Motherhood in my Kitchen

Do you ever have days when you reflect back over the past year or years. Think of whether the job you are doing is good enough. School just ended for our children. Traditionally in Finland the children and parents will sing the suvivirsi or summer hymn. In my kitchen I had children practicing the song for their last day of school last Saturday. Some schools will have a hour long spring program at the school starting in the morning and other schools have spring church which closes their school year. After the spring program or church the teachers will hand out the report cards in the church yard or classrooms. We have children in two schools and so we have a bit of both traditions. The video clip below is of the children and adults singing the suvivirsi at the Kannus church.

The song pulls on my heart strings. The children are so excited to give their teachers little gifts and start summer vacation and on the other hand I wonder where another year went. Two of our six children have severe dyslexia, and I often find that on the last day I wonder if we had done enough or if there might have been another opportunity that we might have realized or delved into. I have found that with dyslexia success needs to be found outside the standard measures of academia. Often they know how to be quite creative as thinking outside of the box is norm for them rather than the exception. It is, I believe the secret to their success. But finding that secret and the toolbox of skills is like a long treasure hunt. Every stone needs to be turned and every method tried but fortunately there is always next year and a new opportunity to try again. But carefree summer is here. We’ll put it all aside for moment and just enoy lunches eaten out on the patio and the rustle of the leaves on the trees and maybe when it warms up, we’ll go for a swim.

last day of school collageThe last day of school is also graduation day for the high schools or lukio. This year our trusted babysitter graduated and received her white cap as is the tradition here. So in my kitchen I had a gluten-free and milk-free cake that I made for her graduation party. Congratulations and best wishes Lotta!

gradution in finlandGluten-free and Milk-free chocolate cake

3 eggs
1 dl/85 g/ 1/2 c sugar
3/4 dl/ 50 g/ 1/3 c brown sugar
225 g/8 oz light naturally gluten-free flour mix (I used Viljatuote)
75 g/2.5 oz dark unsweetened cocoa
dash of salt
1 dl/ 1/2 c olive oil

20 cm/ 8 inch cake form, buttered with vegetable fat and floured with gluten-free flour

Beat the eggs and sugars until it is light in color and thick. Fold in the sifted flour, cocoa and salt. Mix in the olive oil. Pour the batter into the prepared cake form and bake in the oven at 170 C/340 F for about 22 minutes or until the test skewer comes out clean. Do not over bake, as the texure is somewhere between a cake and a brownie.

If your cake does not need to be a milk-free version, you may use dairy whipped cream. For this version, I used a soy cream.

Frosting

2 dl/ generous cup of heavy whipping cream or whippable soy cream
sugar to taste

rhubarbI can’t tell you how much joy spring and the beginning of summer bring. It is so much fun to watch as plants grow and over years become larger, fuller and produce more fruit. Our apple trees we planted last summer have a few delicate blooms on them. Another measure of time. In the very back of the yard is the new home for the rhubarb. We noticed that they did not really like the planting box that was in direct sunlight and prefers the partly shady patch under the trees in our Pikkumetsä or Little Forest as the kids call it. It truly is little. We built our house on what used to be an agricultural field and a mere fifty years ago was a lake bottom. In the back triangular corner of our lot there is a little group of trees, five in total and some shrubs and tall grasses. That is the Little Forest. And so, the other day I went to go inspect their growth and decided to make Gramma Reeni’s Rhubarb Tart, which has become a tradition in the early summer. Gramma Reeni or Irene is my Great-grandmother and lived many years outside of Rochester, Minnesota. The photo below is taken before she was married. What a pretty lady. I’m assuming that the photo would have been taken in Southern Minnesota, as travel required a bit more effort than today and was not quite as common.

gramma reeni collage This time around I served the tart with whipped cream to which I had added a carton of créme fraîche and just a touch of sugar. It got rave reviews as always with this tart, as it is a foolproof recipe and one that even those who do not like rhubarb might like. Click on the link above to go to the original recipe posted two years ago.

hobby horse

In my kitchen yesterday, I had bits and pieces of string and yarn everywhere. The situation was, that there where not enough hobby horses. And so we had to make a couple more, or rather the kids made a couple more. I happened to have a pair of my husband’s wool socks that he has not used for probably thirteen years, if ever and so they were now donated to the children to be repurposed. Erik ran to the Little Forest and hauled a couple of sticks back to the garage which I helped saw and remove the bark to reveal a smoother surface. I found some left over cotton filling and wool socks that had holes in them to be used as the filling, and although I am not really an active sewer or knitter, we did have enough wool yarn for them to make a mane. The project turned into an all-day project, and every once in a while I would leave my baking that I was doing in the kitchen to help out or be their judge for the competition complete with hurdles.

hobby horse raceshobby horse race track demoIrene and DarleneIn the photo is Great-gramma Reeni and Gramma Darlene as a baby. I suppose even then, or perhaps always, mothers have reflected on their success as mothers. Some days we are more successful than others, but truly I think we try almost harder on the days we are not.

This post is part of Celia’s In My Kitchen Series from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Check out her blog for links to kitchens around the world.

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30 Comments

  1. Love this post , the children’s voices, the photos of them and your beautiful great grandmother, and the hobby horses are very creative. I think you’re all going to have a fabulous summer.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Juli. Yes, summers usually turn out to be great fun. Three of the kids are anxiously packing their bags to go to camp tomorrow. So much excitement! You probably know how that goes 😛

  2. I’ll wipe my tears…beautiful & so touching, Laila…and yes Francesca, I agree. When I went looking for the pictures, I said, Oh my, Laila looks something like my Mother! Do enjoy your summer…Love & hugs

    1. I dropped a few tears as I wrote the post as well, Gramma. That last day of school is hard on the Mom. Maybe not so much on the kids. They are just excited to be experiencing the freedom that summer brings. Hugs to you ❤ ps. we did have a little drama over the teachers gifts but perhaps that story will make it into another post into the future. 🙂

  3. Grandma Reeni was indeed beautiful, and Francesca is right, you do look like her! Even now that our daughter is 27 and living 1500 kilometres away from us, I still wonder if I did enough. But then I remind myself, I did as much as I could. And I did. And so do you, I can tell from your stories and photos. When you do all you can, it is enough. I’m sure your babysitter was SO appreciative of the gluten free, dairy free cake. It is such a loving gesture to cook for people who have food sensitivities because much of life is complicated by not being able to eat ‘normal’ things. Love her cap, too. Beautiful post, thank you Laila.

    1. So true Ardysez. If we try our best, we must learn to be satisfied, even if it is difficult. At some moments we have more energy and at others, a little less. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  4. I believe that Gramma Irene would be so pleased. Also, in that the rhubarb tart has become a signature item at Wuollet Bakery, a highlight of the spring season.
    Love, Grampa

    1. I think so too, Grampa ❤ I remember having the rhubarb tart from the bakery every spring. And it tastes even more special to have learned the story behind it. Hug to you Grampa! Happy Father's day!

  5. Laila, I loved your musings on motherhood in your kitchen. Very poignant. I think we all have moments of doubt, wondering if we did our ‘best’ but your children are proof that you’re doing fine, even with the challenge of dyslexia. Those hobby horses and backyard fun look wonderful! Incredibly, I grew up just south of Rochester, Minnesota and am curious to know which area your Grandma lived in or which store your grandfather managed. Small world!

    1. What a coincidence Kim, small world indeed! The store was along the county line road along Olmstead and Dodge counties NW of Rochester. Thanks so much for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  6. Thank you for these lovely photos and your very evocative way with words. You’ve conjured up a bit of magic where you are and the seeds have blown all the way to a patch in England. Happy summer!

    1. Thank you Sophie! We are having a happy summer indeed even if the weather has not been favorable…maybe in July we will see the sun 🙂 But we definitely have seen some magical fogs and lovely sunsets and have had time to spend together. Hope you have had a bit of sunshine in England?

    1. The girls got their first hobby horses a few years ago for Christmas but it was not until this past winter/spring that they really started getting into…creating a stall for them under a table and making signs with their names. So glad it finally sparked their imagination. 🙂

  7. Laila, what a beautiful, heartfelt, post. We all wonder if we do enough for our kids. But I do think one of the great secrets to having happy children is to be constantly delighting in them, and those days spent hobby horse making and judging subsequent equestrian events are priceless treasures. It’s not a compliment I offer often, because it’s something I take so seriously, but I think you are a truly wonderful mother. xxx

    1. Oh, thank you Celia. I think I might have to reach for a tissue. I’m sure that we all try our best. At moments we have more energy than at others and sometimes are able to do more than at other times. It is those moments when we feel that our energy is stretched thin that bother me with “what if” questions. In reality, I know that energy is not a constant and that too needs to be accepted by mom and kids. And you are right, that the secret is to be constantly delighting in them. I personally think for me blogging or rather photographing my children has helped me to learn to do just that. To stop in the moment, enjoy their tricks that they so readily and willingly want to show. You are a wonderful mother as well ❤

  8. How delightful to see the children having so much fun with their hobby horses. These kind of activities create the memories we take with us on life’s journey. The kind of memories which will remind our children that we did our best for them.

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