Thursday, October 29, 2009

Älylän ehtoo

If you are planning to be in Jyväskylä on Friday night you should definitely stop by Vakiopaine for Älylän ehtoo.

I'll be in the door, so swing by and say howdy and if you are at all young-looking, bring your ID. You should stop by at about 7 PM to see Ralli-Olga. If you don't know who they are, all the more reason to come and check them out. I can honestly say that they kick ass. They are throwing a record-release party at the same time.

Ralli-olga's myspace here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jolly Jumpers at Vakiopaine - 24.10.2009

The Jolly Jumpers played a show at Vakiopaine last Saturday. This was the second time that they played at Vakkari since I started working there. It was a great show, made even better by the fact that I had the night off.

A few photos from the show:

A Jolly Jumpers video that I found on Youtube:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Siskonmakkarakeitto - siskonmakkara soup

I used to wonder who the sister (sisko) was that invented siskonmakkara sausage. Turns out that that the sisko in siskonmakkara was originally the French saucisse. From there it became the German sausischen. After a brief voyage across the Baltic it became the old Swedish susiskonkorv, which over time became siskonkorv, and ultimately siskonmakkara.

Siskonmakkara is a fresh (uncooked, uncured) sausage that you can get from the butcher's counter and also from the frozen foods section of your favorite Finnish supermarket. In Jyväskylä siskonmakkara is available from the meat counter at Mestarin Herkku . A fresh shipment arrives every tuesday.

Siskonmakkara soup is one of my favorites. Here's the recipe that Hanna uses:

Siskonmakkarakeitto (serves 4)


3 carrots
1 rutabaga (aka swede)
about 10 allspice corns
1 liter vegetable stock
salt (only if your stock isn't salty already)
7 medium-size potatoes
1 onion
500 grams of fresh(uncooked, uncured) sausage - Use whatever is available if you don't live in Finland. Siskonmakkara sausage isn't really heavily seasoned, so try and find something mild.

1. Peel, chop, slice or dice the vegetables.

vegetables chopped and ready for the pot. oops, the onions aren't in the photo! the siskonmakkara still needs to be squeezed out of its casing.

2. Bring the stock to a boil. Add the allspice, rutabaga, and carrot. Cook for 15 minutes.

3. Add the potatoes. Cook for another 15 minutes.

4. Squeeze the sausage out of the casings and into the soup. It should be in little
ball-shaped chunks.

Squeezing the sausage out of the casing.

6. Cover the soup pot and let cook for another 5 minutes or so.

7. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with your favorite bread.

The finished product.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ruukin tervasinappi - Ruukki pine tar mustard

I picked up a bottle of this mustard at Ween Maan Wiljaa a few weeks back. Finns use pine tar to waterproof boats, mix it in soaps and shampoos, and also use it as a flavoring for food and sweets. One can find pine tar candy, pine tar liquor, pine tar sauces for meat and fish. I had never seen pine tar mustard before so I decided to give it a try.

From what I can deduce by reading the label, this is a standard Finnish mustard cut with pine tar booze. In my opinion they could have used a stronger mustard and even more of the pine tar flavor. Not a bad product as is, but I feel there could be room for improvement.

A recent article in the New World Finn

I wrote the following article about a month ago. It was published in the most recent edition of the New World Finn. If you are at all interested in Finnish-American culture I recommend that you subscribe to this publication.

Summer’s strawberries were at their best the week Reino was born. We drove to the hospital early in the morning and everything went the way it was supposed to. The midwife brought us yogurt and coffee, she even made us sandwiches. Mother and child stayed in the hospital for the first 3 days. In the meantime, Daddy and his friends performed the ritual of Varpajaiset, which historically have been used to celebrate the arrival of a new colt or calf or child to the household.

Varpajaiset are to be organized by the father as soon as possible after the child’s birth. The local canoe and kayak club operates a sauna at Lake Tuomiojärvi. Just minutes from downtown, their sauna is an affordable place to entertain ones friends in the summertime. I called up their go-to guy, an immigrant of Hungarian extraction by the name of Béla, and booked the sauna for later that same day. Fifty Euros couldn’t have been better spent. I sent some text messages to a few friends asking them to meet me later in the afternoon. On my way to meet them I picked up some lamb sausage and a few boxes of fine Finnish cigars by J. Sundqvist. Our son was celebrated into this world with sauna and good company.

cigars by J. Sundqvist

Reino and his mother spent 3 full days in the hospital before I was able to bring them home. Eight hours of labor, 3 full days of hospital care, meals included. I was a bit concerned about the bill until it actually arrived. The total came to 90 Euros. That’s roughly 130 U.S. dollars. Prenatal care was taken care of by the municipality. Future visits to the children’s clinic or lastenneuvola will also financed by the municipality. Of course this is all paid for by us taxpayers, but such is the price of living in a just society.

Summer mornings in downtown Jyväskylä are best when they include a trip to the tori (marketplace) for a cup of coffee, a couple liters of strawberries, and whatever vegetables look best. By the end of June, new potatoes are on offer in several varieties. In July I was able to purchase some wild strawberries which led me straight to some of my finest childhood memories – hayfields of summer with my mom, sometimes my grandma – searching through the leaves for the little berries no bigger than a child’s fingertip.

Strawberries lead to raspberries, and then come the blueberries. Currants, gooseberries, followed by cloudberries. Now fall is here and so are the lingonberries. Apples are offered by friends with their own trees. In fact Maaria just stopped by with a bag of apples from her yard.

wild strawberries


lingonberries, also known as lowbush cranberries

In a few days I’ll be applying for Finnish citizenship. I have lived here long enough, and have shown through standardized testing that my language skills exceed the levels required by law. The idea of dual citizenship appeals to me. I’m hoping to be able to offer this country as much as it has offered me.

The birch leaves are turning yellow. Now and then we see a splash of red from a maple. Cranes circle overhead, congregating before they depart for warmer climes. The students have returned for another year of study. I watch the teevee now and then to catch up with what’s going on back home and can’t help but feel the distance.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A well-placed stencil

I find plain old marker tags to be annoying. I'd go so far to say that most marker tags are nothing but stupid. I do appreciate a well-placed stencil though.

An anonymous individual recently left their mark on a few floodlight covers at the park in our neighborhood.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Korvat - Ears

These ears, which were originally on display at Harju, magically appeared in Kirkkopuisto. I noticed them on Sunday morning which leads me to believe that they were moved by someone in a moment of alcohol-inspired genius sometime the night before.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Minna Canthin patsas/Statue of Minna Canth

Located in downtown Jyväskylä, in the park known as Kirkkopuisto, not too far from the rose gardens, you will find a statue of a woman that you probably won't recognize. Don't worry, lots of Finns probably wouldn't be able to recognize her either.

Minna Canth (1844-1897), was a Finnish writer and social activist who spent some time in Jyväskylä. She began as a student at the Jyväskylä Teacher's College, which is now known as the University of Jyväskylä.

She went on to become the first newspaperwoman to write in the Finnish language, wrote several plays, and became a succesful businesswoman, despite the fact that she had to raise 7 children on her own following the death of her husband.

Her play Työmiehen vaimo (The Worker's Wife) influenced popular opinion so much that shortly after its release, parliament passed a law regarding separation of property in marriage, a revolutionary idea for its time.

Where to find the statue of Minna Canth in downtown Jyväskylä:

View Minna Canth patsas/sculpture, Jyväskylä, Kirkkopuisto in a larger map

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Syysmarkkinat - Fall market day

The annual fall market will be held at the Jyväskylä market square on Sunday the 18th of October from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. This is one of the rare days that the tori is actually full of vendors.

Where to find the Jyväskylä Kauppatori:

Näytä Kauppatori - Marketplace, Jyväskylä suuremmalla kartalla

The Jyväskylä kauppatori. I took this photo last summer during the month of July.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

ilmapuuro aka vispipuuro - whipped berry porridge

A great way to use the berries you picked at the end of summer.

In some families it's called ilmapuuro (air porridge), in other families it's called vispipuuro (whipped porridge). This is a dessert, but I guess you could eat it for breakfast if you are feeling decadent.

Recipe for about 4 people, depending on how much they eat:

1 liter of water (thats pretty close to a quart)
3 deciliters of lingonberries aka lowbush cranberries (3 dl is just shy of 1.5 cups)
1 - 1.5 deciliters of sugar (around about half a cup)
1.5 deciliters of farina aka cream of wheat (a heaping half cup's worth)

Boil the berries in the water for about 5 minutes. For a super-smooth end product, cook the berries for about 10 minutes or so and strain out the fibrous material. If you don't mind a bit of fiber in your diet, let those berry skins be.

Add the sugar and the farina and cook for about 10 minutes, until the mixture seems thick enough.

Let the porridge cool, then whip it with an electric mixer or use your favorite kitchen machine with a whisk attachment.

Serve with cold milk poured on top.

If you don't have lingonberries, substitute the water and berries with cranberry juice. You could also use whatever berries you have available.

Monday, October 12, 2009


A close relative of kalakukko, lohikukkonen makes for a great snack any time of the day.

The salmon is kind of irrelevant. The filling could be any type of fish that's available. The main point of this handy food is the chewy rye crust.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jalapeño kukkia-Jalapeño Flowers

This jalapeño plant was definitely glad to be moved indoors from its summer home the garden. It already had a few blossoms, but once moved to the kitchen window it began to flower profusely. There are already a few chilis forming.

Chili peppers and sauces are one of my most effective winter survival tools. The endorphin rush that they deliver helps me get through the dark days of winter, of which Finland has plenty.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Van Tien Asian Foods Myymäläauto - mobile store

This Asian grocery bus parks outside our building every now and then. I've noticed it for quite some time now, but never manage to get down the stairs and out the door before it leaves.

Today I managed to make it to the door of the bus just as they were leaving so I didn't have a chance to do any shopping. The driver said they are in Jyväskylä every fourth Friday morning from 9 to 11. Armed with this information I am hoping to be able to check their wares the next time they are in town.