Jul 31, 2010

trail mix

trail mix but not the kind you buy at the store but as one you pick as you go, namely berries.

during my week at the cottage i went hiking (if you can call a brisk walk in the forest a hike, that is) every other day. the walk took about an hour, if i didn't stop snacking...these wild strawberries/fraises des bois grow all a long the final strech of road to the cottage

gulping them by fistfulls

see, so many of them!

in the woods then, blueberries. or rather bilberries as their proper scientific name is, see link fo details. but excuse me, i will call them blueberries, always have, always will

that's mom picking blueberries, this picker comes handy

there is plenty to pick. however, not sure when mom will stop picking, she thinks it's a shame to leave them be (never mind the fact that every freezer is bursting with berries...)

this here is how you clean the berries. the picker/rake collects leaves and such with the berries, the slits are narrow enough to keep the berries on the tray, but wide enough for leaves (and such) to fall thru

now, what will i have with these?

best to keep it simple, strawberries and milk

another day, another walk. mom spotted these chanterelles, that were in desperate need of water. maybe mom will go back after it has rained...

these were taken out of the bursting freezer to make room for this year's crop. i love the ruby-red of these cranberries

the cranberries were hidden in this cranberry vanilla coffeecake (that my mom seems to like very much, she has me bake a few almost on every visit to the cottage)

i've made this cake about umphteen times and wish there will one day be a perfect cake. there always seems to be something that i'm not entirely happy with, like with this cake, it's a tad bit too dark for my taste (but it didn't collapse in the middle!)...i will quit baking them once i manage to bake the perfect cake (or when mom's freezer runs out of cranberries)

meanwhile back to the shack...this week i've been taking the dog for morning walks, this route also involves going thru some forested area. for the first few times the dog didn't seem to understand why i was stopping mid-walk to pick these...now he stops and takes the opportunity to eat something as well, his chosen treat is grass...

i have to say, raspberries are my absolute favourite. don't get me wrong, any fresh berry is fine, but raspberries win, no other berry is so sweet, juicy and mellow. now, if i were to think an ultimate yummy treat, it would be raspberries with whipped, sweetened and vanilla flavoured cream. i'll leave you dreaming about it...

Jul 30, 2010

cooling off

the heat seems to be going away...i will not complain about it, just say that i'm glad that the temperature has come down to "normal" summer temps in finland. and will add that i have no idea how i ever survived summer of -98 in vukovar where the temp was hovering around +35C for weeks on end and the night-time temp didn't go below 28C

the dog for one is/was suffering from the heat although we've been taking him to swim to the lake at the shack. the leash in the picture you ask? hmm, let's just say that despite the heat the dog would find it in him to run away and maybe come back sometime when it would suit him, which would end up being rather very later than sooner

this picture was taken on tuesday after the swim, or should i say dive...one of his paws slipped and he went under, rhinarium and all (that's the snout, folks). he did look quite embarrassed getting out of the water, but i'm sure he didn't see any amusement in the situation (and i had already put away my camera)

the kids had so much fun jumping from the pier at the cottage

the lake is huge and the water temperature seldom rises above 20C (i should perhaps add that there are truly huge lakes on another continent). this summer there's been several days that the temp has been 24C. however, every time the winds pick up speed the waves cool the temp by several degrees

the kids had to go to my mom and dad to ask if i ever swam...i did, quite the seal in fact. i don't know what it is but even the 24C water wasn't "warm enough" for me. i had fun enough watching the kids

last evening the skies finally shed some water. there was thunder and lighting for an half hour (during which time the dog was under the table trying to control his trembling...) before the rain started, i've seldom seen that heavy rain in finland

the sky looked dark and furious. i'm glad the outdoor temps are around 20C to 23C, i just wish the shack would cool a bit as well. indoor temp of 28C isn't helping me to get much sleep...

Jul 27, 2010

cottage food

spent last week at the cottage with mom and dad, and the heat. fortunately the lake provided an occasional breeze, but it certainly was warm enough upstairs where i slept.

sunday lunch was almost as easy as they come, sort of spanish omelette with potatoes and ham, except i didn't bake mine. mom had some cooked potatoes and ham in the fridge, it was hot and i felt lazy

minced the sliced ham roughly, quartered the potatoes and browned them a bit on low heat before adding the eggs. cooked for a few minutes on medium (controlling the heat is so easy on gas) (which i love to cook with) before turning the whole thing around with a plate to cook the other side as well. almost fooled my dad by telling i flipped it...

oh, the beans, or rather chichpeas, another easy-lazy side dish. rince a can of chickpeas, drain well, add chilli powder to taste and 1 tbsp of good olive oil and there you have it!

monday was pasta day, again the easy way out...my brother, little niece and nephew and one of my mom's brothers came to visit. or rather, the guys came to help dad to build a shed for firewood (more on that later). the little niece took my camera and lots of pictures.

i'll call this pasta sauce bolognese purely for the fact that there is minced beef in it, and tomatoes. here are approximately what went in:

800 gr minced beef
500 gr crushed tomatoes (mom forgot her glasses home and got some with chili in, any kind will do)
4 medium size carrots, grated
2 onions, minced quite finely
5 medium fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped (i didn't bother to peel them)
1 tbsp sugar
black pepper, flat-leaf parsley and basil to taste
oil for sauteeing onions, grated carrots and tomatoes

browned the beef in two batches, continued with onions...

...carrots and tomatoes...

poured everything into the pot, added the canned crushed tomatoes, spices and let cook on medium for approx 30 mins

my huge portion with grated parmesan on top. despite so many eaters, there was plenty left over. i liked the sauce cold on toast...with parmesan on top...

mom dug out this moose roast from the freezer (which we are glad to say, is finally starting to look empty). i tied it, rolled it in crushed black pepper and salt, browned all sides, laid it on bed of onions and cooked in 200C oven for 30 mins, until inside temp was 70C

as the gas stove is outdoors, i did what i had wanted to do for the longest time but could not because of the horrid onion smell afterwards, fried "some" onions, there's 5 bigs ones here

20 mins later, substantially diminished...

only this was left after 40 mins on low heat. i thought of doing some fancy stuff like balsamic vinegar but ate my portion as is, soooo good! i do have to mention that onions fried in butter (not much, but i did use butter) is something i so should not eat because of my acid reflux...

i had brought his micro-plane box-grater to cottage for mom. i have one like this at the shack and love it, and i hate box graters. the reason i needed the grater was waldorfish salad (as in almost waldorf salad). here's what went in:

300 gr celeriac, grated
4 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
2 green apples, peeld and diced (1cm dices)
1 small tin of crushed pineapple, drained well (mom drank the juice...)
10 or so walnuts
2 tbsp mayonese (so little you ask? well, that was what was left in the jar, and it turned out to be quite enough, and made the salad very light!)

i really don't like the taste of walnuts and almost never use them. this time i got them because the original recipe for waldorf salad uses walnuts and i figured there must be a reason for it. turns out there is, when crushed into smaller pieces and mixed into the salad, the walnuts taste almost disappears and mellows and mingles with the celeries

mom says that celeriac should be briefly cooked before adding to salad, but with the micro-plane grater you get a very thin result, and i figure more fiber and more nutrients when not cooked at all (ok, it's also the easier way...)

mom also says that there should be some cheese in the salad as well, hmm, i haven't seen a waldorf recipe with cheese in it. but hey, who says you can't grate some emmental on top!?

the meat turned out to be perfectly cooked and was nice cold on a sandwich as well

grilled eggplant, had mine with sour cream and chilli powder, learned that trick in a lebanese resturant in nyc a decade (gosh, how time flies!) ago