2010 Advent Calendar - 2010 Joulukalenteri

Phew. I´ve been working in this project for almost the whole November. I managed to craft it, a little at a time in my spare time.

Making the Advent Calendar has become a tradition in my family. Before having children we didn’t care much about it, that´s true. We used to get those ready ones from the supermarket, filled with “candy-chocolate” small figures. Chocolate wasn’t that good but served for the purpose =).

I started making it by myself about 3 years ago. The first one was made with small cardboard boxes (all kinds of packing boxes), cut in same depth, wrapped with recycled/leftovers Christmas gift papers. One side was totally open, making super easy just to pop the wrapping paper and access the little goodies. To make it less boring, I assembled the little “presents” in a locomotive shape =). Aha, yep I spent couple of hours trying to figure out a good structure for the calendar. :P

The second handmade Advent Calendar wasn’t suppose to happen. I was too busy with two little girls but I decided to craft a quick one. Oldest daughter was big enough and I thought it would be nice to introduce some sort of “activity” for her during the waiting for Christmas. I made 24 little origami bells and put little gifts in 24 little paper bags. I glued one sticker inside the bell and the same sticker to one paper bag. Luonnonvoima just needed to play “find a match” with the sticker pairs.  ^_^

Last year´s Calendar was a hit. I crafted little snowmen using the papier-mâché technique. The little snowmen were basically mini “piñatas”, made of tissue paper and diluted white glue on small balloons. You can check out more detailed pictures in my Flickr set for the Snowmen.

Previous Advent Calendars

I was so lazy to start making the calendar this year! I had some ideas, but all required TOO much time to construct them. October went, November started and it was just getting on my nerves. Finally, I came up with this idea and stayed on it. ^_^

2010 Advent Calendar – Little wool socks

2010 Advent Calendar - 2010 Joulukalenteri

My girls like to play treasure hunting a lot. My little pirates just go crazy if you give them a map to find some hidden “treasure”. Luonnonvoima can draw a map for herself (including the “X” for the treasure), hide some little toy and play with Pikkusiili for a while.

Based on that, I decided to incorporate the treasure hunt to my Christmas Calendar this year. No, I am not crazy (well, not yet. Or, maybe I am :D).

The Advent Calendar consists of 24 little wool socks (I knitted them using the yarn I had at home) clipped to a thread using mini clothespins that I decorated too. I labeled each clothespin with a number, corresponding to the 24 days for Christmas.

Now, the treasure hunt part: girls will find a small note inside each little sock. Because they still don’t know how to read, instead of a word clue, I simply drew one object from our home. They will need to recognize the object and go for it. A little package with goodies will be placed where the hint sends them to.

Fun isn´t it? The disadvantage of this type of calendar is that I need to keep a list showing where I should hide the package for the day. Hehe, I can only complicate things… I really hope my girls will enjoy it!

Contents of the calendar: chocolates, candies, stickers, a puzzle (about three pieces a day), toy jewelry and hairpins. The other years: lego kits, small play dough, DIY finger puppets, magnet alphabet letters, toothbrushes, socks, candies, hairpins. I tend to put some activity everyone in the family can participate (it is specially good during these dark days here where I live).

When they get older, I will try to put a list of activities instead of objects. For example “bake gingerbread men”, “gaze at the stars”, “laugh until you belly hurts”. Those kind of things. :D

Tomorrow starts the countdown. You still have time to make an advent calendar! For reals. Grab colored papers, draw socks, cut them out. Mark an activity behind it, or use my treasure hunt idea. It is all about making the waiting for Christmas more bearable for the little ones ^_^.

2010 Advent Calendar - 2010 Joulukalenteri

Savory pancake & #twitterfoodparty

Hello there! Monday is usually a terribly busy day for me… and now that we are coming closer and closer to the holidays and end of the year festivities, mondays just seem to get worse. I am trying to gather myself and use all my time as much wiser as it is possible.

But hey! Today is the last monday of November :). For those who follow me on twitter, you might know that the last monday of  each month is dedicated to what we call #twitterfoodparty. The concept is very simple, we discuss and decide a theme/ingredient/type of food to be made on this monday in particular and then, we tweet a picture about what we’d made or ate. Simple!

I couldn’t participate in the last twitterfoodparty special edition (theme was sushi) but I will collaborate to this one… The theme is Pancake! =)

To catch all the delicious dishes coming up and what my twitter-friends are posting, look for hashtags like #twitterfoodparty and #twitterpancakeparty. It is fun, join us! ^_^

Because of not writing any recipe today, I will consider this post as my food memo :).

Meat savory pancakes & #twitterfoodparty

I´ve made these pancakes using a Brazilian recipe. Savory pancakes are very common there, you can fill them with whatever you wish and bake them using any sauce on top. Common fillings are pulled cooked chicken, ham and cheese, mushrooms, shrimps and meat. Sauces varies from white sauce to tomato sauce or bolognese.

It is similar to French “crêpe”, a liquid batter made from flour, eggs, milk and salt, fried to a thin layer on a pan with butter.  I added a bit of grated parmesan cheese in my batter because I knew I was going to use it for a savory filling. Otherwise, you can also fill the pancakes with sweet toppings, for dessert or breakfast.

My pancakes are filled with minced meat (pre-cooked with onion and spices) and topped with béchamel sauce and grated cheese. Then, just baked in the oven until golden and bubbling. :)

I served with green beans salad and tomato vinaigrette (made with cherry tomatoes, onion, raspberry balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil).

Have a great #twitterfoodparty day!

Puppy bento

November 25, 2010

Puppy bento

When I was a child I loved to eat fried minced meat on japanese rice. I could eat tons of it. Another combo that I enjoyed was Japanese rice, Brazilian cooked beans and fried minced meat on top. ^_^   So good!

Today´s bento features fried minced meat. Not exactly a meat “soboro”, but quite close. Hubs said that it was almost the filling of “lihapiirakka” (a sort of Finnish meat doughnut) that he loves =). Lihapiirakka looks like a rissole but the pastry is made of bread dough, deep fried. Insides, a mixture of cooked porridge rice and fried minced meat with spices.

Hmm, “mmmkay” … should I get back to the subject :P..?

Contents of the boxes: fried minced meat with spices, on top of  cooked rice with mixed grains, cucumbers, pan fried tofu cubes with sesame seeds, turkey roll with steamed green beans, cherry tomato, carrots, lettuce and green apple slices. Little puppy made with cheese, nori and steamed carrot.

Girls liked the dog´s “bone” but they commented on the fact it was “fake” :D ahahahha. They pulled it out from the “ground” and added “hey mom, this is wrong, there´s no other edge! This is NOT a bone!” . All that remained me to say was “oh, SO sorry!” ^_^

Puppy bento

Kylmäsavuporo mustatorvisieni pizza

“What? Reindeer? What? Black mushroom?”… Hey, don’t look at me like that! ^_^

I explain you, this supposed to be just a Food Memo entry… We had this pizza on weekend and it was amazing… Flavors hit the spot I was expecting and I thought it would be nice to share the experience with you ^_^.

Everything started with a very “bothersome” mention from hubs, the day he met his old high school friends in a pizza party: “we baked this wonderful pizza , there was mustatorvisieni (black trumpet) and moose meat”.  Ah… ok… WHAT?

Do you know when once in a while something comes to you and you try not to think about it but it just keeps poking you in your head? I was determined to make that pizza. Or at least, something close to the taste I’ve imagined.

First of all, to get the mustatorvisieni (craterellus cornucopioides) . Never seen it fresh. Never seen it in the forest. Never seen it dehydrated. Never seen it anywhere (just in my imagination ^_^). Oh wait! (Now hubs enters the scene) “hey, check this out, they have mustatorvisieni in brine today”. Right… hmm… let’s grab a box :P.

To go with it… Kylmäsavuporo , the cold-smoked reindeer meat. They sell it in the charcuterie part of the supermarket. No kidding, just normal. Not an everyday cold-cut anyways, it is very strong.

Ah yes. The girls (we have little ones in this house don’t we?)… they didn’t want this pizza. I don’t blame them :). They are just kids right? So I made them a child friendly pizza with minced meat ;).

Have I told you that minced meat pizza is very common here? And it is one of Finnish kids favorite… yep.

Kylmäsavuporo mustatorvisieni pizza

Yield 3 ∅ 30cm pizza + 4 mini ones (2 mushrooms pizzas, one medium and 4 small sized “bolognese”)

Tomato sauce

  • 400 g chopped canned tomatoes (I used organic)
  • 1 tbsp of tomato purée
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • one pinch of sugar
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • oregano and basil if you like

Mix all the ingredients in a small pan (except for the black pepper) and bring to simmer for 30-60 minutes, until sauce is reduced and tomatoes are melting. Add the black pepper to taste.

If you like a smooth sauce, smash the cooked tomatoes or use a blender. I like it “chunky” ^_^.

about 150 – 200 g grated mozzarella cheese

Pizza dough

  • 3 dl warm water (about 42°C)
  • 3 tsp active dried yeast (I used Sunnuntai Kuivahiiva)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • about 6-7 dl  durum wheat flour
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • a pinch of raw sugar
  • corn meal (optional)

Pour the water into a large bowl, mix the salt, sugar and olive oil. In another measuring cup, mix the dry yeast with a small amount of wheat flour.

Using a fork, bring the flour and yeast to the liquid, swirling to combine. Add the rest of the flour, being careful not to add too much and make the dough too heavy.

The right moment to stop adding is when it starts to come together. Knead until you have a smooth, soft and springy dough.

Place the dough in a large bowl greased with olive oil and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp teacloth and place in a warm spot for about 1 hour until the dough has doubled in size.

When you are ready to use it, remove the dough from the bowl, knead it on a flour-dusted surface, “punching it down” (removes the gas formed during the fermentation). Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll the pizzas out. It is better to roll one pizza at a time, unless you have a good timing on preparing everything ^_^.

Heat oven to 250°C

Sprinkle your baking tray with corn meal. If you have a baking stone, leave it waiting inside the oven. I don’t own one, so I just left my flat baking sheet heating up while I rolled the dough on parchment paper.

Brush the top of the pizzas with olive oil, spoon the tomato sauce, place the toppings and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake pizza one at a time until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden, about 10-15 minutes.

Kylmäsavuporo mustatorvisieni pizza

Cold-smoked reindeer meat and black trumpet mushroom topping

  • 30 g sliced kylmäsavuporo – cold smoked reindeer meat (I used Lapin Liha sliced roast)
  • 50 g (drained weight) black trumpet mushroom preserved in salted water (I used Kaskein Marja mustatorvisieni)
  • a knob of unsalted butter
  • 1 juniper berry (“katajanmarja”), crushed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • fresh ground black pepper

Soak the mushrooms in water to remove the excess of salt. Dry them gently and put aside. Heat the butter in a small skillet and fry the onions until soft and fragrant. Add the mushrooms, the juniper berry and pepper to taste.

Cut the meat into small pieces.

Brush the top of the pizzas with olive oil, spoon the tomato sauce, place the reindeer meat and the mushroom mixture, sprinkle with cheese. Add oregano if desired.

Bake the pizza  until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbling golden, about 10-15 minutes.

Jauheliha pizza - pizza

Jauheliha pizza topping – pizza “bolognese”

  • 200 g minced meat
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • dried oregano and basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

This is pretty simple. Fry the onions and the meat until golden brown, add the herbs and spices to taste.

Brush the top of the pizzas with olive oil, spoon the tomato sauce, sprinkle the meat mixture and top with cheese. Add oregano if desired.

Bake the pizza  until the crust is browned and the cheese golden, about 10-15 minutes.

My notes about the recipe:

One could say there´s no point in writing the recipe, once the ingredients are “exotic”. Remember I said it supposed to be my “food memo” entry? Yep, you are right, I want the recipe for my reference too… (but hey, don’t you think it is entertaining just to read about something different?)

^_^

Udon-suki

November 22, 2010

When I started the blog I didn’t have a well-shaped idea of what it was supposed to be or look like. The tagline for the title pretty much explains how messy my blog is  ^_^.

So… when talking about food, I don’t necessary mean I am going to write and post the recipe for it. Some of the recipes I make use ingredients that are somehow “exotic” or difficult to find… or sometimes they are just food we eat without any further ado. :)

I decided to create a new category for the blog. It will be my “Food memorandum”. With that, I can keep track of what I am cooking (or eating!) and refer back to them when I run out of inspiration.

Shall we begin?

Udon-suki with white shimeji mushrooms

Udon-suki

I’d been thinking about shimeji mushrooms for long… I am a dedicated mushroom-lover ♡♥… eeeehehe and could do anything to get them for my recipes. Yes, total truth.

Couple of years ago, when the big supermarket nearby opened its doors I was amazed and happy to find out they carried shimeji mushrooms in their selection, along with the so called “normal” usual mushrooms (small shiitake and button mushrooms). To my disappointment they had it just for the opening event and soon after the mushrooms disappeared.

I am not sure where else I could find shimeji here but the other day I was reading one of my recent discovered blog and was glad to hear  a place downtown would possibly have it on its shelves (kiitos – ありがとうございます ^_^  Sari!). Took me a bit to have time to go there but I finally bought one box! Yay to me!

Having a box of “bunapi-shimeji” (white beech mushroom) I just needed to decide what to make with these little cute white shrooms ^_^. Soon after we were having a comforting Udon-suki to warm us up in a cold saturday night :).

About the Udon-suki. Basically it is a sukiyaki, a Japanese hot-pot where meat and vegetables are cooked in a shallow pot filled with sukiyaki broth, with highlight on the udon-noodle. I´ve made it like this because my girls just love udon and they could share the meal with all the family.

You see, nabe (hot pot) style food has a very special meaning to me. It was when we all sat together at table around the pot and shared the meal together. It is something I really appreciated and remember from my childhood. My wish is to pass ahead the same experience to my girls ^_^.

Mushroom-love ♥

Little giraffe bento

November 17, 2010

Little giraffe bento

Oh gosh… It has been more than a week since my last post. Yes, I am cooking and doing stuff but I am not taking pictures at all. I am having problems on making good photographs because of the winter darkness (we celebrated Father´s day in Finland last Sunday, I baked a cake and everything… but hey, sorry guys, no pictures ^_^)

Anyways… it is already middle November and I tend to get very busy (and desperate! ahaahha) in the end of the year. Craft projects, baking and cooking ideas… I hope I can cope with everything and share something in the blog.

Today I made a bento for the girls, mostly because Luonnonvoima was not eating much lately and I was a bit concerned about her behavior. When I showed the boxes to them they yelled “Kirahvi!!” (kirahvi is the Finnish word for giraffe) =).

To shorten the history, Luonnonvoima ate everything! I was so glad….

Little giraffe bento

Contents of the boxes: rice, furikake, steamed broccoli, cooked carrots, tamagoyaki (omelet) with spinach, braised tofu in tonkatsu sauce, MSG-free sausage, cherry tomato, clementine wedges, red grapes. Giraffe made with cheese, carrot and nori; her horns with dried somen noodle and cooked carrot cut with a straw.

Little giraffe bento

A tip about the spinach. I don´t know from where they’ve heard “spinach is a no no” but when they asked what was the green thing inside the omelet, instead of saying “it is spinach”, I said “it is a nice leaf”. They replied “just like basil?”… I said “yep” and they ate everything nicely. Uh… kids are so tricky! :D

Mini chocolate madeleines

November 6, 2010

Mini chocolate madeleines

The other day I was reading one of my cooking magazines and there was a recipe of mini madeleines. Oh, those madeleines.. little cute baked cakes made with special pans.. I used to skip those recipes, simply because I didn’t have the shell shaped pan, knowing that it would be terribly difficult to find them here where I live.

Although I found normal sized madeleine pans I wanted mini. They are cuter, they fit better in my mouth (ahaha). I got obsessed about them.. I visited every single baking supply shop on my search for the mini pan. Took me days (and nights browsing the web too) until I finally found it. I felt very happy ^_^.

Instead of using the recipe I saw in that magazine I decided for another one this time. Chocolate madeleines, a perfect match for my coffee :P.

Mini chocolate madeleines

recipe from here , what I used and Finnish ingredients in parentheses

yield about 60 mini madeleines. I got 40 shell shaped and 16 heart shaped mini muffins.

  • 15 g dark chocolate, melted (I used Lindt 70%, about 4 pieces from the bar)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 70 g cake flour (I used erikoisvehnäjauho)
  • 15 g cocoa (I used Van Houten)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 70 g unsalted butter, melted (plus a little more for brushing the pans)
  • 80 g sugar

Heat oven to 170°C

Prepare the pan, brushing with a little melted butter.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and sugar into a bowl and whisk to combine.

In another bowl, slightly beat the eggs. Pour into the flour mixture and whisk gently. Add the melted chocolate and finally the melted butter.

Mix until just combine.

Pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle (you can use small spoons but I found it easier to pour the batter into the molds with the bag).

Fill the pan with batter and bake for 10-12 mins, until the madeleines are golden and baked all the way through (if in doubt, make the skewer test).

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 2 mins. Tip out of the pan and bake another batch, if you need to.

Mini chocolate madeleines

My notes about the recipe:

I was very happy with the result! I am thinking about adding espresso powder to make mocha madeleines or a tiny pieces of candied orange peel for a “quick” filling next time.

The girls liked them a lot even with the strong chocolate taste. They kept popping them in their little mouths ^_^. Very easy to eat… they disappeared fast :).

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