tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Category: Breads

Carrot top pesto

by tableofcolors

girl and organic garden produce

One thing leads to another. The past several years these little black bugs have eaten our cabbage and kale seedlings. And the end result is that these only the tough middle stem is left standing with a leaf that looks like lace as it is mostly filled with holes and turning whitish and sorry looking. This year my husband put a garden fabric on the planting box out back and the outcome has been completely different. I would have never thought that such a simple solution would yield such a change! Now they are vibrantly growing. Fortunately the kids love kale chips! We have several different kinds of leafy greens that all belong to the cabbage family and we totally forgot that we had planted broccoli as well, until this morning we spied small broccoli forming amongst the dark green leaves. We had accidentally taken a few of the bottom leaves and added to our cabbage stew yesterday. But I don’t think any harm was done.garden kale

Yesterday we decided to make a lightly sautéed garden stew. Cabbage soup raises mixed feelings amongst the public, especially if the cabbage has been cooked for a very long time. That is why I decided to lightly sauté all of the vegetables and brown the meat before putting it all together and finishing it off with a short cook time. I thought it was delicious.

garden fresh produce

Lightly sautéed kale stew

a variety of kale or cabbage
5-6 carrots, grated
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil
1 vegetable bouillon cube (I used an organic bouillon cube that has many garden varieties of herbs in it)
1 liter/ 2 pints of water
salt and black pepper to taste
fresh parsley, roughly chopped
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
400 g/ 14 oz minced meat (We happened to have fresh ground horse meat on hand, so that is what we used)

Mince the onions and garlic. Set aside. Grate the carrot and chop the kale. Brown the minced meat along with the onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. In the same pan lightly sautée the kale and carrots for a few minutes in a bit of olive oil. Set aside. Put all of the sautéed vegetables and browned minced meat into a large pot. Pour the water over it along with the vegetable bouillon cube. Bring to a simmer. Season with fresh parsley and salt and pepper. Finish with the apple cider vinegar and check taste. Allow to simmer until preferred level of doneness. I preferred my soup to have a bit more texture and for the kids I cooked it a bit more. Total cook time was about 20 minutes.

cabbage stew

I had a large bunch of beautifully green carrot tops in wrapped up in a paper towel and tucked in my fridge. Ann from Eat Simply Eat Well suggested that I use them for a pesto. I did a little research online and found the most lovely recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich with roasted carrots and carrot green pesto inspired by the Happyolks blog. It was so delicious that I have not had such a good sandwich in a long time. Even the kids loved them.

garden fresh carrots and sourdough bread

Grilled Cheese sandwiches with roasted carrots and carrot green pesto

You will need:

Good quality sourdough bread and good quality cheese. I used Oltermanni which is similar to the Danish Havarti in texture and flavor.

Roasting the carrots:
Wash about 4-5 small carrots per sandwich.
Leave a bit of the greens on them, as they become delicious and crispy in the oven.
A drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Roast in oven for about 20 minutes at 160 C/320 F or until the tip are crispy and the carrots have a bit of color.

organic carrots

While the carrots are roasting, make the carrot green pesto.

Carrot Green pesto

a couple of large bunches of carrot greens, washed
2 cloves of garlic
juice of one lemon
salt and black pepper to taste

Cut the stems of the carrot greens and use only the leafy parts. Place them into a blender of food processor. Add in the garlic and olive oil. Blend until smooth. Add in the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Blend for a few more seconds. Check flavor.

roasted carrot and carrot top pesto sandwich

Slice thin slices of bread. The bread I used was a homemade sourdough with about 60% wholegrain making the texture of the bread somewhat heavy. That is why I opted for thinner slices.

Butter the outer side of the slice and smear some of the carrot green pesto on the other side. Place butter side down onto a pan that is medium hot. Add a layer of cheese and then 4-5 roasted carrots. Place another layer of cheese before placing the second slice of bread, pesto side down. Fry until golden brown and the cheese has started to melt. Flip over and continue to fry until the other side is a golden brown. Enjoy!

 

Advertisements

Last rays of Summer

by tableofcolors

Where to start. Life is going by faster than I can write. A few days ago the announcer on the radio said that Wednesday would be the last day of summery-like weather. It wasn’t really summer anymore and hasn’t been so for some time. The air had the chill of autumn. In the sun, the air feels warm but in the shade, it feels like a jacket would be in place. I decided that I would take the day off from work related things and try to catch the last rays of summer sun with the kids. A cold front was arriving.

bella-and-the-september-beachI asked the little ones, that are not at school during the day, if we should make one last trip to the beach. Bella became all excited. She wanted to play mermaid one last time. She took off on her bike without shoes. I asked if she might need shoes. “No, then I don’t have to wait for my feet to dry after swimming.” I had to agree. It is rather uncomfortable to put on shoes when they are covered in partially wet sand.

When we arrived at the beach, it was empty. The sand was filled with rings made with light motorcycles, most likely in the evening time by a group of teenagers. No one had walked on these circles yet, and the wind had not shifted the sand erasing their existence. Perhaps it had been the night before. Bella left her bike under the tree that has become our designated bike park. It is the spot where the hard ground turns into the sandy beach. I continued to push the stroller through the sand to the other side of the reeds. It is the side we always go to and usually spread our blanket under the shade of a group of trees that stand right in the middle of the beach. The sand is smoother on this side of the reeds and there are not as many rocks. But now it was fall and the sun was in a different position and all along the beach there were long shadows. So we sat in the sun this time to warm us up and Bella played Mermaid.

last-rays-of-summer-collage

She was completely immersed in her own world of make-believe play. There is something so satisfactory about playing. I felt like I almost got to participate through the lens of my camera. Perhaps it is my play, photography that is. Completely de-stressing.

baby-and-the-beachMy husband and I have a little goal that we started in the beginning of August. To eat as little refined sugar as possible. The original goal was to have no sugar until Christmas. Five exceptions were allowed. I haven’t quite kept with the goal, having a little taste of something sweet a few times and on special occasions. I see it as a lifestyle and so I don’t dare to lay down too strict rules of what can and cannot be eaten. But in the end I have been pleased that we have had very little refined sugar and if the sweet tooth seems to get the better of me, I have tried making things sweetened with maple syrup or honey. Afterall, I see this as something will continue after Christmas and not just a crash course to try suffer through.

giant-zucchini

One day when I came home, I found a bag by the door with some giant zucchini. At first they sat on our counter as a decoration showing off their vibrant summer greens. We spent almost two weeks eating them. We were having some young people over one evening and I felt like having something sweet, so I searched the web for a recipe that would not contain refined sugar. I found the following recipe for zucchini and applesauce muffins from the Ambitious Kitchen. First I tried the recipe as is, the second batch I gently tweeked by adding in a bit more olive oil to give the muffin a softer crumb. Here is my version.

Zucchini Applesauce muffins without refined sugar

3.5 dl/1.5 c whole wheat flour (I used a half and half mix of white and whole-grain spelt flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
generous 2 dl/1 c shredded zucchini
generous 1 dl/ 1/2 c pure maple syrup or honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
0.7 dl/ 1/3 c olive oil
1dl/1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c milk (any milk will work including nondairy options)

Preheat your oven to 175 C/350 C. Spray the muffin tin with a non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl mix all of the dry ingredients including the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a medium sized bowl mix all of the wet ingredients. Start by gently whisking the egg, olive oil, applesauce, milk, vanilla extract and almond extract. Add in the shredded zucchini. Combine with the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed. Spoon muffin batter in the muffin tin and bake for about 19-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

zucchini-and-applesauce-muffinsIf you have a special occasion and want to take the muffins up a notch. This frosting brings a delightful twist. (It contains just a bit sugar.)

2 dl/1 c whipping cream
250 g/9 oz quark
100 g/3.5 oz cream cheese
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp sugar

Whip the cream until fluffy. Fold in the quark and cream cheese and mix until smooth. Add in the lemon juice and sugar. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe dollops onto eat muffin. In the picture about I have cut the muffins into halves and then garnished with the frosting. Enjoy!

We opened our second Cabana de Empanadas coffee shop this past August in the Iso Omena shopping center in Espoo (15 minutes from downtown Helsinki). It has been busy and delightful! Opening weekend was wonderfully busy!

iso-omena cabana de empanadas

 

I’ll be back someday

by tableofcolors

norwegian fjords fauskeThis time for In My Kitchen, I thought to share a bit of our trip to Norway. While we were in the wilderness in Sweden (previous post) and camping in Norway we used a Jetboil that boils water very quickly to which it is easy to add dried packaged food or oats for oatmeal. I was actually a little worried if we would have enough to eat as my husband can go for hours between meals, but I usually eat every few hours to keep my blood sugar in balance. We did have a trailmix with that we made before we left and I had bar of good quality of dark chocolate as well as some hearty rye bread and butter. Beyond the pictures are the inspiration that I felt once returning to my own kitchen. You may indeed be surprised. I made English muffins and they were delicious even though they did require a bit of effort.

We arrived into Norway in the evening and the sky was taking on shades from the setting sun. We drove to Fauske, visited a grocery store and even found some lefse. Certainly not quite as good as the homemade ones that Gramma Renie would make for Thanksgiving and Christmas when I was a child. Once I find her old recipe or another one that works great I will share. Since we were camping and have a big car, we decided to pull over at a rest stop for the night and sleep in the car. Not necessarily the most glamourous way to travel but we were on a budget and our scenery was certainly beautiful. My sister and her family lived in Norway for a couple of months this past summer and she had told me before hand that Norwegians are really into their hi-tech sports gear and you will see people walking around town in good quality sports wear. I figured we might just fit in.

norwegian fjords fauske 2There was something so peaceful in the shapes of the fjords and the water nestled right next to each other. I could just feel my soul rest.

2015-07-22 07.38.00

Morning sun in Fauske, Norway

The next morning, there was hardly a cloud in the sky and the soft pastels of the evening before had changed into intense blues and greens.

bodø

We drove to the small coastal city of Bodø which is on the Artic Sea and was about an hour away from Fauske.

bodø harborI could have easily spent a few more days or a week here if we would have had the time. On the other hand this just whetted my appetite and I certainly would like to go back.

Artic Sea in BodøWe didn’t go swimming in the Artic Sea, as the water was quite chilly and air was cool, but we did dip our hands in the water. Perhaps if the day had been different we might have attempted swimming.

old train station and bridges in Fauske

It would be interesting to know the story behind the boat that was situated behind what looked like an old train station used for industry.

scandinavian mountains CollageI was quite ready for a hearty meal after eating our camping foods. In Finland they do not sell ready made English muffins and for some time I had been toying with the idea of making of my own. So one Saturday I set out to try my hand at it and the result was delicious even if the process was quite tedious. Next time, instead of doubling the batch I think I will quadruple it so there might be some for the freezer as this time they were all gone by the next day, except for two which I stashed away. I was pleasantly surprised by how well they kept until the next day. Nearly as good as on the first day.

I used the recipe for my English muffins from the Food52 website and tutorial was great. If you would like step-by-step photos of the whole process visit their site. My recipe is slightly changed below and mainly because I did not have buttermilk in the fridge so I substituted it with yoghurt (which in Finland has a very buttermilk-like consistency, in other words it is drinkable). Many recipes that I found used milk, but I preferred the slight tangy sourness the buttermilk or yoghurt brought to the dough.

  • 2 1/3 tablespoons active dry yeast (a little less than the contents of two 1/4 oz packets)
  • 1/2 dl/ 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 4 dl/ 1 3/4 cups buttermilk or yoghurt
  • 9.5 dl/ 4 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 dl/1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 2/3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 70 g/5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Nonstick vegetable spray
  • Cornmeal or polenta

english muffins going into the ovenCombine the yeast and water into a bowl of a standmixer with a dough hook. Mix until yeast is dissolved. Microwave the buttermilk or yoghurt for about 20-30 seconds, just so it loses it’s refrigerator chill. Add it into the water and yeast mixture. Add in the flour, sugar and salt and mix until it becomes a droopy dough.  Add in the room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time. Make sure the butter is room temperature so that you do not need to overwork the dough. At this point it will not form a ball. Knead for 7-8 minutes until is starts to hold its shape but is still tacky.

Lightly spray a large mixing bowl with oil and move the dough to it and cover with cling wrap and allow to rise for one hour. After if has risen, place the bowl into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill. This will make the dough easier to handle. While the dough’s resting, line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper and then generously cover with cornmeal or polenta. Next, very lightly dust your work surface with flour. Turn the dough over on your work surface and knead it a few times to remove the air bubbles. Form it into a fat log. Pinch of pieces about he size of a handball (60 g) and roll into a ball. Once it has formed into a ball, transfer on the baking sheet with cornmeal and slightly flatten and then gently flip it around so the other side gets a coating of cornmeal as well. At this point you may cover the baking pans with cling wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutesif you like, for easier handling and if you do not have time to bake the English muffins at the moment, they keep in the fridge up to three days.

Heat your oven to 120 C/250 F and take out your cast iron skillet. In the photo above the four on the right have been toasted on the cast iron skillet and are ready for the oven and the row on the left are still waiting for the cast iron skillet treatment.

The original recipe recommends baking them in the cast iron skillet for 4-5 minutes on one side until it domes on very low heat and then flipping them over for another 4-5 minutes and then continuing at a higher heat, flipping every 2-3 minutes. I did not skillet bake them as long, as my skillet is fairly small and a double batch would have taken all day. Instead I opted to for the first stage of skillet-baking for 4-5 minutes per side and then moving them back onto the baking sheet and baking them in the oven for a longer time of 15-20 minutes instead of the 10 minutes prescribed in the original recipe. Do as you feel is convenient in your kitchen.

Fortunately I had a Sloppy Joe filling ready to go in the refridgerator that had been leftover from our dinner the night before, and so we had Sloppy Joes with our English Muffins and everyone loved them.

sloppy joes

Sloppy Joe filling
500 g/18 oz ground beef
1 onion
5 dl/2 c broth (or you may substitute with one package of organic onion soup and 5 dl/ 2 c water)
300 g/10 oz crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef with onion. Add in the broth or onion soup, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Allow to simmer until the consistency becomes thicker. Mix in the balsamic vinegar and season to taste. Spoon a generous spoonful on an English muffin half, garnish with grated cheese and put the top into place. Enjoy with a freshly tossed garden salad.

diy egg mcmuffinWhen I was a teenager, I worked at McDonald’s for about three years. I must say that it was a great job that taught me lot about producing food that always had the same consistency. And while some may scoff at a job at McDonald’s I feel that the training I received created a base for the work I am doing now. I haven’t had an Egg McMuffin for years. I’m not even sure I had one when I worked there but I thought to make my own DIY version. The stash of two that I had stuck quick into the freezer became a lunch for me and snack for my son after he returned home. And he ate the whole thing even if he is not real big on eggs (unless they are hardboiled) and cheese.

DIY Egg Mcmuffin
Split two English muffins and toast (butter is optional, I didn’t miss it at all)
Slowly cook two eggs, sunny side up
sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper
slice two slices of good quality cheese of your taste
a few leaves of spinach and parsley for garnish

Put your sandwich together with the cheese on the bottom and next the warm eggs and finishing off with the spinach and parsley. Enjoy!

 

owl eyes eggs in a panSo this month in my kitchen I had a set of owl eyes in my cast iron pan, a bit of adventure and comfort food for the days that are whispering fall. (And since I only had one egg form, I used a cookie/pastry cutter for the second one and it worked quite well.)

Travel expands your horizon a little wider

This post is a part of Celia’s In My Kitchen series that she hosts each month allowing readers peeks into kitchens around the world.

Following Elma’s footsteps

by tableofcolors

The other week, I had some business in Helsinki and I decided to take a couple hours after my obligations to take a little Elma tour. I know that Elma had visited in the summer and so you will just need to imagine that everything is green and maybe the sun would be out. The day I went, it was wet and there was a wind blowing. But I do think that the excursion was really quite interesting. It became interesting completely by accident, and I will soon tell you why. Elma had mentioned in her writing that she had eaten at the Kappeli Restaurant which is right in the middle of the Esplanade and overlooks the harbor. Across the walkway from the Kappeli is a bandshell and Elma mentions that the people were wandering about in no hurry at all.  “…There were children with their nannies, old grandmas knitting under the shade of the trees, and doves flew around in flocks creating a charming picture of the old world.” The building itself is quite decorative and is known for its glass rooms. I have eaten there a couple of times and have been intrigued with old decor. Fun to think that we have both visited the same spot.

If you are new to the blog, check out the links below for the story on Elma, my great-aunt.

 

kappeli

Elma artikkeli esplanade ja kappeli“We often would eat at the Kappeli, a restaurant made of glass with a small garden on the outside where we could sit for hours and men would lean on their canes. We found the canes quite amusing as they were a symbol of manhood. As soon as a boy has finished the Lyseo or high school, his relatives would gift him a cane. One could see such child-like faces and yet they would carry the canes with grandeur.  One such Finnish athlete said that he was intending to buy a new cane. I told him that in America only the weak that could barely walk would use a cane reluctantly. He wondered, but since he admired America, decided to not buy the new cane.”

lasihuone kappeliAs I was taking pictures of the Kappeli, I could hear squealing and screaming and of course I had to turn and see what was causing the commotion. I had forgotten that it was penkkari or penkinpainajainen day, or the day when the students in the last year of the Finnish high school or lukio are celebrating their last day before they start studying for the matriculation exams later in the spring. Each school has a theme and everyone dresses up accordingly. They all load up on trucks and drive through the city, screaming and throwing out candy much to the joy of my children.

penkkaritcandy and havis amandaElma does not go directly up north and visit the homes and farms of her parents but I decided that I would share that with you now in this post and return to other parts of her trip later, as I feel that the homes and communities that Ida and Isaac left behind forms the beginning of their immigration journey.

Kauvosaari 2In Elma’s papers was a sketch of Kauvosaari which is a part of Ylitornio. Her father Isaac was originally from there. “Kauvosaari is a small island in the middle of a river with a quick current. It is a loved place. The island has a forest, rock fells and glows purple with the atmosphere giving it the color purple. I found the stone foundation of the Kauvosaari house, but it had been brought to the land where it now stood large and vibrant, made with countless logs crossing with each other and painted red. It was still intact, good for still many generations to come. I picked the Lilly of the Valley where my forefathers have perhaps picked before me…”

source: wikipedia

Ylitornio and Raahe cirled in red, source: Wikipedia

It was quite common in those days for immigrants to first go to Norway often stopping for a while in Finnmarken or Tromso before continuing to the United States. Even today, some young people go to Tromso for a season to work in the factories handling fish, and in Finnmarken you can get by quite well with the Finnish language. It appears to be, that according to my Grampa’s cousin Matthew, there is documentation that the Kauvosaari brothers (later Anderson) immigrated through Norway. Perhaps in this documentation there is a year marked stating the time of immigration. I know that many left Finland during and after the years of famine in 1866-1868. It was the last famine of its kind and 8% of the Finnish population died during those years. By looking at the family photographs of Isaac and Ida, I am guessing that Anderson brothers left some years later.

Gramma A. home place @ Raahe

Ida Anderson’s home place in Raahe

Elma also visited shortly in Raahe. Raahe is small city with a harbor located on the Gulf of Bothnia. In Elma’s writings she describes her fourth of July in Finland and the experience of her mother Ida, when she first arrived in New York City.

“Although it was fun, it was the quietest Fourth of July I have ever experienced–my first in a foreign land. My mother’s first Fourth of July in a foreign land was completely different. She was fourteen years old when she arrived as an immigrant into the harbor of New York on July fourth. She thought the country was at war because of the noise and shooting happening from the ships. Her only thought was to get away from it all, and since she did not understand the language of the land she had to trust in only God, that she might survive.Elman artikkeli fourth of july

I wonder, was she alone when she immigrated. And how brave for a fourteen year-old to leave everything that is familiar for a new country and new language. Grampa said that she worked in a hotel in downtown Minneapolis as a cook and that is where Isaac and Ida eventually met. Perhaps in her home in Finland, that is in the picture above, her mother might have a large wooden bowl used for bread baking. Rye bread has been a staple in Finnish diets for years and it is made with a bread root. Some say that the rounded and plump versions were meant for eating right away and the flat shaped breads with hole in the middle, so it could be hung up to dry was for later when fresh bread was not available. Depending where in Finland one lived, bread was not necessarily made every week. If it was made more often, there might be some of the bread starter left on the sides of the bowl to dry for the next baking day and if bread was only made a few times a year a new starter was made some days before.

elma and ida

Elma and Ida

Some time ago I received two different bread starters from opposite sides of the globe. One is from Australia from the lovely Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and the other I brought back from the US on my last trip last spring from my lovely Dad. Originally I had not thought of giving the starters names, but Celia asked if they could be named and so I posed the question to you last week. I have decided on Elma and Ida, as they are both travelers going long distances. The bread on the left is made with Elma coming from Celia. I have used strong bread flour with it and added some spelt and oat bran to the dough. The loaf on the right is made with Ida, coming from the kitchen I grew up in Golden Valley. Although neither bread is similar to the Finnish rye bread, I have added rye flour to the Ida giving them both a distinct flavour. My children have really fallen in love with the bread and I have been making a few loaves at a time several times a week. This way, I end up not having to do too much work as I have put my KitchenAid to knead the dough. And little by little I have been learning the trick, and the trick is patience and time. When there is no rush, it works every time like a charm. I had asked my Dad for some thoughts on baking bread as he as been doing it for years.

“I have always liked the concept of a sour dough. It is a slow food that
needs a bit of forethought and time. The whole idea is that every house has
its own sour and its own flavor. While it requires a bit of forethought it
is essentially an easy and simple process, but like most easy and simple
processes it has some rather complex biology that has to happen on a regular
basis.

Of course, the best way to start a starter is make friends with someone who
has a starter that has a flavor that you like.

You can of course start a sour yourself but it takes several weeks and
several “generations” to get it to be stable with a flavor that you will
like. I didn’t have a starter about 7 years ago, (maybe this one is about
Aleksi’s age?) but I figured if the Egyptians had figured this out 6
thousand years ago then I probably could too.

bread starters Elma and Ida

The most important ingredient to the process is patience. It is important to
understand that it is a biological process and that if you create the right
kind of environment you will get the right kind of biology. My opinion is
that it is important to keep your sour exposed to the air. You will get some
wild yeast from your environment as well as other organisms that are
specifically in your house and home. It is also important to understand that
you will get some activity but it will probably not be the right strain
right away and that it will take some generations to develop and cultivate a
dominant culture that both has a consistent and stable population as well as
generates a good flavor. Eventually by cultivating this sour in your home
you will get the flavor from your home environment. Every sour eventually
becomes different according to the environment of the home.”

two roots of breadbread risingCelia’s wish was that her bread starter could be passed on other interested bread bakers. And so if there is interest, I will gladly share some of either starter with you. Celia has wonderful step-step tutorials to baking with a sourdough in her blog. Check out the following links:

Bread #101: A basic sourdough tutorial

An over-night sourdough in pictures

If you have extra starter on hand, check out Celia’s link for these wonderful sourdough pancakes. I made them one evening for supper and they were popular with the children.

 

lucky charm bread

What I have been doing is a combination of fresh starter in the fridge according to Celia’s instructions and also allowing a thin layer of dough to dry in the bowl. Once completely dry, I have scraped it off and poured it into a plastic bag and kept in a dry place. I like have the dry starter on hand as a back up just in case someone was to spill my fresh starter. I make sure that the fresh starter is able to get air at all time and I have been using a Tupperware dressing shaker, that is tall and narrow and does not take up too much space. I leave the cap on the cover open for air and it has been working perfectly.  bread in a bag

 

 

Old Market Hall in Helsinki

Old Market Hall in Helsinki

Links to posts on Elma and the Anderson family: Memories of times passed, In my kitchen in the bleak mid-winterElma, Thing One and Thing Two, Keepsakes in My Kitchen,

Keepsakes in my Kitchen

by tableofcolors

In my kitchen this month I have more keepsakes. All sorts of treasures from old letters, Karelian pies that my children love, to two bread starters coming from opposite sides of the globe. The first starter is from my Dad and I brought it over when I last visited the States. The other starter I received from Celia’s kitchen in Australia. My children made it to the mailbox before me and thinking that the envelope was a belated Christmas card, they had managed to tear it open. It came with a lovely letter and simple instructions, and the request to give the bread root a name preferrably something that refers back to the original which is named Priscilla. Thank you so much for the mail Celia! So now I have two starters on the counter bubbling away. Would you have a suggestion what I should name these twin starters?

celia's breadroot

A little while ago I received a scanned article from my Grampa written by Elma (my great-great-aunt) in my inbox. The article tells of her story of when she came to visit Finland in 1930s. I have understood that one reason why she came to Finland was due to a broken romance. I have read it through a few times and have found myself smiling and even laughing outloud on a few occasions. The article has nineteen pages and so I will share some of the anecdotes over the course of a few posts. Back then, travel was not as common as today and so this was her first trip to Finland along with her first impressions. As she describes the places she visits I can almost imagine it since I have visited many of the same places as well. The cobble-stones that she mentions in the excerpt below are most likely the same ones still in place today. I could not even imagine walking over them in heels! Perhaps we have walked the same path along the Esplanade. She toured Finland for ten weeks and in those ten weeks she wore out two pairs of shoes out of the five that she had taken with and the only ones that really were durable were the ones patched up with Finnish leather. Elman artikkeli 2As they approached the Helsinki harbour, she tells of the emotion that many of the passengers experienced. It was emotion that she did not quite understand at the time, but as time and her trip went on, she started to feel the patriotism of her Mother’s and Father’s homeland. Later on she states that Helsinki kind of grows on you with its white cathedral in the background and the islands and land that just seem to appear out of the sea.

December 12, 2007 One relieved graduate with her Master's degree under her arm

Helsinki Cathedral: December 12, 2007 One relieved graduate with her Master’s degree under her arm

Upon arriving in Helsinki, it was not until the next day that they would actually step on land as they used small boats to bring the passengers from the ship. And a ship with passengers with 800 travelers would take some time indeed to unload. I suppose traveling in that time was something that was done with leisure. Not because they chose to, but because that was the only way to do it, as it was not possible to quick hop on a plane and visit Paris for an afternoon coffee as one of my friends once did. She had spent thirteen days on the ship and it had started to feel a bit like home. After making it on land she had been so hungry that she had headed to the first restaurant. I wonder if she ate at the indoor old market hall that is a red brick building that had been built in 1889. The old market hall building is the one with many people standing in front of it, perhaps holding an outdoor market as well.

Old market hall built in 1889 and the cityscape of Helsinki. http://vanhakauppahalli.fi/history/

Old market hall built in 1889 and the cityscape of Helsinki, year unknown. photo credit: http://vanhakauppahalli.fi/history/

“This restaurant was one where the women that worked in the outdoor market ate. They were dressed in blue dresses and wore white scarves on their heads and a small purse attached to a strap hung off their shoulder. I thought all women dressed in the same way, but I was told otherwise. I asked for a sandwich, and they asked what kind, ham? I choose the ham, and it was the best bread with ham I had ever tasted–not a sandwich as we know it, but a piece of bread with butter and slice of ham. Then I ordered a little bit of everything and drank an entire pot of coffee. It all tasted so good that I ate so much, I could barely walk after that.”

Elman artikkeli 4 saimaa

After Helsinki, Elma and Lyydi, a friend and travel companion headed to Eastern Finland and into Karelia that after the Winter and Continuation War belonged to Russia. She describes Saimaa which is located in Eastern Finland and is Finland’s largest waterway and expands over 4,400 square kilometers (2,734 miles) in the excerpt above.

“No one can explain the beauty of the Saimaa. With thousands of islands, it makes it seems as if it actually is thousands of lakes connected together. The sky above is the Finnish flag, blue and white, bluer and whiter than anywhere else in the world. The lake is at times a clearer blue and sometimes silver, but always crystal clear. The reflection of the islands in this perfect mirror and are green, blue and purple depending on the distance.”

Saimaa, September 2014

Saimaa, September 2014

Elma 5

Elma, date unknown

 

 

She does not mention if she ate the famous Karjalanpiirakka or Karelian pies. They are like little handpies that have a crust made of rye flour and filled with rice porridge. While they sell them here in all of the shops and bakeries, I believe that handmade and homemade ones are the best. But I would like to think that most likely she tasted them at some point. She does mention in her writing that often when visiting and eating, she would have to dine by herself as this was the custom of showing respect to the guest. She often would request to dine with the others, but they did not take note and just thought she was being humble and polite, trying to rather unsuccessfully refuse the honor of being the guest.

making karjalanpiirakkaThe karjalanpiirakka has very simple and inexpensive ingredients but it is fairly labor intensive. Often when we have made them for bake sales, we have a large group of people. One person has come earlier to cook the rice porridge as it is best to luke warm or cool for easier spreading. The rest of the crew shows up later to make the crust, which is actually quite simple and quick. Then an assembley line is set up. One will cut dough into portions that will then be divided into small disks to be rolled out by a group one. Group two will take the rolled out disks and fill the crusts with rice porride and crimp the sides. The third group will take care of the baking. The oven should be as hot as it goes as these traditionally have been baked in the wood burning stone oven that can be still found in most homes in Finland still today.

riisipuuro rice porridge

a wedding gift of ours: a double boiler pot intended just for porridge

Karjalanpiirakka, recipe from Hyvää Ruokahalua edited by Anna-Maija Tanttu
Rice filling

2 dl/just under 1 c water
2.5 dl/generous 1 c pearl rice
1 l/generous 2 pints of milk
2 tsp salt

Place the rice and water into a double boiler and allow to cook until the rice has absorbed most of the water. Add the milk and allow to simmer until thickened, or about 30 to 35 minutes. Mix in the salt and allow to cool.

Crust

2 dl/ just under 1 c cold water
1 tl salt
4 dl/1.7 c rye flour
2 dl/just under 1 c flour
1 tbsp butter or oil

Prepare the crust by mixing the salt and water together. Next mix in the flour. My tip is to not add in all of the flour at once, otherwise it will become too crumbly as mine did. Add in 2/3 of the flour and knead, adding the remaining flour as needed. Finally add in the oil or butter and knead until it becomes a smooth dough.

carelian pie dough collageDivide the dough and roll into thick rods that can be then divided into small disks to be rolled out. Roll out the little disks into oval shapes on a counter sprinkled with rye flour.

rolling out karjalanpiirakkaIf you need to take a break, make sure to cover the dough with cling film. Before filling the crust with the porridge, make sure to brush off the excess rye flour. Fill each rolled out disk with rice porridge leaving about 1.5 cm/generous 1/2 inch unfilled from the edge. Using both hands, crimp both side simultaneously going from one end to the other making an oval with rather sharp tips. I baked mine at 250 C/480 F for about ten minutes. Traditionally the karjalanpiirakka is dipped in a bath of hot milk and a knob of melted butter after baking. This is to soften the crust. I prefer the crispy rye crust and so I skip this stage, and I know that many others do as well. So it really is a matter of taste.

baked karjalanpiirakkaServe the karjalanpiirakka with egg butter. Hard boil 4-5 eggs for about 5-6 minutes depending on what you prefer. I prefer that the yolks are not soft but have a definite deep yellow color to them and are soft in texture. Allow to cool in a cold water bath for just a bit. Cut 100-150 g/3.5-5 ounces of butter into large cubes and place into a medium size bowl. Remove the shells from the eggs and using an egg slicer, slice the eggs twice making for small cubes. Using a fork, mix in with the butter. Add a sprinkle of salt to taste if needed.

two roots of bread

On my counter is a pair of bread starters bubbling away. Next week I will share some fresh sourdough bread and more of Elma’s trip as she visits Kauvosaari and Raahe the birth places of her parents Isak and Ida Anderson who immigrated from Finland to the United States via Norway in the late 1800s.

This post is a part of Celia’s In my Kitchen series that she hosts every month. In the sidebar of her blog is list of blogs from around the world, featuring what might be in their kitchen that particular month. This month she is featuring Kim, a fellow blogger who lost her home in fire. There is a link in her blog to a fundraiser to help her put a new stove in her kitchen and rebuild their lives.

note: At the end of Elma’s article it says that it is written originally in English by: Miss Elma Anderson of Minneapolis, Minnesota

Translate into Finnish by: Miss Lillian Kovala of Ashland, Wisconsin

and revised later by Laura (Mrs. Matt) Myllys of Minneapolis, Minnesota

The language is most likely quite old as it has come over with the previous generation of immigrants on the boats. Often in the new country, with a new language at its side the old language does not evolve in the same manner as in the home country, keeping many attributes of the past alive.

 

In my kitchen in the bleak mid-winter

by tableofcolors

My kitchen is still full of the remnants of Christmas and New Years. The tree in Finland is traditionally taken down after epiphany and so it will be up for a few more days, perhaps a week. When we put the tree up, our Hugo, who is now a year and a half was in awe and WOW and Hieno (nice) became his new words. In January there are still little angels in my kitchen that that fly like fairies across the house and ocassionally giggle very loud and have a sparkle in the corner of their eyes as they jump off the high stool and do many tricks with considerable grace but not necessarily very angel-like in manner. How I love their company.

angel black and whiteIn my kitchen this month I have been spending some time looking through old photographs and reading and rereading emails from my Grampa. The photographs are treasures and when I spend time in the kitchen cooking or putting away dishes it offers the perfect moment of my very own that no one can really steal, to let the mind and imagination soar back into a different era. How I wished as a kid that it might have been possible to travel in time. I suppose back then I had very romantic notions of the olden days. I have sometimes wondered how I would have actually managed, now that I am used to all of the modern conveniences of life and society.

 

Anderson Store in Minneapolis circa 1906

Anderson Store in Minneapolis circa 1906

Like most immigrant groups, the Finns created their own Finntowns in communities. Minneapolis had one of the larger Finnish populations. What was new to me was that many of the Finns that arrived were looking to homestead land in Cokato, which is about 50 miles West of Minneapolis and used Minneapolis as their big city. This took place in the 1860 to 1880s and if I remember correctly some of the Wuollets had also settled in the Cokato area. The pattern of life that was created was that the men would come into the city to work in brick-yards, sawmills and carpenters as well as other jobs and then return home in regular intervals. After the 1880s many of the children of the homesteaders moved and settled permanently in the city. I referenced the History of Finnish Community pages and it mentioned the grocery of Isaac Anderson on 238 Humboldt Avenue. The picture above is of the shop and was taken in 1906. My great-grandmother is the baby in the arms of great-great-grandma Ida Anderson.

Wedding portrait of Isaac and Ida Anderson

Wedding portrait of Isaac and Ida Anderson

There is an interesting story behind the sirname of Anderson. When Isaac and his brother John Kauvosaari emigrated from Finland the official at the port of entrance asked for their name. They replied with their names and I am assuming that the Finnish name of Kauvosaari was quite difficult to the non-Finnish tongue. The official next asked what their father’s name was and when they replied, Antti Kauvosaari the official gave them a new last name of Anderson.

Humboldt Avenue 238 Minneapolis Anderson store

Anderson store at an earlier date

Inside the Anderson store

Inside the Anderson store

I’m not quite sure exactly the kind of butter-nut bread that they might have been selling, but just a few days ago when we had ice-skating weather I was making a whole-grain bread with spelt and buckwheat. I rolled the dough into a quarter of an inch thick sheet and then drizzled with honey and sprinkled with pecans and dried sour cherries. It tasted wonderful after all of the rich holiday foods and the fresh air and tag that was taking place on the ice.

 

pähkinäleipäplaying tag

Whole-grain bread with sour cherries and pecans
3 dl/1 and 1/4 c warm water
1/2 block of fresh yeast (25 g) or 1/2 sachet of dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
1 dl/ 1/2 c spelt flour
1 dl/ 1/2 c buckwheat flour
about 5 dl/generous 2 c whole-grain bread flour with cracked wheat (8% fiber content)
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c olive oil

bread with sour cherries, pecans, spelt  and buckwheat
Mix the yeast in with the luke warm water. I usually have my fresh yeast frozen as I buy it in bulk and that way there is always some on hand and it doesn’t grow old. I learned the trick from my mother-in-law. I just add the frozen block to the warm water and let it sit for about 5-7 minutes and then add in the honey, salt, buckwheat flour and spelt flour. I used my stand mixer freeing up my hands and allowed for it to knead on the lowest setting. It is better to allow the flours to absorb as much of the water as possible, so haste is not encouraged when adding the flour. Add in little by little the whole grain bread flour. The dough should be soft and may be a little sticky. Allow the stand mixer to knead thoroughly or alternatively you may knead by hand. Add in the oil. If the dough seems much too sticky, add more flour to your liking. Allow to rise until doubled in size.

Spray a bread tin with a non-stick spray and warm the oven to 200 C/390 F. Once the dough has risen, sprinkle the counter with flour and tip the dough on top. Gently roll the dough out and drizzle with honey and sprinkle with the pecans and dried sour cherries. Roll up the dough forming a log and place into the bread tin. Allow to rise once again and back for about 20 or 25 minutes or so that the bottom of the bread has a nice color and sounds a bit hollow when knocked with your knuckle. Enjoy toasted with butter and maybe even a drizzle of honey. Perfect after skating fare.

angel wingsThis post is part of Celia’s monthly In My Kitchen series. Check out her blog for links into the kitchens of bloggers from around the world.

Modesty is sometimes overrated

by tableofcolors

Until recent days, paper mills have been at the heart of everyday life in Kouvola for thousands. According to Wikipedia, paper has been produced in Finland since the 1600s although it was not until the 1860s that the industry started to grow. We live in Valkeala which used to be an independent county, large in area but small in population right next to the cities of Kouvola and Kuusankoski. A few years back politicians decided to join the counties and along with a few other to make one large county now called Kouvola. The making of large counties in the name of saving expenses has been strongly trending in recent years. Whether this will be a good long-term decision can be determined perhaps in a few years as we will all be so much wiser in hindsight, as the case usually is. Finland has long been and still is a welfare state, but things are changing. And with change there is always some good, some bad.

kymintehdasalueI actually think that it is probably a good thing that more room is made for the private sector, giving space for healthy competition. Maybe the best thing would be to have the best of both worlds. A safety net for those that need it as we might all be in that situation someday but an environment that encourages entrepreneurs and hard work. One of my largest criticisms of the current Finnish systems is that unemployment benefits are so good and seemingly endless that some decide it is better to just stay at home doing nothing instead of working. My second criticism is that modesty is over-rated. Finns are really quite good at many things. They need to believe that others might think so as well. One good example of this collective way of thinking is Angry Birds. For the longest time after Rovio succeeded with their angry chicks the following collective comment could be heard, “Just wait and see, it won’t last long.” Slowly this attitude has changed towards Rovio and it has attained an iconic status. Why do you think the Swedes succeeded with their IKEA and H&M? Finland is full of wonderful little companies full of new designs and ideas.

old paper millsThey just need to own it.

brick wallThese old Kymintehtaan paper mills would not have ever achieved what they did without some risks. Operation first began in 1874 and it has continued until recent years. Industries, societies and economic situations change. Today some of the buildings are empty but quite a few are being used by small business. One building is full of creative entrepreneurs. In another building there is one of my favorite organic bakeries called Tuomon Luomu. They make the best handmade rye bread and I really think that they would really have potential to grow.parkway kymintehdasThe entryway into the area is a bit forbidding as there is an old guard house with mirrored windows. For the longest time I did not even know that the area was open for the general public. The area is much more friendly after passing the entrance as it has a lovely parkway with old trees forming a canopy over the lawn. Partially hidden behind the trees is an old house that reminds me of Anne of Green Gables.

vanha talo kymintehdasI tried to do some research and find out the history behind the house and it’s name but it has remained a mystery. Perhaps it has been used for company social occasions and receptions. On one side of the wall was a hydrangea overflowing with blooms.

hortensia hydrangeaMy new favorite food is perfect for fall when the mushrooms are in season. I bought a package of portobello mushrooms from the grocery and thought to make burgers from them for lunch. I searched online and found some inspiration from Jamie Oliver’s recipe. Jamie grilled his burgers but I broiled them in the oven as our cook-out season has pretty much come to a close. The version below is slightly different to Jamie’s, as I used what was on hand.

portobello mushroomPortobello burgers for two

2 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
2 small onions or one large onion sliced into fine rings
three glugs of olive oil
juice of one lemon
sprig of fresh rosemary
salt
black pepper

2 good quality rolls of bread
olive oil
two cloves of garlic, halved

four sundried tomatoes in oil
black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh oregano and chives and a few leaves of fresh spinach
a few slices of your favorite cheese (optional)

Place all of the ingredients into a plastic bag and shake until the mushrooms and onions are coated. Allow to marinate for about fifteen minutes. While marinating heat the oven to 200 C/390 F at the broil setting. Place the marinated portobello and onions on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Take two good quality rolls of bread and slice them into halves. I used the Fazer grain ciabatta. Drizzle with olive oil and rub with a clove of garlic cut into half. Place the halved garlic into an air pocket of the bread and place on the baking sheet alongside the portobello and onions. Bake for about ten to twelve minutes, removing once the onions and bread have attained some color and the mushrooms have released some liquid. Make sure to keep watch that your rolls do not burn. If using a very light bread, remove the rolls after five minutes.

While the the mushrooms are baking, finely slice the sundried tomatoes and sprinkle with black pepper. Once the mushrooms and onions are done, remove from the oven and assemble the sandwich. Place two slices of cheese on the bottom half if preferred. Next place the mushroom and then finish with the onion and sundried tomatoes. Garnish with a few sprigs of herbs and spinach.

Enjoy!
portobello mushroom burger

Blini in the sunset

by tableofcolors

A couple of weeks ago my husband made his annual hunting trip to the Swedish Lapland. This time it was only three gentlemen and three dogs as the rest had conflicting schedules. In the north where they were, the foliage on the ground was starting to turn colors while the trees were quite green. I have been impressed as they do real cooking everyday. They usually make one crockpot meal and on other days they might make premium burgers that would make a fast food burger pale in comparison or roast chicken. Yes, the meals tend to be quite masculine in that they have plenty of meat but on the other hand they are trekking in the forest of the nordic fell all day and eat their main meal after they return to the cabin. The time that the ladies came along two years ago, we were served plenty of greens. So I suppose their meals are quite well balanced. That time as well, they took care of the meal planning and cooking. It was a true vacation.tunturin syksy Since I began blogging a little over two years ago, this has become a family project. So my husband took these photos of northern Sweden for me to share. Back at home we had an abundance of apples received from friends and coworkers. Our three little apple trees were just planted this summer and fall and so it will be some time before they grow to become good climbing trees full of fruit. Some of the apples were pressed for fresh apple cider and some apple sauce was made in the crockpot and a couple of apple crisps were made as well. Did you notice the apple that jumped out of the basket and rolled across the patio? This time I happened to be at the right place at the right time and snap the shot as well. It doesn’t always quite work out that way.

jumping applesWhile the men were gone we enjoyed a meal of what I thought was Blini but was actually Oladji, as one dear reader pointed out in the comments. Blini are the thin and crêpe-like and Oladji are thick and hearty. Mine were the thick and hearty version and served with savory fillings might be just the perfect meal after a hunting or fishing trip. I used only buckwheat which makes them completely gluten-free but if preferred you may subsitute some of the buckwheat flour with regular wheat flour. The dough is thick and includes yeast and must be made into a large bowl as it will rise and be full of air bubbles.

blini doughThe reason why I thought these would be a perfect part of their menu repertoire is that the dough can be mixed in the early morning and then placed into the fridge for the day to rise. Then when they make their way back to the cabin in the evening, only a hot griddle is needed with some butter and a savory topping that can be easily mixed by the others while one fries.

bliniIn Russia, these round blini symbolize the sun and are quite rich. Traditionally they are served before Lent with melted butter, sour cream, caviar, jam and really, the list could go on. I served my blini with shrimp and a dollop of sour cream that had a bit of red onion and dill in it. You could use your imagination and serve your blini with what suits your fancy.

 

Blini or more correctly Oladji    gluten-free (makes about 15)

recipe from Viljatuote buckwheat package

3 dl/ 1 and 1/3 c Greek or Turkish yoghurt
15 g/ 1/2 oz yeast (I used fresh yeast)
2 dl/ just under 1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp sugar
1 dl/ just under 1/2 c hot milk
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp melted butter
1 yolk
1 egg white

Warm the yoghurt until it is luke warm. Stir in the yeast until it is dissolved and then add the buckwheat flour and sugar. Allow the dough to rise for a couple of hours at room temperature or for longer in the refrigerator. Before frying the pancakes add the hot milk, salt, melted butter, egg yolk. Whip the egg white until fluffy and fold into the batter. Fry the blini in a knob of butter at low temperature in a frying pan or a blini pan. Serve hot with a topping of your choice.

Topping

2 dl/1 c sour cream
juice from a half of a lemon
1 small red onion, finely chopped
small handful of dill, finely chopped
salt
black pepper

Shrimp

Mix all of the ingredients except for the shrimp. Spoon a large spoonful of sour cream topping on the blini and serve with shrimp.

sunset in swedennordic fellswedish lapland landscape

Grampa’s Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins

by tableofcolors

In Finland the winter is supposed to be snowy and cold. Summers are supposed to full of summer scents (mosquitoes) and birch trees swaying in the wind. It may not always be so hot but it usually is warm. It seems as if the weather is a bit confused. Last winter the American Midwest got an abundance of snow and it seemed that it got all of ours as well. Yesterday I had to pull on my wool socks. Last week it rained sleet here and snowed in northern Finland. Although it didn’t quite match the weather, my first peony bloomed last week in the sleet.

jumping hurdles with hobby horses

The good thing when the weather turns sour is that gives an opportunity to do all of the chores waiting around the house. There is one thing I have learned while in Finland. When the sun shines drop everything else and run outside. It might shine for the next day or perhaps for three weeks if we’re lucky, but one can never know ahead of time! But now the sun had decided on my behalf that the house needed to be cleaned. I definitely agreed that it was in dire need of attention. I had been feeling a bit under the weather and it showed. The windows were full of fingerprints and the walls full of smudges. There were dust bunnies in the corners and laundry all over the place. And so I started.

The children would ocassionally complain that there is nothing to do! To which I would reply that it is completely normal that life is boring at times. I had recently read an article of a well-known Finnish psychologist Jari Sinkkonen, who stated that it is healthy that children experience boredom at times. It is those times that induce them to become creative and practice creative and unstructured play. As a result of their boredom, the kids came up with the most interesting obstacle course of hurdles for hobby horses using kitchen string and soft drink bottles.

Grampa's blueberry muffins 3

In the midst of these partially gray days, I found a surprise in my inbox. I received an email from my Grampa and his Blueberry Sourcream Muffins. They were wonderfully delicious and easy. Our Isabella had two and started helping herself to a third while she still had just little bite left of the second. I think she was rather intrigued with the tulip-shaped paper forms. I used a full-fat sour cream, as the batter has no other source of fat. With a little fat, the muffins store really quite well for a couple of days, if you haven’t eaten them before then.

muffin batter

Grampa’s Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins

1 egg, beaten
2.2 dl/1 c (225 g/ 8 oz)sour cream
2 dl/just under 1 c sugar (160 g/5.5 oz)
4 dl/1 and 3/4 c flour (200g /7 oz) flour
1 scant teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2.2 dl/1 c (90 g/ 3 oz) roughly chopped walnuts
4.5 dl/2 c (200 g/7.5 oz)blueberries, fresh or frozen

Combine egg, sour cream and sugar. Mix the dry ingredients and combine with the flour mixture. Fold in the berries and nuts. Drop into well sprayed muffin tin or paper forms. Bakes at 200 C/ 400 F for 20 minutes or until a golden brown and a test skewer comes out clean.

The batter may be stored in the fridge.
making muffins collage Some of the windows have been washed, walls wiped, floors mopped and laundry gathered. Today as I look out the sun came out and warmed the air a bit and the birches are in their summer glory just across the gravel road and the flower seeds and bulbs I planted this spring are coming up.

Perhaps summer is on its way afterall!

Grampa Jim’s other recipes: Almond Braid, Fresh Fruit Tart , Steam Pudding, Gramma Reeni’s Rhubarb Tart, Cranberry Cake, Cranberry Scones and Banana Cream Pie

The Smell of Flowers in my Kitchen

by tableofcolors

Gone are the dark November days and the bitter cold of winter, summer has arrived. Everywhere I go there is the perfume of wild flowers that line the roads. The purple or pink Lupine are now in full bloom making the roadside ditches vibrant with color. This is the time to pick a bouquet of flowers; everyday if you wish.

gathering lupine

Soon we will celebrate birthdays as my oldest and my youngest are born when the Lupine blooms. And so in my kitchen is a bouquet of flowers and their smiling faces.

Silvia and Hugowildflowers 2On Mother’s Day I received a foodie gift from my husband. It was a little package that included all of the ingredients to make a batch of raw chocolate. Now that school is out and bedtimes are a bit more vague and mornings are a little more relaxed, I decided to try out my kit. making raw chocolateThe kit included goji berries, a little bottle of agave syrup, some cold-pressed coconut oil, and a package that included cold-pressed cocoa butter, lucuma powder, raw cocoa powder, maca powder, and Kalahari salt from South Africa. The Lucuma powder is a new ingredient for me and after doing a little research I found out it contains beta-carotene, iron, zinc, vitamin B3, calcium and protein. The Lucuma powder is also used as a natural sweetener as its flavor is similar to Maple. Maca powder is made from the Maca root and is also considered a super food and contains a complex of vitamin B, Calcium, Magnesium and vitamin C.

tasting raw chocolateWhenever I make something, especially if it involves chocolate, there is a line of eager taste-testers. Sometimes I try to show the “shhh” sign to the first one to realize the opportunity so that it does not become a mass occasion. Usually the effort is futile and so we take out the spoons and give everyone one scrape from the bowl to be fair. But today the line did not form as most of the kids were outside playing and Isabella was able to have the bowl to herself.

lazy summer daysBasically the process was simple. Without opening the jar of coconut oil, melt the oil in a hot water bath. Pour the melted coconut oil into a metal bowl and mix in the agave syrup. Next mix in the package with the cocoa powder and butter. Mix with a whisk over the hot water bath until melted and smooth. Add in the goji berries if desired. Pour into small forms and place into the refrigerator to set until firm. They have a slightly grainy texture that is typical to raw chocolate. Delicious with an afternoon cup of coffee.

raw chocolate with goji berryIn my kitchen and in my heart are memories from my recent trip. I brought back some of my Dad’s dried sour dough starter and have been making his bread. It tastes just like home.

bread collage2USA 2014 collageThis post is part of Celia’s In My Kitchen series for June. Check out her blog for a collection of posts from kitchens around the world.