Simple pleasures

Tag: berry picking

In my Kitchen

by tableofcolors

Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial hosts a series every month called “In My Kitchen”. I thought I would participate this month and give you a little peek into my kitchen. Since it is October, it really is the end of the berry season. Lingonberries are the last of the berries, bright red and tart. My husband picked close to fifty liters of the little round berries this year.
Some of them we freeze. We collected empty milk cartons, washed them and dried them and reused them for freezing the berries. The cartons fit neatly in a row and are easy to stack in a chest freezer.
freezing lingonberries
The berries that are not frozen end up in juice. It was the perfect thing to do when the weather was rainy.
2013-09-21 12.38.24
In my kitchen can by found my favorite appliance. It was my graduation gift when I graduated with my Master’s and so it has some sentimental value as well. It is in use nearly everyday. In addition to being a trusty workhorse it is a design classic that never goes out of style. In my opinion.
kitchen aid
In my kitchen I have plenty of fingerprints.
tart crust
Of these little monkeys.
beautiful eyes
little monkeys
As I bake and cook, I can see the living room room from the kitchen since it is an open area, the heart of the house.
tart berries
In my kitchen is a collection of recipes. The following is from my Mother-in-law and it was my husband’s favorite as a child and as he grew up. It is called Pyhäpiirakka. Pyhä in Finnish means holy or in this case sabbath and piirakka could be translated as tart or pie. So this tart could be called “Sunday tart”. Possibly meant to be enjoyed on Sunday afternoon with coffee or tea.


300 g/10.5 oz softened butter
3 dl/1.3 c sugar
2 eggs
3 dl/1.3 c flour
3 dl/1.3 c whole wheat flour
dash salt

lingonberries, blueberries or berry of choice.

6 dl/2.6 c kermaviili(sour milk product) or Greek yoghurt
3 eggs
1.5 dl/0.6 c sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

Place the softened butter and sugar in your stand mixer and use the paddle attachment. Whip until light and fluffy. You may alternatively use an electric hand mixer. Add in one egg at a time, beating vigorously. Fold in the flours and salt. Scrape the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flouring your hands, pat the batter evenly. Sprinkle the berries over the crust.

Using a whisk, mix the ingredient for the filling just until it is smooth and pour over the berries. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes at 200 C/390 F. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

scenic fall2

From my kitchen I am able to observe the passing of seasons of the birch forest across the road.

Lingonberry tart


Queen’s Tart

by tableofcolors


The inspiration for this post came from a fellow blogger in Sweden and her tart that she made using blackberries. And my little two year-old Isabella and her love for berries was certainly an inspiration as well. My husband snapped these shots of her enjoying her berries at the cabin this summer.

bellas berries3

It’s a favorite past time of the children in the summer to take a long piece of Timothy-grass and slide raspberries and blueberries on it. After their little excursion they might enjoy them while sitting on the porch. I think the most important part of it is that they are their very own berries. Fresh berries always at their prime. But sadly blueberry season is coming to a close, even though I spotted quite a few on a walk yesterday evening. The recipe below can be easily made with frozen berries.

In Finland, when raspberries and blueberries are mixed and served together for example in jam it is called “Queen’s jam”. And so this tart that originally was a plum tart and has been made using blackberries has been now transformed into Queen’s tart.


Queen’s Tart (from the blog Leya, slightly altered)

Gluten-free version

This tart works great with fine grain gluten-free flour. I made a double batch of the recipe below and made a gluten-free version with 1/3 of the batter and regular with the rest. It turned out great and the difference in flavor was very minimal. When baking with gluten-free flour it is helpful to lower the oven temperature a little since the baked goods tend to get color a little faster.

Blueberries and raspberries so that the bottom of the tart pan is covered with two layers of berries.
1 and 1/2 dl/0.6 c sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp sugar
(1 tbsp potato or corn starch)
1 dl/0.4 c flour (or gluten-free flour)
1 tsp baking powder
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 dl/0.8 c whipped cream

Butter your tart pan. If using frozen berries mix with potato or corn starch and 4 teaspoons of sugar.


Whip the eggs with the 1.5 dl/0.6 cups of sugar until a light foam. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Whip your cream and fold it into the batter. Pour the batter over the berries and bake in the oven at 200 C/390 F for about 20 minutes. The original recipe called for a bake time of about 45 minutes but this is probably due to shape and depth of the tart pan. I used a wide (22 cm/8 and 1/2 inch) and shallow pan. Enjoy with vanilla sauce or ice cream.

queens tart

The World’s Best Pancake

by tableofcolors

In Finland I have come across many recipes that are titled “Maailman Paras Pannukakku” or the “The World’s Best Pancake” and in this case it refers to an oven-raised pancake. I have been searching over the course of the last six months for an oven-raised pancake recipe that could become my “World’s Best Pancake” recipe. I finally found it. And it works perfect with berries.
As I mentioned in a previous post we have quite a few containers left of last year’s berries in the freezer. Last year was also a very good year for the berries and this past Saturday, my husband and his friend and some of the kids spent a few hours in picking. They came back with over 100 liters (over 26 gallons) of blueberries. After cleaning the berries, comes my part in the berry project. (I get the easy part) I place the berries in containers or bags and put them in the freezer.
cleaning berries

This Oven-raised pancake recipe has a little cardamom in it which gives it a wonderful flavor. It also has a mix of barley flour and all-purpose flour. I have also in the absence of barley flour made it with either all wheat or substituted a bit of the barley flour with rye flour. The exact amounts can be found in parantheses below.

Worlds’ Best Oven-Raised Pancake (recipe is a slight variation of the Mylly Paras recipe and the original can be found here.)

1 l/4.2 c milk
4 eggs
3 dl/1.3 c all-purpose flour
2 dl/0.8 c barley flour
2-3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom (I usually put closer to 1 tbsp)
(1 tsp vanilla)
20 g/0.7 oz butter

(For the pancake with rye: 4 dl/1.7 c all-purpose flour and 1 dl/0.4 c rye flour)

Heat your oven to 200 C/390 F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet with sides. The one I use is 40×32 cm/15.7×12.6 inches. Cut the butter into little pieces and drop them on the parchment paper. Place the baking sheet with the parchment paper into the warming oven for a few minutes so that the butter has melted and remove.

Mix all of ingredients together and allow to rest while the oven heats up. Pour the batter on the parchment-paper lined sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes. Enjoy with lots of berries and possibly a little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
berries2Previous posts that use berries: Blueberry cheesecake , Mustikkakukko or a Finnish Deep-dish blueberry pie with rye crust , Strawberry Fruit Salad with Lemon and Ginger, smoothies

Picking berries, a national pastime

by tableofcolors

In Finland most people pick berries. If they don’t themselves, then most likely their parents, mother or father-in-law, an aunt or someone in the family does. When we were a newlywed couple, we would receive blueberries, lingonberries, red currants, juice made from black currants and apple sauce from our mother-in-law. They all went into our freezer and throughout the winter months we used these vitamin-rich treats.

In more recent years we have been picking our own berries. Or actually my husband picks our berries and cleans them and I just pour them into containers and freeze them. I get by way too easily.

Our family has two different types of berry picking excursions. One is the nature hike style where we happen to find some berries when we are walking in the woods. The kids use these berries for mustikkamaito, or blueberries eaten with milk and a little sprinkle of sugar.

Mustikkamaito or blueberries eaten with milk and a sprinkle of sugar

Dishes courtesy of Millan Putiikki, Lahti.

The second type is when my husband picks for the freezer. In other words it is not a trip of leisure. The reason why we have divided the berry-picking task in this manner is quite simple. He is fast and I am slow.

I have two theories for why I am so slow. I did not grow up with the berry picking tradition and have been slowly learning during the fast few years. In general, I am a fairly efficient person but there is something about the quiet of the woods that puts me into a meditative state. Maybe it is because I am a Mom of a fairly large family and in constant demand and when there is an occassion that nobody is requiring my service I start to relax causing my fingers to slow their pace.

Cleaning the blueberries is actually a fast procedure. We have purchased an apparatus that is attached to the table with a clamp. It basically is a long Y shaped tube with a funnel on the top. The other branch of the Y shaped tube is attached to the hose of the vacuum cleaner. The berries are poured through the funnel and the vacuum cleaner sucks all of the loose little debris among the blueberries. The cleaned berries fall through into the pail and are ready to be used or frozen.

The recipe below is a take on Blueberry Delight dessert that I would have at church lunches as a kid. This cake is more of a cheesecake and uses fresh or frozen blueberries instead of a canned pie filling. Maybe it is a more old-fashioned version from a time before Cool Whip.

Blueberry cheesecake

Blueberry Cheesecake

200 g/7 oz graham crackers or (about 12) digestive cookies crushed
50 g/1.8 oz melted butter
4 tbsp sugar

Mix the ingredients and pat firmly into a spring-form (20 cm/8 inches lined) with baking paper.

Cheesecake filling:

400g/14 oz cream cheese
4 eggs
2 dl/0.8 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract or sugar

Mix the filling with a whisk or electric mixer until smooth. Pour over the crust and bake at 175 C/350 F for 25 minutes. Turn down the temperature to 150 C/300 F and continue baking for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Blueberry topping

6 dl/2.5 c blueberries fresh or frozen
2 dl/0.8 c water
1 dl/0.4 c gelling sugar

Bring water to a boil. Mixing constantly add the gelling sugar. Take off heat as soon as the sugar mixture bubbles. Pour the berries on top of the cheesecake and spoon the sugar mixture evenly over the berries. Let set in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

Whip 2dl/0.8 cups heavy whipping cream. Garnish with softly whipped cream. Enjoy!