Friday, November 27, 2009

vihannes- ja hedelmäpussit - produce bags

Working with an idea picked up from Michele at A House Called Nut, Hanna made some reusable produce bags out of super-light fabric. Some have been given as gifts to friends, the rest have stayed with us in an attempt to reduce our plastic bag usage.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baby food by Alvar Aalto

Alvar Aalto was a Finnish architect and designer. While he did have his moments of genius, he was far from faultlessness. Anyone who has had to sit through a two hour lecture in one of his torture chamber lecture halls in the C Building of the University of Jyväskylä campus will know what I am talking about. Could one possibly design a more uncomfortable chair?

Don't even get me started on the 100% dysfunctional men's rooms in the same building. Makes me wonder if Aalto was so perfect that he never had to take a crap because I can guarantee that even Mr. Perfect Architect himself couldn't figure out how to use one of those cramped facilities with dignity. And do the sinks really have to be at the height of ones knees?

Don't get me wrong. His buildings look great from the outside and his design items often unite form and function quite satisfactorily. One of his iconic designs was the Aalto (Savoy) vase.

Using the official Aalto vase ice tray as a mold, Hanna froze several baby-sized portions of carrot puree for Reino to enjoy as he is now learning to eat solid foods. Now here is some design we can enjoy even after it has been melted down in the microwave!

carrot puree by Alvar Aalto

Friday, November 20, 2009

Keski-Suomen viides vuodenaika - The fifth season of Central Finland

A little more than a week ago, my adopted hometown looked like this:

There was plenty of snow and the temperatures were comfortably below freezing. The air was crisp and dry. Humidity was virtually nonexistent.

My friends and I discussed how great it would be if the weather would remain as such. After having spent several winters here however, I realized that this was not to be the case. I knew for sure that soon the dreaded fifth season would be upon us.

The fifth season has no name. It is the time of year that comes between fall and winter. Some years the fifth season can last from the end of November to well beyond Christmas.

The fifth season is characterized by lack of sunlight, abundance of rain, and an ever-present dampness that chills to the bone.

There are many ways to cope with the fifth season. Some indulge in hot beverages, with or without a bit of alcohol. A weekly trip to the local swimming hall has been known to help. Sauna offers a temporary respite from the cold.

A side note: Would the reader who sent me an email the other day please send it again? Thanks to my magnificent IT skills I managed to delete it before I was able to read the whole message.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Juustoportin kirnuvoi - Juustoportti churned butter

These days one is confronted with a plethora of butter substitutes in the dairy section of any Finnish grocery store. They promise to lower your cholesterol, make you smarter, thinner, taller, remove unsightly back hair, and so on. These vegetable spreads all have one thing in common - they taste nothing like butter.

I like food. I like food that tastes good. A good meal often starts with good butter. I've finally a butter that exceeds my standards.

Juustoportti kirnuvoi claims to be churned in the traditional manner. I highly doubt that a whiskered old granny is pounding the fat out of the cream in a standing churn, so it isn't what I would call ultra-traditional, but it does have all the qualities that an excellent butter should.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tiinan Tupa

Tiinan Tupa is situated approximately half-way between Jyväskylä and Kuopio. At Hanna's suggestion we stopped for a bit of a break on our way home last Sunday.

I knew right away that this was going to be my kind of place. In addition to the building in this photo there were a few other structures, including a fire-pit shelter where the weary traveller can grill their own picnic snacks. It is always fun to find something different in a country full of ABC behemoths and Shell gas/food stops.

Apparently the view from Tiinan Tupa is spectacular. I am unable to verify this since we visited on a dark and foggy night but I have no reason to doubt the rumors.

The price of a coffee refill hasn't changed since 1974. My refill was free and I'm guessing that this is standard practice at Tiinan Tupa.

Coffee, homemade baked goods, other snacks. Tiina's decor is that of flea-market capitalism. Everything is for sale, even the tables and chairs. I won't even attempt to caption most of the following photos. Sorry about the photo quality, I'm still getting used to my new camera.

I was so busy looking around and snapping photos that I forgot that I was supposed to be eating donuts and drinking coffee.

Tiinan Tupa is home to what was once the world's largest birchbark backpack. I'm not sure where to find the world-record holder. This one was pretty impressive to see.

Taking a break is part of the journey.

Where to find Tiinan Tupa:

Näytä tiinan tupa suuremmalla kartalla

punainen jalapeño - red jalapeño

If you have read this blog before, you may already know that I work a small vegetable garden in the summertime. In October I moved a jalapeño plant from the garden to our kitchen. At that time there was one pepper that was just forming and several flowers in full bloom.

The lonely pepper is now a bright and beautiful red and several of the blossoms have tranformed into fruiting bodies. I'm guessing that they too will be mature enough to eat in a few months. The plant has flowered again and with the aid of a damp watercolor brush pollination was completed.

Now all I have to do is figure out what I want to season with this spicy little friend of mine.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Kuopion kauppahalli - The Kuopio market hall

We began our long weekend on Wednesday with a quick stop in Kuopio. Kuopio is famous for its kauppahalli (market hall).

The building itself is quite possibly Kuopio's finest example of art deco/jugend architecture. Designed by architect Johan Victor Strömberg, the market hall began operating in 1902.

The market hall is home to about 30 different vendors offering meats, fish, baked goods, hand-made crafts, and of course, the most excellent and delicious kalakukko.

The Kuopio Market Hall homepage can be found here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lake Tuomiojärvi- starting to freeze up

In honor of Antti's 30th birthday last Saturday a few of us got together for a bit of lakeshore sauna time before the festivities officially began.

If you look closely at this photo you can see that a few of us really wanted to go for a post-sauna swim. Luckily the ice wasn't too thick to break through with bare feet.

Looking across Lake Tuomijärvi towards the Laajavuori ski hill

Jussipaita - Jussi shirt

A early father's day present that my little family picked up for me at the Syysmarkkinat a few weeks back:

The jussipaita is symbolic of the region of Etelä-Pohjanmaa, also known as Southern Ostrobothnia. Depending on whom you ask, the Jussipaita symbolizes the sisu, honesty, integrity, and/or craziness, and legendary bravado of the Southern Ostrobothnian people.

I have a bit of Etelä-Pohjanmaa ancestry (by way of the Dakotas and Minnesota) and therefore feel qualified to wear this shirt with pride. If you don't like it, then perhaps we should step out behind the woodshed for a private chat...

This particular sweater is 100% wool and was manufactured by Nuutisen Kutomo.