hope the snow stays. 🙂

    1. Well the snow didn’t stay, all last night it rained and the wind blowed and in the morning the lawn was very green 😛 But hopefully soon we will receive some more of the white stuff! I am hopeful!

      Your words are very true. The puzzle pieces do start to fall into place and everything starts to make sense and the words in history books become more than words. I think it is very exciting (sometimes of course frustrating) to try living in new locations.

  6. Love the bit of Finnish history included today! As for the advent calendar…my children had the same disagreement for years… so silly. 🙂 Once again, you’ve provided a lovely story, accompanied with beautiful photos and a delicious recipe as a bonus! I wish you bundles of luck as you launch your new blog!

    1. Yes, that unfortunately seems to be the case. Wars are rarely win-win situations. Always someone looses. It seems that wars are often be driven by a small group that have the strong the desire for power or greediness over what someone else might have. Most people are innocent and do not have much influence. I do support the right to defence if attacked.

      1. You are absolutely right – everybody has the rights to defence. Especialy, if the huge country try to fight the smaller one, all around the World have to help to this small country. This is only way to stop agressor.

  7. Yay, I’ve been waiting for this recipe and it looks beautiful. Oh those big war discussions with kids are tricky aren’t they. It’s difficult justifying the concept of war; and there is nothing quite like explaining something to a child in simple terminology – the weaponry, the deaths of innocent people, the age of our young soldiers. The futility is highlighted when the main points are broken down. Australia’s history is so young compared to Finland’s, but my family are Dutch so my grandparents and parents war stories are harrowing.
    Your little boy looks so sweet with his flag and his smart vest! Best of luck with your new blog – how exciting! It’ll be nice to have another outlet for your thoughts and recipes. Laila, wishing you and yours a lovely (white!) Christmas.

  8. Love the cake and the sound of your new blog. Since I love coffee anything, the idea of the coffee roasters made my ears perk up 🙂 Bakeries are fun too.
    Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words. I’m glad to have found yours as well. Looking forward to reading more from you.


  9. 18 days? Christmas will be here before we know it! Why does December seem to fly so much more quickly than all of the other months? Your cake sounds delicious and, with dietary issues becoming more prevalent, a GF cake recipe is a good thing to have on hand. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Lots of best wishes for your new blog Laila, that’s exciting 🙂
    There is no chance of snow for us at Christmas, but there is a good chance of it being hot, sweaty and mangoes on the table…sooo amazingly different isn’t it.

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