mmm, mmm, good!

The Fins have it right. Their meals are thought out and healthy. Colorful and, I dare to say, completely natural. We were lucky to get traditional “home cooking” for the majority of our stay and while I’ll be the first to say I’m a picky eater (I’m sure I’ll get a lot of agreements on that statement), I managed to find at least one dish at each meal that I enjoyed the taste of. I always loved the appearance of every dish!

I remember the first morning we were there and seeing our host, Liisa, come in from the grocery store with a big, woven basket of fresh fruits and vegetables. The thing that I was most surprised by was the way lettuce was sold. The roots were still attached at the bottom and the top was open to the air. Liisa told us that she could re-plant the lettuce if she wanted, but she rarely did.

Every meal had a beautiful, fresh salad. Easily the most colorful and vibrant I’ve ever seen. Crisp green lettuce and bright red tomatoes were the standard in almost every salad served. Additions like red onion, watermelon, cucumber, oil soaked feta, and grapes would also accompany the salad. One thing I’m sure to try back in the states is adding watermelon and red grapes to my salads every once in a while.

Potatoes were another big staple of Finnish cooking. Usually served au gratin or boiled with fresh dill, we learned that the Fins really enjoy a good starchy potato.

Every meal had some sort of meat. While there we had chicken, beef, and pork. My favorite preparation were the mincemeat patties with onion. Similar to meatloaf, but fixed without ketchup and in small patties, they were cooked in the oven and positively delightful!!

One obvious and yet ignored practice by most Americans is that if the Fins have a heavy meal for lunch or dinner, the other meals of the day are adjusted accordingly. Normally the smaller meal is a simple preparation of breads, fruits, and cheeses. I’m really going to have to adopt that. These small meals were some of my favorites of the trip.

Finally, Coca-Cola tastes 100 times better in Europe. Perhaps the reason could be the simplicity of the ingredients: Carbonated Water, Sugar, Colour, Phosphoric Acid, Flavorings, and Caffeine. I guess what they say is true, “The easier it is to pronounce the ingredients, the better the taste.”

RIP

This weekend, I lost some of my closest friends. The kind of friends that you can depend on to help you through the worst of times, bringing you joy simply by being in their presence. This weekend? These friends plummeted to a horrifying death that ended on my kitchen floor.

These friends cooked with me, like trusty sous chefs.

They were dependable, helpful, and perfect.

These friends? Were my measuring spoons, and not just any measuring spoons. Spoons I had searched at least a year for and found at the one and only Anthropologie. These spoons were me. They were my soul in spoon form. Delicate, colorful, cheery, and positive. They were all that and more. One even measured a “pinch”. I mean? Come. On. How precious is that?

But now? Now they have a new life. A life broken, lying on my kitchen counter, because I can’t bear to part with them just yet, and a life of unspoken dreams, helping me make Boeuf Bourguignon and Coq au Vin.

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

I found a tomato basil soup recipe that I like, FINALLY.

I’ve been through 4 recipes and so far?

  • Southern Living let me down
  • Hungry Girl let me down
  • other random blogs let me down
I was hanging by a thread, and I needed this recipe to be good. If for no other reason than I’ve been craving a good at-home version for weeks.

Here’s the recipe I followed:

Ingredients

  • 1 large can of petite diced tomatoes with juice
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 8-10 leaves fresh basil
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place tomatoes and juice in a stock pot over medium heat.
  2. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Puree the tomato mixture along with the basil leaves.
  4. Return the puree to the stock pot.
  5. Place the pot over medium heat and stir in the heavy cream and butter.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Heat, stirring until the butter is melted. Do not boil.

Yield: ~5 servings