Simple pleasures

Tag: simple pleasures

There is always a first time

by tableofcolors

first time skatingShe was so excited to go try it out for the first the time. Skating was something that the big kids do and our two year-old likes to do everything they do. And maybe because she is so independent by nature, she is usually quite successful. That day it was sunny and cold and we skated for almost an hour and so did she. She did not complain once. The baby was in the buggy and ocassionally we would skate and push him around as well. Learning to skate on ice with a bit of snow coverage is a little easier, as it is not so slippery.

the baby in the buggySome days have been sunny and some days gray during this past week, but quite often ice skating has been on the agenda. There is a skating trail made at “our” lake and another one at the Kuusaanlampi which is a nook on the Kymijoki or Kymi river. The loop is 2.5 km/1.5 miles. Four times around is a good workout and a pleasant way to start the day. There is a car track as well on the ice, but drifting the car with the hand brake is one skill I must still learn someday. Before learing that trick, I wouldn’t dare to attempt to join the ranks. It would be a first for me.

kuusanlampiThere is something about this time of year and pancakes. Maybe it is the need for a quick lunch or supper, or perhaps it is comforting after being out in the cold, but a year ago I was serving up buckwheat pancakes after our ice skating excursions. This year our go-to lunch has been banana pancakes made with almond meal or flour. They are a great way to use up the brown bananas on the counter and their ingredient list is so short and simple. I had been running across recipes for banana pancakes that used no traditional flour and the the following is my take on it. The first version has a bit more egg in proportion and the second one has less. You may choose your favorite, both work out great.

gluten free dairy free pancakesBanana pancakes, gluten-free and dairy-free

Version one:

makes 4-5 pancakes
2 ripe bananas mashed
3 eggs
1 dl/ 1/2 c almond flour
sprinkle of cinnamon

Version two:
makes 6 pancakes
4 bananas mashed
4 eggs
2 dl/1 c almond flour
sprinkle of cinnamon

Mix all of the ingredients. Fry on a griddle over medium heat and serve with a drizzle of honey and garnish with slices of banana.

gluten-free dairy-free pancakelittle angelDo you remember your first time on skates? I certainly do, and I remember falling down quite a few times at first. Our little angel seemed to fall so softly and was ready to get up right after. It brought back my childhood for a moment.


Oh, Mr. Sun, Please shine down on me

by tableofcolors

The winter Sun in Finland tends to be a bit moody and even stubborn with a mind of his own. He will at times shine down in beautiful splendor turning the landscape into winter wonderland, but for the most part it stays hidden behind the clouds. Until Spring arrives. Come March, and the Sun starts making an appearance nearly daily, suggesting that soon the white landscape may turn into first brown and then into a spring green.

Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun
Mr. Golden Sun
Please shine down on me.
Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun
Mr. Golden Sun
Hiding behind a tree.
These little children are asking you,
To please come out so we can play with you.
Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun
Mr. Golden Sun,
Please shine down on me.

This song and first or second grade music class came to mind today when Mr. Sun finally made an appearance. The last time it appeared was a week ago on Saturday, just peeking for a bit from behind the clouds. The time before that, I could not even recall. Even though I have had some sort of a flu bug and my voice sounds like a bassoon I bundled up well and went out just for a bit with my camera in hand. Today has been a beautiful day. As I write, the sun is descending in the horizon like a bright orange ball of fire throwing up a reflection up into the sky somewhat like the reflection that it makes over the surface of a lake. There are hues of pink and purple in the sky lining the clouds.

snowy field

By no means, am I suggesting that you should become a mood-eater just because the sun does not shine, but with temperatures dipping today to a -9 C/15.8 F today the Cinnamon Roll Cake below seems like the perfect match with a cold winter day. This could be a celebratory cake since the sun did decide to come and play today. If you happen to have a case of the sniffles, it is even a more perfect match as you soak in the rays through the window.

cinnamon roll cakeCinnamon Roll Cake

This recipe is from my good friend Jess and we have both tweaked the recipe making it not so sweet. Even now, it has plenty of sweetness. The filling and glaze below is half of the original amount, so for a sweeter version double the filling and glaze.

4.7 dl/ 2 c flour
2.4 dl/ 1 c raw sugar/granulated sugar
(I used half raw sugar and half granulated sugar)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 dl/ 1 and 1/3 c sour cream or Greek yoghurt
150 g/ 5.3 oz softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract or sugar
3 eggs

Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls and then combine. Pour into a lined 23×33 cm or 9×13 inch pan.
cinnamon roll cake dollops
Cinnamon Swirl

85 g/3 oz softened butter
0.8 dl/ 1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients together. Place evenly dollops of the swirl filling on the batter. Use a knife to make swirls.
cinnamon swirls
Bake in the oven at 190 C/375 F for about 18 minutes or until a test skewer comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes. Make holes with a fork and add glaze.


2.4 dl/ 1 c powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or sugar

Drizzle and lightly spread over the cake.
bella in the winter sunSo glad that Mr. Sun decided to come out today.

Happy Thanksgiving!

by tableofcolors

sweet potato pie 2

If there was one thing that I could transport from America to Finland, and I could not choose to have my family imported, Thanksgiving might be that one thing. It is one of my favorite holidays. I like the message that it contains; being thankful for the people and things in life and not just simply taking everything for granted. When life is smooth sailing it is not hard to find the things to be thankful for, but I would like to believe that even during the most trying times that there would be something positive in everyones’ lives. It just might need a little soul-searching to find them.
sweet potato
Here in Finland, the fourth Thursday in November is a normal school and business day. I would like to instill some of the American traditions in my children, especially the ones that are special to me. During the fall, it is possible to find the “jack-o-lantern” pumpkins in the grocery store, but not the variety pumpkin pies are made from. I have tried making them from the “jack-o-lantern” pumpkins sometime in the past and it was a watery mess. Yesterday I was reading Suzanne’s blog, a pug in the kitchen and she had made a pie using baked sweet potato. Perfect, I thought! The consistency, color and flavor are close enough. So today I made sweet potato pies with my go-to pumpkin pie recipe by Jane Whitman Tierney.
mashed sweet potato
To make things go smoother, I baked the sweet potatoes in their jackets for about an hour to an hour and a half the night before and just set them on a rack to cool overnight. The next morning I mashed them with my immersion mixer.
pie crust
First thing in the morning I started with the pie crust so that it would have some time to rest in the refrigerator.

Jane Whitman Tierney’s Pie Crust for one 23 cm/9 inch pie

You may make this pie crust by hand, in a food processor or in stand mixer using the paddle attachment. I made a triple amount and put the extras in the freezer for later use.

3 dl/1.3 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
115 g/4 oz cold butter cut into small cubes
1 and 1/2 tbsp cold lemon juice
2-3 tbsp ice water
lemon juice
I think that the secret to this pie crust is in the lemon juice giving it the perfect contrast to any pie filling.
Mix the flour, butter and salt so that it forms a crumb mixture. Add the ice water and cold lemon juice and mix until if forms a ball. Place in a plastic bag and allow to rest in the refrigerator. You may allow it to rest over night as well.

Roll out the dough on a table sprinkled with flour. Using a fork or your index finger and thumb make a pattern along the edge of the crust. Allow to chill for another 20-30 minutes before baking. This will prevent the pie crust from shrinking. Bake the crusts at 225 C/435 F for about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven. While the pie crusts are baking make the filling.


5 dl/generous 2 cups of mashed sweet potato (a raw 700 g/24 oz sweet potato will be needed for this amount)

2 eggs
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c sugar
1 dl/ 1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp ground cloves
dash of salt
2 dl/just under 1 cup of heavy cream

filled pies

Whip the eggs and sugars until they form a fluffly light brown foam. Mix the spices (I use smaller amounts than what the recipe calls for) into a small amount of the mashed sweet potato and combine the spice mixture with the rest of the sweet potatoes. Fold in the sweet potato mixture into the egg foam and finally mix in the heavy cream. Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie crusts and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 225 C/435 F. Reduce the temperature to 175 C/350 F and continue baking for another 40 minutes or so that skewer comes out clean when tested in the middle. Allow to cool until it is a luke warm and enjoy it with a dollop of whipped cream.

sweet potato pieHappy Thanksgiving to everyone near and far!

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.
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


by tableofcolors

When I think of travel, I automatically think of far away places, but sometimes there are unique places to visit close by. We had an opportunity to take a little mini get-away for just a night. Of course we had our little baby with. The kids had a trusted sitter and so with pleasant expectations we packed our overnight bags for a little excursion. Fiskars and Billnäs are only about three hours away. We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast, Taika Villa. Really I think hotels are quite boring. This old house had gardens and flower patches circling around the yard. The other house guests that we met at breakfast were so friendly that they really made the visit that much more enjoyable.

Fiskars is an old industrial town located in South-Western Finland. Fiskars Ironworks was founded in 1649 by Dutch businessman Peter Thorwörste. The town slowly was built up and the work of many architects can be seen in the buildings, one being Carl Ludwig Engel. Some of Engel’s works include the buildings surrounding the Senate square in Helsinki including the Helsinki Cathedral. As was typical for these types of industrial towns, they were quite self sufficient. The village had its own school and doctor. Later in the 18902, a hospital was built. Here is a link to the history of Fiskars.


old mill
fire station

In the 1980s, the Fiskars Ironworks was reorganized. Production was moved to more up-to-date facilities in Billnäs which is close by. Today the Fiskars village area is mainly used by artisans, designers and artists.

Amongst the studios are homes. And nestled between some trees, on top of a hill was a little playhouse.


We had dinner at the Kuparipaja, which means copper smithy. The location of the restaurant was an actual copper smithy during a time when the water rushed in large volumes past the mill. Today the river was much more tame.

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We both ordered their menu of the day. I usually order fish when I dine out since I usually only eat quite small amounts of meat at one time and restaurant portions are usually quite large. This time I made an exception since our waitress guaranteed that the portion would not be too large. It was perfect in size. I did not feel like I had to digest it for the rest of night! Our appetizer was egghash with smoked Baltic herring on a rye bread made with malt. It tasted quite similar to the tuna salad that we often make at home. It did not have the wow effect, but it was plenty tasty. Our main course was braised cheek of pork with organic, homemade sausage on celeraic purée and stewed red cabbage and a very strong mustard garnish. I was pleasantly surprised how well everything worked. I am not really a sausage person but this sausage definitely won me over. It was flavored with herbs and we even found a few fennel seeds in the mix. The stewed cabbage was so good that we decided to try out our own version at home. For dessert we had strawberry sorbet, rhubarb compote and yoghurt mousse. Perfect end to a well balanced meal.

Stewed Cabbage using a slow cooker

500 g/17 oz red cabbage sliced into thin strips

3 granny smith apples peeled and sliced

1.5 dl/ 1/2 c apple juice

salt and pepper

Place all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and set on low. Allow to cook for about 4 hours.

I served it with organic sausage that has a meat content of 90%. Garnish with Dijon mustard.


On the way home we stopped in Billnäs, another early industrial town and there I spotted a neat car I wouldn’t mind to have as my summer ride. We took the scenic route, avoiding the freeway and visited the Raasepori fortress.

When we arrived home Saturday afternoon we still had time to take saunas with the whole family and spend all of Sunday together. Just perfect.

2013-08-09 20.33.05

A Moment in time

by tableofcolors

I often think that time just slips by a little too fast. The summer flowers bloom and then they wither away. This sunflower was a Mother’s day gift. It had a tall thin stem, and to tell you the truth I was a little concerned how it was going to make it. As the air got warmer we planted it outside. The stem became thick and strong and the yellow flower turned its face to the sun. It’s so fun for both the little gift-giver and receiver to run outside and check on its progress. There are more flowers coming.
The kids grow so fast and even our little baby is curious of the world around him. It seems like this past month just sailed by a little too quick. I’ve often thought that the little snapshots that are taken enforce the memories that are in our hearts.
hugo 4 weeks
hugo 4 weeks 3
This past week, a long-time friend came to visit. We have spent countless hours having sleep-overs, creating a secret club with our friends, giggling over our first crushes, going to camp together, and learning about life and growing-up together. We have some snap shots from those times in our albums. We have wide smiles on our narrow child-like faces. We rarely have a chance to meet since we live on different continents, but when we meet up again it feels like we just pick up from where we last left off.

When there is a special occasion, a cake is certainly in order! This cake recipe I received from another long-time friend. It is called the Pätkiskakku since it uses Pätkis, which is a chocolate mint truffle. You may substitute a local mint truffle from your area if the Pätkis truffles are not available. The cake is originally meant to be covered in a chocolate frosting, but I fine-tuned it a bit. Since we have an abundance of berries, I split it and filled it with berries and cream and frosted it with whipping cream. Our little berry-picker arrived just in time and was wondering how he could use his freshly picked blueberries. I suggested that he might decorate the cake, to which he happily obliged.

5 dl/2.1 c flour
3 dl/1.3 c sugar
3 tbsp dark cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar ( I used vanilla extract)
dash of salt
150 g/5.3 oz butter, melted
2 dl/0.85 c plain yoghurt
4 Pätkis mint truffle bars or 12 mint truffles roughly chopped
3 eggs

Butter a 22-23/9 inch cake pan. I floured it with wheat bran to give the cake a nice texture. Mix the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and mint truffles together. I used a microwave for this. Add the plain yoghurt and eggs into the melted butter mixture and whisk until smooth. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until combined. Do not over mix. Bake for 40 minutes at 175C/350F. Remove from oven when a inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to slightly cool and remove from cake pan. Allow to cool completely. I leveled the top of the cake just a bit so that it would lie a little flatter. Whip 3.5 dl/1.5 cups of heavy cream and add sugar to taste. Fill cake with berries and cream leaving 1/3 of the cream for the top. Before frosting with the cream, I spooned a little milk on the top layer to give the cake a little added moisture. This step is optional. Garnish with berries. patkiscake
This would be a splendid cake for a birthday as well…Happy birthday to my Äiti, my brother and Gramma! July is a birthday month in our family!


Midsummer and Crepes

by tableofcolors

During midsummer it seems as if our internal clock goes into a summer mode. Usually the kids are in bed at 8.30 pm and the wake up is at 7 am during the school year. But once school is out it takes about three days to go into summer schedule where bedtime is closer to 10 pm and wake-up around 9 am for the kids. During midsummers bedtime tends to go even a bit later. Mom, however prefers an earlier bedtime for the kids and after the weekend we try to aim for the 10 pm bedtime.  It is so easy to lose track of time when the day is so long and light. This midsummers we were at home enjoying our new little Hugo, who has been a super baby. We made crêpes on a couple of occasions, as they seem to go hand-in-hand with summer, spending time together and have won the “kid’s choice” award in our house. Making crêpes is somewhat of a whole family affair. In Finnish crêpes are called lettu, lätty or räiskäle, depending on the region or the dialect.

Our little fisherman had gone fishing with Dad one evening. He was quite proud coming home with two rainbow trout.
We had oven-baked fish one evening and for the next evening we made savory nettle crêpes and rainbow trout filling with the leftover fish. Smoked Salmon could be easily substituted in and would also make a wonderful filling.
lohi crepe

Rainbow Trout filled savory Crêpes


1.5 l/6.3 c milk
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 dl/ 1/2 c wheat bran
2.4 dl/1 c dried nettle
11.8 dl/5 c flour
4 eggs
1/2 dl/1/4 c oil

Mix the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Fry on medium hot griddle with a little oil. This is a fairly large batter so you may prefer to halve it to better fit your needs. Serve warm with the Rainbow Trout filling.

Rainbow Trout filling

160 g/5.6 oz Rainbow Trout or Salmon
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
200g/7 oz sour cream
handful of fresh dill, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
black pepper
little mustard according to taste

A couple of evening after having our Rainbow Trout-filled crêpes, I was trying to think of a evening snack/supper after a long day of being outdoors and swimming. Since my husband had just gotten our summer kitchen fixed up we decided to give it a try and so Crêpes or lettuja won the popular vote. This time we made the sweeter version.

letun paisto

Sweet Crêpes

1.5 l/6.3 c milk
1 dl/ 1/2 c sugar
2 tsp salt
1 dl/ 1/2 c wheat bran
11.8 dl/5 c flour
4 eggs
1/2 dl/1/4 c oil

Combine ingredients and whisk until smooth. Fry on a medium-hot griddle until golden brown. Serve warm. Feel free to halve the recipe if making for a smaller crowd. Serve with a topping of your choice, berries, whipped cream, jams or preserves, ice cream or a simple sprinkle of sugar.


The smell of honey and clover and the sound of kisses

by tableofcolors

I found this poem that tells of the magic of scents and smells of a new little miracle. The original language is in Finnish but below is a rough translation.

“Tuoksussa tässä on outoa taikaa.
Miten voi tuoksua yhtä aikaa:
hunajalta, apilalta, suukkojen mäiskeeltä,
rakkauden räiskeeltä,
talvelta ja kesältä,
pikkulinnun pesältä?”

There is a curious magic in these scents.
How can it all at the same time smell like:
honey and clover and the sound of kisses,
a splattering of love,
of winter and summer,
and the nest of a little bird?

We thought that we were having a spring baby, but the little one had decided otherwise and was born in the midst of a summer day filled with the perfume and blossoms of a new summer. We are still getting to know him but he seems to be a little man of peace, relaxed and observing of the life around him. He was born in the city of Kotka which is on the southern coast of Finland. It is a city of Marinas and parkways and double scoop ice cream cones.
double scoop
Our little love Hugo.
Isabella and hugo 2
4430 g 54 cm–9 lbs 12 oz 21 1/4 inches
home sweet home
This coming weekend is the the celebration of Midsummer and St. John here in Finland. The cities become deserted as people spend time at the lake and at cabins. Our celebration of Midsummer this year will be at home. Rocking and feeding the baby in the gentle light of the night when the sun does not go down has its own beauty.

When summer arrives in Finland, the amount of ice cream enjoyed really grows amongst the population. It is as if the summer has to be experienced with all senses to the fullest. I think the reason for this is that the season is so short. It comes quickly with many expectations and soon the season has slipped into fall. Below is a recipe for a homemade vanilla ice cream. It is delicious, but it might be that we will celebrate our St. John’s this year with a good quality store-bought ice cream and fresh strawberries. Enjoy!
Homemade Vanilla Praline Ice Cream

4 egg yolks
4 dl/1.7 c milk
3 tbsp sugar
1 vanilla bean
dash salt

Make a slit in the vanilla bean. Place the milk, sugar and vanilla bean in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring to a boil. In another bowl whisk the egg yolks for a few seconds until smooth. Add 1 dl/0.4 c of the boiling milk to the egg yolks and mix until smooth. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the boiling milk. Make sure that the boiling milk mixture is at low. Allow to cook until the mixture has just thickened. Take custard off heat and remove vanilla bean. Mix in the dash of salt.

Allow to cool completely and place in the freezer for one hour. Alternatively you may use an ice cream maker following the instructions of the machine. During this time prepare the praline.

100 g/3.5 oz mixed nuts, roughly chopped
1/4 dl/1/8 c raw cane sugar syrup
3 tbsp butter
dash of salt

Spread the ingredients on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 175 C/350 F for about 5 minutes or until the nuts are gold brown and the syrup-butter mixture is bubbling. Allow to cool and harden. Once it has cooled, break into pieces.

While the custard is chilling, whip 5 dl/generous 2 cups of heavy cream. Flavor with raw cane sugar syrup(glucose syrup may be used as well). Fold into the custard along with the praline. Mix the ice cream mixture every hour for 4-5 hours to prevent the formation of ice crystals. Enjoy with fresh strawberries!


Summer Picnics

by tableofcolors

Sometimes summer makes you wait in Finland, and it feels like it doesn’t really arrive until July. But this year summer arrived at the end of May. We have been enjoying our time at the beach just down the road. One important part of making a trek to the beach is the “picnic”. It is not always fancy depending on our schedule but having a little snack or lunch after the swim is key. Today we didn’t happen to have a snack along, only juice and there was a few protests to be heard!

This peppered smoked Mackerel salad with new potatoes works great at a picnic. If eating at home, I have used freshly smoked fish but when picnicing I have used the canned version and added it on the salad just before serving. It’s filling enough after a long day in the sun but not so heavy to weigh you down.

peppered mackeral salad

Peppered Mackerel Salad

1 kg/2.2 lbs new potatos cooked, cooled and peeled
1 small spring cabbage or kale, chopped
3-4 generous handfuls of chopped lettuce of your choice (Lollo Rossa, arugula etc)
1 can of kidney beans, rinsed
1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed
About 15 pickle slices cut into small pieces
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
4 filets of smoked and peppered Mackerel

The salad can be assembled either in individual serving containers or in a bowl. Toss the variety of lettuce, cabbage/kale and place as the bottom layer. Next mix the beans and use it as the second layer. Third place the finely chopped pickles and red onion on top of the beans. Cut the potatoes into fourths or sixths depending on their size and place on the onion mixture. Last add the Mackerel and garnish with a few spears of steamed and seasoned asparagus spears. Drizzle on the dressing and enjoy!

Vinaigrette dressing
1 dl/0.4 c olive oil
1/2 dl/0.2 c balsamic vinegar
one handful of fresh dill finely chopped
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp sugar
fine seasalt to taste


Rocky Road Party Treats

by tableofcolors

These Rocky Road treats have become a regular at our birthday parties. The first reason is that they taste good, the second reason is that they are so simple to make and the third reason is that they store well up to week so they can made a few days in advance if preferred. I’m always on the look-out for great ideas and recipes that are not too complicated to make. It’s a way to cut down on everyday stress.
rocky road 2

This recipe is from a Finnish women’s magazine, Kotivinkki. Click here for the orginal recipe in Finnish.

200 g/7 oz milk chocolate, broken into chunks
250 g/8.8 oz dark chocolate, broken into chunks
1 can (400g/14 oz) of condensed milk
50 g/1.7 oz butter
200g g/7 oz soft black liquorice cut into small bits
100g/3.5 oz mini marshmallows or large ones cut into four
3 dl/1.3 c salted peanuts
Melt the chopped chocolate, condensed milk and butter in heavy bottomed saucepan at medium heat. Stir constantly.

Cut the the liquorice into smaller bits and marshmallows as well if using large ones.

Mix the liquorice, marshmallows and peanuts into the melted chocolate mixture and pour into a parchment paper lined lasagna pan (23x33cm or 9×13”). Place in the fridge and allow the Rocky Road toffee to harden for 4-6 hours.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to week or in the summer I have stored it in the refrigerator.
rocky roadThese would make the perfect little gift to bring along to a party wrapped up pretty in some cellophane and a bow.