tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Category: Breakfast

A Shooting Star

by tableofcolors

I’ve had a long break from blogging. Too long. All week I had been planning to write a post, but then I got caught up just being a Mom and before I knew it was ten pm and the day had flown by. Ten pm is a bit too late to start. I can easily spend four hours on a post, so I must start at eight or eight thirty to be done by midnight. But I am so excited to be back. My thoughts have kept straying to my blog and my fingers itch with the need to write. But now that so much time has passed I am having a hard time deciding where to start.

But first things first. First I will tell you why I haven’t blogged for so long. We had a lovely little coffee shop in Espoo which is a city right next to Helsinki. Basically it is all one metropolis. Our coffee shop, Cabana de Empanadas was in the new and sleek wing of the Iso Omena shopping center. The west end metro was supposed to open already last August but has been delayed and no one knows when it really will open. It is all wrapped up in political tape. That meant that we just didn’t have enough traffic walking by. Of course it is sad that our coffee shop did not become a success story. But I refuse to see it in only negative light. I have learned so much during these past two years, that I felt like I went through an intensive MBA program. And we did have many small successes during the past year. It really did not quench my thirst to become an entrepreneur, but it did give me many valuable lessons.

Ten Tips for a starting entrepreneur

  1. Select your Partners well. Roughly said, partnership is an intense relationship. Sometimes the road can be rocky. That is why it is important to share basic values about how business is done. It will make decision-making a bit easier.
  2. Location. Everyone talks about the importance of location. And it really is as important as how it is made out to be. We found out the hard way. Sometimes even 100 meters can make or break the deal.
  3. Building a team with momentum and energy. Surround yourself with people that have positive energy and 100% commitment. Skills can be taught but attitude is always harder to change.
  4. Share your story! Tell your story to your clients. Not only does it form a foundation for marketing, it helps convey your values and passion to your customer. In  the end, many companies offer excellent products and services but the ones that truly succeed have a passion that goes deeper than just creating a profit.
  5. Believe in your people and back them. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. It is better to act and make a mistake than to not do anything all together.
  6. Remember that start-ups play with a different set of rules and resources than big companies. They are not tied to all of the bureaucracy that big business is. Use it to your advantage.
  7. Build your network. I learned that small companies often work together.
  8. Commitment. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle. There really is no such thing as an overnight success. The public rarely sees everything that happens behind closed doors. The stumbles and falls and small successes sprinkled in between.
  9. There is no such thing as shortcuts in business. You will need to work hard and do all of the not-so-glamourous work and at times it will cause you to sweat. I can guarantee this to you.
  10. Balance your life. Share your business with your spouse even if they are not a partner. Remember that family ultimately is first, even if at times you and your family will have to make sacrifices.

During our business venture or as my husband called it, a shooting star, I had the opportunity to meet many lovely people that work their trade with passion. One such person was Vanessa Leskinen. Vanessa lives in Finland but is originally from France and is the author of the blog Chocolate & Quinoa. Her blog has a collection of gluten-free recipes made with a French twist. Vanessa made most of our gluten-free products and we often received positive feedback from customers.

I have made Vanessa’s Oatmeal & Coconut flour pancakes on several occasions and they are a favorite with our children. And since I have always loved a good pancake, I really can’t praise their fluffy texture enough.

The photo above is a bit Christmassy, and as you might notice we had no snow on the morning of Christmas day. I have so many delightful recipes ready and photographed. The pancakes above were served with an apple-raisin compote made by my neighbor.

Vanessa’s Oatmeal and Coconut Flour pancakes (gluten-free)

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

120 g gluten free oat flour (I did not have oat flour on hand, so I blended rolled oats in the blender until it became a coarse flour-like consistency)
30 g coconut flour
30 g cornstarch
3 eggs
100 g unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp coconut sugar
½ tsp baking soda
dash of sea salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
300 ml almond milk or oat milk
Coconut oil for cooking

Mix the dry ingredients in a larger bowl including the oat flour, coconut flour, cornstarch, coconut sugar, dash of sea salt and baking soda. In another smaller bowl mixt the wet ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Allow to rest for fifteen minutes.

Heat the frying pan to a medium heat and add a teaspoon of coconut oil to grease the surface. Using a ladle, pour a batter on the pan and allow to fry until bubbles have formed and the edges are slightly dry. Flip and fry on the other side for another minute or two. Enjoy with apple compote or maple syrup.

We have a cold spring this year. The weather changes it’s mind everyday five times. We might have sunshine, the kind that feels warm when it touches your skin and a half hour later it might be snowing. And then soon rain might come down in heavy drops. and before you know it, it the sun will shine with a bit of hail. The hay and grasses in the woods are still a bit yellow but inside we have spring greens seedlings. We were thinking to plant them outside this weekend, but it was too cold. But I am sure that eventually, summer will come. And I can’t wait to tell you all about our new plans. Life goes on and new opportunities arise even if Cabana de Empanadas was a shooting star.

Happy Mother’s Day lovely ladies…these pancakes would be just perfect for breakfast in bed.  😉

 

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Christmas comes whether you are ready or not

by tableofcolors

Four days before Christmas the children were all home and full of anticipation and excitement. It was the kind of excitement that warms your heart and makes you want to pull your hair out of your head, all at the same time. I remember when I was that age, and here I was thirty years later creating Christmas for my family. But it four days before Christmas Eve according to the advent calendar and I had not done any Christmas baking or food preparation. Actually I didn’t really start until the day of.

My husband had started though. He butchered, cured and roasted our ham. I had work related things that needed to be completed so that I could take a few complete days off. And then there was the Christmas cleaning. I know that there really is no requirement to clean cupboards for Christmas, afterall no one spends the holidays in the cupboards, but there were a few things that I really wanted to get done. Some of the things had been waiting for months to be done. Christmas is just a natural deadline and I was happy that we got a few things accomplished. I wanted to visit a couple of elderly ladies a few days before, that have a special place in my heart. And you know what, we got everything done and had plenty to eat even if we didn’t start until the day of. But I can’t take all of the credit as everyone helped out and some of kids are getting so old that I can delegate them tasks and trust that they get them done in a thorough manner.

gingerbread-for-breakfast-collage

I knew that Christmas Eve would be long day and full of new and old tradition. I decided that I would eat my breakfast in peace before starting. As I took out a jar of freshly made apple and raisin compote to eat with plain yoghurt, received as a gift from a friend, our three year-old Hugo requested a gingerbread cookie. I gave my permission. It was Christmas.

We had our traditional rice porridge with prune sauce for lunch. Dinner would not be until quite late.

christmas-eve

At best we had fourteen around the table. I think that is one of the most delightful things that we all look forward to, Christmas guests. The children start asking in September if we have invited our guests and if they might have replied. And they remember to ask me often. With such a large crowd, making a larger quantities is the best decision. This means that there will be leftovers to be used for future meals. In Finland, Christmas is celebrated for three days. Christmas Eve is the highlight with Christmas sauna sometime during the day, dinner and Santa Claus. And in our family we serve Christmas coffee late in the evening. Children are able to stay up and play with their new toys and put on their new pajamas. The following days follow a similar pattern but are more relaxed. It is very typical in our family to serve coffee and treats at nine or ten o’clock in the evening. On the morning of the 26th, we still had about a liter of left over rice porridge. I decided that it would be the perfect base for a persimon and orange pudding. Perhaps this new tradition will be something to do again next year.

persimon-and-orange-rice-pudding

Rice pudding with Persimon and Orange

1 liter / 2 pints cold rice porridge (See below for the rice porridge recipe using a slow cooker)

5 dl/1 pint heavy whipping cream

2 tsp vanilla sugar

2-3 tbsp agave or to taste

1 ripe persimon, peeled and cubed

1-2 orange, peeled and cubed

Whip the cream until a stiff foam is formed. Fold in the cold rice porridge. Flavor with the vanilla sugar and agave. Mix in the cubed persiom and orange, saving a few to use as garnish.

Slow cooker Rice porridge

This makes a large quantity, enough for eight generous servings. If preferred you half the quantity.

5 dl/2 c pearl rice

2,5 liters/2,5 quarts of water

3 dl /1 1/4 c heavy cream

2-3 tsp salt

Spray the slow cooker with non-stick spray. This makes for easier clean-up. Place the rice in the pot and pour the water over it. Set the slow cooker on low for 2.5-3 hours. It is done when the rice is tender and there is just a bit of water remaining. It should not be dry in any case. The rice will continue to absorb water even after the cook time is complete. Add the cream and season with salt. It is ready to serve immediately if you wish or you may adjust the setting so that the pot just keeps the food warm and serve within a couple of hours.

rice-pudding

Earlier in December I tried a dairy-free chia pudding that could be made as an alternative festive dessert or snack. Don’t you love the little glass bowls I found on an facebook fleamarket from a local gal. The set of two bowls cost only a euro and they have been in use everyday! The kids love to use them if they wake up before anyone else for a “fancy breakfast”.

chia-pudding

Chia pudding

0,6 dl/ 1/4 c chia seeds

1 can (4 dl/2 c) coconut milk

4 dl/2 c water

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp agave syrup

Place all of the ingredients in a bowl or glass jar. Cover and place in the refrigerator over night. Enjoy the next day with a garnish of ripe persimon and walnuts.

joulupukki

Happy Holidays to all of you, my dear readers.

seven-lovelies

 

 

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

 

November Light

by tableofcolors

The day before yesterday, the kitchen was full of little people. Everyone wanted to participate in some way and I was needing to use my imagination in creating cake-making jobs of equal importance. Equality was the theme of the day. One of the kids remembered who had made most of the Mother’s day cake and in her opinion it would be unfair if this wrong was to be repeated again. Diplomacy skills were in need and of course a bit of organization. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she became a human right’s lawyer.

father's day breakfastIn November my kitchen is full of soft light that quickly disappears in the afternoons and yesterday we had a Father’s day breakfast that supposed to be prepared quietly but in fact, but due to the excitement the children didn’t always remember to be so quiet. Erik asked at one point if he could go wake up Bella, as she would prefer to sleep in every morning, just pulling the blanket a little higher and requesting for just another little cat nap before getting up for the day. He crept upstairs, and climbed to the top bunk to wake her up. She must have not protested this particular morning as soon I heard a giant thump and a scramble as they were probably racing to see who reached the stairs first. But they did creep down the stairs again, to try not wake up Isi this morning.

isänpäiväHe probably was awake when we finally made our way upstairs with our tray of breakfast and a song, but he did his best to pretend to be asleep so that the children could wake him up. Happy Father’s day! You are so very important to us ❤

making no-bake mango cheesecake

Lemon-Mango No-bake Cheesecake (to be made the day before serving)

Crust
about 14-16 digestive cookies or 12-13 graham crackers, crushed
50 g/1.8 oz butter, melted
3 tbsp sugar

Filling

2 dl/1 generous cup of heavy whipping cream
400 g/14 oz marscapone cheese
500 g/17.5 oz quark
1 dl/ 1/2 c sugar
Juice of 1 large lemon
2-3 tbsp lemon curd
zest of one lemon
five gelatin leaves

(boiling water to dissolve the gelatin leaves with)

mango topping
250 g/9 oz puréed mango
1 gelatin leaf

mango no-bake cheesecakeThe Father’s day cake had to be simple enough for the kid’s to make by themselves with a little help and guidance. This cake is easy.

Place the gelatin leaves into a bowl full of cold water to soak for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile crush the graham crackers or cookies and line a 10 inch spring-form with baking paper on the bottom. Place the cookie crumbs in the lined form along with the sugar and melted butter, stir to combine and them pat down using the bottom of a glass to form a crust. Next whip the heavy whipping cream until thick and fold in the marscapone cheese, quark, sugar, lemon juice and zest and lemon curd. Taste and add sugar if you prefer a sweeter tart.

Boil water in a teapot or saucepan and while it is coming to boil, remove five of the gelatin leaves from the cold water. Squeeze the gelatin leaves to remove excess water and place in a very small dish. Pour in just enough boiling water to dissolve the leaves and fold in the hot gelatin mixture with the filling. Pour the cake filling on the prepared cookie crumb crust and smooth the top.

Take the last gelatin leaf and squeeze it free of excess water. Repeat as done above with the boiling water, making sure not to use too much water. Mix the gelatin mix with the puréed mango and spread over the cheesecake filling. Refrigerate.

father's day breakfast 2Father’s day breakfast menu: Popovers, one filled with a dab of butter, Maasdam cheese, lettuce and tomato and other filled with a dab of butter and cloudberry preserves. Blueberry smoothie with kale, mango cheesecake and the coffee was freshly ground Kaffa Roastery’s Indian Monsoon Malabar Barista Blend.

While the children where making the no-bake cheesecake, I decided to roast my two pumpkins I had on hand. One was of the Hokkaido variety, which I tried out for the first time. The pulp was much more denser in comparison to my other pumpkin. The other pumpkin had served double duty as a decoration waiting to be oven-roasted, drained and then puréed. They will become our Thanksgiving and Christmas pumpkin pies.

I noticed that the one pumpkin was filled with little holes made with pen or pencil one morning. I asked the kids, who might have made little holes into my pumpkin? Our two-year old Hugo heard the question, walked over and proudly showed me with swinging motions of his arms of how he had made the holes into the pumpkin. He doesn’t speak much yet, but he understands everything and manages quite swell with a few words, expressions and impressive sign language that he has made up himself. His smile was so wide and his bright blue eyes shone. How could I be mad. Afterall they were going to be roasted and the outer skin was going to be discarded anyways. Recipe for making homemade pumpkin purée can be found here.

roasting pumpkinsroasted pumpkinMy kitchen in November is full of yellows and oranges, candlelight to light the dark mornings and evenings and the soft light from outside. Sometimes the outside light is a shade of gray as it was today and sometimes it too, has golden hues and bright blues.

morning sunNovember morning sun from our dining room window. Happy November!

 

This In My Kitchen post is part of Celia’s monthly series hosted on Fig Jam Lime Cordial, providing links to kitchens around the world.

Little Angel

by tableofcolors

little angel

This weekend Halloween is here, but in many cultures in different areas of the world, All Saints’ Day and the Day of the Dead is celebrated. It is a day of remembrance of our loved ones who have passed before us. Even in Finland, traditional Halloween as known in the United States, has made its way into mainstream culture. Schools host Halloween parties and yesterday I had meeting in Helsinki and I had to quick come up with a costume plan for the party-goers, long-distance. We happened to have some cheap, white curtain fabric from Ikea that had sat in my cupboard for about 11 years, never serving the purpose they had been intended for. And so my husband used it to make the kids into mummies. Cheap, effiencient and I got another space in my cupboard cleaned out.

 

syysusva

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

excerpt from the poem, For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Tomorrow the stores will all be closed and so I just returned home from a quick last minute run to the grocery. The lines were long. I suppose everyone else had the same idea as well. As I drove to the grocery store that is close by, I drove by the large white church surrounded by cemetary. It was already dark and so the whole church yard twinkled with the lights of hundreds of candles. Such a calming sight.

As I was driving, the news was playing on the radio. We have had a very different October weather-wise. Traditionally in Finland, October and November are quite dreary and it might rain and the sky might be gray for weeks on end. Or that is how it feels. We have had more sunshine this month than ever has been previously recorded. Of course in between the sunny days there have been a few misty ones as well. Along with the coming of fall, it has felt good to eat and drink things that hold a bit of sunshine and are full of vitamins to help make it through the darkest time of year.

green smoothiesGreen smoothies for two

juice of two oranges
juice of one lemon
3 cm/1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into smaller pieces
1 or 2 leaves of kale, with the stems removed and ripped into bunches
1 banana
ice

(for a change in color, add some blueberries (frozen or fresh) to the mix above)

Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy immediately.
kale smoothieenjoying green smoothies

little angel 2May your weekend be peaceful and may the angels accompany you.

I Heard your Voice in the Wind today -unkown

I heard your voice in the wind today
and I turned to see your face;
The warmth of the wind caressed me
as I stood silently in place.

I felt your touch in the sun today
as its warmth filled the sky;
I closed my eyes for your embrace
and my spirit soared high.

I saw your eyes in the window pane
as I watched the falling rain;
It seemed as each raindrop fell
it quietly said your name.

I held you close in my heart today
it made me feel complete;
You may have died…but you are not gone
you will always be a part of me.

As long as the sun shines…
the wind blows…
the rain falls…
You will live on inside of me forever
for that is all my heart knows.

little angels 3

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.

Hiking the Swedish Nordic Fell in the Summer

by tableofcolors

I’ve had a  small hiatus from blogging, but am happier than ever to be back. Sometimes life hands little surprises and although they might be positive in nature, they have the tendency to stir the pot and mix everything up. The natural rythym of bedtimes and wake-up times have returned, even for the teenager, as school has now started. Although I love the freedom of summer vacation from school, by the end I am looking forward for to school to start and for that natural rythym to begin.

2015-07-21 09.20.15We made it back from our hiking trip to northern Sweden and Norway. To me it seems like almost every Finn I have talked to, have at some point in their life gone on an hiking expedition in the very north. Some hike trails and others rely on the compass and enter the wilderness where there is no visible sign of people nearby. We opted for the wilderness as my husband has a lot of experience trekking in unmarked territory and for him, hiking along trails is not quite the true wilderness experience. We drove to Arjeplog, Sweden and left our car on a patch of gravel, off the road and out of anyone’s way. The drive was about twelve hours from our house, and once arriving it was nice to get out and get some exercise. The weather was not real promising and at times we felt a few drops as we changed our clothes and gathered our gear.

wetlands and rivers swedish laplandI have been hiking in the Nordic Fell once before on a winter hunting trip, but this was completely different because there was no snow, or actually hardly any snow covering the landscape. The landscape from far looks like it is gently rolling as shrubs and trees cover the remains of the last ice age: large moss covered boulders and in between are the valleys full of wetlands that feel like a spongy waterbed to walk on.

snow in the summer

waterfalls in swedish laplandI was surprised to see so many waterfalls and hear bubbling and gurgling water at almost all times. The water is so clean that we would just take our kuksa, a cup carved out of wood, and scoop a cupful whenever we seemed thirsty. Usually the creeks and waterfalls might not be rushing at such full force in July, but as with the rest of Scandinavia, spring had arrived late this year and some of these waters were meltwaters from the previous winter.

fisherman and stern fairy

gear

tunturipuri marsh creekSometimes in the middle of a marsh, connecting to a pond was a small creek. Mind your step, as the sides were steep and they can easily be a couple of meters deep of clear water.

bed of rocksI often wondered as we walked about the landscape of sound during the end of the ice age as the giant glaciers moved, moving huge amounts of boulders into one pile or how the top of the Nordic fell is gently littered with rocks, as if they had been just randomly dropped, one here and another there. Our original plan was to set up camp and climb to a peak of about 1800 meters with a lighter day pack. Since the weather did not quite favor us we shortened our hike a bit and carried all of our stuff and decided to climb to 1000+ meters instead.

climbing the nordic fellgnarled tree

In between the peaks and patches of rocky beds, there might be a meadow full of blooming flowers to be discovered. It seems as if nature is in a hurry in the very north as the summer is so very short, especially this summer.

meadow flowers in lapland

After a two day hike and one night in the Swedish wilderness, we decided to go see if the sun was shining on the other side of the Scandinavian mountains. And it was.

norwayThe flowers of the cloudberries had just withered and they were forming berries. Some years and with a warmer summer, we might have had cloudberries to pick and pop into our mouths as we hiked. The recipe below is for a berry smoothie, on top of which I sprinkled a few cloudberries I had in the freezer. If you might have cloudberries on hand, I would suggest to not blend them in the blender as they have a raspberry like seed, although a bit bigger and it is more pleasant to eat the berry whole rather than having a smoothie full of pieces of the shell of the seed.

smoothie collage

Berry smoothie with kale

 

1 dl/ 1/2 c strawberries
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c black currants
1 large leaf of kale with the steam removed and ripped into large pieces
juice of 1/2 lemon
2.5 dl/ 1 and 1/4 c plain yoghurt

If using fresh berries, add a few ice cubes into the blender to make the smoothie cold. Blend until smooth and serve in a glass. Garnish with cloudberries.
*for a dairy-free version replace the youghurt with orange juice. You may also substitute other berries that you might have on hand. We had ready-to-pick strawberries in our own patch and ripe black currants in the bush and so this time that is what ended up in the smoothie.

In my next post, I will bring you to Norway. As a preview and a little sample of what is to come, here is a video I put together of our trip.

The Magic of Midsummers

by tableofcolors

We haven’t had any typical summer weather yet this year. We haven’t gone swimming yet once as the wind has been strong and temperature quite cool and nearly everyday we have had some showers. But the weather has been perfect for the fairies. I doubt they fly if it is too hot and the air still.

keskikesän taika keijujenmaaMidsummers is upon us and since it has rained a bit in the early evening the ground is moist. As the day comes to a close, the sky clears and a magical misty fog rolls in. It moves gently and from far away the top of it curls and then uncurls again. But it is impossible to capture on camera, because as you approach it, the details that can be seen from farther away vanish. Just like the fairies that fly on midsummers and rest occasionally on the flowers that all seem to bloom just in time for this day.

foggy landscape

As you might imagine, the children had been asking what our plans are for St. John’s or midsummers. We really didn’t have any plans and or even the energy to plan a trip somewhere as we had just got our Daddy back. Over the past 11 months, he would be gone during the weeks and sometimes a couple of weeks in a row. Maybe the kids weren’t tired, but the adults were. I thought perhaps we could think of something low-key just at home with our family. The idea originally came from a friend. I had thought many times that it would be fun to do with our family as well and so I presented the idea on Thursday. A hotel breakfast. It would give everyone something to do in spite of the rain and cool weather.

hotelli aamiainen suuret herkkusuut collageThe day before I made the florentine base. I was inspired by this BBC good food recipe but along the way it changed so much that the end product barely represented the original.

Gluten-free florentines with coconut, dried blueberry and apricot

 

120 g/4.2 oz demerara sugar
20 g/just under 1 oz brown sugar
100 g/3.5 oz clear honey
200 g/7 oz butter
150 g/5.3 oz rounghly chopped mixed nuts (some may be chopped finer and others may remain a little larger)
100 g/3.5 oz dessicated coconut
4 tbsp (35 g/1.2 oz) gluten-free flour
25 g/just under 1 oz dried blueberries
45 g/1.5 oz dried apricot finely chopped

Measure the sugars, honey and butter into a medium size sauce pan and melt until the sugar is dissolved. In a separate bowl mix coconut, gluten-free flour and dried blueberries and apricots. The original recipe used sliced glacé cherries and almonds. Mix the dry mixture into the melted sugar and butter mixture stir until combined. Spread the florentine batter on a baking sheet that is lined with grease-proof parchment paper and has small sides.

Bake at 180 C/350 F for about 10 minutes or until a rich golden brown. If I was remake these I would reduce the bake time by a minute as mine got a bit dark, so keep an eye on your batch as every oven is different.

florentine baseAfter the base is baked and cooled, flip unto another pan and remove the paper. Melt about 200 g/7 oz dark chocolate and in a separate bowl melt about 100 g/3.5 oz white chocolate. Spread the dark chocolate over the cooled florentine base. Drop dollops of white chocolate on the dark base and proceed to make a marble pattern of your choice.

strawberry goat cheese florentine collageAllow the chocolate to set. Take a cookie cutter and cut out simple shapes. Cookie cutters with small corners such as stars do not work nearly as well.

Cream and Goat Cheese filling
2 dl/ 1 c heavy whipping cream
50 g/1.8 oz soft spreadable goat cheese (cream cheese style)
sugar to taste

Whip the cream until thick. Mix in the goat cheese and mix until combined. Do not overmix. Add sugar to taste. Spoon a spoonful of goat cheese mixture on each florentine and garnish with fresh strawberries.

juhannus päivän aamiainenrieskanäkkäri ja kananmuna aioli 2Spelt and Barley thin crisps with Egg aioli with mushroom and Kale (I used a local thin bread from a bakery just down the road, Leipomo J Martin)
200 g/7 oz mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
10 free-range eggs
1/2 onion
60 g/2 oz celery, finely chopped (about two thin stalks)
rosemary
oregano
a few leaves of fresh basil and chives chopped
25 g/1 oz roughly chopped kale, fresh or frozen
salt and pepper to taste

100 g/3.5 oz- 150 g/5.3 oz aioli
mushroom egg bake kananmuna sieni paistosChop the vegetables and herbs and set aside for a minute. Whisk the eggs and combine with the vegetables and herbs. Add the salt and pepper.  Bake at 160 C/320 F for about 30-32 minutes. Allow to cool until lukewarm. Break up the baked eggs with a fork and mix in the aioli. Serve with crisp bread of your choices. Garnish with fresh herbs and leaves of baby kale.

breakfast brunch collagesuuret herkkusuut hotel breakfastjuhannus auringlasku sunset on midsummersHappy Midsummers and Happy Father’s day! ❤

Some Mean Coffee

by tableofcolors

When Elma was on her tour of Finland, she visited Stockholm for short while crossing the Gulf of Bothnia by ship. Elma is my Great-great-Aunt, and I have been sharing bits and pieces of her travels and her writing. The ferry over is still the typical way to travel from Finland to Sweden, but last week we decided to fly with my sister Kaija, who is currently on her tour of Europe. Taking the ship across takes the whole day or night, depending when you leave and we felt we just didn’t have that extra time. In addition, plane tickets were actually less expensive.

tukholman matkaWhen Elma had been on the ship, she had ordered “Kalt Watten” at dinner but the waitress did not understand and brought mineral water.

I requested normal water and one gentleman came to help. He interpreted and asked if I would like drinking water and I answered, “Of course, I do not wish to bathe.” She then brought me water, but it was not cold. This man was a Swedish journalist, who had been in Finland writing about the Lapua movement (which was a radical nationalist and anti-communist movement and was banned after a failed coup-d’état in 1932.) He praised Finland but was happy to get away. Although he had visited Finland many times, he felt they were brusque. I told him that the Finns were the best, the most honest, solemn and as deep feeling as can be, but that for their own protection they have a hard shell into which they escape. But once you break the shell and win their trust, you will have a friend for life. He laughed and said that I have been sold to my own nationality, but did admit that what I said was true. A nut is sweet to eat if your teeth do not first break biting into the shell.

gamla stan

Elma did not write of what she might have seen in Stockholm, as it seemed like she was in a hurry to get back to Finland. She only had a couple more days after returning before her boat to America was scheduled to leave. And so I will share something of what we saw and experienced.

kings castleIt had been years since I had been in Stockholm last, 17 to be exact. We were with a group of teenagers focused more on having a jolly time instead of actually enjoying the city. I remember that some of us tried to make guard at the Royal Palace smile or lose composure. I think that we did not succeed very well. This time I just took photos like all well-behaved tourists.

kungsträdgården cherry blossoms kings garden

Just the beginning of the cherry blossoms in Kungsträdgården, The King’s Garden

Before our trip, I sent Marissa from Miss Marzipan a note asking her for suggestions of where we should go. I received a whole list of wonderful suggestions. We only made it through some of them, giving a good excuse to plan a new trip in the future. I could imagine that my older girls would absolutely love the Drottningholm castle and gardens and everything there is to see. Perhaps we will make a mother-daughter trip there sometime, as Stockholm is really quite accesible from Finland.

airbnb södermalmKaija had reserved us a room through airbnb, which is a service on the internet that people may rent out rooms from their home or even an entire flat. This time we had a room and our host Siwa, made us feel so welcome and comfortable in her cozy apartment right in the heart of Södermalm. I really like the vibe in Södermalm which is full of old building built in the 1700s. We saw parks full of moms giving their babies a ride in the swings and lots of dads pushing their little ones in perhaps Emmaljunga prams. I saw several nice looking second hand shops and we stopped in one. I really liked the fact that they had made an effort to organize the used clothing by color. Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed at the flea market when everything seems to be in one giant unorganized pile, that I almost do not know where to start looking. I suppose that is a skill that some just naturally acquire and others have to practice.

RödaKorset Hornsgatan 54

RödaKorset Hornsgatan 54

In all truth, we didn’t really shop at all, but at one point we needed directions to the pharmacy and so we decided to stop in a shoe store that almost seemed like it was calling our name. It became an expensive way to find the way to the pharmacy as we both left with contemporary wooden clogs, made in Sweden. And I love them.

Miss Marzipan suggested that we check out some of the local coffee shops and much to our delight a couple of them were situated not far from our home away from home in Södermalm. The following places serve up wonderful coffee. Loved the window seats at Johan och Nyström’s. It’s the perfect way to people watch and check out whats going on in the street. One benefit of traveling outside of traditional tourist season is that you are able to observe everyday life as people come and go to work, spend time with their families and run errands.

Just as we were getting up to leave from Johan och Nyström’s an older gentleman biked up to the window. His bike had a dog bed in front of the handlebars and his dog sat in it all well behaved. He lifted his dog down and soon they were inside ordering a cup of coffee.

Drop Coffee Roasters Wollmar Yxskullsgatan 10

Drop Coffee Roasters Wollmar Yxskullsgatan 10

Drop Coffee Roasters is just a stone’s throw away from Johan och Nyström’s and is a place that would be perfect for a little meeting or for doing work outside of the office. There were several rooms and nooks and crannies. That is the beauty of old buildings. They are comfortable and have a charm that newer buildings just don’t seem to have.

Mean Coffee Vasagatan 38

Mean Coffee Vasagatan 38

Normally I do not drink coffee since I am so sensitive to caffeine, but I made an exception on this trip. I had a cup at Mean Coffee and Johan och Nyström’s. The flavor was smooth and tasted wonderful since I rarely am able to have such a treat. At Drop Coffee I had their ginger tea, made from real ginger and tasted quite similar to the ginger tea I have been making. It was the perfect thing to have after having caffeine. Mean Coffee is situated in the downtown area and is small but well designed. Everything is proportionate so it felt comfortable. The menu was quite simple, but effort had been put into the quality. For example they had two different smoothie options instead of six. I had their avocado spinach smoothie and it was lovely. And they do serve a cup of Mean coffee. Go try it, I promise you’ll like it.

Brandstationen Hornsgatan Vintage Shop

Brandstationen Hornsgatan Vintage Shop

evening sunset and the trains

Easter Mummus, a Bobcat and our very own Wild Thing

by tableofcolors

It seems to me that children have always loved dressing up as someone that they are not. I remember as a kid that whenever I dressed up, I was transported in my imagination and play into another time period and another place. Often play was significantly inspired by the books we read and often we would play Little House on the Prairie. This past weekend on Palm Sunday was the day when children all around Finland dress up as little Easter Mummus or bunnies or, like in our case since we didn’t have any bunny costumes, we had one Bobcat and one Wild Thing. Earlier in the week the kids had decorated pussy willows  that they brought to neighbors in exchange for a small chocolate egg or treat. They recite a poem that wishes the people of the house fresh and well wishes for the year to come.

Easter mummusAccording to Wikipedia, the tradition of Virvonta, originated from Orthodox Eastern Finland. The decorated pussy willows would be brought to the church the day before to be blessed and symbolized the palm branches that were used to greet Jesus as he rode the donkey into Jerusalem. The tradition of virvonta has spread across the country and there are slight variations in different areas. In some areas the children are called trolls that drive away bad spirits. Basically they are all dressed the same with rosy cheeks and freckles and colorful mismatched clothes and scarves.

virvonta oksatI was looking through the old photos of Elma and concluded that certainly children liked dressing up back then as well. Elma had, as I have understood, made costumes for the kids. The kids are my Grampa Jim’s siblings, Reino and Margaret. I wonder what they might have played back then. They look a little chilly just as my kids do, as there is snow in the background.

Margaret and Reino in  Finn costumesAlthough Margaret and Reino are now much older, I think they look almost the same. Perhaps it is the eyes or the shape of face, but I think that there is a small child in all of us that never really ages.

Andersons

Andersons having fun. Elma, top row on the left

On her trip to Finland, Elma visited the Eastern part and Viipuri or Vyborg which today is a part of Russia. She said that Finland had a tradition of asking all sorts of questions from the two women travelers when they wold check into a hotel. Sometimes the questionnaires would be two pages long. She reckoned that it was a remnant of border control practices that were used during the war between Finland and Russia. registering in hotels Elmas letters

“Name and address, where are you going and where are you coming from?” “rank?” I said that I do not have a rank (in society) “Well what do you do?” “Oh–what kind of work do I do?” That was easy to answer to. “Age” At first we would diligently write our age, but when we realized that they did not check our answers, we just wrote down an age that we felt like and one that we thought we could get by with. When you have lived for half a century in one place, where everyone knows everything about us, we didn’t want to carry all of our past from home with us and so we became younger and younger as our trip went on.

Perhaps it was the little child in her, that giggled silently, bubbling in her chest trying to make its way out when she had written 27 in the age box, although some telltale signs of gray could be seen. I giggled too, but not silently and when I told my neighbor about it we had a good laugh.

tasting 2It could be entirely possible that she might have tasted these rahkapulla as I believe they have originated from Eastern Finland. Then again maybe not, since they are traditionally made for Easter but some home bakers will make them year round. I think she would have enjoyed them as much as our Isabella did.

Rahkapulla

Make a double batch of pulla dough that can be found in the link here.
Once the pulla dough has proved, lightly flour the counter and pour the dough onto the floured surface. Knead it a bit and divide it into 6 parts. Roll out each of the six parts into thick rods and divide that into 6 parts. Roll the small pieces of dough so that they forms small balls. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow to rise. Meanwhile make the rahka filling.

500 g/17.5 ounces quark or alternatively a thick Greek or Turkish yoghurt that has been drained could be used
2 eggs
1/2 dl/just under 1/4 c heavy cream
1 dl/ 1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
zest of one lemon

Gently whisk the ingredients for the filling until combined.

After the pulla has proved, sprinkle with a little sugar and take a glass or cup and press it into each round pulla to make an indentation. Brush round edges of each pulla with eggwash. It is easier to do this at this stage. Spoon a generous tablespoon and a half into each indentation. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 200 C/390 F.

making rahkapullaMay you have a Happy Easter.

cutting easter grass