tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Category: Refined sugar free

A day for Fathers

by tableofcolors

The Birthplace

Here further up the mountain slope
Than there was every any hope,
My father built, enclosed a spring,
Strung chains of wall round everything,
Subdued the growth of earth to grass,
And brought our various lives to pass.
A dozen girls and boys we were.
The mountain seemed to like the stir,
And made of us a little while-
With always something in her smile.
Today she wouldn’t know our name.
(No girl’s, of course, has stayed the same.)
The mountain pushed us off her knees.
And now her lap is full of trees

-Robert Frost

Today in Finland we celebrate Father’s day. We celebrated the night before because our Dad had to work today. The weather has been really rainy but in the evening when darkness descends and the candles are lit, the grayness disappears and a soft light and coziness comes into the home.

father's day

our family
I just had to share this card made by our Marian. It was her Father’s day card and she had put so much effort into the detail, giving everyone their own expression and hair style that match real life.

november candles

The other week I attended a course for making ice cream at the dairy institue in Hämeenlinna. For four days we made ice cream, sorbet and sherbets. My absolute favorites were the classic, creamy ice creams and tangy sorbets vibrant with the flavors of the berries and fruits. Sherbets were a bit too sweet for me. I guess I prefer clear flavors.

tahini honey ice cream sauce

One of the ice creams that I made during the course was a rich vanilla ice cream with a tahini honey sauce. It was the perfect combination of sweet and savory, and the tahini brought a lovely nutty flavor to the ice cream. Inspiration for this recipe I found from Katie’s Butterlust blog. I tried her version of tahini ice cream at home and it was lovely. But since tahini is made with sesame seeds which is an allergen for some we were not allowed to make the ice cream at the course but I was able to mix in the tahini honey sauce after the ice cream was made. And so I had to become a bit creative and change the sauce recipe a bit to fit the purpose. The original recipe you may find here, and my version is below.

Tahini Honey Ice Cream Sauce

1.75 dl/ 3/4 c honey
1/2 dl / 1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c tahini paste (Make sure to stir the tahini before measuring as the oil often separates during storage)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
generous pinch of salt flakes to give little bursts of saltiness

Place the honey, heavy cream and tahini into a small, heavy bottomed pot. Cook until everything has melded together and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, vanilla extract and salt.

The the intention of the original recipe was that it would be a rich caramel that hardens a bit after cooling. This recipe is intended to have a thinner consistency so that it can be poured (once cooled) directly on the fresh ice cream and then frozen. It should remain somewhat soft even after it is frozen. That is why the cook time has been drastically reduced.

And since it is Father’s day, I thought it would be appropriate to return back a few weeks when we had 300,000 geese all gathered in Elimäki, about thirty minute drive from our place. My father-in-law is an avid nature photographer and he drove down for the day. I’m a complete novice when comparing experience and gear. But I think the experience was mutual. It felt like a natural wonder to have so many birds in one location. Like my father-in-law commented, the barnacle geese are partial to group hysterics. If one of them takes off, pretty soon the rest follow. The din was absolutely magnificent.

capturing the geese

elimäki geese immigration hanhien muutto

But now they are all gone as we have had a bit of snow and then rain again. It is the time of year to light candles. Happy Father’s day to all of you special dads!

mass immigration of geese elimäki hanhien suurmuuttoself portrait 3

Elimäki 181

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Barnacle geese

by tableofcolors

Past my kitchen window fly the Barnacle geese. It is an annual event. They come in the thousands, 100,000 in fact according to our bird watching neighbor. They honk and squawk and the sound is a magestic cacophony as they every once in a while all take flight at the same moment, circling overhead and then landing once again just one field over. They are gathering before they start migrating and once they leave the countryside becomes almost a bit too quiet. So I’m enjoying the noise, it means that we can still enjoy autumn.

Every time the kitchen window or the door in our dining area is opened we can hear the geese. They become a part of our lives for a week or two. And everytime I feel like I need to run to the fields to try capture them with my camera and on video. Sometimes the light is just right and other times I have been a bit unpatient and the photos come out unclear.

Last time I promised to share a Latvian inspired recipe. Since I’m seriously sensitive to caffeine I often opt for tea and quite often for herbal teas. While in Latvia, I often was served a tea made with fresh herbs. Once I realized this, I would often request such a tea and they would use what they had on hand in their kithchen. I decided to use the last of the black currants and the leaves of the black currant bush to make my own version at home. Earlier this summer I had received a lovely gift card to Marimekko and after some thought, I decided on a few Sukat Makkaralla glasses. All of our glassware are of the everyday kind from Ikea and really are quite perfect for a family full of children. But sometimes it is nice to set the table with the nicer dishes. These glasses will be for those special moments or everyday moments meant to be made special. And I just love them.

 

Black currant herbal tea

Gather a handful of black currant leaves. Wash and pat dry. Roughly chop them and place into a tea pot. Place a small handful of berries on top of the leaves and pour over a half liter or a pint of nearly boiling water. Allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes and sweeten as desired.

This post is a part of the In My Kitchen series hosted by the lovely Sherry from Sherry’s pickings.  Happy fall!

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

80 years young

by tableofcolors

When I was small, Gramma would occasionally make the grand-daughters dresses for Christmas and Easter. Usually the Christmas dress was made with a rich, dark velvet and the spring dress had a floral pattern and a white crocheted collar that could be removed and had a pearl for a button in the back of the neck. I remember sitting in Joann’s Fabrics, walking by the abundance of fabrics and touching the ones I liked. My mom and sister were along and we flipped through a large book full of possible patterns. We were shopping for the fabric and pattern for spring dresses. The fabric had rather large flowers on it and had a bit of weight to it, so that it kept it’s structure nicely. Her sewing room was on the ground floor of their home and while she sewed, the radio most likely was on playing softly in the background.

When we went to church on Easter Sunday, I felt like we were the luckiest girls. The dresses were always perfect. I still love a dress that fits well.

Gramma and Grampa have lived in several different houses and each home come with their own special memories. Gramma’s house has always been my happy place. It’s a place that I always feel so relaxed and at ease. I know that perhaps the big get-togethers with all of the cousins might not have been as relaxing for Gramma as they were us kids. But somehow she did manage to listen to us in the midst of all of the action. The cousins are now spread out across the US and Europe. Maybe someday we will organize a get-together and reminisce.

Gramma has always been my idol. When I grow up I want to be just like her. I think she is wonderfully graceful and intelligient and has a great sense of style. She has wit and a twinkle in her eye.  And together with Grampa they are always so interested in all of the ventures of their grandchildren, and to the delight of the younger generations they actively use social media. Seems like they are not so far away afterall, even if geographically they are across the Atlantic. I’ve been so fortunate to share this blogging journey with them.

This photo was taken sixteen years ago, almost to the day. I keep returning to it when I was going through some photos. Gramma and Grampa are standing by ready to help if needed but allowing us to spread our wings. I had just become a new mom, which has been my most life changing experience to date. Our first born was born in Finland and being quite young and perhaps not quite understanding that a baby may truly come two weeks after her due date, we bought tickets with great confidence for our little family to come to the States. Fortunately she was born two days before her due date and when the flight date arrived, she was exactly four weeks old. I wonder what would have happened had she arrived two weeks overdue! The baby might have been fine, but I didn’t realize that moms need to recover as well. I think I displayed my ingnorance at the birthing class. At the end of the class the midwife asked if anyone had any questions. Someone was concerned if the father would be able to actively participate in the birth. Others asked about bathing the baby or what to take with when leaving for the hospital. My question had to do with rollerblading. I loved rollerblading and I had not had a single chance to rollerblade that summer with my pregnant belly. I asked how soon after birth could I go rollerblading. I had naively thought that I would be on my blades in no time after coming home. I think the midwife had a hard time keeping a straight face and soon I was to realize what was in store. In spite of it all, four weeks later we nervously made our way on the plane and barely dared to breathe. We wondered if we would manage with our new little one. We shouldn’t have worried, the sound of the air conditioner lulled our little one to sleep.

Happy 80th birthday Gramma! Happy Anniversary to both of you, wishing you many more! If we were closer, we would make you brunch. Perhaps a smoothie bowl to share with the grands and great-grands?

 

Our garden has started to produce. This year we put a garden fabric over the kale seedlings as little critters seem to find them every spring. And it worked! Our whole planting box is full of vibrant kale. Along the side of the house where the kitchen is, there is a terrace that goes around one side of the house with planting boxes along the side. One box has herbs and a couple have summer flowers, but the ones in the middle have blueberry bushes and strawberries as a ground covering plant. We had to put nets over the strawberries at the birds really liked the strawberries.

Garden smoothie (makes two large serving or four smaller ones)

1 orange
1 lemon
2 cups of strawberries
1 cup of cherries, pitted
1 handful of blueberries
1 large leaf of kale
1 peeled piece of ginger (1.5 cm x 1.5 cm)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 heaping tsp maca powder

Squeeze the orange and lemon, trying to extract as much of the flesh of the fruit as possible along with the juice. Clean the strawberries and pit the cherries. Cut of the heavy steam of the kale and roughly chop into smaller pieces. Cut a square of ginger and peel the skin off. Cut the square into four smaller pieces and place all ingredients into the blender. Blend until smooth and pour into small bowls. Garnish with berries, nuts, muesli and puffed amaranth or add a layer of youghurt for a parfait. Enjoy!

 

We love you and miss you! ❤

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Five years ago

by tableofcolors

It is just a few days over five years ago that I started my blog. There are many reasons why I started writing. Perhaps one of the main reasons is that I am writing for my children. I don’t do the best job of keeping baby books. Although every once in a while I do get a few photos printed and my husband fills in the blanks better than I do.

boy and his fishing rod

Amongst the millions of people in the world, we all are connected to a larger chain. It is a chain that includes our forefathers from hundreds of years ago and the generations from a bit closer, our grandparents and our parents and finally our own children that will continue from where we left off. Not that I’m planning on leaving off any time soon. My dream has always been to live until very old. Perhaps I will be spry. I’m not sure if I would have a sharp tongue as it does not come so naturally to me. Some might think that I’m not firm enough with my children. But I have my ways, they usually do what I want them to do. But I have learned to become more direct and say what I mean and want. For this I can thank my husband. He has taught me that skill. We really do balance each other out. Afterall, the world is not full of mindreaders and really the worst that can happen when one goes asking is that someone says, No. And people rarely bite. Fish might though.

wilderness fishing

With all of the children home I have been trying to think of a variety of snacks that are  delicious, healthy and easy to make. We’ve even had some lovely warm weather even if  there have been cooler days tucked in between.

cherry berry nondairy popsicle

 

Cherry berry popsicle (dairy-free)

400 g/14 oz fresh strawberries of which 1/3 are set aside and sliced
250 g/9 oz fresh cherries of which 1/3 are set aside and sliced
small fistful of fresh mint (minced) of which 1/3 is set aside
400 g/14 oz coconut milk
1 tsp mint extract (optional)

Place all of the ingredients into a blender, except for the berries and mint that had been set aside. Blend until smooth. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and spoon into molds and freeze.

cherry berry

Not only do I write for my children, for them to someday look back at and find moments from their childhoods but also glimpses into the lives of their grandparents and great grandparents and great great grandparents, I also write for you my dear friends. I have met so many lovely people all the way from the other side of  the globe. Perhaps someday I will make my way to Australia and meet some of you. And really I also write for my family that live so far away across the Atlantic. Perhaps now you might get a glimpse and see the expressions in the faces of the children, see how they skip with joy and the posture of their back and the twinkle in their eye.

Below is a list of all-time most popular blog posts.

The number one most popular post that get searched time and time again is my Grampa’s Almond Braid recipe. Pulla is a traditional Finnish sweet bread that is enjoyed with coffee. Thank you Grampa for sharing ❤

 

Hundreds of Dewdrops greets the dawn but only one mother the wide world over

A blog post about Mother’s day and the delicious recipe for popovers.

 

In My Kitchen in the bleak midwinter. Photos of winter in the nordic, a glimpse into family history and a recipe for whole-grain bread with cherries and walnuts. Perfect for toasting on a cozy morning.

 

Following Elma’s footsteps. One in the many blog posts that follow the footsteps of a very colorful Aunt Elma living her life in the 1930s and making sourdough with starters from two very different parts of the globe. One starter is from Celia, the writer of Fig jam Lime cordial and the other is from my Dad.

 

Expat weekend has the recipe for a simple home-made slowcooker apple cider. Perfect recipe if you happen to have apple trees in your yard and an abundance of apple every fall.

Granola bar for solitary moments is blog post from my very early blogging days and has a luscious recipe for homemade granola bars. Perhaps I might just have to make them again from the kids on summer vacation. They would be perfect beach fare.

 

And last but not least, Jamie Oliver’s recipe for a simple sponge has been popular and it has been made over and over again at our house as it is so very versatile. Hope you enjoy!

In My Kitchen, March Sweetness

 

Happy Midsummer’s my dear friends from the land of the midnight sun!

anemone sylvestris

 

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

 

 

Hilja’s Letter

by tableofcolors

Today Finland turns 99 years old. The sun has been shining bright and it is cold. I can only imagine how cold it was during the Winter War, when Finland defended it’s independence from Russia, as it was an exceptionally cold winter and there certainly was a lack of luxury and comfort. Many foods were rationed and creativity was required to prepare meals. Some time back I received an email from my Grampa Jim. It was the letter addressed to Elma from her cousin Hilja from Finland, or that is how they speak of each other in some other texts. I thought today would be the perfect day to share it, as it gives insight into Finnish society and their ability to find a unity when it was needed most dearly. I find myself returning back to the letter and rereading it over and over again. It is so articulately written and intriguing. And her wise eyes that observed society around her and look directly at you from the photograph.

Hilja

Hilja the author of the letter to Elma (Grampa’s aunt)

History is so interesting, as it is the stories of people all intertangled. I fear that if these stories remain only in our memories, they are easily forgotten. I will tell you a little about Hilja. She was the foster mother of the late Einojuhani Rautavaara, a very well-known Finnish composer. In the letter Einojuhani is referred to Jukka, but Hilja says that they call him Eino now. It would be interesting to know if Hilja and Einojuhani are related. In my archives I have a photoPerhaps someday I will find that little detail. What I do know is that Hilja and Elma were very good friends, and I am amazed with her English. It would be so interesting to learn more about Hilja and her life. She tells a powerful story in her letter below.

Links for previous posts about the Anderson family and Aunt Elma can be found here:In my kitchen in the Bleak of the Midwinter, Elma, Following Elma’s footsteps, Keepsakes in my Kitchen, Easter Mummus, a Bobcat and our very own Wild Thing, Elma’s Travels, Some Mean Coffee, All the King’s Men, and Friendship in My Kitchen.

Elma Anderson and Einojuhani Rautavaara

Elma Anderson and Einojuhani Rautavaara

elma-s-letter

elma-s-letter-2

Hilja tells of President Kallio’s death, in the middle of a procession. It is possible to sense the unity of the people in a war-torn country and how they stood behind their leader who had shown the qualities of a true leader. I feel that sometimes we need to hit a low point in order to see what is important in building a new future for our children.

 You have read in the papers that President Kallio has been ill and he therefore had to retire. Already a new president was elected and everything was ready, and President Kallio was to travel out to the country to rest, when at the station just having bid farewell to his accompanying friends and government officials and representatives of Congress, a moment before stepping into the train, he fell dead in the arms of the Field Marshal Mannerheim who was walking at his side before the ranks of the armies of honor. He died a wonderful death, just at the crowning peak of his life. It is as if the Lord of life and death had willed all this in this remarkable way. Great multitudes of people were escorting him. It was just as though he died into the arms of his people. He was loved and respected, a noble-hearted man, whose heart last winter had to bear so much, and which now stopped beating at the moment when the Fatherland had already received a new leader, a new President.

                                                                                                                                                                       -Hilja

Today in my kitchen we celebrated the Finnish Independence day  with two lighted candles. The children made a traditional toffee fudge quite independently. They have grown so big that they prefer to bake without any help. The question that comes to mind is how to teach our children the value of our society today. The freedoms and priviledges we have. The equality, although never quite perfect as we are a society of humans and humans are not known for perfection, is still at a very advanced level. The privilege of education and personal safety. I am able to let my children freely bike and walk in the neighborhood. I would hope that our children would not take these rights and privileges for granted as many have paid a heavy price.

homemade-fudge

Toffee Fudge, recipe from the Children’s baking book Suomen Lasten Leivontakirja by Ulla Svensk

2 dl/ 1 c heavy whipping cream
2 dl/ 1 c caster sugar
1 dl/ 1/2 c brown sugar
3 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp butter
sprinkle of fleur de sel

Bring the cream, brown sugar, caster sugar and molasses to a boil. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 30-40 minutes, until it has thickened. Test if the mixture is done by dropping a small drop into a bowl of cold water. If it firms up, it is ready.

Add the butter to fudge and mix until incorporated. Pour the fudge into a small pan (15 cm x 15 cm) that is lined with parchment paper. Allow to cool in the refrigerator. Cut into squares and if preferred you may roll the squares into balls.

These make a pretty gift. Wrap the individual pieces of fudge into small pieces of cellophane and tie with string.

In my kitchen I have also been making treats that do not have refined sugar. The following recipe for raw chocolate is delicious. The original recipe I received from my friend Kaisa. As I did not have the recipe on me when out shopping I had to guess when buying ingredients and so my version is a bit different.

organic-raw-chocolate

Raw chocolate with nuts

You will need a set of molds for the chocolate.

2 dl/ 1 c organic cocoa mass
1 dl/ 1/2 dl coconut oil
1 dl/ 1/2 c raw cocoa powder
about 1 tbsp stevia
1 tsp mint or vanilla extract
assortment of nuts

Place the cocoa mass and coconut oil in a large bowl. Fill your sink with hot water and place the bowl in the sink. Melt the coconut oil and cocoa mass by stirring until it is all melted. By melting the cocoa mass in a hot water bath all of the nutrients are kept.

Stir in the cocoa powder, stevia and your choice of mint or vanilla extract. Place a few nuts in each mold if you wish. Spoon the melted chocolate mixture so that nuts are completely covered. Place in the refrigerator and allow to set. If you prefer, you may freeze your chocolate.

As it is Finland’s Independence day today, my kitchen has been filled with Finnish music.

Einjuhani Rautavaara is one of Finland’s contemporary composers. One of his most well known pieces is the Cantus Arcticus Op. 61 in which you may hear the audio landscape of the nordic and the calls of the wild birds.

This post is part of the In My Kitchen series that is currently hosted by the lovely Lizzy at her blog Good Things.

elma-s-letter-2elma-s-letter-2Tallenna

Tallenna

Memories and the most delicious Gluten-free Pumpkin Pie

by tableofcolors

worlds-best-gluten-free-refined-sugar-free-pumpkin-pie-3I have been a bit homesick lately. I wish I could go back in time and slip on the velvet dress Gramma made. And go to Gramma’s house for Sunday or maybe Thanksgiving dinner with the whole family. Cousins would be over and we would begin our holiday season with Christmas songs around the piano. Erica might have played the violin. I might have played the violin as well in later years after practicing a bit. Lisa would play the piano.

The house was split into three levels. There was a dark wooden round railing on the staircase going upstairs that curved at the bottom of the stairs. It was smooth and shiny and I would always run my fingers along it going to the third level. I’m not sure if I remember correctly, but I believe there was the wall of frowning ancestors in the staircase going up. It has always been interesting to think of their lives and how they differed from ours. I found this photo in my album, and sure enough the frowning ancestors were in the place that I had remembered.

family-photo-91Upstairs the guest room had a bed that was so high you had to really try climbing on top of it. The mattress was rather firm and there might have been cotton crocheted lace along the edge of the spread that was turned over near the head of the bed. I remember sleeping on the bed a few times when staying overnight at Gramma’s. I felt like a princess on the bed, and I think my brother must have been sleeping on the other side of the big double bed. There was something so exciting about sleeping over at Gramma’s that sometimes it took a little while for the sandman to come. I remember watching the shadows of the tree branches swaying. Perhaps it was the street light or the light of the moon that filtered into the room. It felt cozy and safe, Gramma and Grampa were just down the hall and the next thing I knew, it was the light of the sun filtering in the window bringing the new day. Gramma and Grampa were both in the kitchen by the time we made it downstairs. I don’t remember if I woke Pekka up or did he wake me. We sat in the back of the kitchen, where the table had its own niche in the bay window. We had Rice Krispies that crackled and popped quietly in our bowls, while WCCO played softly in the background. Maybe we had a piece of toast as well or a half of a muffin from the bakery.

eating-with-cousins-at-morgan-aveThe recipes below are made to share. The pumpkin pie is gluten-free and made using no refined sugar. It is absolutely delicious and will be going on my list of favorites. My recipe for homemade pumpkin purée can be found here.

gluten-free-refined-sugar-free-pumpkin-pie

Gluten-free and refined sugar free pumpkin pie

The pie crust recipe has been created by Erika from A Little Insanity blog and you can find it from this link.

The flour I used was a mix of white and dark gluten-free flour that had ground flax seed in it giving it a darker color.

Pumpkin pie filling (Refined sugar free)

5 dl/ 2 c pumpkin purée
2 eggs
1 and 1/2 dl/ 2/3 c coconut sugar or unrefined cane sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
2 dl/just under 1 c heavy cream

Follow the instructions for the pie crust as can be found in the link above. Roll out the pie crusts, place in pie tins and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes. Prebake at 200 C/400 F for about 10-12 minutes or until the crust has gained slight color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while preparing the filling.

Beat the eggs and coconut sugar until very thick. Mix the spices in with the pumpkin purée. Fold the pumpkin mixture into the egg batter. Using a spoon, add in the cream. Pour the filling into the pie tin and bake at 175 C/350 F for about 35-40 minutes. Test with a skewer.

Allow to cool and serve with whipped cream flavored gently with a bit of coconut sugar and cinnamon.

kurpitsalettuja-taikina

One weekend recently we had pumpkin for every meal. Pumpkin waffles, a DIY Pumpkin spice latte that was better thank Starbucks and Savory Pumpkin sauce over cooked barly. The kids did not complain and even our baby had some pumpkin purée.

Rosemary pumpkin sauce

I browsed a bit online and noticed that Martha Stewart had fried rosemary in olive oil. The rosemary gave my pumpkin sauce a beautiful flavor.

Fresh rosemary
olive or coconut oil

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil on a large frying pan. Place the fresh rosemary into the pan and fry for about 1-2 minutes or until the rosemary is turning a bit brown. These crispy bits will bring the flavor of your sauce to the next level.

Cook barley according to directions on the package. Season with organic vegetable stock.

5 dl/2 cups of pumpkin purée
1 clove of garlic
1 onion, finely chopped
apple vinegar
half and half or cream cheese
salt and pepper
water or barley cooking water

Remove the rosemary and set aside on a plate. Place the minced garlic and onion into the already hot pan. Add in the the pumpkin purée and stir. Since the pumpkin purée is already cooked this sauce is very quick. Add water or barley cooking water to thin the sauce a bit. If you prefer, you may add a splash of half and half or 50 g of cream cheese to bring some creaminess to the sauce.
Add the vinegar, salt and pepper. Check flavor.

Spoon sauce over the cooked barley and garnish with the fried rosemary.

rosemary-pumpkin-sauce

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