tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: Refined sugar free

A Shooting Star

by tableofcolors

I’ve had a long break from blogging. Too long. All week I had been planning to write a post, but then I got caught up just being a Mom and before I knew it was ten pm and the day had flown by. Ten pm is a bit too late to start. I can easily spend four hours on a post, so I must start at eight or eight thirty to be done by midnight. But I am so excited to be back. My thoughts have kept straying to my blog and my fingers itch with the need to write. But now that so much time has passed I am having a hard time deciding where to start.

But first things first. First I will tell you why I haven’t blogged for so long. We had a lovely little coffee shop in Espoo which is a city right next to Helsinki. Basically it is all one metropolis. Our coffee shop, Cabana de Empanadas was in the new and sleek wing of the Iso Omena shopping center. The west end metro was supposed to open already last August but has been delayed and no one knows when it really will open. It is all wrapped up in political tape. That meant that we just didn’t have enough traffic walking by. Of course it is sad that our coffee shop did not become a success story. But I refuse to see it in only negative light. I have learned so much during these past two years, that I felt like I went through an intensive MBA program. And we did have many small successes during the past year. It really did not quench my thirst to become an entrepreneur, but it did give me many valuable lessons.

Ten Tips for a starting entrepreneur

  1. Select your Partners well. Roughly said, partnership is an intense relationship. Sometimes the road can be rocky. That is why it is important to share basic values about how business is done. It will make decision-making a bit easier.
  2. Location. Everyone talks about the importance of location. And it really is as important as how it is made out to be. We found out the hard way. Sometimes even 100 meters can make or break the deal.
  3. Building a team with momentum and energy. Surround yourself with people that have positive energy and 100% commitment. Skills can be taught but attitude is always harder to change.
  4. Share your story! Tell your story to your clients. Not only does it form a foundation for marketing, it helps convey your values and passion to your customer. In  the end, many companies offer excellent products and services but the ones that truly succeed have a passion that goes deeper than just creating a profit.
  5. Believe in your people and back them. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. It is better to act and make a mistake than to not do anything all together.
  6. Remember that start-ups play with a different set of rules and resources than big companies. They are not tied to all of the bureaucracy that big business is. Use it to your advantage.
  7. Build your network. I learned that small companies often work together.
  8. Commitment. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle. There really is no such thing as an overnight success. The public rarely sees everything that happens behind closed doors. The stumbles and falls and small successes sprinkled in between.
  9. There is no such thing as shortcuts in business. You will need to work hard and do all of the not-so-glamourous work and at times it will cause you to sweat. I can guarantee this to you.
  10. Balance your life. Share your business with your spouse even if they are not a partner. Remember that family ultimately is first, even if at times you and your family will have to make sacrifices.

During our business venture or as my husband called it, a shooting star, I had the opportunity to meet many lovely people that work their trade with passion. One such person was Vanessa Leskinen. Vanessa lives in Finland but is originally from France and is the author of the blog Chocolate & Quinoa. Her blog has a collection of gluten-free recipes made with a French twist. Vanessa made most of our gluten-free products and we often received positive feedback from customers.

I have made Vanessa’s Oatmeal & Coconut flour pancakes on several occasions and they are a favorite with our children. And since I have always loved a good pancake, I really can’t praise their fluffy texture enough.

The photo above is a bit Christmassy, and as you might notice we had no snow on the morning of Christmas day. I have so many delightful recipes ready and photographed. The pancakes above were served with an apple-raisin compote made by my neighbor.

Vanessa’s Oatmeal and Coconut Flour pancakes (gluten-free)

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

120 g gluten free oat flour (I did not have oat flour on hand, so I blended rolled oats in the blender until it became a coarse flour-like consistency)
30 g coconut flour
30 g cornstarch
3 eggs
100 g unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp coconut sugar
½ tsp baking soda
dash of sea salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
300 ml almond milk or oat milk
Coconut oil for cooking

Mix the dry ingredients in a larger bowl including the oat flour, coconut flour, cornstarch, coconut sugar, dash of sea salt and baking soda. In another smaller bowl mixt the wet ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Allow to rest for fifteen minutes.

Heat the frying pan to a medium heat and add a teaspoon of coconut oil to grease the surface. Using a ladle, pour a batter on the pan and allow to fry until bubbles have formed and the edges are slightly dry. Flip and fry on the other side for another minute or two. Enjoy with apple compote or maple syrup.

We have a cold spring this year. The weather changes it’s mind everyday five times. We might have sunshine, the kind that feels warm when it touches your skin and a half hour later it might be snowing. And then soon rain might come down in heavy drops. and before you know it, it the sun will shine with a bit of hail. The hay and grasses in the woods are still a bit yellow but inside we have spring greens seedlings. We were thinking to plant them outside this weekend, but it was too cold. But I am sure that eventually, summer will come. And I can’t wait to tell you all about our new plans. Life goes on and new opportunities arise even if Cabana de Empanadas was a shooting star.

Happy Mother’s Day lovely ladies…these pancakes would be just perfect for breakfast in bed.  😉

 

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

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Memories and the most delicious Gluten-free Pumpkin Pie

by tableofcolors

worlds-best-gluten-free-refined-sugar-free-pumpkin-pie-3I have been a bit homesick lately. I wish I could go back in time and slip on the velvet dress Gramma made. And go to Gramma’s house for Sunday or maybe Thanksgiving dinner with the whole family. Cousins would be over and we would begin our holiday season with Christmas songs around the piano. Erica might have played the violin. I might have played the violin as well in later years after practicing a bit. Lisa would play the piano.

The house was split into three levels. There was a dark wooden round railing on the staircase going upstairs that curved at the bottom of the stairs. It was smooth and shiny and I would always run my fingers along it going to the third level. I’m not sure if I remember correctly, but I believe there was the wall of frowning ancestors in the staircase going up. It has always been interesting to think of their lives and how they differed from ours. I found this photo in my album, and sure enough the frowning ancestors were in the place that I had remembered.

family-photo-91Upstairs the guest room had a bed that was so high you had to really try climbing on top of it. The mattress was rather firm and there might have been cotton crocheted lace along the edge of the spread that was turned over near the head of the bed. I remember sleeping on the bed a few times when staying overnight at Gramma’s. I felt like a princess on the bed, and I think my brother must have been sleeping on the other side of the big double bed. There was something so exciting about sleeping over at Gramma’s that sometimes it took a little while for the sandman to come. I remember watching the shadows of the tree branches swaying. Perhaps it was the street light or the light of the moon that filtered into the room. It felt cozy and safe, Gramma and Grampa were just down the hall and the next thing I knew, it was the light of the sun filtering in the window bringing the new day. Gramma and Grampa were both in the kitchen by the time we made it downstairs. I don’t remember if I woke Pekka up or did he wake me. We sat in the back of the kitchen, where the table had its own niche in the bay window. We had Rice Krispies that crackled and popped quietly in our bowls, while WCCO played softly in the background. Maybe we had a piece of toast as well or a half of a muffin from the bakery.

eating-with-cousins-at-morgan-aveThe recipes below are made to share. The pumpkin pie is gluten-free and made using no refined sugar. It is absolutely delicious and will be going on my list of favorites. My recipe for homemade pumpkin purée can be found here.

gluten-free-refined-sugar-free-pumpkin-pie

Gluten-free and refined sugar free pumpkin pie

The pie crust recipe has been created by Erika from A Little Insanity blog and you can find it from this link.

The flour I used was a mix of white and dark gluten-free flour that had ground flax seed in it giving it a darker color.

Pumpkin pie filling (Refined sugar free)

5 dl/ 2 c pumpkin purée
2 eggs
1 and 1/2 dl/ 2/3 c coconut sugar or unrefined cane sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
2 dl/just under 1 c heavy cream

Follow the instructions for the pie crust as can be found in the link above. Roll out the pie crusts, place in pie tins and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes. Prebake at 200 C/400 F for about 10-12 minutes or until the crust has gained slight color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while preparing the filling.

Beat the eggs and coconut sugar until very thick. Mix the spices in with the pumpkin purée. Fold the pumpkin mixture into the egg batter. Using a spoon, add in the cream. Pour the filling into the pie tin and bake at 175 C/350 F for about 35-40 minutes. Test with a skewer.

Allow to cool and serve with whipped cream flavored gently with a bit of coconut sugar and cinnamon.

kurpitsalettuja-taikina

One weekend recently we had pumpkin for every meal. Pumpkin waffles, a DIY Pumpkin spice latte that was better thank Starbucks and Savory Pumpkin sauce over cooked barly. The kids did not complain and even our baby had some pumpkin purée.

Rosemary pumpkin sauce

I browsed a bit online and noticed that Martha Stewart had fried rosemary in olive oil. The rosemary gave my pumpkin sauce a beautiful flavor.

Fresh rosemary
olive or coconut oil

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil on a large frying pan. Place the fresh rosemary into the pan and fry for about 1-2 minutes or until the rosemary is turning a bit brown. These crispy bits will bring the flavor of your sauce to the next level.

Cook barley according to directions on the package. Season with organic vegetable stock.

5 dl/2 cups of pumpkin purée
1 clove of garlic
1 onion, finely chopped
apple vinegar
half and half or cream cheese
salt and pepper
water or barley cooking water

Remove the rosemary and set aside on a plate. Place the minced garlic and onion into the already hot pan. Add in the the pumpkin purée and stir. Since the pumpkin purée is already cooked this sauce is very quick. Add water or barley cooking water to thin the sauce a bit. If you prefer, you may add a splash of half and half or 50 g of cream cheese to bring some creaminess to the sauce.
Add the vinegar, salt and pepper. Check flavor.

Spoon sauce over the cooked barley and garnish with the fried rosemary.

rosemary-pumpkin-sauce

Last rays of Summer

by tableofcolors

Where to start. Life is going by faster than I can write. A few days ago the announcer on the radio said that Wednesday would be the last day of summery-like weather. It wasn’t really summer anymore and hasn’t been so for some time. The air had the chill of autumn. In the sun, the air feels warm but in the shade, it feels like a jacket would be in place. I decided that I would take the day off from work related things and try to catch the last rays of summer sun with the kids. A cold front was arriving.

bella-and-the-september-beachI asked the little ones, that are not at school during the day, if we should make one last trip to the beach. Bella became all excited. She wanted to play mermaid one last time. She took off on her bike without shoes. I asked if she might need shoes. “No, then I don’t have to wait for my feet to dry after swimming.” I had to agree. It is rather uncomfortable to put on shoes when they are covered in partially wet sand.

When we arrived at the beach, it was empty. The sand was filled with rings made with light motorcycles, most likely in the evening time by a group of teenagers. No one had walked on these circles yet, and the wind had not shifted the sand erasing their existence. Perhaps it had been the night before. Bella left her bike under the tree that has become our designated bike park. It is the spot where the hard ground turns into the sandy beach. I continued to push the stroller through the sand to the other side of the reeds. It is the side we always go to and usually spread our blanket under the shade of a group of trees that stand right in the middle of the beach. The sand is smoother on this side of the reeds and there are not as many rocks. But now it was fall and the sun was in a different position and all along the beach there were long shadows. So we sat in the sun this time to warm us up and Bella played Mermaid.

last-rays-of-summer-collage

She was completely immersed in her own world of make-believe play. There is something so satisfactory about playing. I felt like I almost got to participate through the lens of my camera. Perhaps it is my play, photography that is. Completely de-stressing.

baby-and-the-beachMy husband and I have a little goal that we started in the beginning of August. To eat as little refined sugar as possible. The original goal was to have no sugar until Christmas. Five exceptions were allowed. I haven’t quite kept with the goal, having a little taste of something sweet a few times and on special occasions. I see it as a lifestyle and so I don’t dare to lay down too strict rules of what can and cannot be eaten. But in the end I have been pleased that we have had very little refined sugar and if the sweet tooth seems to get the better of me, I have tried making things sweetened with maple syrup or honey. Afterall, I see this as something will continue after Christmas and not just a crash course to try suffer through.

giant-zucchini

One day when I came home, I found a bag by the door with some giant zucchini. At first they sat on our counter as a decoration showing off their vibrant summer greens. We spent almost two weeks eating them. We were having some young people over one evening and I felt like having something sweet, so I searched the web for a recipe that would not contain refined sugar. I found the following recipe for zucchini and applesauce muffins from the Ambitious Kitchen. First I tried the recipe as is, the second batch I gently tweeked by adding in a bit more olive oil to give the muffin a softer crumb. Here is my version.

Zucchini Applesauce muffins without refined sugar

3.5 dl/1.5 c whole wheat flour (I used a half and half mix of white and whole-grain spelt flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
generous 2 dl/1 c shredded zucchini
generous 1 dl/ 1/2 c pure maple syrup or honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
0.7 dl/ 1/3 c olive oil
1dl/1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c milk (any milk will work including nondairy options)

Preheat your oven to 175 C/350 C. Spray the muffin tin with a non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl mix all of the dry ingredients including the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a medium sized bowl mix all of the wet ingredients. Start by gently whisking the egg, olive oil, applesauce, milk, vanilla extract and almond extract. Add in the shredded zucchini. Combine with the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed. Spoon muffin batter in the muffin tin and bake for about 19-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

zucchini-and-applesauce-muffinsIf you have a special occasion and want to take the muffins up a notch. This frosting brings a delightful twist. (It contains just a bit sugar.)

2 dl/1 c whipping cream
250 g/9 oz quark
100 g/3.5 oz cream cheese
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp sugar

Whip the cream until fluffy. Fold in the quark and cream cheese and mix until smooth. Add in the lemon juice and sugar. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe dollops onto eat muffin. In the picture about I have cut the muffins into halves and then garnished with the frosting. Enjoy!

We opened our second Cabana de Empanadas coffee shop this past August in the Iso Omena shopping center in Espoo (15 minutes from downtown Helsinki). It has been busy and delightful! Opening weekend was wonderfully busy!

iso-omena cabana de empanadas