Simple pleasures

Tag: children

Grampa’s Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins

by tableofcolors

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

jumping hurdles with hobby horses

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

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

Grampa's blueberry muffins 3

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

muffin batter

Grampa’s Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins

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

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

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

Perhaps summer is on its way afterall!

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


Lepuska Pizza: Something new out of something old

by tableofcolors

Exploring the old barn

Old houses contain many tales of the generations that have previously lived there. There may be many layers of paint on the wall or wallpaper to be uncovered and possibly a piece of furniture that no one has taken with them when they have moved away.

We had the opportunity to visit friends that live in an old house and have an old barn in the yard. It was so exciting for the kids, full of nooks and crannies to explore. The young family that is living there now have many plans to remodel and upkeep but not destroy the history behind the house. They have made a place for chickens in the barn and an open window through which they can freely go outside and walk around the yard. There is a little sheltered coop for the bunnies and out back the sheep call to let us know their presence.



The Lepuska Pizzas are similar in nature. Lepuska is a very traditional flatbread that is made out of potato and comes from Karelia. Every region of the world makes some version of flatbread. The ingredients may slightly vary and it may be called, tortilla, rieska, lefse, pita, tunnbrod, or Naan. I learned the recipe for lepuska from an old friend who is from the Karelian area of Finland. It is the perfect way to use left over mashed potatoes. Thus using the old in making something new.

Lepuska dough (makes about 17-18 lepuska flatbread)
7 dl/3 c mashed potatoes
1.5 dl/0.6 c flour
2 eggs
dash salt

Mix the ingredients together. Do not over mix.
Place generous scoops of the dough on a pan that has been lined with baking paper. Sprinkle a little flour on each on and pat it gently.

Bake in the oven at 200C/390F for about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the filling. Quickly saute 1 chopped onion, 2 stalks of celery, 1 garlic clove, and 50 g/ 2 oz finely chopped salami or pepperoni. Pour in one carton of crushed tomatoes (370 g/13 0z). Flavor with salt, pepper, basil, oregano and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Let simmer for a few minutes.

Grate 100 g/3.5 0z of cheese and crumble 50 g/1.8 oz of blue cheese.

Assembly of lepuska pizzas:
Place a generous tablespoon of sauce on each lepuska, a few crumbles of blue cheese and a generous pinch of grated cheese on each mini pizza. Bake in the oven for another 8-10 minutes so that the cheese has slight color.

Lepuska Pizza before going into the oven

Garnish the Lepuska Pizza with freshly chopped Basil.

Lepuska Pizza

Girls enjoying the ambience of the yard.

Observing the chickens