A year ago I was reading a book (Keskiajan maut by Satu Hovi, Art House, 2015) on medieval flavours in Finland, that is, ca 1150 – 1500’s. It’s a fascinating book. What did food taste like? What did ordinary people eat? How did different seasons influence what you ate? Food’s position in society, who ate what, how food was used as means of paying your taxes. How food was prepared, what did the utensils look like, how was food preserved. The utensils pictured in the book look just like my grandmother’s old wooden spoons and whisk she used for cooking. Those are my grannie's utensils.
I need my espresso with frothed milk in the mornings. After porridge. Over the years I’ve had several different kinds of frothers. There are the battery operated ones and the ones you operate by hand. Finding a manual one small enough for just one cup, or two, is also a challenge. In shops these tend to come in a practical 0,9 litre size. Fine for a family but a big cup for one person.
The battery operated ones make a great froth as long as there’s enough power in the batteries. As the batteries get tired so does the froth. You have to find the right recycling place for batteries. In the end the frothers just die on you even if the batteries are fresh. And the dead gadget is electric waste and, again, you need to find the right recycling place.
I tried to use re-chargeable batteries but the ones I had were just teeny weeny bit too fat so that didn’t work.
I had been washing windows all day. The pollen season was over and the chap checking and mending the cladding and making a lot of dust had moved to the next building. I had also been making sourdough bread, now resting and proving in the fridge. I got lazy about my evening meal.
I came across this recipe for porridge. With a twist. Cooked in white wine.
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??
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.
The fragrance in my home was unbelievable when this came out of the oven. Quark, lemon, vanilla – Käsekuchen. The recipe is from My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss (she also writes a blog www.thewednesdaychef.com) and I make only one exception to this recipe. Well, two, I can’t find vanilla extract here, so I use organic vanilla powder. She uses lean quark. I use cream quark with 10 % fat, doesn’t get any fattier here. This cream quark is German, so in that sense I am true to the recipe. All Finnish quarks have a much lower fat content.
The other day I drove to the parking area of Ikea. One of the Egg EggPress stops is over there. Exciting!
I had heard the queues could be quite long. I didn’t see any queues anywhere. I didn’t see groups of people hanging around, back-slapping camaraderie haven't-seen-you-for-a-while, I didn’t see people swapping egg recipes and egg peeling hints. Apparently, that’s all done on-line. There was one lady looking around, like she was waiting, close to where I parked. Waiting for eggs? I nearly asked her. As it turned out, she was waiting for eggs. The white delivery van came and, suddenly, there was queue, people appearing out of nowhere. Five cartons, three cartons, six cartons – these are 30 egg cartons I’m talking about. I bought one carton only; starting small.
I got up nearly at the crack of dawn (just before seven, the cracks of dawn come later and later as the year grows older) to make sure I’d find a place to park at the Slow Food Festival in the next village. It was still quite dark when I got up for my morning dip. The water’s 13C so it’s still dippable. The festival didn’t start until 10, but I like to take my time in the morning.
I don’t remember what time I went to the festival last year, maybe later, there seemed to be more people then. This year I got there before ten. I was going to have some coffee and a cinnamon roll while waiting (it’s the National Cinnamon Roll Day), but the cinnamon rolls were still in the oven so coffee had to wait.
Going that early was overdoing it a bit, but I was thinking back to the beginning of July and the antiques fair and nearly having to park in someone's field. Slow food doesn't seem to attract as large a crowd as antiques. A chunk of meat is a chunk of meat and you can always order more. You can't order more antiques. And yes, this was a Slow Food Festival
I'm Piisa and I will be sharing with you my thoughts on this and that, maybe even on whatever.