tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: organic

80 years young

by tableofcolors

When I was small, Gramma would occasionally make the grand-daughters dresses for Christmas and Easter. Usually the Christmas dress was made with a rich, dark velvet and the spring dress had a floral pattern and a white crocheted collar that could be removed and had a pearl for a button in the back of the neck. I remember sitting in Joann’s Fabrics, walking by the abundance of fabrics and touching the ones I liked. My mom and sister were along and we flipped through a large book full of possible patterns. We were shopping for the fabric and pattern for spring dresses. The fabric had rather large flowers on it and had a bit of weight to it, so that it kept it’s structure nicely. Her sewing room was on the ground floor of their home and while she sewed, the radio most likely was on playing softly in the background.

When we went to church on Easter Sunday, I felt like we were the luckiest girls. The dresses were always perfect. I still love a dress that fits well.

Gramma and Grampa have lived in several different houses and each home come with their own special memories. Gramma’s house has always been my happy place. It’s a place that I always feel so relaxed and at ease. I know that perhaps the big get-togethers with all of the cousins might not have been as relaxing for Gramma as they were us kids. But somehow she did manage to listen to us in the midst of all of the action. The cousins are now spread out across the US and Europe. Maybe someday we will organize a get-together and reminisce.

Gramma has always been my idol. When I grow up I want to be just like her. I think she is wonderfully graceful and intelligient and has a great sense of style. She has wit and a twinkle in her eye.  And together with Grampa they are always so interested in all of the ventures of their grandchildren, and to the delight of the younger generations they actively use social media. Seems like they are not so far away afterall, even if geographically they are across the Atlantic. I’ve been so fortunate to share this blogging journey with them.

This photo was taken sixteen years ago, almost to the day. I keep returning to it when I was going through some photos. Gramma and Grampa are standing by ready to help if needed but allowing us to spread our wings. I had just become a new mom, which has been my most life changing experience to date. Our first born was born in Finland and being quite young and perhaps not quite understanding that a baby may truly come two weeks after her due date, we bought tickets with great confidence for our little family to come to the States. Fortunately she was born two days before her due date and when the flight date arrived, she was exactly four weeks old. I wonder what would have happened had she arrived two weeks overdue! The baby might have been fine, but I didn’t realize that moms need to recover as well. I think I displayed my ingnorance at the birthing class. At the end of the class the midwife asked if anyone had any questions. Someone was concerned if the father would be able to actively participate in the birth. Others asked about bathing the baby or what to take with when leaving for the hospital. My question had to do with rollerblading. I loved rollerblading and I had not had a single chance to rollerblade that summer with my pregnant belly. I asked how soon after birth could I go rollerblading. I had naively thought that I would be on my blades in no time after coming home. I think the midwife had a hard time keeping a straight face and soon I was to realize what was in store. In spite of it all, four weeks later we nervously made our way on the plane and barely dared to breathe. We wondered if we would manage with our new little one. We shouldn’t have worried, the sound of the air conditioner lulled our little one to sleep.

Happy 80th birthday Gramma! Happy Anniversary to both of you, wishing you many more! If we were closer, we would make you brunch. Perhaps a smoothie bowl to share with the grands and great-grands?

 

Our garden has started to produce. This year we put a garden fabric over the kale seedlings as little critters seem to find them every spring. And it worked! Our whole planting box is full of vibrant kale. Along the side of the house where the kitchen is, there is a terrace that goes around one side of the house with planting boxes along the side. One box has herbs and a couple have summer flowers, but the ones in the middle have blueberry bushes and strawberries as a ground covering plant. We had to put nets over the strawberries at the birds really liked the strawberries.

Garden smoothie (makes two large serving or four smaller ones)

1 orange
1 lemon
2 cups of strawberries
1 cup of cherries, pitted
1 handful of blueberries
1 large leaf of kale
1 peeled piece of ginger (1.5 cm x 1.5 cm)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 heaping tsp maca powder

Squeeze the orange and lemon, trying to extract as much of the flesh of the fruit as possible along with the juice. Clean the strawberries and pit the cherries. Cut of the heavy steam of the kale and roughly chop into smaller pieces. Cut a square of ginger and peel the skin off. Cut the square into four smaller pieces and place all ingredients into the blender. Blend until smooth and pour into small bowls. Garnish with berries, nuts, muesli and puffed amaranth or add a layer of youghurt for a parfait. Enjoy!

 

We love you and miss you! ❤

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Hiking the Swedish Nordic Fell in the Summer

by tableofcolors

I’ve had a  small hiatus from blogging, but am happier than ever to be back. Sometimes life hands little surprises and although they might be positive in nature, they have the tendency to stir the pot and mix everything up. The natural rythym of bedtimes and wake-up times have returned, even for the teenager, as school has now started. Although I love the freedom of summer vacation from school, by the end I am looking forward for to school to start and for that natural rythym to begin.

2015-07-21 09.20.15We made it back from our hiking trip to northern Sweden and Norway. To me it seems like almost every Finn I have talked to, have at some point in their life gone on an hiking expedition in the very north. Some hike trails and others rely on the compass and enter the wilderness where there is no visible sign of people nearby. We opted for the wilderness as my husband has a lot of experience trekking in unmarked territory and for him, hiking along trails is not quite the true wilderness experience. We drove to Arjeplog, Sweden and left our car on a patch of gravel, off the road and out of anyone’s way. The drive was about twelve hours from our house, and once arriving it was nice to get out and get some exercise. The weather was not real promising and at times we felt a few drops as we changed our clothes and gathered our gear.

wetlands and rivers swedish laplandI have been hiking in the Nordic Fell once before on a winter hunting trip, but this was completely different because there was no snow, or actually hardly any snow covering the landscape. The landscape from far looks like it is gently rolling as shrubs and trees cover the remains of the last ice age: large moss covered boulders and in between are the valleys full of wetlands that feel like a spongy waterbed to walk on.

snow in the summer

waterfalls in swedish laplandI was surprised to see so many waterfalls and hear bubbling and gurgling water at almost all times. The water is so clean that we would just take our kuksa, a cup carved out of wood, and scoop a cupful whenever we seemed thirsty. Usually the creeks and waterfalls might not be rushing at such full force in July, but as with the rest of Scandinavia, spring had arrived late this year and some of these waters were meltwaters from the previous winter.

fisherman and stern fairy

gear

tunturipuri marsh creekSometimes in the middle of a marsh, connecting to a pond was a small creek. Mind your step, as the sides were steep and they can easily be a couple of meters deep of clear water.

bed of rocksI often wondered as we walked about the landscape of sound during the end of the ice age as the giant glaciers moved, moving huge amounts of boulders into one pile or how the top of the Nordic fell is gently littered with rocks, as if they had been just randomly dropped, one here and another there. Our original plan was to set up camp and climb to a peak of about 1800 meters with a lighter day pack. Since the weather did not quite favor us we shortened our hike a bit and carried all of our stuff and decided to climb to 1000+ meters instead.

climbing the nordic fellgnarled tree

In between the peaks and patches of rocky beds, there might be a meadow full of blooming flowers to be discovered. It seems as if nature is in a hurry in the very north as the summer is so very short, especially this summer.

meadow flowers in lapland

After a two day hike and one night in the Swedish wilderness, we decided to go see if the sun was shining on the other side of the Scandinavian mountains. And it was.

norwayThe flowers of the cloudberries had just withered and they were forming berries. Some years and with a warmer summer, we might have had cloudberries to pick and pop into our mouths as we hiked. The recipe below is for a berry smoothie, on top of which I sprinkled a few cloudberries I had in the freezer. If you might have cloudberries on hand, I would suggest to not blend them in the blender as they have a raspberry like seed, although a bit bigger and it is more pleasant to eat the berry whole rather than having a smoothie full of pieces of the shell of the seed.

smoothie collage

Berry smoothie with kale

 

1 dl/ 1/2 c strawberries
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c black currants
1 large leaf of kale with the steam removed and ripped into large pieces
juice of 1/2 lemon
2.5 dl/ 1 and 1/4 c plain yoghurt

If using fresh berries, add a few ice cubes into the blender to make the smoothie cold. Blend until smooth and serve in a glass. Garnish with cloudberries.
*for a dairy-free version replace the youghurt with orange juice. You may also substitute other berries that you might have on hand. We had ready-to-pick strawberries in our own patch and ripe black currants in the bush and so this time that is what ended up in the smoothie.

In my next post, I will bring you to Norway. As a preview and a little sample of what is to come, here is a video I put together of our trip.

A treasure hunt in the forest

by tableofcolors

Today is the perfect type of day to write a blog. In my room that has the computer, the blinds have been pulled up completely letting in the soft light of late October. Today is a rainy, windy and gray day and although I prefer to spend some time outside everyday, it is not especially enticing today. The leaves have now fallen and so the splashes of color that decorated the horizon is now a mere memory. It has been a little while since I wrote my blog last. The children had their fall break and all of the days were full of activity as we visited their grandparent’s a couple of hours away and had company visit us at the end of the week. And during that time our little one, almost not a baby anymore (although I still consider him one), learned to give little kisses.

little loveThe other week our family went on a mushroom picking trip with another family that we have been close friends with for years. The weather was quite warm and the kids thought it was almost like a treasure hunt. We only had a few hours and after scavenging one area of the forest, our Erik asked why were were quitting so early. Once you find one yellowfoot or funnel chanterelle, usually there is a cluster of them and the picking is quick if the spot is good.

picking yellowfootsuppilovahvero yellowfoot collageWe came home with about ten liters. Yesterday I read in the newspaper that even after our cold spell last week with freezing temperatures, the experts are saying that yellowfoot could still be picked since the warm and wet weather returned. So we will have to see if we make it into the woods once again before the snow falls.

I think the best way to store the mushrooms is by sautéeing them for a bit in a little butter and then vacuum packing them for the freezer. Most of the mushrooms we ate fresh and made a sauce for our Sunday dinner but some I saved for mushroom tarts this past weekend. This would be the perfect holiday fare and could be made with other mushrooms as well.

mushroom tart suppilovahvero piirakkaMushroom tart with leek  suppilovahvero piirakka
makes one large tart about 25 cm/ 9 inches or two smaller tarts

one portion of pie crust (recipe by Weiland and Tierney)

3 dl/1 and 1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
115 g/4 oz unsalted cold butter cut into cubes
1 and 1/2 tbsp cold lemon juice
2-3 tbsp ice cold water

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in the cold butter until the mixture is crumbly. I like to use my kitchenaid for this with the paddle attachment. Add the cold lemon juice and water and work the dough until it forms a ball. Allow to rest in the refrigerator while preparing the filling. This pie crust freezes very well and can be prepared well in advance.

Filling

230 g/8 oz sauteed mushrooms
1/4 of a leek, finely chopped
240 g/8.5 oz sour cream
2 eggs
65 g/2.3 oz sharp cheese of your choice, grated (I used a mature Präst cheese)
salt
black pepper
oregano
marjoram

Sauté the cleaned and roughly chopped mushrooms and leeks until the liquid begins to evaporate. Add salt, pepper, oregano and marjoram and check for flavor. Remove from the heat. In another bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, Präst cheese, salt and black pepper. Set aside for a few minutes.

Roll out the pie crust and place into the tart pan or pans. Prick the bottom with a fork. Add the mushrooms and leeks to the sour cream mixture and stir until combined. Pour into the tart pan and bake in the oven at 175 C/350 F for about 15 minutes if making two smaller tarts and 20-25 minutes for a larger tart. Allow to cool a bit before serving with a salad.

two little onesThe little one has a mind of his own. He has been taking steps for almost two months now when we encourage him, sometimes even twenty at a time, but he has not still decided that he is ready to walk. He thinks walking on his knees is the way to go.

girls picking musrhooms

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

Girls like treasure hunts too

by tableofcolors

I have chatted with my friend that often when women take off for the weekend, we have the longest list of things that need to be accomplished. A lined water-proof fall jacket for one, rubber boots for another, underwear for the whole family, indoor gym shoes for our oldest, socks for myself and the list goes on and on. When we return home from our treasure hunt we are not necessarily well rested and possibly a bit crabby because so much money was spent, even if it was due to necessity.

This time we decided to take our girls on a treasure hunt around Helsinki. We were not necessarily hunting for material things (even though a few things were found) rather for experiences and to enjoy the last days of vacation from school. School starts here next week. Our entourage included two ladies and five little ladies. Each with their own personality and lots of nervous excitement and anticipation.

Eat & Joy, Muu milk bar and coffee shop
Smoked fish salad

When we arrived in Helsinki, we had seven hungry bellies. We decided to try the Muu milk bar and coffee shop which is situated in downtown Helsinki in the basement level of the Kluuvi shopping center. They serve a soup daily and smoked fish salads. We ordered the European perch soup for all of us. The lunch comes with a salad, organic bread made in their own wood-burning oven, farm-fresh milk and a cup of coffee or tea. The only down side after we had paid for our meals was that the soup was nearly gone. We arrived a little after two in the afternoon. Fortunately the staff was very nice and everyone got something to eat. The kids ate the soup and the adults had smoked fish salads. The potato rieska (flat bread) was a favorite.

Now we were ready for an adventure. We headed to the harbor and took a ferry to the Suomenlinna sea fortress which is also an Unesco World Heritage Site. It is an affordable place to visit since there is no admission. The ferry over costs five euros for adults and two fifty for children (round trip).

The fortress was built in the 1700s to defend the Eastern part of the Swedish empire. During Russian rule Suomenlinna was used to defend the sea passage to St. Petersburg. It is full of cannons for the girls to climb on, tunnels to explore and walls to run on.

Suomenlinna, sea fortress

Exploring the tunnels

Friendly ghosts

Sunday morning we headed to flea market in Hietalahti. Usually kids get told to only look and not touch. Flea markets are meant for digging and touching, except for glassware. We even found a few treasures to take home with us.

Hunting for treasures

Kids can sometimes be picky eaters but we thought exposure to different tastes is always a good thing and so we had lunch at a Nepalese restaurant, Kantipur. After we ordered, the kids asked many questions about Nepal and the paintings of Himalayan scenery. The ladies had Bhendo Khursani or lamb in a ginger, capsicum, soy and spicy chili sauce. The little ladies had Kukhurmo Korma or chicken in a tomato and cream sauce. The little ladies really impressed us! Quite a few of them cleaned their plates. Lunch was served with fresh Nan bread which was popular with everyone. “When would I make Nan bread at home?” was the next request.

Himalayan scenery

Kids are great because often they don’t need toys, they come up with games to play in almost every setting.

Jumping from rock to rock in Kaivopuisto

The bungee jumpers had a captive audience.

Bungee jumping

Although we didn’t find the new backpack for school we did find a few keepsakes to put into our pockets and many experiences richer, we headed home ready for a new school year to start.

“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”
― Ansel Adams