Simple pleasures

Tag: breakfast

Oh, Mr. Sun, Please shine down on me

by tableofcolors

The winter Sun in Finland tends to be a bit moody and even stubborn with a mind of his own. He will at times shine down in beautiful splendor turning the landscape into winter wonderland, but for the most part it stays hidden behind the clouds. Until Spring arrives. Come March, and the Sun starts making an appearance nearly daily, suggesting that soon the white landscape may turn into first brown and then into a spring green.

Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun
Mr. Golden Sun
Please shine down on me.
Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun
Mr. Golden Sun
Hiding behind a tree.
These little children are asking you,
To please come out so we can play with you.
Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun
Mr. Golden Sun,
Please shine down on me.

This song and first or second grade music class came to mind today when Mr. Sun finally made an appearance. The last time it appeared was a week ago on Saturday, just peeking for a bit from behind the clouds. The time before that, I could not even recall. Even though I have had some sort of a flu bug and my voice sounds like a bassoon I bundled up well and went out just for a bit with my camera in hand. Today has been a beautiful day. As I write, the sun is descending in the horizon like a bright orange ball of fire throwing up a reflection up into the sky somewhat like the reflection that it makes over the surface of a lake. There are hues of pink and purple in the sky lining the clouds.

snowy field

By no means, am I suggesting that you should become a mood-eater just because the sun does not shine, but with temperatures dipping today to a -9 C/15.8 F today the Cinnamon Roll Cake below seems like the perfect match with a cold winter day. This could be a celebratory cake since the sun did decide to come and play today. If you happen to have a case of the sniffles, it is even a more perfect match as you soak in the rays through the window.

cinnamon roll cakeCinnamon Roll Cake

This recipe is from my good friend Jess and we have both tweaked the recipe making it not so sweet. Even now, it has plenty of sweetness. The filling and glaze below is half of the original amount, so for a sweeter version double the filling and glaze.

4.7 dl/ 2 c flour
2.4 dl/ 1 c raw sugar/granulated sugar
(I used half raw sugar and half granulated sugar)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 dl/ 1 and 1/3 c sour cream or Greek yoghurt
150 g/ 5.3 oz softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract or sugar
3 eggs

Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls and then combine. Pour into a lined 23×33 cm or 9×13 inch pan.
cinnamon roll cake dollops
Cinnamon Swirl

85 g/3 oz softened butter
0.8 dl/ 1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients together. Place evenly dollops of the swirl filling on the batter. Use a knife to make swirls.
cinnamon swirls
Bake in the oven at 190 C/375 F for about 18 minutes or until a test skewer comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes. Make holes with a fork and add glaze.


2.4 dl/ 1 c powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or sugar

Drizzle and lightly spread over the cake.
bella in the winter sunSo glad that Mr. Sun decided to come out today.


The Mother’s Gift

by tableofcolors

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day! Motherhood is all about growth as a person. Little ones are good teachers about the simple pleasures in life. A peal of laughter, a burst of a song in the middle of the day. Rarely are adults as spontaneous expressing their feelings as freely.
Life isn’t all about the laughter and songs. Each child has their own challenges and needs. These little ones needs to be supported so that they don’t waver or break. Sometimes those challenges nearly break a Mother’s heart. We wish we could bear the pain, but each child must live their own life. We can only be nearby, to soothe, support and love.
Never does a Mother feel that her work is complete. No one Mother is like another, each has their strengths and weaknesses. I guess that there are really no rules to Motherhood other than unconditional love, even though society often sets standards to what a “good Mom” is. We’ll try our best with the skills and gifts we have.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the special Mother’s near and far!

“The Mother’s Gift”
by Cynthia I Rogers

The dreaming
The longing
The anticipation
The belonging

The plans
The preparations
The excitement
The wonder of creations

The approaching time
The gatherings
The closeness
The names of beings

The emotions
The hearts lift
The new beginning
The Mother’s Gift

This year Mother’s day is an exciting time in more ways than one. It is only a matter of days or weeks that we will be welcoming a new little person into our family.

Breakfast for the special Mother in your life
banana pann

The recipe is slightly adapted from Bernice’s blog, Realistic Cooking Ideas for Busy People.
Here is the link to this delicious recipe.

My recipe is a double batch, so for a smaller amount just make half of the recipe.

Whole Wheat Honey Banana Pecan Pancakes

5.9 dl/ 2 1/2 c whole wheat flour
5.9 dl/ 2 1/2 c flour
4 tsp. baking powder
4 tsp. baking soda
70 g/2.5 oz pecans chopped
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

4 eggs, whisked
4 bananas, mashed
4 cups milk
4 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla

Combine the dry ingredients. Combine the wet ingredients and mix with the dry ingredients. Fry on a medium heat griddle and serve with Maple syrup, sliced bananas, a hug and a few Pansies for your Mother.

Rise and Shine

by tableofcolors

I was quite sure we would still have snow on the first of May, but thankfully I was wrong. We had an exceptionally long winter with night time temperatures that really dipped and kept the scenery white. I went skiing for the last time about three weeks ago on the lake. The lakes are still frozen but I would not recommend venturing out on the ice anymore.

When the spring rains decided to arrive our snow disappeared in a week. The coltsfoot, which is our first wild flower to bloom in the spring, can be found along the sides of ditches. They rise out of the not-so-pretty brown landscape bringing the first little dots of yellow color. They are called “leskenlehti” in Finnish which means “widow’s leaf” if translated directly. The flower only blooms in early spring and for the rest of the summer the flower only has the green leaves.
I love receiving these little yellow bouquets of love. After the coltsfoot have bloomed I know that it will not be long before the crocus and tulips bloom.
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Each day has a new promise and is a new beginning. This homemade granola is the perfect occasional treat that does not have to be saved for a weekend brunch since it works well even if the morning is a bit hurried. Just make sure to make it the night before so that it is ready to to. This granola is not nearly as sweet as store bought versions. Store the granola in a paper bag.



6 dl/2.5 c large old fashioned oatmeal
50 g /1.8 oz butter cut into cubes
1/2 dl/ 0.2 c sugar
3 tbsp honey
100 g/3.5 oz mixed nuts, roughly chopped
(optional flax seed)
1/2 tsp salt

100 g /3.5 oz raisins
100 g/3.5 oz dried apricot cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 175 C/350 F. Line a pan with parchment paper and spread the oatmeal, sugar, nuts and salt evenly on the pan. Mix in the honey. Sprinkle the cubed butter evenly over the oatmeal mixture. Place into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or so that granola has acquired a nice golden color. Let slightly cool and add the raisin and apricots. Allow to cool completely before placing into a paper bag.

Enjoy with yoghurt or milk, berries and bananas.

pussy willows

Who Killed the Cow Part 2 and Whipped Lingonberry Porridge

by tableofcolors

The criticism that I have sometime heard about blogs is that they give an unrealistic view of life. The house is shiny clean, the food looks perfect and the kids have their ponytails just so. I agree. Often blogs do show what we might see as an ideal lifestyle. The main thing to realize is that photography is about capturing a split second in time. The photographer makes the decision to include and exclude certain elements. It might actually be that outside of the frame of the photo there is drawing paper spread all over the table and little pieces of cut up “confetti” when one of the little ones had spent a morning practicing their fine motor skills.

This post is the sequel to the post “Who Killed the Cow“. When we were growing up we would often say “Who killed the cow?” when the last cup of milk was taken from the carton. For the complete story click on the link. 🙂
I have from time to time taken photos capturing “real life.” Here are a few snap shots from those times and a recipe that works perfect for the days full of little surprises.
One morning when I came downstairs I found clementines all over the place. One of our kids had just learned to peel clementines and was practicing. My first thought was, “Oh, NO! What a mess and there went the entire kilo of clementines that I had bought the day before!” I really couldn’t get too mad, it was innocent exploration and finding the floor full of orange crescents isn’t the worst that could happen.
We would occasionally have this whipped lingonberry porridge as an after school snack when I was a kid. Since lingonberries were not readily available in the US, my Mom would use cranberries and they work just as well. The recipe is for a fairly large amount so feel free to halve it if preferred. When I make it, I will often serve it first warm to the little ones at home for lunch and when it has cooled I will whip it as a snack for the school kids.

Whipped lingonberry porridge
2 l/ 8.5 c water
8 dl/3.4 c lingonberries or cranberries
2 dl/ 0.8 c sugar
Bring the water, lingonberries and sugar to a boil. Allow to boil for about 10 minutes. Strain the berries and return juice to the pot. Whisk in 4 dl/1.7 c of Cream of wheat warm cereal to the juice. Allow to cook for about 7-10 minutes, whisking the cereal so that it does not stick to the bottom. Remove from heat and cover with a lid. Allow to rest for a few minutes. Serve warm with milk if desired.
For the whipped porridge, allow it to cool completely. When cool, whip it until it has become light and fluffy. Serve with milk or a dollop of cream.
Afterall there is a beauty in everyday life!

Tulips of Spring

by tableofcolors

Just a little over a month ago, the mornings were pitch black and I would have lanterns outside burning throughout the day and night. The hours of actual daylight were quite short and it sometimes seemed like it was challenging to take pictures. By the time everything was ready the light would be gone!

Although we have crisp and cold wintery weather, spring is clearly coming. The night has become shorter and when I awake each morning the sun is shining brightly. We have to actually close our miniblinds for the night to get some sleep, this was not the case a few months ago. As I walk downstairs, the light from the large windows softly highlight the tulips on the table. For me they are a symbol of spring and the promise of lengthening days.
cafe latte
Enjoying a latté in the quiet of the house is the perfect way to start a weekend morning. Everything is still and serene. Step outside to get the newspaper and the birds are singing. They have been quiet all winter. And if we got our weekly clean-up done, everything might be neat and tidy for a few hours. It pays to wake up early and enjoy the clean house while it lasts.
One by one they awake and make their way downstairs to find breakfast and a morning hug.

Smoothies (for two)

Gluten free

1 banana
3 dl/1.3 c plain yoghurt
2 dl/0.8 c berries of your choice (raspberries, blueberries, lingonberries, blackberries or strawberries)
a little honey

If you prefer add a handful of spinach, or a tablespoon or ground flax seed or wheat germ to the mix.

Place everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy immediately.

Fruitie (for two)

This recipe is both gluten and dairy free.

1 banana
1,5 dl/0.6 c orange juice
fruit (choose one of the following: 1 pealed and sliced pear, 10 slices of canned mango, 1 peach pealed and sliced, 6 large pieces of pineapple or 10 balls of honey dew or cantaloupe melon)
Blend until smooth and enjoy immediately. Canned fruit can be substituted if fresh is not on hand.


Outdoor fun on ski break and “fast food”

by tableofcolors

The kids are on ski break this week and we have been lucky to have perfect weather. During the day the temperatures have hovered at just below freezing and in the sun it has been much warmer. During the night the temperature has dipped enough to keep the skating rinks and ski trails in good condition. It is a sure sign of spring when sunglasses become a necessity and teenage boys drive their mopeds back and forth on the patches of road that have thawed.

We decided to try out a local skating trail that has been ploughed on a crook of the Kymijoki river. It is two kilometers long and was the perfect loop for the kids. I had my camera with and checked that the ISO and white balance were adjusted and even took a few test pictures. I slipped the camera back into its case and didn’t notice that when I took it back out to capture the movement of skating children and their expressions of enjoyment, I had nudged one adjustment off. It was not until I came home that I noticed that all of the photos were a washed-out white. I was left the photos I had taken with Instragram. I was a bit disapointed! But, the main thing was that we had a good time skating and breathing fresh air and enjoying the sun after the long dark winter. We even had hot chocolate in thermos bottles, sandwiches and pulla with. Eating snacks outside is always a highlight for the kids.
hot chocolate
Upon arriving home we needed a “fast food” that would not take too long to make. I decided on buckwheat pancakes with blueberries. The buckwheat and blueberries add a bit of nutrition to the batter. This batter is fairly thick. If you prefer a thinner pancake, add more milk. I made the batter milk free since one of our kids has been reacting to the milk. The dairy free alternative is in parentheses.

Pancakes with Buckwheat

7 dl / 3 c flour
2.3 dl/ 1 c buckwheat flour
6 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
50 g/ 2 oz butter melted (or oil)
4 eggs
5 1/2 dl / 2.3 c milk (or alternatively 2.5 dl Oatley oat cream +water for a total of 5 1/2 dl liquid)
1 dl/ 0.5 c sparking mineral water

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix. Add the milk, butter or oil, and eggs. Mix with a whisk until their are no large lumps. Add the mineral water and mix. Allow to stand at room temperature for a few minutes before frying on a hot griddle. If you prefer blueberry pancakes, sprinkle a few blueberries on each pancake while they are frying. Serve with additional blueberries and maple syrup.
blueberries and batter
pancakes frying

Breakfast at Gramma’s

by tableofcolors

When one lives so far away from close family and friends it is easy to become nostalgic about the “old country.” Occassionally my sister and I will reminisce about Breakfast at Gramma’s. In addition to being able to spend some quality time with Gramma and Grampa, I think a part of the appeal comes from non-hurried pace of the morning. It starts with a cup of coffee and checking the latest online news and newest facebook updates. Next we will have a bowl of whole grain cereal with blueberries, some sliced bananas and pecans. And then for dessert another cup of coffee, maybe a couple slices of oranges a popover or a scone. This all happens without glancing at the moving hands of the clock.

My usual morning starts at seven and is a process of waking up kids, fixing them breakfast and doing french braids and ponytails and hurrying them out the door. And while I wouldn’t change my current life for anything having breakfast at Gramma’s is special little mini vacation.

Grampa Jim sent me his Cranberry Walnut scone recipe and some photos to go with it. Enjoy them with a slow weekend breakfast or brunch and imagine that you are sitting at your Gramma’s house.

(Please excuse the variation in the font size…I tried all my tricks without being successful!)

cranberry scone

The simple recipe is:

225 g/9 0z flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

dry ingredients and butter
mix dry ingredients and then add
110 g/4 oz. butter (cold)
pea size pieces
cut the dry ingredients an butter into pea sized pieces. Add 2.4 dl/1 cup milk being careful to not over mix.
Next fold in 2.4 dl/1 cup cranberris and 1.8 dl/ 3/4 cups walnuts.
cranberries and walnuts

Divide unto a papered sheet and bake at 220 C/425 F for about 16 minutes.


Serve hot with apricot jam. If you happen to have left overs stick them in the freezer and warm them up another morning in the oven at 160 C/325 F. Enjoy!
baked scones

Banana Bread and Saturdays

by tableofcolors

Dear readers I apologize for the long break between posts. Sometimes in life too many things happen at once and one is forced to leave some things for later. I had one of those situations. I have been itching to post and am so happy to finally be able to. Below is the story of our Saturday a couple of weeks ago. Amongst our many rainy days this fall, this particular Saturday was sunny and crisp and shared with our friends. They live in a nostalgic setting that inspires me to photograph so of course I had my camera along. (Check out the earlier post from their home this past summer here.)

Traditionally in Finland, Saturdays are cleaning days. The rugs are brought out, the floors are vacuumed and mopped, fingerprints are removed and bathrooms washed. After everything gets cleaned up and put away, many families have “candy day” and each child gets a smaller or larger amount of candy depending on custom in that particular family. The sauna is warmed up and everyone gets scrubbed clean and relaxes. It is a nice way to start the new week with the house and kids being clean.

Rugs airing outside


Telling a story

After of day of work, fresh air and fun everyone has an appetite. A slice of warm banana bread, that is so simple to make and uses up those brown bananas on the table fits nicely into the busy day. The perfect companion to go with the banana bread is a glass of cold milk.

This recipe I found from bon appétit (link to the original recipe here).

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crumble Topping
(recipe by Alison Barakat, owner of Bakesale Betty bakery in Oakland, California.)

1.5 c/3.6 dl flour
1 cup + 2 tbsp/ 2.4 dl + 2 tblsp sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon divided
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c/ 2.4 dl mashed bananas (2 to 3 medium bananas)
2 eggs
1/2 c/1.2 dl oil
1/4 c/ 0.6 dl honey
1/4 c/ 0.6 dl water
2 1/2 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
(1/3 c/0.8 dl mini chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Butter and flour a 9x5x3 inch/23x13x8 cm metal baking pan. Mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the next five ingredients in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients; stir to blend. I found some mini chocolate chips while treasure hunting in my cupboard and added them as well. They are completely optional and not part of the original recipe!

Transfer batter to pan. Mix 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and brown sugar and sprinkle over batter. I only used half of the crumble, but I prefer things that are not quite as sweet.

Before going into the oven

Bake bread until tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool bread in pan for 30 minutes. Turn pan on its side; slide out bread, being careful not to dislodge topping. Turn bread right side up and cool completely. I must admit, I did not let it cool quite as long and so my slices are not are neat and are a bit crumbly.

Straight from the oven

Banana bread ready to eat

Who killed the Cow?

by tableofcolors

Who killed the cow?

Ever had one of these days? The milk gets spilled and someone makes creative art out of the puddle of milk.

No use crying over spilled milk!

When I was little, whenever someone took the last cup of milk from the carton, someone would be sure to say, “Who killed the cow?” If I remember correctly, I believe it was our Uncle Kevin who taught us the saying. I wonder if they still use the saying.

On some days the last cup of milk is spilled, the entryway is full of shoes, windows and mirrors are full of fingerprints and the kids have been very creative. On those days fast food is essential. Below is one option that is not only fast but healthy. And it was my Uncle Kevin who gave me few pointers to making an omelet when I was about fourteen years old. It has become a “fast food” staple in our house.

Does your entry ever look like this?


Fast Food: Omelets
Step 1: Pull out all of the vegetables in your fridge.


Step two: sauté the vegetables. Start with the vegetables that need a longer cooking time. When using spinach, parsley or other fresh herbs add them in last. Sauté the spinach and parsley for about thirty seconds to minute. This prevents them from becoming limp.

I usually start with the zucchini, onions, garlic, paprika, and cellery (occasionally turnips, which are wonderful sautéd).

Step 3: Set vegies aside

sautéed vegies

Step 4: I usually make a two egg omelet, which I divide into two for the kids. Mix two eggs and a tablespoon of water in a glass with a fork. Pour on to frying pan and cook on low heat. Add a spoonful of sautéed vegetables and a little grated cheese. Fold omelet into thirds.

Mix two eggs and a tablespoon of water with a fork.

Step 5: Serve with sautéed vegetables.

Omelet with sautéed vegetables

Lemon, Ginger and Strawberries

by tableofcolors

This fruit salad works wonderfully as a dessert or share it with friends at a potluck. It is light and is a myriad of flavor, thanks to the combination of the variety of fruits, lemon and ginger. Our strawberry season is almost over, so when I went grocery shopping a few days ago I felt the need to pick up a carton of strawberries. While frozen berries work great in many recipes they pale in comparison to a fresh sweet strawberry.

The lemon and ginger flavored home-made syrup is the secret to the flavor. Prepare syrup first.

Lemon and Ginger syrup
1.5 dl/0.6 cups water
3/4 dl/1/3 c demerara sugar
1.5 tbsp finely grated ginger
1/2 dl/0.2 c lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)

Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and allow to boil for about 5-8 minutes.
Let cool. Add the lemon juice and freshly grated ginger. Set aside while preparing the fruit salad.

grated ginger

Fruit salad:
1/2 Honeydew melon cut into bite-size pieces
3 nektarines cut into bite-size pieces
1 liter/ generous 4 c strawberries cut into fourths

Place cut fruit into a bowl and mix gently. Pour syrup on the fruit and allow to marinade in the refrigerator for one hour before serving.

Strawberry fruit salad with a lemon and ginger syrup dressing