16 September 2008

Mushroom soup into coconut milk

Another recipe I tried and loved! I think I'll make it again. I love trying new recipes and especially finding ones that are good. These last few New Year's I've (jokingly) made it my New Year resolution to "try new recipes". It's one resolution I've never failed and I have tons of fun with it all year long.

Enjoy the recipe and check out my remarks below.

Mushroom soup into coconut milk / Sienikeitto kookosmaitoon
2 boxes of mushrooms (aprox. 200-250g each)
1 small onion
1 tablespoon oil
1 can of coconut milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 teaspoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons lightly salted soy sauce

Clean and slice the mushrooms. Peel and finely chop the onion. Saute the mushrooms and onion in the pan with a bit of oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and simmer another 5 minutes.

Add the spices and taste the flavoring. You can puree the soup, especially if you serve it as a starter. Sprinkle some chopped herbs on the top.

And here's the finished product with some lightly toasted and buttered rye bread.

I made a couple of changes to the recipe, but I don't think they effected the taste much.
First off, I had way more mushrooms than what the recipe called for. But how can that be bad? It is mushroom soup after all!
Secondly, I didn't have any lemon juice or lemons, so I used lime.

Next time I make this I think I'll make some rice to put the soup over. It'll make it stretch a bit further and give it an added texture.
I also think I'll only use 2 tablespoons of soy sauce (unless I have the less salty version).

All in all, I'm quite pleased with the taste. It is a bit different than other mushroom soups I have tried in the past, but very yummy.

This recipe came from Kikkoman.

09 September 2008


With the presidential elections upon us in the USA soon (Nov. 4th), I thought I'd say a little bit about it and some of the differences here in Finland.

First off, I've never voted in the USA. That's because I'm not even registered to vote. for one reason or another, mainly laziness, I just never went and registered myself to vote. At least until now. I did a google search on how to register to vote when you don't live in the USA anymore and I came across the Overseas Vote Foundation. The website was easily set up to walk me through the steps and questions I needed to fill out for my home state and then I could print out the application, sign it and send it off. So, I just sent off my voter's registration form today in the mail. I should be registered and get my absentee ballot to vote in the upcoming elections.

As in the USA, the age limit for voting in national and local elections is 18 years or older.
Although, as a foreign national (not a citizen, but residing here a long time) I am allowed to vote only in local government elections, but not national elections (such as for the president). I need to become a citizen first.
(I've also never voted in any munincipal elections in Finland...maybe I should experience it some day.)

The right to vote in Finland is universal and equal.
Here in Finland, people are automatically "signed up" to vote. A person does not need to do anything special in order to vote. In fact, a notification card will be sent to each person a few weeks before an election letting them know where the nearest voting station is.

Presidential elections are held once every 6 years in Finland. We just had our last election in 2006 where Tarja Halonen (Finland's first female president) was re-elected. A person may serve as president for a maximum of two consecutive terms, same as in the USA. The president is voted for directly, each vote counts towards the candidate themselves and not any sort of electoral vote.
Election day is the third Sunday of January.

Municipal elections take place every 4 years and are at a different time of the year than presidential elections. The next municipal elections shall be held on 26 October 2008.

Finland has a multi-party system, with three strong parties, in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments. (Wikipedia)

I know there is much more to this topic, but I just wanted to touch on a few things. For a better scope of information, check out The Minestry of Justice Finland - Vaalit website.

10 August 2008

Potato bread / Perunarieska

My sweet husband made me perunarieska (unleavened potato bread) today!
He also made it for me the very first time I came to Finland, just over 10 years ago. I ate so much of the perunarieska that I didn't feel too good. LOL.

The recipe came from my husband's babysitter when he was little. I don't think we've changed the recipe any, other than making a smaller batch than what the babysitter would have for all the kids she watched.

This recipe is easy to make, although it does take some time, but it's well worth it. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as we do! Just don't eat as many of them in one sitting as I did my first time around.


4 cups boiled and smooshed potatoes (not completely mashed, chunks are good)
3 cups milk
1 package (11 g) dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
2.5 tsp salt
1 cup oats
3 cups flour
1 egg

Bake at 425F for 10-20 minutes

1. Boil the potatoes. Once the potatoes are cooked (we leave the peels on, it's up to you), mash them into the measuring container and then dump them in a large mixing bowl.

2. Preheat the oven to 425F.

3. Add the milk, yeast, sugar and salt to the still hot/warm potatoes. Mix.

4. Gradually mix in the oats and flour and the egg. Mix everything together.
The dough will be semi-runny and lumpy.

5. Place a sheet of baking paper on the oven pan. Put 4-6 lumps (~1/2 cup), each spread out to about hand size on the baking paper.
(In the picture below, my hubby put only 4 lumps of dough, while you can see the brown color on the baking paper where I had previously put 6.)

6. Place the oven pan in the center of the oven.
About half way through the baking time, you will need to pull the pan out, flip the breads over and then put them back in the oven for a few more minutes. The exact timing of when to flip the breads will depend on your oven, but the main thing to look for is that the breads are slightly golden on top.
Flipping the breads makes them more evenly brown all over.

7. When the breads are done, take them out of the oven, remove them from the paper & pan.
Put another pan in the oven to cook.

Eat your breads right away! They are so yummy when they are hot! Be careful that you don't burn your mouth. We like to eat them with a bit of butter and cheese on them.

They are also yummy when cold...then we sometimes put on some tomato slices, cucumber and lettuce along with the cheese.

Yes, I did eat tons of the breads, they're that good!

01 August 2008

Camping last weekend

I went camping for the first time* ever in Finland! And it was about time.
The last time I had gone camping was many years ago before I moved to Finland, probably even before I knew about my connection to Finland. Needless to say, I was much younger and most likely young enough that my parents still took care of the major part of camping and I was only responsible for my clothes and personal stuff. This time around, I was responsible for most everything, with the help of my Friend Ronja.

The biggest difference I found between camping in Oregon and in Finland is the light.
Even though we are a month past mid-summer, the nights are still decently light. Especially when there are no clouds about. The only time I really felt I needed a flashlight was when I used the outhouse (our only "amenity") in the middle of the night. It gets dark in there. Other than that, the flashlight was almost more of a hindrance then a help.

This is a very different experience than camping in the USA. No matter what time of the year it is in the USA (except maybe Alaska, which I've never been to) you will need a flashlight or some other sort of light to make your way around at night. It always gets dark at night.

The following picture was taken at 22:06, Friday July 25th, 2008.

And now onto the rest of the camping story:
There was a group of about 30 of us there camping in Päijänteen national park on the island of Hietasaari.

The island itself can be walked in about 45minutes on a leisure walk. There are beautiful views out over the water to the other islands, looking inwards on the island itself and just all around.
The weather cooperated with us perfectly. It has been raining almost all summer, but not that weekend (or the 2 days before and entire week after! It is still sunny as I sit here and type this one week after I arrived on the island).

We rested, played in the water (the kids were in the water all day), went to sauna, cooked, read, talked, laughed and just had a good time. Some of us knew one another, but there was still many of us that didn't know most of the people (myself included). So it was a nice chance to get to know some great people and just hang out.

I packed more stuff than I needed, but I always do that. *sheepish grin* I would like to say, that I didn't pack as excessively as I could have though.
It just didn't get cold during the day or at night for me to need the jacket, sweater, socks and other warm clothes. It's always better to be over prepared for cold than under prepared, right? I only needed to bring a sleeping bag and pillow because Ronja had a tent and some air mattresses for me. What are friends for?

For food, I took a kylmälaukku (soft-side ice box/cold bag. Sorry I can't think of the correct term in English**) with several bottles frozen full of water, some already cooked chicken breasts to reheat, hummus & bread, pasta salad w/sun dried tomatoes & pesto, nectarines, grapes, makkara (sausages), chocolate, watermelon, zucchini bread and some other stuff I can't recall. I didn't touch the regular salad, uncooked potatoes and uncooked oatmeal.. I mainly drank tea (boiled from lake water), water from my bottles (town tap water) and a tiny bit of mango juice.
I also can't forget to mention that I brought S'mores ingredients and made them for all who wanted to eat them. That was lots of sticky fun. :)

I got to experience canoeing. It was easy to learn and from what I was told I picked it up quite quickly. At first I had only the paddles to propel me forward and steer me, then Sami, the guy that was teaching me, put the rudder down and I was able to steer with my feet, leaving my hands free for paddling only. It was so easy and fun with the little rudder! I think I may have to join Ronja in the canoeing club (next summer).

If you'd like to see more of the camping trip pictures, feel free to check out the album:

*I have slept on an island before during my very first visit here in Finland, but I don't really consider it camping because we slept in a summer cottage.
** I've been informed that the word for a (pehmeä)kylmälaukka is soft sided cooler.

30 July 2008

9 years and counting

It has been just over 10 years since I first set foot on Finnish soil (25.5-25.6.1998) and just over 9 since I moved here permanently. In fact, I arrived here on July 22, 1999. I'm still in love with my new home country and don't have any plans to leave it anytime soon.

As I was camping this last weekend, an idea came to me: to blog about my life, perspective and just general happenings here in Finland. I figure that since I have lived here for this long, that I probably have quite a good deal of insight and info about the country. At least I have my own opinions on how things are. (Don't we all?)

So, that's how this blog was born.