Sinikka's snippets

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


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Pure enough

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For me, the first connotation with ‘pure’ is to do with food. Here in Finland many people have never stopped cooking from scratch, preferably with local ingredients. This give our cooking a refreshing seasonal variation, due to our climate, with long, cold winters and very short growing seasons in summer. You get used to having certain ingredients and dishes only at certain times of the year. Also, in recent years, so-called ‘pure’ restaurants have sprung up, which typically serve ‘raw food’, salads or raw cakes, for example. I tend to associate ‘pure food’ with organic, local ingredients and home-cooking, not necessarily raw. The most important thing for me is that I know where the produce comes from, can trust the producer, and cooking it myself, I know exactly what goes into it. This for me equals ‘pure’.

Home-grown summer vegetables would be really nice but in our tiny town patio “garden”, in front of our home, we can’t obviously grow a lot. One thing that thrives there, though, is rhubarb. It’s always reliable and grows beautiful, thick stems every year, no matter what the previous winter was like. And a definite plus is that it is as organic as you can expect, being surrounded by urban air. At least, no pesticides, no fertilisers, nothing chemical is ever added to the soil it grows in.

There is just enough to either bake a few delicious rhubarb pies or crumbles, or as in the last few years, make my own fresh rhubarb juice. Spicing it with a cinnamon and vanilla stick in the boiling water, makes it a delightful early summer drink that won’t stay long in our fridge before it’s all enjoyed by thirsty family and guests.

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Weekly photo challenge – PURE.

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End of summer

Last week of my long summer holiday is starting, making me all wistful and nostalgic. In a week’s time, my relaxing, leisurely, slow mornings will turn into the panic of early alarms, rushed breakfasts and getting ready for school.

While toiling with the daunting stress of the inevitability of ‘back to school’, I am also trying to make the most of this season. I read somewhere that August is the time of “stone fruit”. It sure seems to be true, as the big cherry trees above our home are bright red and heavy with this year’s crop.

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These trees are technically not on our land but a leftover from the farmhouse that used to be here before our row house was built in its place. In previous years, there have been far fewer cherries, and the birds have soon eaten them up. We haven’t even thought of picking them as the trees are on a slight slope, and so high that it would be quite difficult to get to them. What’s more, these cherries are quite sour, so we have just left them.

However, this year is exceptional for some reason. Never have I seen the trees so red! And, surprisingly, the birds have mostly stayed away. Some friends discussed this on Facebook, and suspected that it’s because the woods are so full of blueberries this year that the birds have preferred eating them instead. Whatever the reason, some primitive instinct got hold of me today, and I persuaded hubby to help me pick enough cherries to make some jam.

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I’ve never been a keen preserver of fruit or berries, like many of the Finnish women I know. In fact, during the “rush years” of my life, when we were busy raising our young daughter and working hard to settle in our careers, I wouldn’t have even dreamt of having any time for such time-consuming kitchen chores! I’ve always liked cooking and baking but preserving? Oh no, not for me even though I must admit I often felt inadequate and lazy when female friends kept boasting about the number of bottles of homemade juice or jars of various jams they had already stored away for the winter. So what’s suddenly come over me? Is it age – preparing to be a pottering about granny one day?

Anyway, like squirrels gathering nuts for the winter, off we went to tackle the high trees. In the end, it wasn’t hard at all as the pliable branches could easily be bent for us to reach the fruit. In no time at all we had a bowlful to work with. Afterwards, we sat together at the garden table, taking the pips out and preparing the cherries for cooking. It was very therapeutic and a nice way to spend some time chatting and, best of all, effectively helped me forget about the looming end of the holiday.

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At the end of the day, we had several jars of homemade cherry jam, spiced with the rest of a bottle of Amaretto. What joy and a sense of achievement! Come dark winter days, and we can look back to this sunny late summer’s day, while enjoying our jam with some French cheese and bread!

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