tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: helsinki

All my seven lovelies

by tableofcolors

The last time I posted was just a few days before our little Jasmin Yvonne arrived. She has been the most perfect baby, making eye contact and smiling at us those real baby smiles at day four. A week before she turned two months, she rolled over on her belly and now is trying hard to swim forward on the floor. She has slept perfectly every night. We haven’t had to walk with her at night, retracing our footsteps and hoping for sleep like with some of the others. Really feels like there has been a higher power that has steered the coarse for us. This spring has been so full, I don’t know how we could have managed if the baby would have been collicky.seven lovelies6

seven lovelies4

The traditional pose was just not happening that day…so I decided that a photo of my seven lovelies showing their personalities was perhaps more accurate and maybe even more memorable.

Just a few weeks after Jasmin was born we opened the new coffee shop concept store, Cabana de Empanadas, right in the heart of Helsinki in the Forum shopping mall(2nd floor). The original plan was that it would have opened already a couple of months earlier. But life often does not follow our plans and big happenings often are all heaped in a cluster.

cabana de empanadas avajaiset

Grand opening. Guitarist Oliver Palm entertained us with melodies from Spain and South America.

omppu17

Help us reach our goal of 500 followers on our Cabana de Empanadas facebook page! We will be drawing one lucky winner to win an Empanada picnic basket for 4 after we reach the goal and deliver it straight to your picnic blanket (Helsinki area only)

empanadas for sale

cabana de empanadas punajuuri watermelon salad kombucha

All winter we had stayed healthy. Nobody had more than a runny nose. Maybe it was the superfood smoothies I had been feeding them all winter, or just basic hand washing with soap or just good luck. When we arrived home from the hospital with little Jasmin, most of the kids were coughing and some were running temps. Within a few days Jasmin started showing signs that she might have caught something. When she was eleven days old, I noticed that I was following her every move, checking to see if she was breathing fine and debating whether I should take her in to get checked. In the afternoon she took a long nap and seemed to be breathing peacefully. I thought, perhaps we had gotten over the worst of it. In the evening as clock inched closer to midnight and I was trying to get her asleep, she seemed to have a hard time finding a comfortable position. It felt like her breathing was getting more labored and that was when I decided to take her in. Why is it that until the very end, one wonders if a trip to the doctor is a waste and if I’m acting like a Newbie Mom bringing their kid in for every little scratch or scrape.

I was reassured that it was very good that I brought little Jasmin in, as we were whisked away to another hospital that has a children’s ward. On the first day, the doctor informed us that we must be prepared for a stay of an undefinite amount of days. I was supposed to have been baking at the bakery that morning, doing our second run through with the product. In the end, it all went as it was supposed to, as I probably had RSV as well and felt quite crummy. We spent a week in that hospital room getting better together.

hospital stay2

I am by no means complaining. Afterall, I have always wanted to have a business, to work through the challenges and maybe even experience the rewards at some point. I have wanted to be a businesswoman since I was…like five. And this past spring has been life at its best and most challenging. It has been genuine life, with sometimes round the clock work. But fortunately our baby has been the perfect baby.

butternut squash avocado brownies

Avocado Sweet potato Brownies sweetened with maple syrup

Yes, I have been baking all sorts of sweet and savory empanadas and perhaps someday I will be able to share a recipe with you. But here is a recipe to a brownie made with butternut squash and avocado and sweetended with maple syrup. The texture was just what like a brownie should be, moist and rich. The brownie is not very sweet like they traditionally are and so if you are craving a bit of sweetness, they could be served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Avocado Sweet potato brownies (Gluten-free and dairy-free)

The original recipe was found her from the Satokausi kalenteri blogi.

 

For the brownie:

300g/10.5 oz sweet potato
1 large avocado
1.2 dl/1/2 c maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla extract or the seeds from a half of a vanilla bean.
4 eggs
1 dl/ 1/2 c coconut flour
1 tbsp almond flour
1.2 dl/ 1/2 c quality cocoa powder
dash of sea salt
1 tsp baking soda

Frosting:

1 avocado
0.5 dl/ 1/4 c maple syrup
0.5 dl/ 1/4 cocoa powder
1 generous tablespoon coconut oil
0.5 tsp vanilla sugar or extract or the seeds from a half of a vanilla bean.

Variety of nuts for garnish

Peel and cut the sweet potato into cubes. Cook in boiling water until tender(about 20 minutes). Remove from water and drain and purée with a fork. Allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 175 C/350 F.

Mix the avocado, maple syrup, sweet potato and vanilla until smooth in a blender or food processor. Blend in the eggs. Mix the dry ingredients and fold into the batter.
Line a 18×25 cm or 7×10 inch pan with parchment paper and pour the batter into the pan. Smooth the surface of the batter and bake for about 20 minutes or so that a toothpick comes out clean and bottom of the brownie is just barely done. Allow to completely cool.

Make the frosting by blending all the ingredients either in a blender or with an imersion wand. Spread over the brownies and allow to chill in the refrigerator. These brownies freeze well and so can be made well in advance.

hugo

summer field finlandThis summer has been filled with family celebration, a baptism and a wedding and family visiting from America. But that all shall wait for another post. Happy Midsummer’s!

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All of my favorite places

by tableofcolors

Summer is almost here and perhaps some of you are planning a trip to Helsinki. The city offers many young people summer jobs and so many young adults flock to the city and during their off-hours enjoy the parks and everything that summer has to offer.

Part of my job is to know what others are doing in the coffee shop and café business. So whenever I have a day with meetings in Helsinki, I dive into the city and find the places that people on social media are buzzing about and see if they are as good as they are claimed to be. Here are some of my most recent finds.

Street performers in Helsinki

Street performers in Helsinki

The street performance above took place just across the street from the famous Stockmann’s department store which is like Helsinki’s Selfridge’s and the clock in front is a popular meeting place. In the summer there are many street performers in the downtown area. Sometimes it seems like there is one on every corner. Almost like free little concerts and among them you may choose a performer which best fits your taste.

helsinki street performers

Along the Esplanad, which is a parkway right in the center of town can be found Café Esplanad, known for their gigantic cinnamon rolls that should almost be shared. But less than a ten minute walk away situated at Bulevardi 9 is The Grand Old Dame of Helsinki Cafés, the Ekberg Bakery and Café that has been around since 1852. The bakery and café both have their own entries but are situated right next door. The first time I walked into the door of the bakery, I breathed in a smell from childhood. It smelled just like the Wuollet Bakery.

ekberg collage

Ekberg and their Napoleon

If you were to continue the walk down Bulevardi to the harbor area there are some old brick factory buildings that have gained a new purpose. Moko Market and Kaffa Roastery are treasures of a place that I will certainly be returning to and are located at Perämiehenkatu 10. Moko Market has a café and fresh salads and lunches daily along with a large interior design store. Right next door and sharing a walk-through doorway on the inside is Kaffa Roastery. They pride themselves with their expert knowledge in coffee. Today the old industrial area is part of the trendy design district.

Moko Market

Moko Market

mokomarket cafekaffa roastery

Returning from the scene of the old factories there is another treasure of a place that even won an award for their ambience. Fleuriste is located on Uudenmaankatu 13. It is tiny but so cozy and you may stop and enjoy their French influence in this quiet little niche right in the heart of the city. In addition to their lovely things to eat, the owner makes beautiful flower arrangements to order.

Fleuriste

Fleuriste

Or you could take their Fleuriste’s lovely homemade sandwiches or sweet treats to the Old Church parkway, just a few blocks away right on Bulevardi and neatly tucked away from the main drag, Mannerheimintie.

Vanha Kirkko  or Old Church taken in to use in 1826 and designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, Lönnrotinkatu 6

Vanha Kirkko or Old Church taken in to use in 1826 and designed by Carl Ludvig Engel and can be found at: Lönnrotinkatu 6

Just a stone throw’s away is Hotel Torni at Yrjönkatu 26, which was for years the tallest building in Helsinki. It has a colorful history full of politicians and celebrities. Today there is a sky bar that has a wonderful view over Helsinki. Taking the elevator up and climbing the round staircase to the top is free and on both sides there a large outdoor patios. Definitely a place to go visit. And as you can see from the cityscape, the Old Church is just below.

Hotelli Torni, cityscape of Helsinki

Hotelli Torni, cityscape of Helsinki

If you might have a few days of time I would recommend using an afternoon to visit Suomenlinna which is the fortress right off of Helsinki. There is ferry that takes off at the Market Square about every twenty or thirty minutes and the ride takes about 10 minutes to the island.

Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna

A twenty-five minute bus ride (bus 24, leaving from Lasipalatsi) will bring you Seurasaari which is a free outdoor museum on a little island with a bridge connecting it to mainland. It is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic if the weather if fair and learn a little about Finnish history as there are many old dwellings brought from all over Finland that have been reconstructed on site.

Seurasaari

Seurasaari

These are some of my favorite places, and I feel the list could go and on. So I’ll leave you with a couple of newcomers that just opened their doors to customers during the past couple of months.

The Cock

The Cock, Fabianinkatu 17

 The Cock is a high class neighborhood eatery and a place that I would like to revisit. They serve breakfast until 10 am and their lunch menu looks delicious. They are open into the evening so really any time of day will do.

friends & brgrsWhile I normally don’t mention fast-food, I do need to mention Friends & Brgrs, located on Mikonkatu 8 right in downtown Helsinki. They pride themselves on housemade mayo, using never-frozen beef and making each burger to order. Their fries are homemade using a special process and when I stopped by at lunch time the place was hopping. Be prepared to wait twenty minutes for your burger. I thought it was worth the wait.

grass-fed beef burger with onion and aoiliAnd this is my Friends & Brgrs inspired home-made burger made with grass-fed organic (never-frozen-directly-from-the-butcher) beef with aioli, baby kale and carmelized onions. Oh, and a slice of manchego cheese.

 

Welcome to Helsinki!

May

by tableofcolors

My bucket list of places to see in Stockholm seemed to just grow after visiting there. Three days was clearly enough to whet the appetite. We did have the opportunity visit some restaurants and the old market hall or Saluhall in Östermalm and Rosendals Trädgård, a beautiful garden center with a lovely café and bakery. The bakery has a wood burning oven with which they bake their breads. I could see the smoke rising from the chimney into the blue sky. The bread was perfect. Perfectly moist and chewy on the inside and a crusty crust that crunches a bit when you bite into it. Rosendals, meaning the Rose Valley, has a long history of gardeners going back to the later 1700s. It is located on the island of Djurgården which is situated behind Skansen, a historical outdoor museum and zoo. While we did not have time to visit Skansen, it is a place I will be taking my girls. But I do think they would have liked Rosendals as well, and am very grateful to the lovely Mizz Marzipan for all of her suggestions.rosendals collage

Rosendals has a lovely café and everything they serve is organic. During the growing season they try to serve as much of their own produce as possible.

 

rosendals stockholm collagerosendals  organic roastbeefFor lunch they had three different lunch time options in addition to the sandwiches and sweets on display on a large table. We had their roast beef that was nestled on top of a roasted endive half and a spring onion that still had its roots intact. The roots were actually quite delicious as they had become almost crisp from the grilling. Lunch starts at 11.30 and we arrived a bit before. As soon as lunch service started, the parking lot off to side began filling up and the line became long. It clearly was a popular place to come enjoy the beautiful spring day.

specerietOne evening we had dinner at a restaurant called Speceriet which is located in the Östermalm area of Stockholm. Instead of having separate tables, there were three community tables. Our timing was perfect. Just a bit after we were seated the place began filling up. As they do not take reservations, it all depends on your luck and timing. I think that it is a place that would be easy to come to by yourself or with your friends and family. We had goat kid that rested on a bed of roasted beetroot and goat cheese.

goat kid speceriet stockholmAlso situated in Östermalm is the old Market Hall or Saluhall. We found it slightly by accident as we were wandering about and ended up visiting it twice. Once we had lunch there, and my lunch plate of pickled herring reminded me of our family’s summer go-to fast-food when we are in rush.

old saluhall stockholmplate of pickled herringEvery summer when we have been spending the day outside and there is not the desire to linger in the kitchen longer than necessary, we boil up a batch of new potatoes and open a jar of pickled herring and make a quick salad. I think it could be the perfect lunch for May Day as well since the sun is shining today. This time around I sautéed a bit of asparagus in coconut oil. It turned out delicious and a bit crispy.

sautéing asparagus in coconut oilmay day food

Yesterday I had a meeting in Helsinki and afterwards there was the opportunity to walk around the city and observe the city as it had donned their caps for Vappu or May Day. It is traditional for people to wear their white gradution cap. Some of them are already old and yellow but perhaps even more prized than the clean white ones, as it was not as common for everyone to have graduated from lukio or the Finnish high school back in the 1920s, 30s, or 40s.

helsinki may day vappuhelsinki cityscapeBack at home the kids were just as excited if not more so with their contagious energy.

clown

vappu ballons mayday at homeHappy May Day to all of you my dear readers!

Torpatoffeln shoes made in Sweden

Torpatoffeln shoes made in Sweden

I almost forgot, Lisa! Here is a snapshot of the shoes I bought in Sweden that I promised to post…they are comfortable to wear and I do gain a few inches of height. 🙂

Following Elma’s footsteps

by tableofcolors

The other week, I had some business in Helsinki and I decided to take a couple hours after my obligations to take a little Elma tour. I know that Elma had visited in the summer and so you will just need to imagine that everything is green and maybe the sun would be out. The day I went, it was wet and there was a wind blowing. But I do think that the excursion was really quite interesting. It became interesting completely by accident, and I will soon tell you why. Elma had mentioned in her writing that she had eaten at the Kappeli Restaurant which is right in the middle of the Esplanade and overlooks the harbor. Across the walkway from the Kappeli is a bandshell and Elma mentions that the people were wandering about in no hurry at all.  “…There were children with their nannies, old grandmas knitting under the shade of the trees, and doves flew around in flocks creating a charming picture of the old world.” The building itself is quite decorative and is known for its glass rooms. I have eaten there a couple of times and have been intrigued with old decor. Fun to think that we have both visited the same spot.

If you are new to the blog, check out the links below for the story on Elma, my great-aunt.

 

kappeli

Elma artikkeli esplanade ja kappeli“We often would eat at the Kappeli, a restaurant made of glass with a small garden on the outside where we could sit for hours and men would lean on their canes. We found the canes quite amusing as they were a symbol of manhood. As soon as a boy has finished the Lyseo or high school, his relatives would gift him a cane. One could see such child-like faces and yet they would carry the canes with grandeur.  One such Finnish athlete said that he was intending to buy a new cane. I told him that in America only the weak that could barely walk would use a cane reluctantly. He wondered, but since he admired America, decided to not buy the new cane.”

lasihuone kappeliAs I was taking pictures of the Kappeli, I could hear squealing and screaming and of course I had to turn and see what was causing the commotion. I had forgotten that it was penkkari or penkinpainajainen day, or the day when the students in the last year of the Finnish high school or lukio are celebrating their last day before they start studying for the matriculation exams later in the spring. Each school has a theme and everyone dresses up accordingly. They all load up on trucks and drive through the city, screaming and throwing out candy much to the joy of my children.

penkkaritcandy and havis amandaElma does not go directly up north and visit the homes and farms of her parents but I decided that I would share that with you now in this post and return to other parts of her trip later, as I feel that the homes and communities that Ida and Isaac left behind forms the beginning of their immigration journey.

Kauvosaari 2In Elma’s papers was a sketch of Kauvosaari which is a part of Ylitornio. Her father Isaac was originally from there. “Kauvosaari is a small island in the middle of a river with a quick current. It is a loved place. The island has a forest, rock fells and glows purple with the atmosphere giving it the color purple. I found the stone foundation of the Kauvosaari house, but it had been brought to the land where it now stood large and vibrant, made with countless logs crossing with each other and painted red. It was still intact, good for still many generations to come. I picked the Lilly of the Valley where my forefathers have perhaps picked before me…”

source: wikipedia

Ylitornio and Raahe cirled in red, source: Wikipedia

It was quite common in those days for immigrants to first go to Norway often stopping for a while in Finnmarken or Tromso before continuing to the United States. Even today, some young people go to Tromso for a season to work in the factories handling fish, and in Finnmarken you can get by quite well with the Finnish language. It appears to be, that according to my Grampa’s cousin Matthew, there is documentation that the Kauvosaari brothers (later Anderson) immigrated through Norway. Perhaps in this documentation there is a year marked stating the time of immigration. I know that many left Finland during and after the years of famine in 1866-1868. It was the last famine of its kind and 8% of the Finnish population died during those years. By looking at the family photographs of Isaac and Ida, I am guessing that Anderson brothers left some years later.

Gramma A. home place @ Raahe

Ida Anderson’s home place in Raahe

Elma also visited shortly in Raahe. Raahe is small city with a harbor located on the Gulf of Bothnia. In Elma’s writings she describes her fourth of July in Finland and the experience of her mother Ida, when she first arrived in New York City.

“Although it was fun, it was the quietest Fourth of July I have ever experienced–my first in a foreign land. My mother’s first Fourth of July in a foreign land was completely different. She was fourteen years old when she arrived as an immigrant into the harbor of New York on July fourth. She thought the country was at war because of the noise and shooting happening from the ships. Her only thought was to get away from it all, and since she did not understand the language of the land she had to trust in only God, that she might survive.Elman artikkeli fourth of july

I wonder, was she alone when she immigrated. And how brave for a fourteen year-old to leave everything that is familiar for a new country and new language. Grampa said that she worked in a hotel in downtown Minneapolis as a cook and that is where Isaac and Ida eventually met. Perhaps in her home in Finland, that is in the picture above, her mother might have a large wooden bowl used for bread baking. Rye bread has been a staple in Finnish diets for years and it is made with a bread root. Some say that the rounded and plump versions were meant for eating right away and the flat shaped breads with hole in the middle, so it could be hung up to dry was for later when fresh bread was not available. Depending where in Finland one lived, bread was not necessarily made every week. If it was made more often, there might be some of the bread starter left on the sides of the bowl to dry for the next baking day and if bread was only made a few times a year a new starter was made some days before.

elma and ida

Elma and Ida

Some time ago I received two different bread starters from opposite sides of the globe. One is from Australia from the lovely Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and the other I brought back from the US on my last trip last spring from my lovely Dad. Originally I had not thought of giving the starters names, but Celia asked if they could be named and so I posed the question to you last week. I have decided on Elma and Ida, as they are both travelers going long distances. The bread on the left is made with Elma coming from Celia. I have used strong bread flour with it and added some spelt and oat bran to the dough. The loaf on the right is made with Ida, coming from the kitchen I grew up in Golden Valley. Although neither bread is similar to the Finnish rye bread, I have added rye flour to the Ida giving them both a distinct flavour. My children have really fallen in love with the bread and I have been making a few loaves at a time several times a week. This way, I end up not having to do too much work as I have put my KitchenAid to knead the dough. And little by little I have been learning the trick, and the trick is patience and time. When there is no rush, it works every time like a charm. I had asked my Dad for some thoughts on baking bread as he as been doing it for years.

“I have always liked the concept of a sour dough. It is a slow food that
needs a bit of forethought and time. The whole idea is that every house has
its own sour and its own flavor. While it requires a bit of forethought it
is essentially an easy and simple process, but like most easy and simple
processes it has some rather complex biology that has to happen on a regular
basis.

Of course, the best way to start a starter is make friends with someone who
has a starter that has a flavor that you like.

You can of course start a sour yourself but it takes several weeks and
several “generations” to get it to be stable with a flavor that you will
like. I didn’t have a starter about 7 years ago, (maybe this one is about
Aleksi’s age?) but I figured if the Egyptians had figured this out 6
thousand years ago then I probably could too.

bread starters Elma and Ida

The most important ingredient to the process is patience. It is important to
understand that it is a biological process and that if you create the right
kind of environment you will get the right kind of biology. My opinion is
that it is important to keep your sour exposed to the air. You will get some
wild yeast from your environment as well as other organisms that are
specifically in your house and home. It is also important to understand that
you will get some activity but it will probably not be the right strain
right away and that it will take some generations to develop and cultivate a
dominant culture that both has a consistent and stable population as well as
generates a good flavor. Eventually by cultivating this sour in your home
you will get the flavor from your home environment. Every sour eventually
becomes different according to the environment of the home.”

two roots of breadbread risingCelia’s wish was that her bread starter could be passed on other interested bread bakers. And so if there is interest, I will gladly share some of either starter with you. Celia has wonderful step-step tutorials to baking with a sourdough in her blog. Check out the following links:

Bread #101: A basic sourdough tutorial

An over-night sourdough in pictures

If you have extra starter on hand, check out Celia’s link for these wonderful sourdough pancakes. I made them one evening for supper and they were popular with the children.

 

lucky charm bread

What I have been doing is a combination of fresh starter in the fridge according to Celia’s instructions and also allowing a thin layer of dough to dry in the bowl. Once completely dry, I have scraped it off and poured it into a plastic bag and kept in a dry place. I like have the dry starter on hand as a back up just in case someone was to spill my fresh starter. I make sure that the fresh starter is able to get air at all time and I have been using a Tupperware dressing shaker, that is tall and narrow and does not take up too much space. I leave the cap on the cover open for air and it has been working perfectly.  bread in a bag

 

 

Old Market Hall in Helsinki

Old Market Hall in Helsinki

Links to posts on Elma and the Anderson family: Memories of times passed, In my kitchen in the bleak mid-winterElma, Thing One and Thing Two, Keepsakes in My Kitchen,

Keepsakes in my Kitchen

by tableofcolors

In my kitchen this month I have more keepsakes. All sorts of treasures from old letters, Karelian pies that my children love, to two bread starters coming from opposite sides of the globe. The first starter is from my Dad and I brought it over when I last visited the States. The other starter I received from Celia’s kitchen in Australia. My children made it to the mailbox before me and thinking that the envelope was a belated Christmas card, they had managed to tear it open. It came with a lovely letter and simple instructions, and the request to give the bread root a name preferrably something that refers back to the original which is named Priscilla. Thank you so much for the mail Celia! So now I have two starters on the counter bubbling away. Would you have a suggestion what I should name these twin starters?

celia's breadroot

A little while ago I received a scanned article from my Grampa written by Elma (my great-great-aunt) in my inbox. The article tells of her story of when she came to visit Finland in 1930s. I have understood that one reason why she came to Finland was due to a broken romance. I have read it through a few times and have found myself smiling and even laughing outloud on a few occasions. The article has nineteen pages and so I will share some of the anecdotes over the course of a few posts. Back then, travel was not as common as today and so this was her first trip to Finland along with her first impressions. As she describes the places she visits I can almost imagine it since I have visited many of the same places as well. The cobble-stones that she mentions in the excerpt below are most likely the same ones still in place today. I could not even imagine walking over them in heels! Perhaps we have walked the same path along the Esplanade. She toured Finland for ten weeks and in those ten weeks she wore out two pairs of shoes out of the five that she had taken with and the only ones that really were durable were the ones patched up with Finnish leather. Elman artikkeli 2As they approached the Helsinki harbour, she tells of the emotion that many of the passengers experienced. It was emotion that she did not quite understand at the time, but as time and her trip went on, she started to feel the patriotism of her Mother’s and Father’s homeland. Later on she states that Helsinki kind of grows on you with its white cathedral in the background and the islands and land that just seem to appear out of the sea.

December 12, 2007 One relieved graduate with her Master's degree under her arm

Helsinki Cathedral: December 12, 2007 One relieved graduate with her Master’s degree under her arm

Upon arriving in Helsinki, it was not until the next day that they would actually step on land as they used small boats to bring the passengers from the ship. And a ship with passengers with 800 travelers would take some time indeed to unload. I suppose traveling in that time was something that was done with leisure. Not because they chose to, but because that was the only way to do it, as it was not possible to quick hop on a plane and visit Paris for an afternoon coffee as one of my friends once did. She had spent thirteen days on the ship and it had started to feel a bit like home. After making it on land she had been so hungry that she had headed to the first restaurant. I wonder if she ate at the indoor old market hall that is a red brick building that had been built in 1889. The old market hall building is the one with many people standing in front of it, perhaps holding an outdoor market as well.

Old market hall built in 1889 and the cityscape of Helsinki. http://vanhakauppahalli.fi/history/

Old market hall built in 1889 and the cityscape of Helsinki, year unknown. photo credit: http://vanhakauppahalli.fi/history/

“This restaurant was one where the women that worked in the outdoor market ate. They were dressed in blue dresses and wore white scarves on their heads and a small purse attached to a strap hung off their shoulder. I thought all women dressed in the same way, but I was told otherwise. I asked for a sandwich, and they asked what kind, ham? I choose the ham, and it was the best bread with ham I had ever tasted–not a sandwich as we know it, but a piece of bread with butter and slice of ham. Then I ordered a little bit of everything and drank an entire pot of coffee. It all tasted so good that I ate so much, I could barely walk after that.”

Elman artikkeli 4 saimaa

After Helsinki, Elma and Lyydi, a friend and travel companion headed to Eastern Finland and into Karelia that after the Winter and Continuation War belonged to Russia. She describes Saimaa which is located in Eastern Finland and is Finland’s largest waterway and expands over 4,400 square kilometers (2,734 miles) in the excerpt above.

“No one can explain the beauty of the Saimaa. With thousands of islands, it makes it seems as if it actually is thousands of lakes connected together. The sky above is the Finnish flag, blue and white, bluer and whiter than anywhere else in the world. The lake is at times a clearer blue and sometimes silver, but always crystal clear. The reflection of the islands in this perfect mirror and are green, blue and purple depending on the distance.”

Saimaa, September 2014

Saimaa, September 2014

Elma 5

Elma, date unknown

 

 

She does not mention if she ate the famous Karjalanpiirakka or Karelian pies. They are like little handpies that have a crust made of rye flour and filled with rice porridge. While they sell them here in all of the shops and bakeries, I believe that handmade and homemade ones are the best. But I would like to think that most likely she tasted them at some point. She does mention in her writing that often when visiting and eating, she would have to dine by herself as this was the custom of showing respect to the guest. She often would request to dine with the others, but they did not take note and just thought she was being humble and polite, trying to rather unsuccessfully refuse the honor of being the guest.

making karjalanpiirakkaThe karjalanpiirakka has very simple and inexpensive ingredients but it is fairly labor intensive. Often when we have made them for bake sales, we have a large group of people. One person has come earlier to cook the rice porridge as it is best to luke warm or cool for easier spreading. The rest of the crew shows up later to make the crust, which is actually quite simple and quick. Then an assembley line is set up. One will cut dough into portions that will then be divided into small disks to be rolled out by a group one. Group two will take the rolled out disks and fill the crusts with rice porride and crimp the sides. The third group will take care of the baking. The oven should be as hot as it goes as these traditionally have been baked in the wood burning stone oven that can be still found in most homes in Finland still today.

riisipuuro rice porridge

a wedding gift of ours: a double boiler pot intended just for porridge

Karjalanpiirakka, recipe from Hyvää Ruokahalua edited by Anna-Maija Tanttu
Rice filling

2 dl/just under 1 c water
2.5 dl/generous 1 c pearl rice
1 l/generous 2 pints of milk
2 tsp salt

Place the rice and water into a double boiler and allow to cook until the rice has absorbed most of the water. Add the milk and allow to simmer until thickened, or about 30 to 35 minutes. Mix in the salt and allow to cool.

Crust

2 dl/ just under 1 c cold water
1 tl salt
4 dl/1.7 c rye flour
2 dl/just under 1 c flour
1 tbsp butter or oil

Prepare the crust by mixing the salt and water together. Next mix in the flour. My tip is to not add in all of the flour at once, otherwise it will become too crumbly as mine did. Add in 2/3 of the flour and knead, adding the remaining flour as needed. Finally add in the oil or butter and knead until it becomes a smooth dough.

carelian pie dough collageDivide the dough and roll into thick rods that can be then divided into small disks to be rolled out. Roll out the little disks into oval shapes on a counter sprinkled with rye flour.

rolling out karjalanpiirakkaIf you need to take a break, make sure to cover the dough with cling film. Before filling the crust with the porridge, make sure to brush off the excess rye flour. Fill each rolled out disk with rice porridge leaving about 1.5 cm/generous 1/2 inch unfilled from the edge. Using both hands, crimp both side simultaneously going from one end to the other making an oval with rather sharp tips. I baked mine at 250 C/480 F for about ten minutes. Traditionally the karjalanpiirakka is dipped in a bath of hot milk and a knob of melted butter after baking. This is to soften the crust. I prefer the crispy rye crust and so I skip this stage, and I know that many others do as well. So it really is a matter of taste.

baked karjalanpiirakkaServe the karjalanpiirakka with egg butter. Hard boil 4-5 eggs for about 5-6 minutes depending on what you prefer. I prefer that the yolks are not soft but have a definite deep yellow color to them and are soft in texture. Allow to cool in a cold water bath for just a bit. Cut 100-150 g/3.5-5 ounces of butter into large cubes and place into a medium size bowl. Remove the shells from the eggs and using an egg slicer, slice the eggs twice making for small cubes. Using a fork, mix in with the butter. Add a sprinkle of salt to taste if needed.

two roots of bread

On my counter is a pair of bread starters bubbling away. Next week I will share some fresh sourdough bread and more of Elma’s trip as she visits Kauvosaari and Raahe the birth places of her parents Isak and Ida Anderson who immigrated from Finland to the United States via Norway in the late 1800s.

This post is a part of Celia’s In my Kitchen series that she hosts every month. In the sidebar of her blog is list of blogs from around the world, featuring what might be in their kitchen that particular month. This month she is featuring Kim, a fellow blogger who lost her home in fire. There is a link in her blog to a fundraiser to help her put a new stove in her kitchen and rebuild their lives.

note: At the end of Elma’s article it says that it is written originally in English by: Miss Elma Anderson of Minneapolis, Minnesota

Translate into Finnish by: Miss Lillian Kovala of Ashland, Wisconsin

and revised later by Laura (Mrs. Matt) Myllys of Minneapolis, Minnesota

The language is most likely quite old as it has come over with the previous generation of immigrants on the boats. Often in the new country, with a new language at its side the old language does not evolve in the same manner as in the home country, keeping many attributes of the past alive.

 

A day full of the surprises

by tableofcolors

A few weeks ago my cousin Jessie sent me an email that she would be coming to Helsinki with her husband, Olivier. It was the beginning to what would become a wonderful day and adventure that did not really go according to plan but turned out so much better. One lesson that I did learn however is that museums in Helsinki are not open on Mondays. My first stop in the morning before meeting up with Jessie and Olivier was to go visit a new coffee roastery called Kluuvikadun kahvipaahtamo, located in the basement level of the Kluuvi shopping center right in the heart of Helsinki. My old friend and colleague Hiski Lapinleimu is the entrepreneur behind the business. All of their coffee is either fair trade or organic and are traced to the source.

kluuvi kadun kahviI don’t think it can get much better than having a cup of coffee that was roasted only an hour ago with beans that you personally have selected.

kluuvikadun kahvipaahtamo4On the other side of the room is Armas Keittiö & Viinitupa. After being introduced to their lunch menu, I promised that we would be back. Our original plan with Jessie and Olivier was to visit Suomenlinna which is the fortress on an island just off the coast of Helsinki. The weather had decided otherwise and so we thought to go Kiasma, the museum of contemporary art and see their Marimekko exhibit. As we made it to the door, we noticed it was closed as did quite a few other tourists that would come and then turn around. And so we decided to have lunch. It was the correct decision.

jessie and olivierThe brains behind their locally sourced fast food concept at Armas Keittiö & Viinitupa is Heikki Ahopelto. Off to the side is a giant wood burning stone oven that is used daily for baking breads. Even their salmon is smoked on site using alder chips. Part of their concept is that the menu is not overly long but everything is made with care and quality ingredients. I had the salmon kebab that comes in a traditional Finnish potato flat bread. The coffee served with the lunch is freshly roasted across the room. I will be returning.

armas lohikebabarmas keittiöMy sister had suggested that we visit Hotelli Torni which is an old historical hotel that was long the tallest building in Helsinki in addition to the church towers. The skyline of Helsinki is not filled with skyscrapers rather it is filled with older decorative buildings. We had luck. Just as we started our walk to Torni the rain stopped and we were able to get our photos of the city without getting wet. We could however see how a new rainfall was rolling in from the east and just as we were leaving the rain began again.

Helsinki skyline photo by Olivier Belzile

Helsinki skyline photo by Olivier Belzile

Perhaps we should have learned by now that museums are not open on Mondays, but we were quite persistent. We decided to go see if the National Museum might be open. We walked through Kamppi and decided to peek into the Kamppi Chapel of Silence. Outside there is the sound of constant traffic but inside the atmosphere was peacefully quiet. As we walked in, we noticed music stands and soon found out that because of the Helsinki cultural festival weeks there would be two violinists soon performing pieces by Bach and Bartok. And so we sat down in the silence accompanied by an occasional whisper and waited for a mini mid-day concert. It seemed that the day was full of little unplanned surprises. Aren’t those the best kinds of days?

Kanniston Leipomo established in 1914  photo by Olivier Belzile

Kanniston Leipomo established in 1914 photo by Olivier Belzile

After the performance we continued our stroll to the museum. On the way we spied a bakery, Kanniston Leipomo, with delicious looking korvapuusti which literally means an ear pull in Finnish but is actually a wonderful cinnamon roll. And so with our korvapuusti in a bag to go, we strolled to the National Museum. It was also closed. This was certainly not going to spoil our day! We slowly made our way to the restaurant that we were planning to meet my sister and husband for dinner when I noticed at text message saying that Ravintola Sipuli was not taking reservations for the evenings and so we went to Ravintola Nokka just around the corner on the harbor full of sailboats. I quickly texted my husband as well with the development of plans as he was planning on joining us as well. It was a day of eating locally sourced food. Each menu item at Ravintola Nokka is named after a town or city where they locally source their ingredients.

harborThe buildings are built with red brick and had served as harbor storage in a previous life. The ceilings are high and typical to the era, the windows are arched. It was a combination of old and new. In between the kitchen and dining area is a glass wall. You could see the chefs working in their stainless steel kitchen. I loved the ambience. And I loved our company.

ravintola nokkadoing what I love--photo credit Olivier Belzile

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.

Fiesta Friday Badge Button I party @

Cousins

by tableofcolors

When I was a kid, the cousins and aunts and uncles and of course the grandparents would get together at Thanksgiving and Christmas and sometimes on Mother’s day and Easter. I think we all have special memories from those times at Gramma’s house. We would always eat well, create music and have old-fashioned quality time together without mobiles phones, iPads or even the internet. I’m not necessarily criticizing todays instagram world since I admit that I am an avid user of social media. In fact, today “the cousins” are spread around in different parts of the globe and facebook, whatsapp and instagram offer the best way to keep up with their lives and their interests. Last Sunday had a some of the same feel as we got together at my sister’s house to celebrate our nephew’s birthday. We had a total of ten cousins together.

pinata2They live in the Puu-Käpylä area of Helsinki which is a fairly quiet and quaint neighborhood tucked in amongst busy roads. The houses have been built in 1920-1925 and are designed by Martti Välikangas. I love the cozy neighborhood with its red orche houses and small gardens. Originally they were built for the working class but today all types of people live there. But more important than the houses are the special people inside. Happy birthday to our Godson!

birthday boyWe were treated to a delicious lunch with homemade potato salad, vegetable sticks and dip and hot dogs. Perhaps my sister will share the recipe to her salad. Her cupcakes were decorated with a marzipan hockey stick and candy puck. The buttercream on the cupcakes had less sugar than normally and it had a rich flavor that both children and adults liked. It was a good way to start the day. The temperatures had warmed up and outside there were puddles and wet snow, but a five minutes walk away was the Käpylä rink with synthetic ice. It was the perfect outing for the cousins…and aunts and uncles after all of the treats.

hockey player Collagekids on the iceThe breeze did not have a sting since it was quite balmy for our circumstances (+2 C). Really where ever you might reside, there usually are those little hidden gems and treasures to be found nearby that make everyday life that much more enjoyable. We had an ice rink just down the block when I was a kid. It was one of the hidden gems of my childhood neighborhood in Golden Valley.

mexican lasagne2This recipe is for the balmy winter days. It has has enough heat in it to remind of warmer temperatures. The name, Tortilla or Mexican lasagne, might cause shudders in true Italian or Mexican connoisseurs. In reality it is a Tex-Mex style dish that has taken a bit of inspiration from the layered form of lasagne. It was quite tasty and tasted even better the next day. So even if it is not a genuine original of any cuisine I give it my recommendation.

Mexican Lasagne

400 g/14 oz ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 stalks of celery
1/4 leek, chopped
2 large handfuls of spinach, chopped (I used frozen spinach, from last summers bounty)
1 paprika, chopped
1 can crushed tomatoes (I used the last of my tomatoes from last summer, blanched, peeled and frozen)
400 g/14 oz refried beans
1/2 dl/1/4 c salsa
200 g mozzarella
3 large whole wheat tortillas
sea salt
black pepper
cumin
smoked paprika powder
oregano

Brown the ground beef and add vegetables except for the spinach and crushed tomatoes. Cook until the onion is opaque. Add the refried beans and stir until combined. Next add the tomatoes and spinach and seasonings. Allow to simmer so that the excess moisture evaporates. Take a tart pan the size of the tortillas and lightly spray with oil. Lay the first tortilla on the bottom and spoon one third of the filling on top and sprinkle with one third of the cheese. Continue alternating with the rest of the tortillas, filling and cheese. Bake in the oven at 200 C/390 F for about 15 minutes or so that the cheese has some color. Serve with a spicy chipotle salsa.

mexican lasagne

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.
2013-10-12 14.45.31
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.
2013-10-12 14.45.14
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

2013-10-12 14.47.18
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.
2013-10-12 15.11.48
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.
2013-10-12 15.38.31

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.

2013-10-15 08.39.46

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

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.