Category Archives: culinary

Want to become an Instant Chef? Just Add Booze!

For decades, my daughters, friends and family members have been asking me to write down my recipes. I just can’t do it; at least not yet. This is because I don’t measure, I splash. In Julia Child fashion, I add a little brandy here or a little white wine there and voila’, instant savory dishes!

Instead of a cookbook and the labor involved, I have been assessing the simple techniques I use to make quick and easy entrees with whatever libations happen to be on hand. What follows are some of my standard recipes. Hopefully, you will get the idea by the end that this is not brain surgery; it is amazingly easy and the meals taste amazingly delicious! Feel free to add your booze laden recipes in the comment section too!

SOME BASIC RULES FOR BEST RESULTS

* Whether it be fresh fish, chicken, tofu, beef, turkey or pork (not prawns because this process will just make them tough), the key to flavoring the meat, fish or tofu is to first braise it, brown it in a little oil (oil type depends on primary flavor of the meal) in a pan on a high heat. The crisper the outside before cookinG on the inside and the drier the pan, the faster the meat will absorb the flavors of the alchohol and other flavorings.

* Have other meal sides, table set and all other ingredients cut and ready to go and set aside beforehand and make sure there is a cover for the pan handy (or cover/tinfoil if this is an oven cooked meal).

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1. SALSA CHICKEN-Beer & Salsa

Mix equal parts of red salsa of any type, beer and 2 fresh garlic cloves. (about 2/3 cup salsa & 1/2 beer)

*Optional-Monterey jack cheese or other mild white cheese, grated.

If you have time, marinate chicken pieces in salsa/beer mixture; if not, no worries.

Brown chicken pieces in a pan with just enough hot vegetable oil to keep from burning.

When chicken pieces are brown on both sides and pan is hot, pour salsa/beer mixture over, turn to low, cover pan and let chicken absorb flavors and cook for about 15-20 minutes (depending on whether it is boned or not).

Just before serving, sprinkle jack cheese on top of all, cover and let melt.

Serve over a bed of cooked brown rice. If there is too much liquid, you can turn up the heat for the last few minutes before you add the cheese, take off cover and cook over some liquid.

Yummm!!!! This is a recipe I have used over and over and over and everyone loves it!

You can substitute salmon and white wine or just use beer for a slightly different, yet equally tasty and very fast meal! (I always make sure I have some type of salsa around either fresh or canned, and of course beer, so you always have this meal available.)

2. ROAST TURKEY or CHICKEN (whole, leg, or breast)- Brandy & Apple Juice ej

In a hot oven (450 degrees), brown turkey, uncovered with nothing else in baking pan. When skin is darkly browned, pour a mixture of 1/2 brandy & half apple juice over browned meat and instantly cover pan & meat with cover or tinfoil so no steam can escape.

Adjust temperature to about 350 degrees and cook for about 1 hour until meat is tender ( or longer if it is a whole turkey).

*You can also add onions and potatoes to pan when meat is browning initially so they also get brown before the liquid is added.

This is a very easy and so tasty meal and you don’t need to wait for Thanksgiving to eat it.

3. MUSHROOM CHICKEN-Beer or white wine & mushroom soup

This can be done with chicken or meatballs, canned mushroom or chicken or celery soup and a handful of fresh thyme or oregano (though dried can work too.) * I often use a few fresh ingredients and booze to a canned flavoring to make it taste homemade. A few fresh herbs and some fresh garlic will also help create a ‘fresh’ flavor.

Brown the meat in the hot pan with a tad of vegetable oil. When meat is browned, turn heat down to simmer and add the 1 can of mushroom soup, water down with beer or wine. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of fresh or dry chopped thyme or oregano and a few chopped garlic cloves if you want.

Stir gravy mixture in pan and scoop over meat. Cover and simmer until meat is tender. Add more beer or wine if it is too thick. Serve over a bed of brown rice or pasta.

4. SPAGHETTI SAUCE-Fresh, jarred, or canned spaghetti sauce & red wine

Add red wine, and if you can, a few fresh garlic cloves and some fresh herbs to bottled or canned sauce. It will make the difference between a processed or homemade flavor.

5. CHILI- Chili Beans & Beer (Dark, Microbrewery Beer is best!) nmn

Add beer to chili recipe and some honey if you want.

6. SPECTACULAR SOUPS- Just add booze!

For minestrone, add red wine; add white for lighter soups.

7. SUPERB, SODIUM FREE BALSAMIC GRAVY-Red Wine, Balsamic Vinegar, Maple Syrup

Braise whatever meat or tofu in a pan until cooked inside with a bit of oil, sprinkle with pepper. Add about 1/4 c. of red wine, 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp. maple syrup. Cover and let simmer for just a few minutes. Serve over rice or pasta or potatoes.

6. SAVORY TOFU- White wine, soy sauce

Brown small squared pieces of tofu in a pan with hot oil (sesame oil if you want an asian flavored meal), when all sides are browned, turn down heat, but before pan is cooled down, sprinkle a few cloves of chopped garlic, and douse tofu pieces with soy sauce and cover pan so tofu soaks up soy sauce. (Take care not to let pan get dry.) Add white wine as needed, but don’t let it get too watery. Add fresh vegetables to the pan, mushrooms, onions, etc. using soy sauce and white wine as needed.

7. FRENCH TOAST, CREPES, PANCAKES, WAFFLES WITH FRIED BANANAS-Firm Bananas, Brandy, Butter, Walnuts, Whipped Cream (vanilla).

Okay, this is not a dinner entree, but it can be a dessert or special Sunday Brunch and is just as quick and super scrumptious!

Make french toast or pancakes and keep warm. In a separate pan, 1 tbsp. butter. When pan is hot and butter starts to brown, add sliced bananas on high heat to brown quickly so they don’t get mushy. When browned, add chopped walnuts, and a bit of vanilla. Then add a big splash of brandy (watch for fire) and shake pan (cover for a moment). Pour over french toast and top with whipped cream. This all takes about 2 minutes so make sure everything else is already done!

*You could also use mangoes in season, peaches, apricots or other fruit instead of bananas.

Bon appetit! I will share the other recipes. I hope you enjoy this and remember that

oldAny booze you have lying around is best suited for creating that fabulous meal while gaining rave reviews and clean plates from those you feed! 

*** As long as you cook the alcohol 2-3 minutes, the alcohol burns off, leaving only the flavor.

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Food Banks: Highly underrated

POTAGE DE LAITUE

by Christina Ivazes 

Movie stars, millionaires, and well-known musicians of Mommy’s past were light years from that moment as she leaned over the grocery store dumpster with resolve, pulling out rotting vegetables she called “treasures.”  In a subtle paradox, there was not a hint of disgust in her facial expressions while even the non-descript clothing draped over her tall, lithe body could hide that she had once been a radiant beauty.

Roanne Lindquist

My mother seemed accustomed then to what hipsters would later call “Dumpster Diving.” I felt peculiar, silently watching a human being—my own mother—forage for food in a dumpster. However bizarre, nothing would spoil this rare moment to have Mommy all to myself. Earlier that morning before our adventure, I was both surprised and thrilled when she chose me, the eldest of her five children, to go “shopping.”

As if she discovered exactly what she’d been seeking, Mommy pulled a box out from under other refuse, blurting, “Voila!” My eight years of life experience couldn’t fathom the usefulness of this “treasure,” a box full of brown, slimy wilted heads of lettuce. Nevertheless, she plopped the box into the trunk of her mint green 1956 Dodge and we drove home.

Now there’s another confusing term. Even today at fifty-two, “home” is wherever I am laying my head to sleep on any given night. It’s hard to erase the patterns of an entire childhood. Until I got married at sixteen, we usually didn’t live anywhere for longer than a few weeks or months; all of our belongings fitting into the trunk of our car. cvb

At this particular juncture, our two-week home was a motel room with kitchenette on Huntington Boulevard, not far from Disneyland. Perhaps this earliest cooking recollection was where my kitchen creativity began.

I remember Mommy speaking to me like her apprentice, “First Christie; you have to remove the outer leaves.” Like disclosing an ancient secret, she peeled back the rotten layers to reveal a miniature, yet perfect head of lettuce.

I was in awe. How did she know this stuff? It was like she knew this lettuce was behind that specific grocery store, and we didn’t even have to pay for it! How absurd that people actually threw away good food. Yep! One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Inspired this new apprenticeship, I devotedly dropped slimy outer layers of lettuce into the other half of the wooden produce box sitting beneath me. It was only the white flesh remaining we would use.

While I worked, Mommy started her preparations by pulling out a huge, white soup pot. Regardless of what else we left behind, every time we moved to a new location Mommy still had to figure out how to feed seven people three times a day, every day. It puzzles me that I was completely unaware of her gargantuan challenges at the time. She never complained about these seemingly impossible tasks. She just plodded along until they were done whether it was cooking or laundry or packing everything up, once again.

More garbage than food remained after removing the inedible parts. Next Mommy showed me how to wash the soiled heads under cool water, taking care to remove any residue. I was thrilled when this final cleaning process revealed sparkling little gems of iceberg lettuce, juicy and fresh.

But another surprise ensued when Mommy removed the hard cores from each of my gems. She cut them in fourths, and dropped the quarters into the big pot of boiling water. My hard work ruined! Now the lettuce would be wilted again. “You didn’t cook lettuce!” I thought, never daring to speak my mind.

mastering renchAs planned, Mommy read her faithful cookbook: Julia Child’s, MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING while I observed with scepticism. She demonstrated how to add salt and pepper and other ingredients I can’t recall today. Finally, I became receptive when she explained; “This is a French recipe Christie. They serve it in the finest restaurants.”

Soon, my brother, three sisters and I sat down to eat, watching Mommy ladle Potage de Laitue into our bowls. I don’t remember where our father was; probably out looking for work. My empty stomach was anxious to fill up on this unique creation, yet I cautiously tested the broth; still in disbelief that it was possible to make soup from lettuce.

It was delicious! Silently, we sipped her delicate, creamy soup. Mommy’s eyes lit up. Even mismatched spoons and bowls of different sizes and colors couldn’t diminish the pride in her work as we hastily finished and asked for more. I felt proud too.

After being raised in Woodside, California, one of America’s wealthiest communities, Mommy never alluded to the tragedy or humiliation of life events that plunged her into this poverty. (Tidbits of information from relatives through the years have given me clues to deeper thoughts and feelings that must have played through her mind that day.)

For that moment in our tiny motel room, like so many other moments, Mommy didn’t focus on what could have been. She had just successfully fed her five children—a la Julia Child no less—in a feat transcending wealth and glamour. Nothing was more important to her than us kids and we knew it.

While relishing our miraculous meal, I reflected on my amazing mother and the story of Stone Soup I had just heard in school. You could make a meal with scant ingredients. A good cookbook helps too. Today, I often send a prayer of thanks to Julia Child for giving my mother dignity in her darkest moments. And even though my mother escaped this daily suffering with her premature death at thirty-five, I send a prayer to her for giving me the gifts of determination, a positive attitude and an undying resourcefulness, no matter what may face me at any given moment.

Perhaps that is why when someone tells me, “There is nothing to cook,” I know better!

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A True Cultural and Culinary Adventure

I am not the type of adventure traveler who dares to climb jagged mountaintops with ropes and harnesses or bungee jump from ominously tall bridges. Instead, when I travel, I brave the new territory within the families of other cultures and countries by living in their homes, participating in their celebrations,  and most importantly, by observing and participating in the preparation of meals in the kitchen–where much is revealed about a culture and its values. By following this adventure trail throughout my life, I have absorbed many amazing and valuable insights, including culinary and nutritional secrets. What follows is definitely a highlight in my cultural kitchen adventures, the making of traditional Finnish Rye Bread. (If you just want the recipe, skip to the CAPS; the rest of the text is the story.)

As I reflect on my experiences to date of this Finnish Adventure, I must acknowledge that this breadbaking process has to be the highlight. Many people live a lifetime in a country, or study its history—yet never experience what it was like for early citizens.

Of course, breadbaking and dark rye bread is not the sole experience of the Finnish culture, but actually, it was and still is in many respects, the sustainence of the culture, the people! I feel so grateful to have taken part in this vital practice and am so grateful to Ulla Engestrom and her family for providing it!

Coincidentally, it seems like this dense Finnish Rye Bread we spent 3 days making will also be the new vogue in the coming era of food trends according to a story on CNN this month: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/01/04/tips.eating.better/index.html. (I have to confess that I DO have a habit of being ahead of my time!) 

But CNN didn’t say anything about the value of sour, though there is sure to be a study coming out in 5 years that shows that bread made with sour dough starter has some kind of magical, medical quality too. And this was sour, dense rye bread, believe me. Wow! The taste comes from the 5+ generations this sourdough starter has been in the family of my dear friend Ulla-Maaria Engestrom, without “breaking the chain.” (Ulla was my cohort on this brazen culinary crusade. Neither of us would have even attempted it without the other.)

*A sourdough starter needs replenishing frequently to prevent it from dying. A fresh starter in the refrigerator needs new flour added about every 12 days. The longer a starter is alive, the more sour and flavorful it becomes. So imagine what kind of magic is brewing is in this sourdough starter after a few hundred years or longer!) These Finnish ancestors didn’t watch CNN or wait for a study to come out; they just knew what was good and they knew that the secret is in the starter! Due to the cold climate, the Finns have found an easier way to maintain starter (or what they call the “root”) by freezing it. This makes it less time intensive to maintain. 

Now, we get down to business. Where did I leave off? (If you missed Part 1-Please read first:  https://grannypants.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/a-finnish-christmas-dream-come-true/  

Next, I must qualify the inconsistency of what is to follow. Not only was this process stressful from the point of the pressure we were under to make 8 loaves of bread with a recipe we had never used before in an oven we had never used before, while being surrounded by little ones, a feverish baby, as well as my lack of knowledge of the language, I found out later a few things that make it veritably miraculous that we pulled this off! 

You see, I have been baking bread for over 35 years now. In fact, I used to bake and sell my homemade bread 25+ years ago in Loveland, Colorado. I had my own sourdough starter and rye bread recipe and prided myself on the taste of my bread. 

So, you can imagine the pressure I felt when my Ulla informed me well towards the end of the process that she was receiving the details of the recipe over the phone from two different grandmothers, sisters who were each over 85 years old, and who each disliked the other’s bread recipe! The comedy of this moment was all I could embrace because I found out about this at the point when it was too late to do anything; the bread was already in its final rising. I laughed and performed my third prayer that everything would work out. I had my doubts all along because it wasn’t looking like I knew it should, because I DID know how it should look, although I admit I even felt like a newbie bread baker in the wisdom and presence of over 5 generations from the homeland! 

How did we do it? I will post what we did and then I will post what I think we should have done in italics right after each step. I think these adjustments will yield a better, more edible product, even though we were actually able to eat the finished product. 

Dense Finnish Rye Bread 

Day 1 

  • TAKE 400 GRAMS (0.8 LBS.) OF STARTER DOUGH OUT OF FREEZER (If you don’t have this ancient starter, you can make your own with 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water, 1 packet of yeast, 1/4 cup of flour, and let sit for a day in a warm place, stirring occasionally. Then you would follow this recipe but consider and subtract the water content of your starter when measuring the water in day 2. Use the amount of yeast I recommend as well below  in the Day 2 step, which is in addition to your starter yeast.)  
  • LET IT MELT IN THE REFRIGERATOR (If it is frozen)
  • MEANWHILE BUY 5 KILOS (APPROX. 10 LBS.) FRESH RYE FLOUR- LIPERI GRAINERY, or grocery store, or buy rye berries and grind them yourself. (The Vitamix can do this, which is one of my very favorite, versatile and valuable kitchen tools.)

Day 2 

  • 8:30AM –TAKE UNWASHED/SALTED 5 GALLON BUCKET & RINSE SALT OUT QUICKLY (bucket comes from the grandmothers (Mummis)
  • TAKE STARTER DOUGH OUT OF REFRIGERATOR & PUT INTO
    Add 4 1/2 liters of lukewarm water

    Add 4 1/2 liters of lukewarm water

     BOTTOM OF BUCKET 

  • PUT 4.5 LITERS OF LUKEWARM WATER & 1 square of yeast (this is the equivalent of about 2 packets of dry yeast)  & MIX WITH ENOUGH FLOUR TO MAKE IT THE CONSISTENCY OF THICK SOUP (Okay, this is where we made the biggest mistake right off the bat! I didn’t have the full information at the time of Day 2. From my experience, I never put all of the yeast in the starter mix at this time. I usually put 1/3 of it or so and let that sour for the day before actual baking and then I add the rest of the yeast in the next day just before adding the remainder of the flour. But, I think the ancestors know best, so I would also add all of the yeast in this  step.  However, considering how absolutely dense the final product was, I would double the yeast. This is for 8 loaves, so I would add 2 squares of yeast or 4-5 packets of dry yeast. We actually did NOT add any yeast at this time and found out much later that we needed to add all of it. 
Eliel stirring 1st. mixture

Eliel stirring 1st. mixture

  • STIR PERIODICALLY THROUGHOUT THE DAY- SET IN A WARM PLACE- COVERED YET WITH A PLACE FOR THE AIR TO ESCAPE  Just a little background here. The stick I am holding to the left may
  • ella

    Ella, Granny Pants, and the Amazing, Ancient, Wooden Whisk

    resemble something a caveman used, and probably could have been! Today, it is actually being used as a powerful whisk, which is necessary when you are mixing what we were mixing in a 5 gallon bucket. I don’t know what type of wood it is, but it is very strong. 

  •    BY 3PM, IT SHOULD BE LIKE PORRIDGE (Now this is another place
    Sourdough Starter with Yeast, Warm Water & Enough Flour to Be Soupy like Porridge

    Sourdough Starter with Yeast, Warm Water & Enough Flour to Be Soupy like Porridge-Notice the Fine Mixing Tool!

     where cultural differences can really create confusion. What I thought was “porridge” was not what the Finnish know as “porridge.” In a comical revelation, I went to stir the mix later that morning and found it to be much thicker. Ulla and her father had added more rye flour because it hadn’t been like porridge–as they know it. You see porridge is oatmeal and the way my friends prepare porridge (purro) in Finland is much thicker than my own reference. When I heard “porridge” I thought of my own idea of a more viscous substance. Ulla’s father, Pekka was the only real witness to this process that we had available. We were in the house he was born and raised in. Who knows how many times he saw that bread being baked throughout his life. We hailed to his wisdom! Do not question authority!  Due to the science this bread baking and the fact that there is no additional sweetener for the yeast to feed off of, I assume this is the reason the mixture needs more flour added than I have added to my own mixture in the past. I usually add a little molasses to help darken and feed the yeast, but this would still interfere with the sour quality, so I guess I have learned something here. The yeast needs more flour in this bubbly, first sitting, which it will feed off of instead of any added sweetener.

  •  Day 3

  

  • MORNING- ADD (3 Tbsp.) SALT & ENOUGH FLOUR TO BE STIFF. LET   SIT FOR 2 HOURS- COVERED WITH CLOTH (This begins the process when you really value the strength of this wooden whisk. Actually, Jyri-Eliel’s father had to step in and help with this mixing while I held onto the bucket. The grandmothers had been concerned with our ability to handle this process and at that moment, I understood why!) 

    3rd. Day after adding more flour

    3rd. day after adding more flour

  • ABOUT 1 1/2 HOURS AFTER THIS LAST STEP, IF YOU ARE USING A BRICK OVEN, START
    Eliel

    Eliel helping mix the flour on 3rd. day before mixing required 2 adults

    HEATING THE OVEN WITH A LOT OF WOOD-BIRCH IS HOTTEST 

  • TWO HOURS AFTER SITTING. THEN, TURN OUT ONTO FLOURED BOARD. This was not as easy as one would think.
  • TAKE OUT A ½ LITER approx.(1 1/2 c.) OF THE DOUGH & PUT IN FREEZER TO SAVE FOR NEXT BATCH
  •  KNEAD THE BREAD UNTIL IT IS BOUNCY (This is kind of a joke because rye flour doesn’t really have as much gluten as some other flours and because our dough was so dense, it never really got bouncy, though we tried. It takes about 15 minutes. Maybe this is another reason that rye bread is so good for you because it doesn’t contains a lot of the gluten that seems to irritate the bowels of so many people these days. (However, if you want a bread that is a bit bouncier and lighter, use some white flour at the time of kneading, but not too much; maybe 2 cups. This will produce a lighter bread as well, though not as original.)

  

Kneading

I really upped my game with this ball of dough! This is how women used to keep their guns packed!

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Someone had the brilliant idea to split the work in 2. Partners in crime while Ella supervises.

  • FORM LOAVES AND SET ONTO PARCHMENT, COVER AND SET TO RISE IN WARM PLACE-NO DRAFTS (Divide dough into 8 equal parts and make each loaf a similar shape for even cooking.)  I was so nervous about this step and just praying that the loaves rose properly. I didn’t feel as if there was nearly enough yeast to do the trick. 

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    Rising loaves on parchment

  • ABOUT 15 MINUTES AFTER LOAVES HAVE SAT, CLEAN-OUT THE OVEN TO PREPARE FOR COOKING LOAVES. (The brick oven retains the heat in the bricks, which eventually bakes the bread. This was a very interesting process I had never experienced. In fact, when the larger oven was stocked properly, it kept the house warm for about 3
    coals

    Scoop coals into bottom compartment of oven to retain heat and make room for loaf pans. P.S. I am not THAT heavy, just layered with winter clothing!!

    days, even in the 20 below temps we were experiencing at the time! Of course, this also has to do with how incredibly insulated these homes are to keep this heat in. How’s that for saving energy!!!! Once again, the wisdom of the ancestors is worth learning from.) 

  • WHEN LOAVES HAVE RISEN, PRICK EACH LOAF SEVERAL TIMES
    beautiful

    The loaves actually rose with that familiar crackly look!

     WITH A FORK TO ALLOW AIR TO ESCAPE WHILE BAKING. (Okay, this is where we really messed up once again! We forgot to prick the loaves before we put them in the oven. Because the heating of the brick oven is so 

    ulla

    Ulla carefully picks up the loaf pans with the traditional woden paddles

    choreographed with an exact temperature needed to form the hard crust and cook the inside slowly, we ruined our heating mechanism when we pulled the loaves out of the oven to prick them properly with the fork. When we checked the temperature after returning them to the oven, it had dropped significantly. (Because I was not raised with this brick oven method of baking bread that obviously dictates much of the breads wonderful, chewy, crustiness, I was taught to spray or lightly brush water onto the crust of the loaves a couple of times throughout baking after the crust has formed, which gives the bread a thicker, chewier crust as well. This is recommended if you don’t use a brick oven like this. I would also add a little salt to the water for a salty crust if you like that.) 

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    Properly pricked rye bread

  • PUT LOAVES IN OVEN AND COOK BEFORE OVEN COOLS, ROTATING AS NEEDED. Thank goodness for the modern oven! We actually used the small electric oven in the house for the 2 loaves that couldn’t fit–just in case we really messed up the others.
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    Not decorations, but useful wooden paddles for moving objects in the oven

    It turned out we had to use this electric oven for all of the loaves eventually, as we rotated them between the two ovens to get the brown effect of the bricks too. 

    loaves

    Loaves cooling

    That was the stressful part for me, to make sure all of the loaves were cooking evenly and thouroughly without burning completely. While Ulla cared for little Ella, who was sick with a fever, I diligently focused on this rotation process. 

  • AFTER THE BREAD HAS A HOLLOW SOUND WHEN TAPPED, IT IS READY TO REMOVE FROM THE OVEN. TAKE CARE TO CHECK BOTH BOTTOMS AND TOPS THROUGHOUT BAKING TO ENSURE EVEN COOKING OF ALL LOAVES. The brick oven as we found out has many hot spots that produce a dark bottom crust, which is good, as long as it is not to burnt.
  • AFTER THE BREAD COMES OUT AND THE TANTALIZING SMELL OF BAKING BREAD HAS INCREASED EVERYONE’S APPETITE, ABOUT 5 MINUTES OF COOLING ON A RACK IS NECESSARY TO PREVENT THE BREAD FROM BINDING UP INSIDE WHILE CUTTING, even though no one will want to wait.
  • TIME TO SLICE & ENJOY!!!!

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    After about 5 minutes of cooling, slice & enjoy!

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Enjoy your fresh-baked Finnish Rye Bread with real butter, of course

Eliel

Eliel is the first taste tester!

  • HAPPILY, THIS BREAD CAN NOW BECOME THE MAIN PART OF THE CHRISTMAS EVE FEAST- which it did! We found that due its sourness, it is best savored by cutting the sourdough rye bread very thin. Wonderful with freshly churned butter or salmon roe & cream!!!!! Yummmm…..

For me personally (after breastfeeding), breadbaking has become one of the most endearing ways of nurturing my loved ones. I suppose it does stem from these ancient Finnish roots of mine. There is no other comfort food quite like freshly baked bread; especially after it has taken 3 days to make! Making the sweet cardamom bread (pulla) has been a tradition in my family that I learned from my own grandmother and mother. Now, I have another Finnish breadbaking tradition to pass on to my family. (Psst. Wish me luck getting some of that ancient starter back to my home in the states!) 

This experience would not have been possible without the wonderful support, partnership and encouragement of Ulla, Jyri, and Ulla’s dear family, and her father Pekka, who helped us retrieve the starter, the salt, the famous bucket and whisk, and who kept the coals going in the oven. Also, I personally want to thank the grandmothers (Mummis) who gave us the use of their starter and their recipe/recipes! It was funny that in the middle of the rising, we actually had to heat the oven some more and one of the Mummis showed up to help us out with advice. She was so sweet and I only wished I could have understood her, but I was there listening and watching, and questioning everything she said afterwards like a curious child. Her warm and supportive eyes and smile are a priceless memory I will always cherish. 

After the baking was all said and done, we shared a loaf with each of these Mummis. And of course, the one who likes a denser loaf said the bread turned out perfect, while the one with a different recipe said the loaf was too dense! This was worth a chuckle, now that the stress of making sure it turned out at all was over. What an incredible experience immersed into the culture of people who are not my blood relatives, but from the country of my blood relatives.  I highly recommend it for anyone who really wants to understand the Finnish winter culture!

  • OOOPS!!! FORGOT THE LAST STEP. WHEN THE MIXING BUCKET IS EMPTIED OUT, SPRINKLE IT WITH SALT AND LET IT DRY. DO NOT WASH THE WOODEN WHISK EITHER. WIPE IT OFF, DRY IT, AND COVER BOTH THE BUCKET AND WHISK AFTER THEY HAVE DRIED TO KEEP THEM CLEAN. Evidently there are some magical ingredients to be maintained in these items that magnify the savory qualities of the bread. (This is my favorite part!!!!)
  • PLEASE COMMENT ON THIS POST!!!!!!!

Thank you!!!!!!!

Granny Pants

P.S. If you are interested, please sign up to receive regular posts on the adventures of my life, both in thought and form.  You can also visit my book website to learn more about my book about children: http://TheNewPhysicsofChildhood.com

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