tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: Christmas

Christmas is coming in my Kitchen

by tableofcolors

On top of our wood buring oven is a pile of chocolate advent calendars and each morning the children open another window in the calendar and savor their piece of chocolate. Our two-year old had shaken his calendar at the store with so much vigor that most of his chocolates have dropped out of their allocated spots and are sitting at the bottom of the calendar causing it to bulge. He just wouldn’t give it up and insisted on holding it all the way to the register. I didn’t feel like arguing over such a minor detail. In the end, it probably does not really matter to him if the chocolates are not all in their places as long as he gets one everyday. It is countdown to Christmas, and everyday the children ask if we will be putting up a new decoration or Christmas light or perhaps do a little Christmas baking.

making christmas ornamentsThis year we decide to make ornaments out of salt dough for the teachers. First of all, almost all kids love playing with dough and so this was the perfect way to let them become involved. Our two-year old sat at the table perfectly entertained for probably an hour shaping his own piece of dough. Other than a bit of effort, these ornaments are easy on the pocketbook and you can let your imagination run.

Salt dough

3 dl/1 and 1/3 c flour
1 dl/ 1/2 c salt
1.5 dl/ 3/4 c water

Mix all the ingredients and allow to rest for a bit wrapped under cling film. Gently sprinkle the counter top with flour and using a rolling pin an cookie cutters make different shapes. We used clean letter stamps for the words and a dinner knife to cut around them. Remember to make a hole through which a piece of string or twine may be later pulled through for hanging.

Bake at 100 C/210 F for a couple of hours. A couple of days later we painted ours white with acrylic paint that had been thinned with a bit of water. Spray paint might be even easier for an even and thin coat of paint.

The idea for these came from a Finnish women’s magazine Kotivinkki, but the original Finnish recipe that I used can be found here. The internet is full of salt dough recipes, some that have a bit of oil and some that do not. I noticed that best results are had when the oven is not too hot.

christmas ornaments made with salt dough

christmas ornaments made with salt dough 2During the past few months we have had a facebook group in the Kouvola area that organizes that local food producers are able to sell their products directly to the consumer, similar to a farmer’s market. It takes place about twice a month. So far we have tried out an ostrich egg, which really peaked the interest of the children. The past time I bought different kinds of flour from a local mill with the intention to do a bit of holiday baking.

raussilan myllyn jauhotpiparitalkoot making gingerbreadHere is the recipe for my classic gingerbread cookies. Next time I will share a recipe for rye gingerbread cookies that have a bit of almond flour in them. Definitely delicious!

I would like to share a bit of the sounds of my kitchen. Yesterday was the 150th birthday of the Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius. The other week we visited a Jean Sibelius recital put on by young music students. The children and youth were all dressed in the time period and represented children of Jean Sibelius and their various cousins. Their teacher played the part of Aino Sibelius, wife of Jean and told little historical stories along with photos and between each bit one of the children would perform a short piece by Sibelius.

 

terveisiä ainolasta

And what was even better was that the children have started recognizing the music of Sibelius when it is played on the radio. They might come up and say, “I think this is Sibelius.” The following piece is one of their favorites.

This post is a part of Celia’s In My Kitchen series that she hosts every month. Be sure to drop by her blog for a reference list of bloggers all around the world and their kitchens.

 

Memories of times passed

by

The children were all up today earlier than I was. It must be the anticipation and excitement as tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I remember when I was little my stomach almost hurt on Christmas Eve because of the excitement and my appetite was not at it’s best. Christmas is a time of memories of times spent together as a family and of making new memories for our little ones. On Thanksgiving I called my Grampa Jim and Gramma Darlene. I know that they have gathered pictures and studied the family history on both sides. Grampa has been sending me some photos along with some of their stories. In 2015, I would like to share some of these photos and stories with you along with recipes that have been an inspiration.

Grandma AggieI remember Great Grandma Aggie as a smiling white-haired lady with a quick wit. I remember sampling white chocolate truffles in her little apartment as a little girl around Christmas time, and if I remember correctly she preferred white chocolate. From the left is my great uncle Reino, great aunt Ellen, my grandfather Jim and my great aunt Margaret. This is what reading a storybook looks like in our house as well. Everyone likes to listen to the storybooks, even the babies. Some things never change.

gingerbread icecream moldI have been in a time pinch lately even though I have made the effort to take everything extra off the calendar. Not everything can be taken off the calendar as there are always doctor and dentist appointments and events at the schools that are important for both children and parents. The children had their last day of school this past Saturday. Two of them had Christmas church with their whole school and one had a Christmas program at school. We divided the parents and kids as we had to be in two different destinations at 8.30 am. But now we have slipped into our vacation schedule with no effort. We stay up a little later doing things together. Yesterday the kids decorated the tree. It might not look like something from an interior design magazine as the kids had been making ornaments at home and school during the past few weeks, but it has been decorated with love.

filling the moldOur dessert for our Christmas Eve dinner had been lacking inspiration. Due to the time pinch, it had to simple yet delicious and preferably something that could be done before hand to make things more relaxed on Christmas Eve. I happened upon this recipe on a Finnish blog called Heavenly bakings. It was the perfect recipe for my situation. as it couldn’t be easier and the result was both spectacular and not overly sweet. The traditional Finnish Christmas dinner with the carrot, rutabega, beetroot and potato casserole is quite heavy and so having a little slice of homemade gingerbread icecream seemed inviting.

gingerbread icecreamGingerbread Ice cream

 

4 dl/1.7 c heavy whipping cream
1 can (397 g/304 mk) sweetened condensed milk
8 small gingerbread to be placed on the bottom of the bundt pan
16 cookies roughly chopped/crushed, divided into two (8 cookies make about a generous 1 dl / 1/2 c of cookie crumbs)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
7 smaller cookies for garnish on the sides

Using cling film, line the small bundt pan and place the small gingerbread cookies on the bottom of the pan. Whip the cream until thick and fold in the sweetened condensed milk along with the cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Mix in half of the cookies crumbs setting the other half aside.

Spoon the cream mixture into the bundt pan until about 1/3 full. Next add one half of the cookie crumbs that had been set aside. Spoon in more of the cream mixture and then sprinkle the rest of the cookies crumbs. Add the rest of the cream mixture and stick the last cookies along the side in a vertical position.

Place in the freezer for several hours or overnight. Before serving flip over onto a serving plate and remove cling film. Drizzle with caramel sauce.

gingerbread icecream and caramel sauceWishing you a blessed holiday season. Merry Christmas!

holiday card 3gingerbread icecream and caramel sauce 2

Eighteen days until Christmas

by tableofcolors

There are eighteen days until Christmas if you ask the Finnish kids and if you ask the American kids there are still nineteen days. Today in the kids’ entryway where the calendar is on the wall, there was a little spat between two of the girls. One claimed that there are eighteen days and the other nineteen days. Both were right, it just depends how one counts the days.

huuteinen peltoYesterday the field was tousled like a messy mop of blond hair. Today in the morning it was covered with a heavy layer of wet snow. It was cold enough that it made everything look white. This is what our children have been waiting for. When it is dark before four in the afternoon they often come and complain that there is nothing to do. Perhaps it was the lack of fresh air that instigated the spat in the entryway. It all changes with a little snow and head lamps. They can easily be outside for hours and come inside with rosy cheeks and in much better spirits. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the snow stays.

Finnish flag and independence day

Today is the 97th independence day of Finland. Peace arrived in the mid of winter. Last night at our literature club we discussed the well-known novel, The Unknown Soldier (Tuntematon Sotilas) by Väinö Linna. I received a copy of the English translation of the book at the young age of eighteen from my honey. Now after living here in Finland for almost fifteen years I am glad to be reading it again. I have come to learn how society has been shaped by it’s history. The book tells the experience of war in a rather truthful unglorified manner. All of the stress, fear and feelings can be sensed. My almost six year old in the picture above has been asking me recently why we have wars. One day we were discussing the Ukranian situation with kids, when my eight year old asked me why Russia needs to be so greedy. Difficult questions to answer. I understand the need for the armed forces as their primary task is to protect and defend and in all truth, soldiers are probably the last ones to actually want a war. Always in wars someones gets hurt and families become split and it is a sure test of the human spirit. Below are two links to the Finnish song, “Veteran’s Evening Call”. The first is accompanied by a slideshow of photos from the Finnish wars. The second youtube link is of the same song, but is sung by a compilation of men’s choirs of which many of them are eldery and there are many war veterans standing in the front rows. Almost all of the rest standing behind the veterans are children of veterans. Jorma Hynninen is the solist and their powerful memories of the war is transmitted to younger generations. They are passing down history in the age-old tradition of singing. I think the performance is very powerful.

Traditionally on the Finnish independence day two candles are placed at the windows. The exact origin of the tradition is not known but according to wikipedia, the burning of two candles was used on the February 2nd to commemorate the Finnish poet Runeberg as an action against Russification. The two candles in the window was also used in 1915-1918 to designate safe-houses when Finnish jaeger soldiers secretly made their way from Finland in to Sweden and continued their way into Germany to receive training. It seems as if the two candles in the window are a symbol of independence.

 

In my previous post I promised a recipe for a gluten-free no-bake pumpkin cake in just a few days. It has been more than a few days now but I promise that I have not been sitting lazily on the sofa. In fact it has been quite exciting. I have been creating a new blog that I will be writing in Finnish called, Jenkki mutsi maalla. Jenkki in Finnish is a slang term for American and it probably derives from the word Yankee. Mutsi is slang for mom and maalla means countryside. In other words the name means, Yankee Mom in the Country. I will be working with Kluuvikadun Coffee Roastery and Leipomo J. Martin which is a bakery. I will definitely continue tableofcolors and the intention is that they will not be copies of each other. They may occasionally have the same recipes and perhaps sometimes even the same story but they will live lives of their own.

gluten free pumpkin cake

This cake was originally made for the reception of my friend, Kaisa Peni and the debut of her Christmas recording, Ihme. In my previous post is a sample of her singing. If you click on her name it will bring you to her website. For the English version click on the English tag on her website. It could make the perfect Christmas present for someone special that enjoys peaceful music.

 

Gluten-free Pumpkin Cake (no-bake)
150 g/5.3 oz gluten free gingerbread cookies (I used one package of Semper gluten-free cookies)

Crust

One half of the package of cookies is for the crust and the other half is mixed into the filling
25 g/just under an ounce of melted butter
1 tbsp sugar

Filling

2 dl/1 c whipping cream
2 dl/1 c quark (or other sour dairy product)
1 and 1/2 dl/ 2/3 c pumpkin purée
0.6 dl/ 1/4 c sugar
0.6 dl/ 1/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of cloves and ginger
3 gelatin leaves
1/2 package of gluten-free gingerbread cookies (set aside one or two for garnish)
1/2 dl/ 1/3 c boiling water

Line one 15 cm/6 inch springform with parchment paper. Melt the butter and crush the gluten-free gingerbread cookies and divide into two. Place one half of the crushed cookies into the lined springform. Melt the butter and mix with the crushed cookies in the spring form. Add sugar and mix. Pat firmly to form the crust. Set aside.

Place the gelatin leaves into a bowl with cool water. Allow to soak for about 10 minutes. Make the filling meanwhile.

For the filling whip the cream and then add the quark. Next fold in the pumpkin purée, sugars, the other half of crushed cookies, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Next boil the water. Remove the gelatin leaves from the cool water bath and gently squeeze excess water away. Place in a small cup. Pour the boiling water over the gelatin leaves and mix until melted. Pour in a stream into the cream and quark mixture mixing continuously until incorporated. Pour the mixture into the springform and cover with cling film and place into the refrigerator or freezer for a quicker set. Allow to set in the refrigerator for about four hours or in the freezer for an hour.

Ganache

1 dl/just under 1/2 c of whipping cream
160 g/5.6 oz quality dark chocolate

Bring the cream to boil in the microwave. Add the roughly chopped dark chocolate to the hot cream and stir until smooth. Remove the springform place cake on a rack. Pour the ganache over the cake. Garnish with a gluten-free cookie or two. Enjoy!

The joy of Christmas

by tableofcolors

Not long before Christmas we had two storms and rain. The landscape was not white like it often is during this time of year. When we went on a little walk down to the beach, many of the large trees that sway in the wind during our summer excursions had fallen. This was the landscape on Christmas.

winter storm CollageInside there was a contagious excitement only children know how to spread. The sparkling eyes and smiling faces shined, as soon joulupukki or Santa Claus would be arriving.

christmas elfchristmas treeBut before he arrives, there is Christmas dinner and for some reason the appetites are not always the best on Christmas. The night before the salted ham was put in the wood fired oven after the fire had died down and the coals pushed aside. The 7 kilo/15.5 pound ham was in the oven for about eight hours. It is allowed to cool and it is served cold with the Christmas casseroles.

wood ovenchristmas hamLast year I shared recipes for the rutabaga and carrot casserole. The casserole or laatikko tradition is a little different in each family but one thing that is similar is that most are made from root vegetables. Carrots, potato and rutabaga are probably the most common but many families also serve a beetroot casserole and some even make their liver casserole. While these casseroles are traditionally Christmas food in Finland they can be frozen unbaked and served later during the cold winter months as a side.

beetroot laatikko

Beetroot casserole

three beetroots, boil peeled beetroots until tender so a fork can be inserted.

3 onion minced very fine
2 dl/1 cup cream
100 g/3.5 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1 dl/ 1/2 c Greek or Turkish yoghurt
salt
black pepper
beetroot with onion and blue cheeseGrate the cooked beetroot and mix in a bowl with minced onion and crumbled blue cheese. Add all of the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined. Spoon into one large casserole dish or several small ones and bake at 200 C/390 F for a half hour or bake at 160 C/320 F for one hour. I made three small casseroles with this amount.

Christmas Collage

Six nights until Christmas Eve

by tableofcolors

There is not too many days left in the countdown. The mornings are dark and I find that an extra hour of sleep would feel nice but the children get up easily when they know that it is their turn to peek into the advent calendar. Of course the older children do not believe in Santa Claus and elves anymore and the middle kids waver in between. They would like to believe but yet at the same time they have picked up on the fact that magical creatures live in the world of storybooks. Our four almost five year-old who told me that “Elves are magical creatures” also told me once that, “they are just normal people dressed up as elves” when I said the elves might be watching. I had been quite exasperated with him that day. Take that, Mom!

advent calendarBut no hard feelings. He is also the kid that will come give me a hug or rub my shoulders if he thinks I am tired.

2013-12-17 11.17.46-2Little by little the holiday preparations are done. Some of them are done together like baking gingerbread and some are done by the elves late at night. The household is full of little mysteries and even the littlest ones wrap toys into blankets and bring me gifts. With bright shining eyes they wait for you to open their gifts of love and your exclamation of delight.

The date cake is perfect for the days of waiting. You may eat it on its own with a morning cup of coffee, or if surprise guests walk in the door, it can be easily dressed up with a dollop of equal parts of whipped cream and Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of caramel. My mother would make date cake when I was still living at home and it is a favorite. This recipe is slightly altered from the one found in the book, Hyvää Ruokahalua, kotikokin parhaat leivontaohjeet, edited by Anna-Maija Tanttu. It is the kind of recipe that needs no special equipment: a bowl, a pot, a wooden spoon and a bundt pan.

date cake

Date Cake

250 g/8.8 oz chopped and pitted dates

3 dl/1.3 c water
200 g/7 oz soft butter
2 dl/1 c sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 dl/1.7 c flour

Place the chopped dates and water into a medium sized saucepan or pot and allow to boil for about 4-5 minutes so that it thickens just a bit. Take off from the heat and stir in the soft butter. Add the sugar and vanilla next. Then add in the eggs mixing them in well with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Pour the warm date mixture into the bowl and combine with the flour. Pour into a greased and floured (I like to use wheat germ or wheat bran for the flouring) bundt pan and bake in the oven at 175 C/350 F for about 40 minutes or so that a test skewer comes clean when inserted in the middle. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before flipping the cake over onto a plate. The flavor of the cake improves with time, if it lasts that long and freezes wonderfully.

mixing the batter

For the cream dollop, mix equal parts of whipped cream and Greek or Turkish yoghurt and sugar to taste. Drizzle with caramel sauce.

laila wuollet uljasphotograph by Noah Photography

Hoping your holiday season is a peaceful and festive one.

Christmas 2013

After dinner Pavlovas

by tableofcolors

Today has been a baking day since the rainy, wet weather did not entice me to go outside. Our road and driveway had turned into a literal skating rink and the kids did go boot-skating and came in very wet. Yesterday when I went on a little stroll for fresh air I had to be extra careful to not fall. The three kilometer little loop went fine but just as I was taking the shortcut to the door across the yard, I stepped on a patch of ice hidden under the snow. Down I went. No broken bones, perhaps a little bruise on my knee. Nothing serious. The picture of the branches below is from a week ago. So quickly the landscape changes.

2013-12-08 14.13.37-2And since the weather was dreary, we baked. We baked gingerbread, and made gingerbread trees, caramel sauce and made these dainty little pavlovas. Holiday dinners are usually so filling. The traditional Finnish dinner that we have on Christmas Eve is no different. It includes a salted ham that is baked on the hearth overnight and casseroles made from root vegetables. I had been flipping through a Pirkka magazine the previous week and found this recipe that served as my inspiration. The servings are intended to just give a little sweet flavor to end the meal since Christmas coffee with its abundance of treats is served later in the evening.

mini pavlovaMeringues

makes about 18  (6 cm/2.5 inch meringues)

4 egg whites

2 dl/0.8 c sugar

Beat your egg whites until a light foam and start adding the sugar in little by little. Continue beating until it is firm enough that it will not fall out of the bowl if you turn it upside down. By the time all of the sugar is added, it will be quite glossy.

2013-12-16 12.17.08

Scoop the meringue into a pastry bag and and make little nests by starting in the center and working your way around creating a round shape. Finish by adding one extra layer on the outer edge to create the nest.

2013-12-16 12.23.50Bake in a preheated oven at 125 C/250 F for about one hour. Allow to cool. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container. Sprinkle the bottom of the container with cornstarch to absorb any moisture.

Filling

Equal parts of whipped cream and marscapone cheese, quark or Greek yoghurt (about 2 dl/1 c of each will probably be sufficient)

Sugar

Red currants, cranberries or lingonberries

First whip the cream. Add in the the desired choice or marscapone cheese, quark or yoghurt. The slight sourness of the cheese, yoghurt or quark gives a nice contrast to the otherwise very sweet dessert. I used a quark flavored with rum and added lingonberries to the filling as well as a garnish. Add sugar to taste and spoon about two heaping tablespoons of filling in each nest. Garnish with a salted caramel sauce. Serve immediately.

little toesNow these little toes are all tucked in for the night, I might just start elfing around a bit. And as our four almost five year-old told me today, “Elves are magical creatures”. I would like to think so too.

2013-12-15 11.29.11-2

Steam Pudding and make-believe snow

by tableofcolors

Today it was snowing the kind of snow you see in store displays. They were large, fluffy clumps of flakes that slowly floated down. Occassionally the sun would peak through the clouds and everything glistened. I was shoveling snow as the kids played. And so when the sun came out I ran inside to get the camera. I really tried to run fast but each time when I came outside the light had shifted just a bit.

little hunter2make believe snow

Even the trees had a frosting of powdered sugar.

powdered sugar trees

Since the day was a stay-at-home sort of day and with Christmas just around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to try out a family recipe received from my Grampa Jim. Ever since I was small we would gather at my grandparents’ on Christmas day and after dinner we would make music and then we would have dessert which included Gramma’s Steam Pudding. To me it seems as if the Steamed Pudding might be of English tradition. Fitting it would be since in my Gramma’s family tree there is English heritage that traces back to the Revolutionary War and even earlier.

Gramma and GrampaSteam Pudding

2.4 dl/1 c molasses

2.4 dl/1 c hot water
85 g/ 6 tbsp melted butter
2 egg yolks
1 and 1/2 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 tsp soda

2 cups flour

2 egg whites beaten to firm peak

Pour the hot water into the molasses, add salt and soda, butter and egg yolks and then mix.
Add flour and fold into the molasses mixture.
Fold beaten egg whites into the batter.
steam pudding batterPour batter into greased molds in a steamer and cover. Cook over hot water at medium heat for 90 minutes. Do NOT lift cover before time is up.

After the 90 minutes are up, stick a test skewer and if if comes clean your pudding is done.
I used my double boiler for the cake since I did not have molds for the steamer. My cook time was somewhat longer since the cake did not have the hole in the middle that many molds have.

Serve in slices with generous servings of sauce.

steam pudding1Sauce

2 pasteurized eggs

140 g/10 tbsp melted butter
8 dl/3 and 1/2 c powdered sugar
0,5 l/1 pint whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla

Whip the cream with the vanilla and a generous 2 dl/1 cup of the powdered sugar and set aside. Beat the eggs and half of the remaining powdered sugar, add the melted butter and mix. Fold the egg mixture into the whipped cream, add the remainder of the powdered sugar and refrigerate.

steam pudding2As the children trickled in from the outdoors and school the cake continued to grow smaller and smaller.

little hunter

My kitchen is filled with anticipation

by tableofcolors

December and snow has arrived. That means that there is a sense of waiting and electricity in the air. The little people are waiting for the right moment to bake gingerbread, to sew their teachers’ little gifts, hang up the stockings, make pinwheel prune tarts, and open their advent calendars each morning. This past Sunday we lit the first advent candle. Christmas is coming.
2013-12-01 11.01.09-2
Along with the first advent, the kitchen is filled with Christmas music. “Hoosianna” is traditionally sung during the first advent in Finland in both churches and schools. Below is a recording from the Tampere State Church.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcglATPatgU
I’m not so keen on the shopping frenzy that starts in December and so we did ours in November before the crowds arrived. Now there are only little things to find and those excursions can be quite relaxing since there is no long list in hand and perhaps there might be a minute to stop in a coffee shop. There is a silence outside as so many of the birds have flown south and ones that remained will start their concert again in the spring. This peace I would like to achieve in the kitchen as well; one of everyday tasks sprinkled with little special projects such as these gingerbread trees.
gingerbread trees2
In my kitchen is the cutest mushroom made by my daughter and it brings a little holiday color.
fly agaric 2
Now that winter has arrived it is time to start using all of those berries that we picked last summer. One evening we had french toast with a strawberry sauce. The key to the strawberry sauce is to make the sauce first using a good quality berry juice and potato starch (cornstarch may be used as well) and right when the sauce has been removed from the heat the slightly thawed or frozen berries are added. They will slowly thaw out in the hot sauce while keeping their shape and vitamins.
french toast 3
French Toast

French toast is a great way to use up day old bread. We happened to have some slightly dried out bread on hand and a freezer full of berries which became in turn the inspiration for supper of French toast and berry sauce.

half loaf of sliced light bread (a whole grain variety may be used)
5 dl/2 c milk
2 eggs
1 generous tbsp brown sugar
dash of salt
cinnamon
butter or oil for frying

Whisk the milk, eggs, sugar, salt and cinnamon together. Heat the frying pan or griddle and use a little oil or butter according to your preference. Dip the slices of bread in the milk mixture and allow to soak for a bit. Fry on the hot pan so that both sides are a nice brown color.

Berry sauce

This recipe works with any berries that you may have on hand. If using a more tart berry just increase the amount of sugar.

1 liter/4 c good quality berry juice
sugar to taste
5 dl/2 c frozen or fresh berries
4 tbsp potato starch
1.5 dl/generous 1/2 c water

Bring the juice to boil, adding sugar if needed. Dissolve the potato starch (or corn starch, follow amounts on package) into the water. Whisking constantly, add the potato starch water mixture to the boiling juice. Bring the sauce to a boil and remove from the heat as soon as it bubbles once. Add the berries and set aside for a few minutes allowing the berries to thaw out. A sprinkle of sugar will prevent a “skin” from forming on the surface.

Serve with the French toast or just on its own.

This snowman is not in my kitchen but I could not resist, so cute it is.
2013-12-01 11.43.15-2This post is part of Celia’s In My Kitchen Series from Fig Jam Lime Cordial.

Cranberry Cake

by tableofcolors

Last night our literature club came over to our house. We get together once a month on a Friday evening after 8 pm. The reason for the late hour is that most of the children have settled down for the evening and the hustle and bustle of the work week has come to an end and we will have a few hours of peace and quiet, laughter and discussion. We have so much fun that it is often hard to decide when to go home and catch a few hours of sleep. Last night was no exception, thank you to all who made it over. Our book this time was Suvi Kinoksen seitsemän enoa by Jukka Parkkinen. It tells about a little girl that becomes an orphan at the age of six months and her seven uncles who raise her. Most of the uncles are PhD’s and have no experience with little ones and so they get their knowledge from books. The book had me giggling so hard that I had to read a few excerpts to my husband who was wondering what could be so funny.

I decided to serve Cranberry Cake at our get together. The recipe was sent to me by my Gramma and Grampa. As a child we would celebrate a Finnish Christmas on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day we would have an American Christmas at my Grandparents’. This Cranberry Cake was part of our traditional Christmas Day and since we are still in the heart of winter with more snow falling almost daily, I thought that this cake is cozy and matches the mood of late night literary discussions.

Cranberry Cake with Sauce
cranberry cake with sauce
4.7 dl/ 2 c all purpose flour
2.4 dl/1 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

2.4 dl/1 c milk
45 g/3 tbsp (1.5 oz) melted butter

4.7 dl/2 c cranberries (frozen berries are fine)

Blend dry ingredients.
dry ingredients
Add milk and butter and mix. Do not over mix. Add the cranberries.
batter with cranberries
Place batter in a 23 cm/9 inch papered cake pan. A bundt pan works fine as well. Bake at 175 C/350 F for 45 minutes
DSC03657

The sauce is an essential part of the cake and is easy to make.
Sauce:
1.2 dl/ 1/2 c butter
2.4 dl/ 1 c sugar
1.8 dl/ 3/4 c half and half or cream

In a sauce pan melt butter, add sugar and cream.
Bring to boil and allow to simmer on low heat while stirring for ten minutes.
Serve sauce warm over each slice of cake.
DSC03659

greenery

Here are the previous links to recipes from Grampa Jim: Fresh fruit tart, Almond Braid, Cranberry Walnut Scones

Merry Christmas

by tableofcolors

The joy and anticipation of Christmas can be seen in the eyes of children.

Anticipation

Anticipation

Little helpers help make the family celebration.
 decorating cookies
Ice lanterns bring a warm light into the yard.
ice lantern
jäälyhty
The first six months of blogging has been an incredibly positive and inspiring experience. Thank you for reading and following along.
May your holiday be peaceful and full of joy.