Monday, December 10, 2012

And then the photos disappeared.

If anyone is still out there you may have noticed that this blog has been pretty stagnant for quite some time. I've been busy, although I have the best of intentions. A reader pointed out recently that the photos on this blog had disappeared. All I can say, is that they are gone forever. The lack of photos on old posts is most likely my own fault. I am technologically stunted - I have a hard time with gadgets. Upon deciding to move up from an old clamshell Nokia to mid-range Samsung smart phone, While in the process of trying to remove the thousands of photos that Picasa web albums had loaded into my phone, I inadvertently managed to delete all the photos from the web albums also. Apparently, I am not the only one who has had a problem with operations such as this. Inconvenient, to say the least.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A useful new blog for those learning Finnish

Here is a useful new blog for those of you out there who are in the process of learning Finnish:

Random Finnish Lesson promises to be quite helpful in explaining the sometimes challenging Finnish grammar as well as providing sentences and phrases that could prove to be handy for everyday life in Finland. The author of the blog is a Finnish as a Second Language teacher by profession and claims to be open to ideas and suggestions.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Marinated" Meat - latest column in Jylkkäri

My most recent column to be published in Jylkkäri entitled "Marinated Meat"

Summer is here and so is the grilling season. There is nothing I enjoy more that meat grilled over flame, and it isn’t some romanticism for the primeval that appeals to me when grilling – it’s the flavor. Occasionally though, I do long for the days of old, before Finland’s meat packagers realized that they could truly screw us over by doing us the favor of “marinating” our meat for us.

Nothing pisses me off more than swinging through the meat aisle at the grocery store and realizing that the only meat left for sale is of the so-called “marinated” variety. Swimming in a sickly smelling, MSG-tainted goop that could only have been concocted in an industrial test kitchen by culinary incompetents who have had their taste buds burned off with drain cleaner, factory-marinated meat as available in Finland is quite possibly the biggest scam that the food industry has come up with since kalakukko in a can.

With a price per kilo equal to that of meat in its non-marinated form, the consumer ends of paying quite a bit more for a few hundred grams less meat and a few hundred grams more of that foul slime they call marinade. And why is it often the only option at the grocery store? Because nobody wants to buy that shit, and everyone who made it to the store before you did bought the meat that that hasn’t been tainted by the processors.

If you are unlucky enough to end up having to buy meat drenched in that nasty shit, I suggest rinsing it well; otherwise your grill will become hopelessly gummed up with an impossibly gluey smegma that won’t come off without the aid of solvents that have been banned for household use in the developed world since the early 1970’s.

The industrial marinade problem can be avoided by frequenting groceries that have an actual in-house meat counter, but if you are running on a tight schedule like I often am, you might not have the time to take a number and wait for a dozen grannies to buy 25 grams of pork belly and four slices of mettwurst apiece before your number comes up. When this is the case, and there is nothing to be found in the meat aisle but chicken breasts and pork loin floating in tubs of what would appear to be the vomit of a very ill hobo, I exercise my only other option, which is to prepare my family’s next meal in a meat-free manner. Thanks to the Finnish meat industry, I’m well on my way to becoming an involuntary vegetarian.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Laskiaispulla - Shrovetide pulla

Laskiaispulla is sold in Finnish bakeries for a few weeks every year preceding Shrove Tuesday. It is made from a cardamom pulla dough and filled with whipped cream and almond paste or whipped cream and jam.

This laskiaispulla was made by Fazer and is filled with almond paste and whipped cream.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Runebergin torttu

Here is a post that I originally posted some time back. Runebergin päivä is coming up soon -  make sure to try one of these cakes, which are based on a recipe developed by his wife Fredrika.

The 5th of February is Runebergin päivä (Runeberg Day). Johan Ludvig Runeberg lived from 1804 until 1877. He is the national poet of Finland, perhaps best known as the author of Saarijärven Paavo and The Tales of Ensign Stål, the prologue of which became the lyrics for the Finnish national anthem Maamme.

Runebergin torttu, as made by Elonen

The tasty tortes made in honor of J.L. Runeberg usually hit the stores here in Finland several weeks before the holiday which is celebrated in his honor.

A recipe that I found for these sweet, moist, almondy little cakes. I have to admit I haven't tried this recipe. If you do, let me know how it works out.

Column in the New World Finn - Real Choices, Real Change, and Real Estate Agents

My most recent column to be published in the New World Finn.
The New Year is well under way.  After an unseasonably warm and rainy December, the temperature has finally dropped below the freezing point and there is some snow on the ground, although not as much as we have been used to over the last few years.

Presidential elections are being held in both of my homelands this year.  The first round of the Finnish elections will be held on the 22nd of January.   If one of the nine candidates on the ballot receives more than half of the votes cast in the election, that candidate is elected President. If nobody receives a majority of the votes cast, the elections move on to the second round.  The second round will then be betweenthe two candidates who received the most votes in the first round of voting.  Thecandidate who receives the most votes in the second round is elected President.

This system of democracy is quite different from that which I accepted as the norm when I was still living back in the States.  For starters, being able to choose between 9 different candidates/political parties is still a bit on the overwhelming side for me.  One of my main complaints about the two party system in the U.S. has always been that voting for president feels more like buying a hamburger along the freeway than electing a leader.  One can choose between McDoofus and Burger Chump, but what kind of choice do you have if you’d rather not have fast food?  You don’t have one really, or at least that is how I have felt for most of my life as a citizen of voting age in the United States.  I do have to admit that the two party system has kept things running
rather smoothly, but recently it seems that a lot of people are starting to realize that the game is rigged like a crooked carnies’ wheel of fortune and if they don’t get some real change and some real choices, these folks just might decide to flip the carnies’ trailer over.

So the headlines in the news these days lean towards the political, but politics isn’t the only thing on my mind.  My journey as an immigrant has been going on for close to a decade and I’m still learning things about my new homeland every day.  We’ve moved from an apartment and into a house and I’ve entered an entire new conceptual area of Finland that I haven’t been to before.  Real estate agents, loan officers, plumbers and electricians, hardware stores and gardening centers are adding new concepts to my social and linguistic vocabularies.  Heating with wood and shoveling my own snow.  Setting mousetraps and wondering why the chimney sweep hasn’t called me back yet.  Figuring out which valves shut what off and hoping that the gutters don’t fall off before I can replace them in the summer.  Wondering if my wife will go into labor tonight or in a few days time?  Things that are far more relevant to my life than whoever wants to be in charge.  Finland will
have a new president within the next few weeks.  The U.S. will decide its presidential question at the end of the year.   I've seen presidents in both countries come and go.  I’m thinking about putting in a few more
apple trees in the spring.

Column in Jylkkäri - Wintertime in Jyväskylä

Check out my latest column in Jylkkäri - Wintertime in Jyväskylä (pg 13).

Friday, January 6, 2012