Sinikka's snippets

Finland and travelling, a woman's life, cultures, languages, photography plus family recipes


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Apple and lingonberry crumble

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I love autumn, with its beautiful, warm colours. It’s also the delicious season of domestic apples and lovely, slightly sour, superfood lingonberries from the Finnish woods. We don’t have apple trees of our own but luckily, family and friends usually offer us goodies from their gardens. Or you can always find them in the farmers’ market or supermarkets. We are not especially keen berry pickers either but in the last few years have spent a weekend at our friends’ cottage picking some lingonberries.

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This crumble has been our family’s autumn favourite dessert for almost three decades. I used to have piles of all sorts of women’s mag recipe cuttings, collected by my mum during her lifetime. Among them, I once spotted a recipe for an oat flake crumble, made with tinned peaches. I remember trying it once in my flat during uni years, but found it far too sweet for my liking. The crumble part was nice and crunchy, though. Later on, I thought it might work with apples. But no, even that was a bit on the sweet side. Finally, as apples and lingonberries are in the same season and as I’ve always loved lingonberries, I thought of combining the two. And there it was: my own autumn crumble recipe! It’s been devoured and enjoyed by both family and friends for hundreds of times over the year – and we never get tired of it. Worth trying!

INGREDIENTS

  • seasonal apples, any variety (I usually use about 10 but this depends on the size of your dish)
  • 3-4 dl fresh lingonberries
  • sugar and cinnamon to taste
  • 8 dl oat flakes
  • 2 dl sugar (caster or brown)
  • 200 g melted butter or margarine

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THIS IS WHAT YOU DO

  • peel and core the apples and cut them into small wedges
  • mix with the lingonberries on the bottom of your oven dish
  • sprinkle with a little bit of sugar and plenty of cinnamon
  • for the crumble, simply mix the oat flakes, sugar and melted butter
  • cover the apples and berries with the crumble
  • bake in c. 175° C for c. 1 h 15 mins (cover with foil if the top starts getting too dark)

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The baked lingonberries give this dessert a wonderful, juicy consistency that goes well with the drier crumble topping. This desserts is best enjoyed warm with with either vanilla ice-cream or cold custard. It works both as a simply, everyday family treat, or a fancier dessert for visiting dinner guests.

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YOU WILL POSSIBLY WANT A SECOND HELPING!

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Autumn and life

“Age is just a number”,  or “you’re as old as you feel”. Even I have resorted to these platitudes when trying to reassure friends going through their age-related crises as they certainly serve a purpose in pushing us to stop fretting about life passing us by too fast.

However, on this birthday (yet another one!?) I can reveal to you all that I can’t help feeling my accumulated years. Where is all the youthful energy when there didn’t seem to be enough hours in a day to do all that I wanted to accomplish? Let alone, all the creeping little aches and pains, twinges on my back or stressed out and tired legs in the evening. At this stage, age is more than a number, even psychologically as I have already gone to all lengths to avoid any reference to my exact age for quite a few birthdays.

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Luckily, I came into this world in the autumn, a season that I really like. These days I can easily find similarities between my present age and the strong, warm colours all around me. Incidentally, even my favourite colours can be found in the rich autumn palette – delicious reds, oranges, yellows, how breathtakingly beautiful! This is also the harvesting season, abundant with berries, fruit and all the crops that have ripened under the summer sun. Aren’t I, too, now benefiting from all the wisdom learned over the seasons gone by? I have left behind the crowded decades of raising a child, proving my worth at work, always running around for other people. Finally, with the only daughter definitely flown away from the nest, and free from the need to impress anyone at work any more, I can calm down. Just like this season, here in the northern hemisphere, makes us stay indoors more and more, snuggly enjoying candlelit evenings in the comfort of our homes, my present circumstances allow me to turn my thoughts inwards, take stock of who I am, and what I would still like to experience in these autumn years of my life.

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But then, autumn winds inevitably carry with them the chilly reminders of what’s soon to come. If I follow in my mother’s footsteps, I’ll only have fewer than 10 years to tick off a long bucket list! Isn’t the disappearing foliage on the trees quite like my thinning hair? Wherever I look, I see lonely last leaves hanging on for dear life… And eventually, the already fallen ones – at first getting caught in the gusts of wind for their farewell swirls in the air, and then rotting away, losing all their vibrant colour, waiting for…

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Okey, okey, this is getting far too sinister and morbid now! Let’s change the tone. After all, as long as I am still compos mentis, and unlike the autumn leaves, I can choose the cosier, happier autumn metaphor. Thank goodness, my hairdresser will be able to fix my colour scheme on Friday. And as for my mother, rather than letting her unexpected, early departure worry me sick, I can choose to remember her spirit of never giving up. She was a woman who, even on the very last evening of her life, still carefully painted her nails bright red, as she’d done all her life!

Quick, find last winter’s tea lights, pour a glass of bubbly – chin chin, and chin up.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! candlelit


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My goulash soup

autumn leavesAs the autumn days are getting colder, it’s lovely to start making warming soups and stews. This is a dish that I have been making for two decades, a real family favourite. I found the recipe in a women’s magazine but the recipe has been adjusted over the years so that now it would be slightly different every time as I don’t necessarily follow strict measurements any more. It is a hearty soup – or maybe more like a stew – and we like it quite hot and spicy, packed with onions and garlic. Everyone can modify the spices to their liking, and some might like to use only half of the meat and add more vegetables.  I usually make a big potful at once as the flavours keep maturing, and the soup is even tastier on the second day!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 big onions, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 800 g thinly stripped beef (we can buy this ready-made in packages here)
  • olive oil for frying
  • 2 x 5 dl water
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • 1 tbs wheat flour
  • 1-2 tbs paprika powder
  • 1-2 tbs marjoram
  • 1-2 tbs caraway seeds
  • black pepper / cayenne pepper / chilli powder / fresh chilli (depending on your taste)
  • 8-12 potatoes, peeled and cut into four, or the size wanter (choose a firm variety)
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and cut into strips
  • 2 big beefsteak tomatos, diced (or 3-4 smaller ordinary tomatoes)

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PROCEDURE

  1. In a big saucepan, start frying the onion and garlic, and add the strips of beef. Fry until the meat has turned brown/grey.
  2. Sprinkle the flour and spices into the meat.
  3. Add half of the water (5 dl) and 1 stock cube, and let the meat simmer at low heat for 1 hour. Sounds long but this is really necessary to make the meat nice and tender
  4. In the meantime, prepare the vegetables.
  5. First add the potatoes and the other half of the water and the second stock cube.
  6. Boil for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are ‘al dente’.
  7. Add the peppers and tomatoes and boil for another 5-10 minutes

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Et voilà. A dollop of smetana or some cottage cheese goes well with the soup, and takes the edge off the spiciness.  

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BON APPETIT!

PS. Just realised that the soup actually reflects the delicious, warm autumn colours. Maybe that’s another reason why this season always brings this recipe out!

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