tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: cranberries

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.

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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.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: The Granola bar for solitary moments

by tableofcolors

WordPress posts on a regular basis different kinds of writing and photo challenges to give blog writers inspiration to look at topics from a slightly different angle. This weeks photo challenge was Solitary. Here’s my take.

I’ve grown up with lots of people around me and I really enjoy being with others. I have noticed though that the more hectic life gets I start to feel the need for my own personal solitary time. Some of us would like to have more solitary time and there are others who have too much solitary time in their lives. Maybe their kids have flown the nest and they wish that their grandkids would occassionaly come an fill up the silence with the pitter patter of their feet.

Our life at the moment is full of the sounds of running footsteps, giggles, squeals and sometimes someone cries when they fall. It seems like soltitude is very hard to find in this situation. Really it is not that far away. It is right outside the door. We live in the middle of the field a little ways from the residential area. There is wheat growing on one side and barley on the other.

Now that fall is in full swing, it is a busy time of accomplishment. School begins for the kids, there are art classes to take, friends to meet, meetings to attend and more. On the other hand it is a time of soltitude. The birds are gathering to fly south, the leaves will soon float to the ground leaving the trees barren. And we are in the middle of the field, a place where there are no street lights. In the fall before the snow falls, the evenings are dark and the sky is immense, full of stars.

I was chatting with my hairdresser and she told me that one of her favorite memories from her childhood is grabbing the Donald Duck comic book from the mailbox and enjoying the quietness of the house before everyone else comes rushing home. Donald Duck has a special place in the hearts of Finns(as does Tex Willer, a spaghetti cowboy, but we’ll leave that story for another time). Wednesdays in Finland are Donald Duck days. I notice our oldest daughters really enjoy the chance to spend a little quiet time by themselves. The house is silent, there is a fresh new Donald Duck comic book in the mailbox and a snack ready on the table.

This granola bar is intended for those little moments of soltitude. It has chocolate on both ends so that you don’t have to make the hard decision of whether to eat the chocolate first or last.

Homemade energy bars

These are delicious snacks that are chock full of healthy ingredients. The dried fig gives the bar a chewy texture.

Homemade energy bars with figs, cranberries and walnuts

50 g/1.8 oz butter
generous 1/2 dl/1/4 c canola oil (cold pressed oil works great)
1/2 dl/little under 1/4 c sugar
1 dl/ little under 1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 dl/ little under 1/4 c honey
3/4 dl / 1/3 c molasses
cinnamon
allspice
Boil the sugars, honey, butter, oil, salt and spices until the sugar has melted and is not granulated.
Take off the heat.
Mix in a separate bowl the following ingredients.
4.5 dl /2 c oatmeal
1 dl / slightly under 1/2 c wheat bran
1 dl / slightly under 1/2 c flour
1 dl /slightly under 1/2 c whole wheat flour
70 g/ 2.5 oz of chopped walnuts
100 g/3.5 oz of chopped dried figs
50 g/1.8 oz of dried cranberries
1/2 tsp salt
Combine the still warm molasses mixture with the dry ingredients and stir. Spread on a lined 9x13inch(23x33cm) pan and bake in the oven at 175C/350F for 8 to 9 minutes. Let cool for bit and cut into bars. When completely cool dip both ends of the bars in melted dark chocolate.

a lone branch

Enjoy in soltitude with a good comic book and a glass of milk.

The photos of the sky and the lone branch are by my sweetheart.