The second hand on my watch had become loose. It was moving around under the glass and every once in a while got stuck with the hour and minute hands and stopped the passage of time completely. I like to support local businesses, so I first went to a watch shop not far from here. That guy sells Expensive Designer Watches and apparently was very busy. He recommended a clocksmiths’ workshop on Hämeentie. He said I could get my watch fixed for 10-20 euros over there, best value for my money, he said.
I finished a book last night and wondered where the closest library was. Oh yes, the old main library on Rikhardinkatu. This beautiful building was originally built as a public library in 1881, the first one in the Nordic countries in a specifically designed building, and has always been a library. In the 1920’s an extra floor and a wing were added. It’s an absolutely delightful place with old shelves and furniture and nooks and hush quiet atmosphere. Wonderful for browsing and making discoveries. They say it has been haunted; the restless souls were asked to move on about three years ago.
These past two days have been glorious. A few degrees below zero (Centigrade), brilliant sunshine, just a little wind. Yesterday loads of people out walking, long queues in cafés. Many places are closed – I guess that’s only fair, they need their holidays like the rest of us. One of the buildings in Eiranranta (rather posh and terribly expensive) built about ten years ago is covered in scaffolding. Water damage. What ever happened to quality control??
Today I decided to look for artistic inspiration at the Cable Factory, a multifunctional cultural centre. There is a sales exhibition of graphic art and sculptures, an annual event. There is a similar event for painters earlier in the year. I prefer this one. Much of what is in the painters’ event disappoints me. Much of what’s in the printmakers’ and sculptors’ event delights me.
It’s a nice walking distance away and I fortified myself with coffee and cake at the local gas station. The people who run the place are celebrating their eighth year here. Good chocolate cake, actually.
There was some interesting stencilling on the way.
That pancake pan was the most delightful sculpture. It's a old Skeppshult pan with bronze pancakes by Mika Heinonen, called Kesäilta, Summer Evening. 1300 euro, in case you're interested.
Was I inspired? Yep. Ideas are churning in my head.
I had some gift shopping to do so I went for a stroll. It’s cloudy, the temperature’s about +3C and you could drink that air!
I ended up in a book store, as I tend to. Well, several book stores. One of them was the much criticized Academic Bookstore. Once The Bookstore in Helsinki, one of the leading book stores in Europe, it has lost one floor of books and one floor of stationary etc. The number of languages in the selection has been cut and the magazines section is about the same as the in the kiosk around the corner. Slight exaggeration there, but the whole area taken over by Starbucks used to be for magazines. It used to be the magazine lover’s candy store. It used to be the book lover’s candy store. All these changes because it was sold to a Swedish book publisher and for a while had a director who didn’t come from the book world.
However – dare I even say this – now that the layout is different, now that is a strange place, I see books and authors I didn’t pay attention to earlier. I was listening to a conversation between a client and salesperson. There’s no denying his expertise and deep knowledge of things literary.
The Academic Bookstore may no longer be The Bookstore we grew up with. But it’s still a book store.
The sewage of the condo I live in is undergoing renovations. The pipes are being lined with something, so it’s a fairly quick procedure. Nothing needs to be ripped out or installed. Still, I’m not allowed to use any drains for three weeks. The closest toilet and showers are either five floors up or five floors down, out, and then into the next building. No cooking facilities available. I mentioned this to a friend of mine last summer, and she said I could stay in their apartment. Thank you, Friend!
Sauerkraut, I love sauerkraut! Choucroute braisée à l’alsacienne (Julia Child, Louisette Berthole & Simone Beck) is quietly bubbling in the oven. This is the first time I make it with my very own self-made sauerkraut. The ones in shops are too mild for me. I want more tartness in my sauerkraut.
Last summer I happened to overhear that someone was organizing a course in fermentation. Immediately I booked myself a place. It was quite a large course, middle aged women and young men. The teacher was a retired professor of microbiology who has been fermenting for decades. He is in this because he feels he needs to be friends with bacteria, he’s not that interested in the health aspect.
The course was very liberating. You read recipes and you’re being told to use or not to use a particular kind of cabbage, a particular kind of salt, to filter (!) your water and what else. Ok, there may be areas where you have to be particular with the water you’re using, but up here unfiltered tap water is fine. When preparing your sauerkraut, just make sure the things you are using a clean. Just basic clean. No need to sterilize anything – after all, the point to fermenting is activating bacteria, not getting rid of them.
This is the Story of the Bread, as I promised on Facebook.
The word for a sourdough starter in Finnish is juuri, meaning a root. It always refers to rye bread. I like the word root, as it refers to something deep down, something in the past, something that has always existed, been around forever. Roots grow and from roots things grow. It refers to tradition and heritage.
A friend of mine has root dating back to the 1850’s. Another one once said their root is over 400 years old. These roots are treasured and handed down from one generation to another generation to a third and fourth and fifth, also given as gifts to good friends.
Plums are in season and this recipe came to me by email from Essen & Trinken. Looks good, I thought to myself, I’ll make that for my weekend dessert.
I cheated on the crust, bought a frozen product, but otherwise I followed the recipe. Oh, apart from the rum, I never have rum, I always use brandy instead.
Now look at the pictures. (The one on the left is from E&T, Julia Hoersch.) If a tarte has been baked for 30 + 15 minutes, how can it be that light? I baked mine for 30 + 5 minutes and hurried to get it out of the oven so it wouldn’t burn. My version looks a bit more like something with sundried tomatoes, doesn’t it…
I didn’t need all the plums I prepared as per the recipe, I had the leftovers instead of salad before my salmon soup. There was too much crème for my pie, but with cream and eggs and sugar you can always come up with something rather nice.
Anyway, the taste is great. For those of you who want to make it too, here is the link.
I have notebooks all over the place. There’s a notebook on my kitchen table, where I often read the newspaper and magazines. There’s a notebook by the television for any hints and ideas I might get while watching something. There’s a notebook in my study, where I do my computer work and read. There is a notebook in my handbag. Not to mention my diary and travel diary. Funny enough, I don't have a notebook at the summer cottage. There I rely on bits of paper I slip in between my calendar and try not to loose.
These notebooks contain all sorts of information and I actually usually remember in which notebook something I need may be. All of them contain little gems, like what pigments to combine to achieve a certain effect, like skin tone; not of use to me but interesting. There are notes on presentations in various fields, notes from some society board meetings, recipes, hints on interior decoration, handwork, gardening, exhibitions, movies, things overheard in cafes and buses (I love eavesdropping!). Quotations. There may be an occasional sketch of some interesting thing, a detail that appeals to me; a knitting pattern I see someone wearing.
I also have lists. Shopping lists, of course. To-do lists. A basic list of things to take with me when going somewhere abroad on holiday. A basic list of things to take to the country for a weekend. A basic list of things to take to the country for a longer period (basically just more toys). I have a list of funny names where a person’s profession and name fit together appropriately. Like a gardener called Plant and another one called Nitrogen; a gamekeeper called Squirrel; a bird researcher called Seagull; a bank clerk called Wealthy. Etc. (Names translated).
Hints on good books are always welcome and these hints were scattered in these notebooks and small slips of paper in between the notebooks and scattered elsewhere. Now they’re in one list and, how nice, most of these books are available in the library.
I'm Piisa and I will be sharing with you my thoughts on this and that, maybe even on whatever.