tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: fiesta friday

Enjoying Omar Toffee Triangles at 2am

by tableofcolors

We have had 38 days of hot weather and like usual, it always comes to an abrupt end. Last Sunday at the country fair it was still hot and on Tuesday morning as the kids left for their first day of school it was raining. The hot days are gone. It will still be warm but the breeze is a bit cooler and holds the slight chill of autumn; foretelling what is to come. But we’ll enjoy these cooler beautiful days and remember the warm summer beach days. On our trip this summer we visited some very dear friends and family up in Rovaniemi. My husband’s grandmother lives in this northern artic city. She has a cabin on the Kemi River. There is something quite rustically beautiful about the region. The gently sloping nordic fells, the gnarled and stunted trees and the summer so short. This year they also had a warm summer, but some summers it never really becomes truly shorts weather.

kemijokiAt the cabin, on the same lot is a little tiny white cottage not in use anymore. It is hidden among the birches and is right at the top of the river bank as a remnant of days gone passed. Right at the bank of the river, the water is shallow making it perfect for wading and for telling the best fishing tales.

empty cottageSeveral days we spent with our friends Elisa and Mikko. Elisa is an artist and I loved their home full of little details. Mikko is an artist in his own right. He is a very skilled carpenter and built their house. I tried to take some of the inspiration home with me. As soon the darkness will be here and it is then a perfect time to work on little projects around the house.

 

art work by Elisa Ahonen

art work by Elisa Ahonen

Before we came, their daughter had baked the most delicious little triangles that just melt in your mouth. I think we had a couple each morning with our coffee and tea then again in the evenings after the house had quieted down. We have a tradition with them that during the days we do things as a family with an occasional short outing for the just the ladies or men. In the evening we stay up late savoring the quietness, adult companionship and delicious food. And since we were in the artic, the sun would slightly dip around 1am but by 2am the sun was coming up again. We saw the sun rise every evening. Tara's triangle cookiesTara’s Triangle Cookies
250 g/8.8 oz butter, softened
3 dl/ 1 and 1/3 c sugar
2.5 dl/1 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
5.5 dl/2 and 1/3 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 bag of Omar toffee candies (220 g/7.8 oz)
slivered almonds

Beat the butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Cut the Omar toffees into small chunks and mix with the dry ingredients. Fold the dry ingredients with the batter. Pat onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet with small sides. Sprinkle with almonds and place the pan in the middle of the oven and bake at 175 C/350 F for about 18-25 minutes. Do not let them become too dark or else they will be difficult to cut. Let cool before cutting into triangles.

summer fun rovaniemiI thought the Triangle cookies would the perfect thing to bring to a virtual blogging get-together that Angie at The Novice Gardener hosts on Friday. If you are looking for inspiration for the weekend menu, click on the Fiesta Friday badge.
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Baked under the Midnight Sun

by tableofcolors

Midsummer is almost here in just a week. The nights are quite light and it is so easy to loose track of time since the kids are not in school. It seems perfectly logical to start washing windows at ten o’clock in the evening as the sun is not telling us to go to bed. Even the children who usually are in bed around eight thirty during the winter are having a hard time settling down. As I write, I can hear the older ones organizing their room after the little ones had visited and turned nearly everything upside down. You probably know how it goes. First there is silence as the little ones are in bliss playing with all of the marvelous treasures that girls of ten and thirteen might have in their room. Chapstick is a favorite! Then there is a loud exclamation and a complaint as they are found out. Next of course, the little ones come to Mama for consolation as their own treasures don’t seem half as interesting! Fortunately their disappointment does not last too long.

rhubarb stalksThe other evening we went rumaging in our rhubarb patch. It was the first time that it could actually be called a patch. Last year we planted the seedlings and it had grown nicely but I hardly dared to pick any last summer. The stalks are thin and we had several flowers that I picked off as is recommended and carried the bouquet inside. It was quite pretty in an untraditional way.

rhubarb flower

I ended up making two versions of this Upside-down Rhubarb cake. The first version had rye flour in it. I didn’t quite get the proportions perfect yet and so it turned out drier than what I was looking for. Version two turned out perfect. Since our babysitter is wheat-free I tried making it so that she could also have a piece. The second version is gluten-free and I used a mix of almond flour and gluten-free flour. If you do not need to make a gluten-free version you may substitute the gluten-free flour with regular flour. I think this recipe will go on my favorite gluten-free recipe list.

chopped rhubarbIt seems as if rhubarb and my blog anniversary go hand-in-hand. Two years ago I started my blog. One of my first posts was on a rhubarb tart that had a brown sugar meringue. A year ago, my Grampa Jim shared a family recipe for a rhubarb tart from my Great-Grandma Reeni. It is still one of my favorite recipes to date. The recipe below received its inspiration last Sunday. We were visiting friends and Maija served a very delicious rhubarb tart. As we had coffee she suggested that I make a version that uses maybe some wholegrain types of flour and perhaps chopped nuts for texture and flavor. This is my version.

rhubarb upside down cakeYou might be able to tell from the lighting in the photo that it is well past ten p.m. It is more than likely closer to eleven pm and the house was finally quiet. And so we enjoyed a piece of rhubarb upside down cake with ice cream and tea. The cake is a bit of a plain-jane, but incredibly delicious!

 

Upside down Rhubarb Cake–Gluten-free

23×23 cm/9″x9″ pan or a round tart pan
50 g butter
1 dl/ 1/2 c/ 85 g brown sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
50 g/2 oz roughly chopped walnuts
5 dl/2 c chopped rhubarb

Place the butter in the tart or cake pan and place in the heated oven for about five minutes or until melted. Remove and mix in the brown sugar, cardamom, rhubarb and walnuts. Set aside for a minute while making the cake batter.

Cake batter

125 g/4.4 oz softened butter
1 dl/ 1/2 c / 90 g sugar
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c / 50 g brown sugar
2 eggs
2 dl /1 c / 90 g almond flour
1 dl/ 1/2 c / 50 g gluten-free flour
pinch salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 dl/ slightly less than 1/2 c milk

Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. I used my stand mixer with the paddle attachment. An eletric mixer will work just as well. Add in one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix the dry ingredients together. Alternating, fold in the dry ingredients and milk into the batter. Pour the batter over the rhubarb place into the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 170 C/340 F. If using a fan oven, reduce the temperature to 160 C /320 F.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or maybe a little whipped cream.

Today is also Angie’s Fiesta Friday blogging get-together. Often I have not been able to participate as our schedules have not matched up but today it worked out. And so, I am bringing my rhubarb cake baked under the midnight sun. The people of the nordic countries do not sleep during the summer months. Come autumn, the early evenings are quite inviting. Check out her blog, The Novice Gardener, for a collection of recipes.

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Goexpo Helsinki

by tableofcolors

Last weekend we visited the Helsinki Goexpo Fair at the Helsinki Messukeskus or Convention Center. It is Finland’s largest sport and outdoor event and there was something for everyone. There was bikes to try, volleyball, soccer, golf, hunting, fishing, photography, horses, rock climbing, fitness, running, nordic walking, and sailing amongst others. On the day we visited it was open from 10 am to 5 pm. We were there the whole time and probably would have been even a bit longer if it would have been possible.

goexpo helsinki 2I’m usually not such a convention or fair person but this time it exceeded my expectations. It was very reasonably priced as everything except for the rock climbing was included. For our family of eight it was 37 euros. Not bad.

goexpo helsinkirock climbing2We had packed lunches and the horse show was the perfect place to sit down and eat.

police horse show speedThe police horse show was quite impressive. They showed how they train the horses for possible protest and demonstration situations.

police horse showAfter the busy day full of noise and activity it was nice to visit some family before heading home. On the drive home, the car was silent. Just about everyone fell asleep. A calming drink was in order. My sister’s recipe was perfect for the occasion.

moomins

Tin’s Lemon and Ginger Concoction

for one cup

1/2 lemon, squeezed
1 cm/ 1/3 inch fresh ginger, roughly chopped
1-2 tsp honey or according to taste
boiling water

Place the lemon juice and roughly chopped ginger into the cup. Pour boiling water over and allow to seep for about five minutes. Remove the pieces of ginger and add honey. Stir and enjoy immediately. It is claimed that both lemon and ginger may help with digestion and helps flush out toxins. Those claims are not perhaps scientifically proven, but I did find the drink to be the perfect way to end the day. Tart and calming.
vikellysThis post is a part of Novice Gardener’s Fiesta Friday series.

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Light as a feather, stiff as a board

by tableofcolors

“No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth.” –Robert Southey

Around the time when I was about ten or twelve, my friends and I would get together with irregular frequency for sleepovers. I’m not sure how much we actually slept since we tended to stay up quite late playing, “Light as a feather, stiff as a board”. It was around that same time that I would love reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Perhaps those mystery stories fed our imaginations. Marijo was always the best at telling the stories. “Light as a feather, stiff as a board” was played in the following manner. One person would lay as stiff as they could on the floor or mattress with the other participants surrounding her. The storyteller was situated next to the head of person laying down. In the beginning of the game, the storyteller would say the magic words, “Light as a feather, stiff as a board” and everyone would lift the laying participant and return her back down. Then the storyteller would proceed to tell a scary story from her imagination while rubbing the temples of the voluntary participant. After the story came to a close the storyteller would once again repeat the words, “light as a feather, stiff as a board” and we would all lift the participant once again. She always felt so much lighter the second time, and it worked everytime! As you can imagine, this simple game had just enough suspension but was relaxing at the same time that we could easily play this game for hours.

light as a featherI was looking though an old album today that my friends made for me when I moved to Finland. It is full of photos and memories and quotes. Quite nostalgic. We all have narrow, child-like faces and in one photo we are posing next to the Easter Bunny at the local mall. The photo makes me smile. Before the photo was taken we had had an earnest discussion of whether we were too old to pose with the Easter Bunny. It was probably one of the first times that we went shopping without adult supervision and we felt quite old.

mexican curry2“Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments.” –Rose Kennedy

One of the homes we quite often frequented was Sarah’s. Countless times did we sleep over and spend time downstairs in the basement room. The house had three floors and everyone else slept in on the third floor. It was like our own space, to chat and share and do all of those things that girls do.

One of the dishes that Sarah’s Mom made was Mexican Curry and it was a favorite of mine. It can be easily made in the crockpot and allowed to simmer for a couple hours on low. The recipe below is made stovetop. The recipe may not be identicle to her’s, but to me it had the flavor that I remembered.

Mexican Curry

one large onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 kg/ 1 lb ground beef (I used minced venison)
(2 tbsp olive oil, optional if using a low-fat meat such as venison)
1 can crushed tomatoes (370 g/13 oz)
2 cans water
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
salt
black pepper
oregano
1 dl/ 1/2 c uncooked rice

tortilla chips
chopped lettuce/spinach
tomatoes
avocado
cheese, grated
salsa of your choice

In a heavy pot, brown the meat with the onion, garlic, celery and seasonings. Once browned add the crushed tomato and water. Add the uncooked rice and allow to simmer for about 20-30 minutes on low so that the rice is cooked. Serve with chopped lettuce, grated cheese, avocados, tomatoes, tortilla chips and a salsa of your choice. The left over meat and rice could be used as a tortilla filling the next day.
mexican curry1“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer–one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going–one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doings, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”

excerpt from Anne’s House of Dreams, L.M. Montgomery

We had some of those summers, my friends and I.

This blog post is part of The Novice Gardener’s blogging party, Fiesta Friday. For a collection of posts by various authors click on the link.