Sunday, April 09, 2017

Kitchen Travels

Yesterday morning I turned on PBS just in time to catch the beginning of  Bea Ojakangas: Welcome To My Kitchen.  I'd seen her on Baking With Julia and I have her Great Scandinavian Baking Book but I didn't know she had a TV show.
It was my lucky day because she made a Finnish cardamom bread she called Pulla.  My sister in law's family is Finnish and their version of cardamom bread is called Nisu.  So of course today I wanted to fool around in the kitchen and make it.  I had cardamom pods I brought up here when I moved 6 years ago.  I'd gotten them to steam in milk for homemade chai but I never knew you could crack them open to get to the aromatic seeds.  The more you know!  I need to have another go at making chai knowing this!
I ground the seeds in my mortar and pestle and was surprised how menthol-y they smelled!  Hitherto I'd never really baked with cardamom and worried the bread would taste like Vicks.  The finished product was an absolute delight, both delicately flavored and aromatic.  I made a half recipe and after we both had a couple buttered slices, the rest will come to work with me tomorrow along with a stick of butter.  Today was our warmest day yet and the butter on the counter was actually soft and easy to spread.  Simple pleasures.
She also made THESE!  Mom and I ate these every morning at our hotel breakfast in Helsinki and we saw them everywhere at bakeries and markets.  They are rye pastry shells that encase unsweetened rice cooked in milk and butter.  They aren't sweet but they aren't bland or particularly rich.  They are simple and homey and portable and delicious.  We always saw them called "Karelian" pastries.  Karelia is a region of Finland near Russia.  I clipped a recipe out of the paper in Helsinki, not that it did me any good because it was in Finnish so I was very excited to see someone actually make them!  They weren't that fussy of an undertaking.
This is a linen zippered pouch version of a Karelian or Piirakka I bought on that same trip.  It resides in my knitting bag and holds stitch markers.  This pouch is terribly impractical but I was so fond of these pastries that I bought it as a pleasant reminder.  I can't tell you how happy I was to bake these today in my own kitchen!  And Dave loves anything to do with rice so he liked them too!
As I mentioned earlier, it was a lovely warm day and all the critters are coming back for the season, like this guy.  There's a plank that sticks out of the pond and there's often two turtles sunning themselves on it.  I had a terrible time getting a picture of them however.  I'd open the deck door and from all the way up there, they'd hear me and plop back into the water.
This egret has been visiting the pond.  He slowly sidesteps around the perimeter.  The frogs have started singing the last two nights and nothing is more soothing than Mother Nature's own music.

At least 3 bunnies are sleeping and wiggling in this rabbit nest out in the tomato area of the garden.  I can't believe we have baby bunnies already.  It's just out of reach of Lopi's chain and is driving her crazy.
And I have to laugh.  I rounded the corner on my baby jacket and wound the second ball of yarn.  I love the interior of the label!  These people know a thing or two about knitting!

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