Oct 9, 2010

exciting walk, for the dog

the weather this week has been very sunny and beautiful, that has made walking the dog more pleasurable than normal. the dog seems to enjoy the sunny weather, as well.

i usually take the what we call "the balkan route" (there is a building along the road that looks like it could be from the balkans, to us, maybe not for others...hence the name). that day we took a detour by a barrage where we met a white dog of unknown (to me) breed (but he looked cute!) the white dog was loose and friendly, at first...

the dogs were sniffing each other quite peacefully, for a moment (while i was getting out my camera) but then the white dog wasn't friendly anymore and we had to leave quite fast. fortunately the owner of the white dog dashed to the scene from the nearby strawberry field and was able to pick up the white dog so that we could move.

the dog is still a bit baffled here

the barrage doesn't look too solid, we will not detour this way any more

i can't get over these sunflowers...don't they know it's october! we'll have snow next week, or any day

after the sunflower fields there is a small wood thru which we walk along a trail. a horse had passed on the trail not too long before us, as there was a still steaming pile of something that the dog loves, and which i think is gross, but the dog eats it anyway...needless to say, the dog was ecstatic to have found some manure to munch on...but more excitement was coming his way...

...if you look at the left top corner, right of the window, you'll see...yes, a deer

the dog forze on his feet, didn't bugde, not even when this creature got closer and closer...

...and closer. after this picture, the deer took two steps and the the dog lost it. fortunately i had the leash tied to a belt (the picture on the bottom of the page) so i managed to remain standing

rest of the way home was (luckily) uneventful. back at the shack, as i went to pick some apples for apple sauce, this particular apple caught my attention. i first thought that certain someone had picked and stashed it, but closer inspection showed marks of tiny teeth...must be the pestering squirrel's...

Oct 6, 2010

my lamb stew

lamb...hmm, one of my gastronomical challenges as in i usually tell people i don't like lamb. however, we had some in the freezer (very organic, it used mown our neighour's lawn...) and it was time to make us of it.

cabbage is in season so it was a natural accompaniment for the lamb. doesn't look too pretty, but was very tasty!

bought a savoy cabbage thinking it might cook better in the oven. had some carrots and parsnips in the fridge, so threw some in, too. and few onions and couple cloves of garlic, as well.

did some deep digging in the fridge and found these, threw them as they were about to pass their prime.

my original idea was to have the cabbage in rather big chunks, but had to make them smaller in order to fit everything in the pot...

browned the meat on all sides, in butter

and this isn't everything i wanted to fit into the pot!

didn't want to waste this goodness, rinsed it with 1 cup boiling water and poured that into pot (more flavor)

see? i had to use brute force to make the lid fit...

placed the pot into 250C oven with convection on for half an hour, then took the convection off and lowered the temperature to 200C for another hour and a half. 1 tsp of maldon salt in the whole batch, no other spices, so tasty, but then i love the sweetness of root veggies. the lamb was falling off the bone and cabbage had gone all mushy...certain someone and i had very generous portions for dinner and there was leftovers for a couple of lunches for both of us...

nectarine pie, not for therapy

i happened on the taste of the taste kitchen blog a few days back, and saw pictures of a therapy pie. i was sold, had to bake it, soon. and i did, yesterday. you should, too. just don't burn your tongue with the steaming hot goodness!

there is a fat war going on in finland, animal fats versus vegetable fats, what is healthier and why, and whatnot. i have made my peace with fats, use very little when cooking, if at all, but will use the real stuff when baking, like here. oh, no, i didn't use all of that!

i don't like the packages of butter in finland, can't they understand the difficulties of measuring 227gr out of a 500gr package. butter people, sell you butter in sticks! (phew, that made me feel so much better)

i did, however, mess with the recipe a bit and replaced ½ a cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour (with visible grain particles)

was feeling lazy and used the machine

gosh, i should use it more often, didn't even break a sweat

spread out some cling film, makes rolling the dough, and clean-up, so much easier

packed well and refridgerated for an hour

rolled it out on the cling film

then placed the pan on the dough upside down, put my hand under the cling film and turned the whole thing over, ta-daa!

took the film out (you should do that, it might not survive the oven later on...) and placed the pan in the fridge while preparing the filling

i love the taste of peaches but the little furry stuff on the skins makes my lips feel funny, therefore i don't buy peaches but nectarines, they worked fine in this recipe

aren't you loving my mise en place?

mix well before placing on the cold dough, bake in 180C oven for 45 mins

i moved the pie to the bottom rack for the last 15 mins, and put the convection on as well. i think the whole wheat flour gave more texture to the crust.

the smell was amazing! and yes, i did burn my tongue!

Oct 4, 2010

happy belated b'day, dad!

my dad had a "big" birthday over the weekend and as he didn't want to stay home and have a bunch of people come over, we arranged to have the b'day lunch in tampere.

mom, dad, certain someone and i booked into tammer hotel on friday afternoon. the hotel was very fancy in its' hey-day, the story goes that only the kitchen girls peeling potatoes spoke finnish, all other staff were either from sweden, france and japan...

since it's opening in 1929 the hotel has gone thru several revations, the latest in 2009. the building is protected by the national board of antiquities. the board is very strict on making sure that only period style and work methods be used.

i fell in love with the bathroom fixtures, all modern but looking very old-fashioned.

who does radiator covers any more?

i could imagine society people here sitting and idling away their afternoons and evenings.

friday afternoon we took a walk in the town center and i saw this...

...and this. my curiosity took the better of me and walked closer to see what these were.

torn old terry cloth towels! this art installation was part of the 231 anniversary of the town of tampere, the town celebrates every year on oct 1st. cotton products would be the perfect material to make art and celebrate the town's history.

there were several occasions where i thought something reminded me of manchester, england. the waterways, old red brick factory buildings.

i've been to tampere several times, i even lived there for school, but i've never paid attention to the rich history the town has. like finlayson, which is more or less a household name in finland when it comes to textiles. the finlayson that started the reputation was a scottish machinist james finlayson who in 1820 built cotton factory in tampere. in 1860 half of the population of tampere worked for the factory, and there were finally employment opportunities for women as well.

in 1882, in this building called plevna, the first electric light in scandinavia was lit. the plevna was originally a huge weaving hall, nowadays there is a brewery restaurant. we ate there on friday evening, and sampled on some of the beers...see the resemblances with manchester, england?

the history is still showing in the old factory buildings.

but what the heck is this doing inside that historic building???

we took a walk on saturday morning before getting ready for the family lunch. this bridge is just few hundred meters from the hotel and the plevna. the weather was weird, it looked very grey and cold, but there was so much light.

on the bridge we noticed a fairly new phenomenom in finland, the locks with names and dates. rest of the world might know what it means, but for those who don't: a couple committing to each other get their names engraved on a lock, they lock it on a bridge and throw away the key, as a symbol of their undying love; no key, no way to break the lovers' bond.

hope this spider-web is in no relation to the state of a relationship "locked" on this bridge.

we had chosen the grill as the venue of our lunch. while we waited for the others (we were 14 in total) to arrive, we had a cup of coffee...i still haven't quite made up my mind whether i like this design or not...

for appetizer we had ensalada mozzarella (mozzarella, tomatoes, strawberry balsamico and garlic toast). the entry was bifé con chipotle (a steak with creamy chipotle sauce and oven potatoes)

the dessert was torta de azul (blueberry cheesecake). it looked like everyone was having a great time, the food was very tasty, and i think the birthday-boy was happy, too.

Oct 3, 2010

dinner in 15

we were away for a night (tell you about that tomorrow) and there wasn't much at the shack to cook dinner with, therefore had to stop at the store on the way. i saw some fresh looking brussles sprouts, which i really don't like. what i mean, i really don't like them. i always try to be brave and have some anyway, because they are so good for you. so today, according to my twisted logic, i bought some with the intention to cook something "nice" with them...

as you can see, they needed a good wash and a trim

before deciding how to cook the sprouts, i consulted a couple of cookbooks. i ended up half steaming, half frying them. i also learned that the sprouts shouldn't be cooked too long, they get bitter (hence my dislike for sprouts).

first brought a cup of water to a boil, added the sprouts, and a blob of butter, to the boiling water, put the lid on and cooked on high for 10 mins...

...during which time the water evaporated and the sprouts got lovely color. i then added 1 tbps of balsamic vinegar and black pepper, shook the pan a bit to mix the flavours

served the sprouts with teriyaki salmon, which took all of 10 mins to cook. as usual, there was no salt added, but i did put some soya sauce on the salmon. i just might have to buy sprouts again, while they are in season, this was good!

this truly took only 15 mins to cook, both the sprouts and salmon took 10 mins and while they are cooking there is time to slice and dice some greens and cukes and tomatoes for a salad