Simple pleasures

Tag: spring

Spring is in the Air

by tableofcolors

I have been hearing rumors and even seen some photos shared on facebook that there is snow in Minnesota. I’m hoping that it might have melted by the time I come. Spring is in the air here in my kitchen. The cranes have returned and can be seen flying over the house and feeding in the field in the back and dancing their mating ritual. Their call could not be called beautiful as it is a raw sound just as the cold spring breeze often feels quite biting even if the sun is starting to warm the ground. But the call means spring has arrived.

cranes2In my kitchen are spring green sprouts that carry the promise of summer and bounty. This gentleman has been regularly visiting our yard and one morning was stepping regally on the patio right outside of the kitchen.


In my kitchen April

Our kitchen is really never a place of just cooking and eating. It is a place to spend time together. Some of our kids are quite into crafts and since we had leftover paint from the piñata project from the previous week they were looking for a way to use it up. Someone suggested painting shoe boxes. I agreed that it might be a good idea and actually look cute in their rooms. It would be a place to keep their treasures. You know, the diamond rock found in the driveway or favorite sticker that really isn’t sticky anymore or a frayed friendship bracelet that keeps falling off but cannot be thrown away.  Often when one is enthusiastic about something, there is soon a few more involved as well and a total of seven boxes were made, some pink and some black. So this week in my kitchen we made treasure boxes.

painting boxesOf course we need to eat in the midst of all of the other activities. We had wokked chicken and vegetables and Tahini noodles. The Tahini noodles have become a favorite with the kids. The Tahini sauce received its inspiration from a post by REMcooks.

tahini noodles
Chicken Wok with Tahini noodles

This dish perhaps mixes the flavors of cuisines, but it worked and was quite tasty.

Tahini noodles
6 circles (300g) of whole wheat noodles (I used Blue Dragon)

2 heaping tablespoons of Tahini sauce
clove of garlic minced
juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1/2 dl / 1/4 c olive oil
black pepper
I mixed the tahini sauce with my immersion mixer until it was smooth. Set aside and place a large pot of water to boil for the noodles. While waiting for the water to boil prepare the chicken wok

Chicken wok Indian style

3 chicken breasts
1 onion
1/2 leek chopped (I used frozen leek from a friend’s garden)
20 g/0.7 oz fresh or frozen kale finely chopped with the tough stalk removed
20 g/0.7 fresh or frozen spinach, chopped
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1-2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
olive oil
NoMu Indian spice mix (includes: coriander, chili, cumin, fenugreek, turmeric, ginger, caraway, cloves, bay leaf and cardamom oil)

Pour the olive oil on the pan along with the chicken breasts, garlic, onions, and leek. Cook at low to medium heat for about five minutes and turn the chicken over and continue cooking until the chicken is done. Add in the rest of the vegetables and remove the chicken and cut into bite size pieces. Return back into the wok pan and mix.

By this time the water will have boiled. Cook the noodles according to package instructions and drain. Mix the tahini sauce with the noodles and combine with the chicken wok. Add a drizzle of olive oil.

tahini noodles3In my kitchen in April are butterflies…in my tummy. It won’t be long and I will be flying to go visit dear family and friends in the USA. My blog might not have as regular posts for a couple of weeks but I will post pictures and thoughts of the trip on my facebook page. Click on the link below to follow if you wish. And as usual I will be accompied with my littlest one. The photo below is from one of my previous trips.

flyingReally, it doesn’t matter if there is snow still on the ground in Minnesota. It will be nice to see you all.


This post is part of Celia’s In My Kitchen series. Check out her blog for links to kitchens all around the world.


Rustic Knots with Dandelion or Nettle

by tableofcolors

Rise and Shine

by tableofcolors

I was quite sure we would still have snow on the first of May, but thankfully I was wrong. We had an exceptionally long winter with night time temperatures that really dipped and kept the scenery white. I went skiing for the last time about three weeks ago on the lake. The lakes are still frozen but I would not recommend venturing out on the ice anymore.

When the spring rains decided to arrive our snow disappeared in a week. The coltsfoot, which is our first wild flower to bloom in the spring, can be found along the sides of ditches. They rise out of the not-so-pretty brown landscape bringing the first little dots of yellow color. They are called “leskenlehti” in Finnish which means “widow’s leaf” if translated directly. The flower only blooms in early spring and for the rest of the summer the flower only has the green leaves.
I love receiving these little yellow bouquets of love. After the coltsfoot have bloomed I know that it will not be long before the crocus and tulips bloom.
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Each day has a new promise and is a new beginning. This homemade granola is the perfect occasional treat that does not have to be saved for a weekend brunch since it works well even if the morning is a bit hurried. Just make sure to make it the night before so that it is ready to to. This granola is not nearly as sweet as store bought versions. Store the granola in a paper bag.



6 dl/2.5 c large old fashioned oatmeal
50 g /1.8 oz butter cut into cubes
1/2 dl/ 0.2 c sugar
3 tbsp honey
100 g/3.5 oz mixed nuts, roughly chopped
(optional flax seed)
1/2 tsp salt

100 g /3.5 oz raisins
100 g/3.5 oz dried apricot cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 175 C/350 F. Line a pan with parchment paper and spread the oatmeal, sugar, nuts and salt evenly on the pan. Mix in the honey. Sprinkle the cubed butter evenly over the oatmeal mixture. Place into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or so that granola has acquired a nice golden color. Let slightly cool and add the raisin and apricots. Allow to cool completely before placing into a paper bag.

Enjoy with yoghurt or milk, berries and bananas.

pussy willows

Tulips of Spring

by tableofcolors

Just a little over a month ago, the mornings were pitch black and I would have lanterns outside burning throughout the day and night. The hours of actual daylight were quite short and it sometimes seemed like it was challenging to take pictures. By the time everything was ready the light would be gone!

Although we have crisp and cold wintery weather, spring is clearly coming. The night has become shorter and when I awake each morning the sun is shining brightly. We have to actually close our miniblinds for the night to get some sleep, this was not the case a few months ago. As I walk downstairs, the light from the large windows softly highlight the tulips on the table. For me they are a symbol of spring and the promise of lengthening days.
cafe latte
Enjoying a latté in the quiet of the house is the perfect way to start a weekend morning. Everything is still and serene. Step outside to get the newspaper and the birds are singing. They have been quiet all winter. And if we got our weekly clean-up done, everything might be neat and tidy for a few hours. It pays to wake up early and enjoy the clean house while it lasts.
One by one they awake and make their way downstairs to find breakfast and a morning hug.

Smoothies (for two)

Gluten free

1 banana
3 dl/1.3 c plain yoghurt
2 dl/0.8 c berries of your choice (raspberries, blueberries, lingonberries, blackberries or strawberries)
a little honey

If you prefer add a handful of spinach, or a tablespoon or ground flax seed or wheat germ to the mix.

Place everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy immediately.

Fruitie (for two)

This recipe is both gluten and dairy free.

1 banana
1,5 dl/0.6 c orange juice
fruit (choose one of the following: 1 pealed and sliced pear, 10 slices of canned mango, 1 peach pealed and sliced, 6 large pieces of pineapple or 10 balls of honey dew or cantaloupe melon)
Blend until smooth and enjoy immediately. Canned fruit can be substituted if fresh is not on hand.