lauantai 29. elokuuta 2015

GREAT MAN - TINY KITCHEN

"THIS IS WHERE ALVAR AALTO'S FAMILY GATHERED TOGETHER FOR A DINNER "
Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) is our national "style-hero"; architect, designer, sculptor, painter... He represents Finnish functional architecture, minimalistic style and timeless design. He was, and still is, one of the most acknowledged Finns.

"THE ICONIC THREE-LEGGED STACKING STOOL 60"
The tree-legged stacking stool was designed in 1933 and the unique Aalto Vase in 1936. Both of them  are iconic pieces of Finnish design. A lot was created during those years... The construction of Villa Aalto was also finished in 1936. It was designed to function as a private family home as well as designer's atelier.

"THE CONSTRUCTION OF VILLA AALTO WAS FINISHED AT 1936"
Still so fashionable; modern and minimalistic VILLA AALTO was looking quite different from the other houses in the neighborhood, and bypassers were calling the building with nickname "hen house".  Little did they know that these architects were way ahead of their time.


The home was furnished mostly with Alvar Aalto's own designs... Cozy, and intimate building... But the most interesting room for me is, always, the KITCHEN.

The kitchen was a bit of a disappointment... Both Alvar and his wife Aino worked as architects and designers, and probably spent very little time in the kitchen. It was the nanny's modest kingdom...

But imagine, if instead of the sketching tables, the corner-kitchen was placed under the atelier windows! The Alvar Aalto- dream kitchen!!!

***PS. The impressive house CAN BE RENTED for private meetings and dinner parties.***

tiistai 11. elokuuta 2015

ISOKYRÖ- NEW PIN IN THE WORLD MAP


You can now mark ISOKYRÖ into your must visit places- map.
That's where five young men make the world's best Gin... with "IN RYE WE TRUST"-spirit.
One night, May 2012, these guys decided, in SAUNA, (that's where the best ideas usually get started), to give it a try to start making rye whiskey. Then they got an idea to distill rye gin.  Not just any gin, but the world's best rye gin. Sounds kind of insane, but this July the "Adventurous Rye Rye Gentlemen" did reach their goal. Kyrö Distillery Company won the International Wine and Spirits competition (IWSC) Gin and Tonic Trophy. Now the whole Finland is nuts about Isokyrö Gin. (Even the ones, who usually drink only white, red, sparkling or rosé!)

The world winning Napue Gin is named after the Finnish village of Napue, and it's battle that dates back to 1714. The Napue Gin uses rye grain and Finnish botanicals, such as birch leaves, meadowsweet, sea-buckhorn and cranberry. The down-to-earth world champions count on honest Finnish ideology and explain their principals in one interview "We don't put gold nuggets into the bottle, because they don't bring anything to the taste. Everything has to have a meaning."

THE WORLD WINNING RECIPE :
The Rye Rye world champions  advice always to use class full of ice, so that the cubes don't melt too fast making the drink watery. The amount of gin should be standard 4 cl, always measured, and the best tonic is the Fewer Tree Indian Tonic. So; a class full of ice, 4 centiliters of Napue, then the rest of the class full with Fewer Tree, plus one freshly cut rosemary stick and couple of cranberries (preferably from Kuhmo).




sunnuntai 9. elokuuta 2015

HEN HOUSE IN THE GARDEN 


It's becoming more and more popular in Finland to raise chickens in your own garden. You just need a small cottage (for hens to sleep in and to lay their eggs), and a yard to wander around (for finding natural snacks). Some say that even a balcony of a apartment house would do, but that's rather a humorous image and I doubt any neighbor would like to hear cackle next door.


The advantage of your own "garden hen farm" is that you know how your flock live and what they eat. Brown chickens lay brown eggs, with the deepest yellow yolk you have ever seen! The commercial mass production of eggs and poor living conditions of the chicken make it easy to appreciate the eggs of your own garden.


You don't necessarily need a rooster to lead the hen community, but chickens seem to like a handsome cock. Plus, you'll get eggs that can, in 21 days, be incubated to new little chicks. Cocks are natural alarm clocks, as well... So... Before buying a rooster, you'll first need to negotiate with neighbors.


In the end of the summer garden farms close down. It's time to return the rented chickens to the owner, or sell your hens to a real farm. Some "summer farmers" make a harvest party, and all their  chickens end up in a casserole. Usually home farms are occupied only during summer months... But some families cannot give up their pet- chickens in the end of the summer and make the hen-cottage winter proof. The electric radiator (up left, on the wall) keeps the temperature steady even if it's freezing outside.

Garden chickens give modern city slickers a sympathetic glimpse of an old fashioned country life.
That must be the secret of their popularity.




keskiviikko 5. elokuuta 2015

"VERY BERRY"

This is the time of the year you see Finns crawling in the nature. If you only go to the forest once a year, this is it. The hummocks are covered with blueberries; dark blue dots all over. Finns pick lots of berries, and earn some extra money by selling them at the markets for those who do not have time or energy to pick the berries themselves. Yet, 90% of the harvest rotten every year in the forest. Planeloads of berry pickers arrive all the way from Thailand to secure the harvest will not be left unpicked.
This summer my retired mom has picked 145 liters of blueberries, so far. When the autumn rain starts, she finances herself a ☀︎holiday with the berry-money.

"Mom, the blueberry-queen"
Me? Well, long way to go. My saldo is only 3 liters, and it took forever to pick even that. The "professionals" use picking tool, but amateurs, like me,  pick the blue delicacy one by one.


In my childhood, I learned to enjoy the woods, wonder around and pick berries... just enough to have a sweet snack.

"ME, COUPLE OF YEARS AGO (blue eyes & blue teeth)."
Strawberries are cultivated, but farmers offer better prices for those willing to pick the red delicacy themselves... So, again you'll see Finns crawling along the endless (that's how it feels when you start from one end of the line) strawberry fields.


We have a saying in Finland "muu maa mustikka, oma maa mansikka" = "other country blueberry, own country strawberry". That tells how much Finns love strawberries. There's nothing better than homemade strawberry jam, or juice, or a cake...





lauantai 1. elokuuta 2015

LIGHTHOUSE PICNIC


My dear friend decorates her home "the beach house"-style. Seashells and lighthouses are part of her everyday life... She's a barefoot "city girl", though, and has never even visited outer archipelago, the very last islands before there's only Baltic Sea in front of your eyes.


What would be a better place to celebrate her birthday than a small island called SÖDERSKÄR?!
So, I booked us a cruise from our capital city to the lighthouse-island, which is only one and half hour   boat ride away.


This is the ecxact location of the historical island.


The 150 years old lighthouse has got 6 floors and rises up to 40 meters above the sea level.


Suspension bridge connects another small island to the main island.


In the end of the shaky bridge there is a birdwatchers observatory. The Söderskär first bird research started already at 1940's. It's the longest continuos monitoring of the arctic birds spring and autumn migration in the whole world.


Fascinating?! There're so many interesting stories, also about the light house itself, but no island visit is complete without a picnic?!


TABLE IS SET!


ONNEA = CONGRATULATIONS (blueberry-whitechocholate cake)!!!


CHEERS, CITY-GIRL, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! AND GREETINGS TO EVERYONE FROM THE "MUST VISIT/DAY-TRIP FROM HELSINKI".



keskiviikko 29. heinäkuuta 2015

"PRESIDENT & PARSNIP"


This is the yellow flower that the president of the republic of Finland has found and made world famous. Outside of the country's borders foreign press is not wondering about the flower, but about the the character of a president who patiently waits for his turn in the queue... And when his turn finally comes, he introduces himself as "Sauli from Naantali". (That's where Mr. president's summer residence, KULTARANTA is located.) This is the story in a nutshell, about our president calling  national radio's nature-program. Foreigners have hard time believing that a president can be so down to earth and ordinary.  HERE you can find one story written about the event.


Our president enjoys summer in the nature, just like any Finn does. He observes flowers, and wild plants, and anybody can follow the findings via his official Facebook page. Finland's president posts comments himself, signing with his initials; SN. Our summer has been cold, but so far Mr. president has found 140 wild flowers. That's a lot!


Parsnip belongs to the same family with fennel and dill, and is surprisingly common on the roadsides of Southern Finland. It's good to be aware that the milky liquid it contains, might cause an allergic reaction to some. But the root is just the same what we buy in a supermarket. As all wild plants, the flavor is more intense compared to the cultivated one. But I think it's pretty darn great that we have such a delicious vegetable growing wild, waiting for anyone, (even the head of state,) just to pick (= dig) it up and make a dinner out of it!


WARNING: One has to know when the root is ripe for picking... Parsnip grows 2 years and spreads the seeds to make "offsprings"... The aroma of the root is amazing, at all states, but when the vegetable gets too old, it becomes tough and wood-like. If your findings are like that, do not even try to make a parsnip puree out of them. Instead; when making mashed potatoes, boil the potatoes together with parsnip, and discard the parsnip just before pureeing the potatoes. The aroma of wild parsnip will flavor your mashed potatoes to new dimensions... 


torstai 23. heinäkuuta 2015

BREAKFAST ON THE PIER


We've stopped wining about the weather and started adding extra layers of wool around us... And carrying raincoat everywhere with us. Like this morning, when the wind blew so strongly that it was difficult to stand on the bonton-built-pier. Waves rocked the pier side to side, like it was a boat. (It was fun though!)


We in Finland believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Therefore our breakfast often contains more savory than sweet treats. We also have a saying "runis se on mikä tiellä pitää" meaning "it is the rye that keeps you going". So, breakfast is not complete without dark rye bread, or karelian pies (rice filled rye pies).


Karelian pies are made out of rye-dough, and filled with potato-mash or rice porridge.


So, now you know it; rye is our our superpower!