tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: fall

Finding Funnel Chanterelles from bear forest

by tableofcolors

I have always been a city girl in my heart. It was not until I was an adult that I was introduced to a real forest, a place far from civilization, not just the little patch of woods in a parkway just down the road. For one year during the early years of our marriage we actually lived in the middle of this wilderness due to my husband’s work. To tell you the truth, I was a bit terrified of going on walks since I knew that bears inhabitated these woods. The town school was just two kilometers from where we lived at the time. I often would walk and pass the school with our oldest daughter who sat in the stroller still at that time. So small was she then. Feels like it was yesterday.

I had heard a story that once when the teacher was letting the kids out for recess, she all of a sudden told everyone to stay inside. There was a mama bear and her two cubs walking across the yard. I believed the story since not too far away, about halfway between our little home and the school, a bear had crossed the road leaving it’s large paw prints in the sand. We happened to drive by shortly after it happened and chatted with a few people that had seen it. But I had decided that I was not to be imprisoned in the apartment, and so nearly each day we would take our walks and I would keep my fingers crossed and occasionally cough to try keep the bears at bay.

In these same woods, we have sometimes gone exploring for mushrooms. Usually it is my husband who goes as he knows all of the good places but sometimes when I have the chance I go along. The funnel chanterelle (Craterellus tubaeformis) come up after the chanterelle mushroom season and sometimes they may be a bit hidden, but if you find one you will most likely find a whole patch to fill up your basket.

funnel chanterelle

This dish is really so simple but the flavors are fantastic. Our mushroom season is over now but when we still had fresh ones, we dried a part of them and some of them we fried with a bit of butter and then packed using the vacuum packer. They make a wonderful sauce. The savoy cabbage is quick roasted, rounding out the flavor and making a warm salad of sorts as a side.

Funnel chanterelle sauce with leeks

funnel chanterelles
1/2 of a leek, finely sliced
a knob of butter (30 g/10.5 oz)
2 dl/1 c cream
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c milk
or alternatively you may use half and half
rosemary
thyme
black pepper
salt

On a large frying pan, cook the mushrooms, leek and herbs with the butter until the water has evaporated so that it snaps and crackles just a bit. Pour on the cream and milk and allow to gently bubble for a few minutes. Serve over boiled potatoes and roasted Savoy cabbage.

mushroom sauce

Roasted Savoy Cabbage Salad

Savoy cabbage cut into wedges
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt
black pepper

Place the wedges of Savoy cabbage on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 175C/350 for about ten minutes.

savoy cabbage

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Expat weekend

by tableofcolors

Last weekend was dedicated for the expatriates. We have all been friends for years and one of them is my sister as well. The weekend had been reserved many weeks in advance. All weekend long we spoke in English, which is a rare treat and good practice. I’m always a little nervous that my English might become rusty. We stayed up late, played board games, had some of Christine’s delicious hot apple cider, ate well, walked in beautiful Helsinki full of fall colors, went bowling, visited Fleuriste for brunch on Saturday, made a nostalgic Starbucks run to the airport (it is the only Starbucks in Finland at the moment) and just enjoyed each other’s company. We also had two little babies along.

After bowling at noon on Saturday, we headed into the center of Helsinki, walking part of the way. The sun shone bright and trees almost looked like they were on fire with their foilage of bright colors. It was the last of the bright colors, as the trees are now dropping their leaves at a rapid pace.
Helsinki
I had been wanting to visit the Fleuriste (Uudenmaankatu 13, Helsinki) ever since we had been looking for brunch places last spring when we visited Cafe Piritta. Fleuriste is a French style cafe and flower shop. And it was love at first sight. I definitely want to revisit. It is advisable to make reservations during the weekend as it is very busy, small but very charming.
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We tried our luck and went without reservations. This time luck was on our side. We found a table in the back room which was just as attractive as the front with large old windows letting in soft natural light. Our only challenge was that we were travelling with a stroller. Without friends along, it would have been fairly challenging to maneuver the narrow passage to the back. On weekends Fleuriste serves brunch all day. We all decided on the brunch menu (19,50 euros) which includes three courses, tea or coffee. Service to the table made the experience a little more personal.
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I was so impressed with the smoothie served. We chose the lingonberry smoothie that had ground flax seed. It was not too sweet, letting you taste the slight sourness of the yoghurt. It certainly was to my taste.

Lingonberry smoothies and chai tea

Lingonberry smoothies and chai tea

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The main course included a slice of tomato and roquefort quiche and salad with dates and sprinkled with a soft goat’s cheese. My chai tea was served in a little pot with steamed milk on the side, and it was enough for three cups. We were delighting in every bite after our activities and walk. And I enjoyed the relaxed pace. It seems that at the moment I look for opportunities to just slow the pace of life. We ate for an hour and a half. There was no schedule to meet and no where to be.
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For dessert there was the option of four or five different cakes. And although we had lovely table service, we all went to go see the selection that were on display. I chose a cake that had fresh fig, pear and chocolate. I think I will be trying to recreate it, possibly for Christmas. By the time we finished I was pleasantly full and the meal carried me well into the evening.
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And in the evening, we revisited our growing up years and hit Starbucks. What fun we had!

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Hot Apple Cider, inspired by Christine (non-alcoholic)

This recipe is made in the Crock Pot and really quite easy. It fits perfectly for those dark starry nights and perhaps a board game. Since I used the apple in its entirety, I used locally grown apples that have not been sprayed.

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1.8 kg/3.9 lbs locally grown apples, cut into quarters (the peels and core are not removed)
2.5 dl/ 1 c raw cane sugar (or brown sugar)
2-3 sticks of cinnamon
1.5 l/1.5 qt water

Place all of the ingredients into the Crock pot and set it on low for about eight hours. Allow to cool and strain through a mesh metal sieve pressing some of the fruit pulp through for a more hearty cider. Enjoy hot.

2013-10-15 09.03.46hot apple cider

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.
lingonberry
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.
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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.

Pyhäpiirakka

Crust:
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.

Filling:
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

Yellows and Oranges

by tableofcolors

Autumn is definitely a glorious time with the abundance of fresh produce on hand. The berries, mushrooms and the harvest from our small garden has certainly kept us busy. I have taken quite a few photos and have recipes on hand, but my only challenge is that, just like you, I only have twenty-four hours in a day.

Right now the radio is playing classical music in the kitchen. The baby is laying on floor next to me, with his belly full and my two year-old is also keeping me company, ocassionally engaging in conversation and bringing me pieces of paper that she is cutting up. She is quite proud of her scissor skills. Four year-old Erik is running outside with his best friend. Sometimes they hunt lions and sometimes they “motor cross” along the ditches with their motor bikes (read: kick bikes). Three are in school and so the house is calm.

Just down the road and to the right is an old red house that has front yard nearly the size of a small field. Every year in the later summer and early fall it is a field of sunflowers. The owner of the house has placed a sign stating that you may freely pick some flowers and pay what you wish into a little metal cannister attached to a tree. Twice I have visited there for my flowers. The yellow bouquet certainly brings a bit of sunshine into some of our gray fall days.
sunflowers
sunflower bouquet

Now that the crisp and cool weather has arrived I have started using the oven more. I have been roasting vegetables as a side for dinner. These honey glazed carrots really hit the spot. And since there is often a shortage of time, they are so quick even for a week night dinner. My husband had placed some wild grouse into the Crock pot that morning and so the house was filled with delicious scents.
carrots

Honey Glazed Carrots

carrots, peeled and cut into long sticks
honey
olive oil
fleur de sel
freshly ground black pepper
herbs according to taste
honey glazed carrots
Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with oil and honey and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add herbs according to taste. Bake in the oven at 200 C/390 F for about 10-15 minutes or until the carrots have gained a little color. I have noticed that when using the fan, the time is reduced and I usually reduce the temperature as well about 20 degrees.
honey glazed carrots and wild game

Fall, the zoo and scalloped potatoes

by tableofcolors

Nearly every year we visit the Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki. The zoo is on a little island right off the shore of downtown Helsinki. There is even a ferry that will take you there for a small fee or you can drive and park on a neighboring island and make the short walk along the path and across the bridge. We usually always go when the weather has become crisp and cool. The animals tend to be more active than under the hot summer sun.
camels
We had taken a picnic lunch with us and were eating in this little pavilion while a flock of Barnacle Geese looked on and tried to sample our sandwiches and cookies at every chance. Once our two year-old Isabella had finished her lunch she went to explore nearby among the trees. She is equipped with a strong sense of innocent curiosity, a real life Curious George including the part about getting in a little bit of trouble. (Yesterday she nearly arranged us some water damage in the upstairs bathroom as a surprise, but that is another story) It was not long that she came enthusiastically running after an entire flock of geese. The Barnacle Geese are wild birds and had stopped to feed as they migrate.
bella and geese
She certainly never has boring days, nor does her mother.
zoo
After an active day at the zoo, we had our own group of hungry little people. Now that fall has arrived foods made in the oven feel comforting after spending time in the chilly outdoors. This recipe of scalloped potatoes reminds me of childhood and suppers at home. My version has fresh spinach in it but you may substitute it with frozen spinach if it is more readily available.

on the plate

Scalloped potatoes with Spinach

about 1 kg/2 lbs potatoes (or about 9-10 large potatoes)
1 onion, chopped
2 large handfuls of fresh spinach
400 g ground beef or pork
dashes of thyme, rosemary, cumin, mustard, garlic, oregano, paprika and coriander
salt
black pepper
200 g/7 oz plain cream cheese
6 dl /2.5 c milk
3 eggs
1 dl / 1/2 c cracker/panko bread crumbs
handful of grated strong cheese (Emmental)

Brown the ground meat with the onion. Sprinkle with salt, freshly ground black pepper and herbs and spices to taste. Stir in the chopped spinach and take off heat. Wash and thinly slice the potatoes. I decided to leave the skin on since they had such thin skins. If you prefer, you may peel them. Line a 22×33 cm or 9×13” pan with parchment paper. Layer one third of the potatoes so that they are somewhat overlapping. Add one half of the meat and spinach mixture and one third of the cream cheese in dollops.

spinach and potatoesContinue so that in the end there are three layers of overlapping potatoes and two layers of filling. Add the last third of the cream cheese in dollops on top. Whisk the milk, eggs and some more salt and pepper together. Pour over the potatoes.

cream cheese dollopsSprinkle with the grated cheese and bread crumbs. Cover with foil and bake in the preheated (200 C/ 390 F) and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes or so that the potatoes are tender.

on the plate2bella

I know, she looks like Serenity herself.

Wild Weekly Photo Challenge – Fall and Cream of Mushroom soup

by tableofcolors

For me fall represents a chill in the air, the leaves turning bright colors, gathering berries and mushrooms and soup. Rarely do we eat soup in the summer. Summer fare includes grilled vegies and meat and bright salads but when the cold weather sets in, soup warms up the soul. I need foods to warm me in the cold season since I get blue lips and cold easily.

Since living in Finland I have been learning the art of dressing warmly. Not that I didn’t have hats available as a teen but at the time it just wasn’t cool to go to school with a hat on and so I would walk to the bus stop everyday without a hat.  It would have messed up my hair. Thank goodness the trend has changed.

The forest has had an abundance of the Trumpet Chanterelle this fall and when you find one, you might find a patch of hundreds. At times this fall we have had so many mushrooms that our dehydrator has been running non-stop and there has been enough share.

The Trumpet Chanterelle

Part of the excitement of mushroom picking is exploring the forest and seeing and hearing birds and other animals.

Bird watching

In the midst of trees, a remnant from the ice age era

Below is a Cream of Mushroom soup recipe for those days that have a chill. I used the Trumpet Chanterelle but many other mushrooms work as well.

Cream of mushroom soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

400 g/14 oz Trumpet Chanterelle, cleaned and diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery sliced thinly
2 tbsp butter
1/2 l/generous 2 c chicken stock
4 dl/1.7 c cream (may use a lighter cream or half and half)
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt
pepper
fresh chives and parsley chopped
2 tbsp corn starch

Croutons
1 loaf of day old bread cut into cubes
olive oil
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the croutons first and set aside. Cube the loaf and place on a lined baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and a little chili if preferred. Bake at 350 for about 5 minutes on until golden brown.

Croutons

For the soup, sauté the onion, celery and mushrooms in butter until the moisture has nearly evaporated. Add the chicken stock and allow to simmer. Add the cream, salt, pepper and white wine vinegar. Check taste. Thicken with corn starch that is mixed in a half cup of cold water. Garnish with fresh parsley, chives and croutons. Enjoy!

I’m participating in the LetsBeWild.com Wild Weekly Photo Challenge! This weeks Challenge is: Fall