Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Köyhät ritarit Goes Vegan


This week I wanted to try a vegan version from an old classic Köyhät ritarit. Köyhät ritarit is basically bun or white bread slices that are first soaked in milk or cream and then fried on a pan with butter to get beautiful golden brown surface. Some tend to make milk and egg mix but egg is not necessary. In the vegan version I just replaced the cream/milk with vegan oat milk and butter with margarine. I chose thicker milk that is meant for coffee because it's consistence is something between milk and cream. 

Fried buns are great with whipped cream, vanilla sauce or ice cream. Vegan versions are sold at least here in Finland in most of the bigger stores. Then some berries or jam and the end result is so delicious! Best part is that if you have buns or white bread that is beginning to get dry you can use those in this treat. Wonderful and tasty way to reduce food waste. I tend to make a bigger amount of cinnamon buns and then put some to the freezer. From there I can take good cinnamon buns to eat as such or use in some other dishes like in Köyhät ritarit.  I will put the cinnamon bun recipe to the end of the post, so you can make good buns to your freezer too!

Köyhät ritarit

cinnamon buns/ white bread
1 1/2 dl thick oat milk
1/2 tsp vanilla sugar
margarine
 vegan vanilla sauce/ ice cream/ whipped cream
berries like raspberries and blueberries

1. Slice the buns or bread. Mix together oat milk and vanilla sugar. Soak the buns in milk so they get moist.
2. Fry the buns in margarine from both sides until golden brown.
3. Serve with berries and vanilla sauce. 


Vegan Finnish Cinnamon buns

1 L oatmilk 
250 g + 50 g margarine
2 dl sugar
1 tsp salt
8 g cardamom
50 g yeast
about 2 kg wheat flour
cinnamon
sugar

farine sugar + water


Step 1. Mix salt and yeast to a paste. Add sugar, salt and medium warm milk. Mix.

Step 2. Add 250 g soft margarine. Start adding flour little by little. When the pastry begins to be too thick to mix with a spoon start working with your hand. Add flour little by little, like you would make a bread. When the pastry doesn't stick to your fingers anymore you can let the pastry rest for 45 minutes covered with a towel.

Step 3. When the pastry is about twice the size you can start making buns. Make simple round buns with no cinnamon or make cinnamon buns as follows: Take a bigger piece from the pastry. Put some flour to the table and roll out the pastry to 0,5-1 cm. Apply warm margarine all over the pastry. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top of the margarine. Roll the pastry and cut buns from it.

Step 4. Let the buns rest 30 minutes. Preheat the oven 225 Celsius degrees. Mix together water and farine sugar to make liquid that you can use to brush the buns. Sprinkle some almond flakes on top. Bake buns about 10 minutes or until golden brown.


Delicious summer week to you all!

Sannu

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Greetings from Helsinki!


At the moment I am back in Rovaniemi but week ago this time I was still in Helsinki. I tend to make at least one visit to southern Finland every year. I visit my friends and explore bigger towns of Finland. If I am honest sometimes I miss living in a city. I love having more stimulus for creativity: beautiful buildings, parks, museums, cultural events and people. Of course we have all that here in Lapland and Rovaniemi too but in a minor scale. And yes, we have a wonderful and inspiring nature here and that is one of the factors why I live up here. But there are many good sides living in southern Finland too. The distances between towns are shorter than here in Lapland. It is easy to go for a day trip to another town, go to an event and visit the local museums. The bus tickets are also a way cheaper. In Helsinki only there are more art exhibitions than one can go through in a day or two or three. This time I saw for example interesting graffiti exhibition at Helsinki Art Museum - HAM and Grayson Perry, Maija Luutonen and There and Back Again exhibitions at Kiasma. In both museums there were so much to see I could have spent a day in one museum only. 

I enjoyed walking the streets and seeing places I don't see on a daily basis. It is exciting not to know what scenery waits behind the corner. I don't like that much shopping these days because I am looking for some other meaning to my life than just merely buying new stuff all the time. Yet sometimes I feel it would be inspiring to go and see what is on trend, to see beautiful displays on shop windows and to have shops and collections to choose from. In the city there are more alternatives, something for everyone what comes to consumerism, culture and social circles. 

There are seasons when I honestly think about moving to Helsinki or outside Finland to a bigger city. So many things I miss and would like to have in my life. So many opportunities I think that might wait me in there and not here. But so far I have decided to stay. Because I mostly like the everyday life in here and because moving once again feels like tearing off the roots. It takes years to plant oneself to a new place. And leaving alone to place where you practically know no one demands energy to be extra social, to participate and learn the rhythm. In some days that is exactly what I feel I need, to meet more people, talk to strangers and make new friends. I have noticed that in the city I actually talk more to the strangers. Is it that there is the possibility to get a new friend but also the fact that you most likely won't see that person ever again so there is only to win? I know loneliness is a problem in cities too, people not finding friends and getting lost. But still I feel fascinated by the chance that there are events and activities for every day that gather people and give a social space. 

Having lived most of my life in southern Finland I am realistic and know that quite soon the fascination will fade and everyday life will take place. I know what are the major things I don't like and I know what I would miss if I left Rovaniemi. Still there is a chance that some day I might live somewhere else. Where that would be is yet unknown.

I took the pictures with my phone because I didn't take my camera with me this time.



















Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Community




31/52 Sara Stridsberg: Beckomberga. Ode till min familj (2014), I read this in Finnish Niin raskas on rakkaus. I thought I would be able to read this book so that it doesn't affect my moods but I couldn't. The subject is quite heavy and brings up themes that need processing. This is a novel told on a perspective of a young girl whose father is an alcoholic with suicidal behavior. Because of this father Jimmy has to go to the mental hospital where his daughter goes to see him. In the hospital daughter gets to know various people living in there. The hospital is not described as a dark place, quite the contrary. Beckomberga hospital is a home for people who can't or don't want to live like the so called normal people. Together they are doing fine and the hospital is a community where everyone has their own place.

Some of the people living in the hospital have done horrible acts but they are not labeled by that. They are all actually average people who have just had a turning point that has lead them to this moment and to the hospital. Daughter Jackie is open to know the people and finds them interesting. Maybe she sees that the line between a person who is ill and who is sane is not that clear. She is also going on a difficult phase as a teenager whose father is not someone she can trust to be a parent. At times she goes to a role of a patient wanting to be part of the community of Beckomberga. She also ponders if she is like her father and will end up trying suicide. The novel questions what is it that makes some people to want to end their days and others to grip on life.

I have read Sara Stridsberg's Drömfakulteten, a book about Valeria Solanas (I wrote about the book some months ago here!), and I think she knows how to tell about the dark side of the human mind and describe people who are left as outsiders in the world. World is tough in way when it casts out people who don't seem fitting to the norm. A man Ove has lived most of his life in Beckomberga and it was horrible to read how he describes his future outside the place. When other people are rushing from place to place and have their relationships he feels he will be left alone on the streets and no one will notice him. Is it fear that isolates people to the margins? Do so called normal people have a fear that someone will show them their abnormal and dark side? And is that why they don't want to see what is outside their comfort zone? When in reality the division might not even exist. We will all have struggles in life in one form or another. It is actually easier to live acknowledging this possibility and accepting own dark and ill side. Often times the factors that put us to margins are quite minor, something in our character might exclude us from a group of others. It might be a decision of a single person, a group leader, who decides that someone is not seen as fitting for the company of the group.

Stridsberg writes about loneliness and pain that is caused when a person is left out. That is why the home for the misfits is so welcoming to the people who live in there. We all need friends and family who take us as we are. I felt the pain of the characters Stridsberg introduces to us. It is the most horrible feeling to be alone in the world when no one cares about you. There has been lot of talk about loneliness and what it causes to people. I simply hate it when the reason for loneliness is seen as the fault of the person suffering from it. That they are not trying enough or that there is something wrong with the person who doesn't find company. The fact is that quite mean and horrible people have friends and wonderful people are left alone. Life doesn't make a fair share. It is good for those who have friends and social networks to see it as their own accomplishment. What comes to people in general there are those who are ill and those who are too ill to see how ill they are. No one is 100% sane and healthy. I haven't yet met a person who would have been in perfect balance. What has been incomprehensible to me is why we can't be together and why on Earth it is so difficult to have open groups that would not close doors? And what causes emotional blindness to see those who need to be invited to the company?

Sure not all characters of this book are lonely. Some of them just don't want to participate in this world but desire to be carried elsewhere. They would have families and people who wait for them to come back but they can't or they don't want to. I liked how open the approach in this novel was and how the habitants and their actions were not described as anything special. That made the novel light to read in a way. It makes one accept what life brings and not to be afraid of dark moments. In the beginning I said that the book affected to my moods. And it was because of the loneliness and externality is describes. It is not scary to be different, we are all different, but it is scary to be left alone because of some character we have.

Compared to Drömfakulteten this novel was not as heavy and dark read. I would love to read more from Sara Stridsberg. Only these two novels have been translated to Finnish so next I will have to try reading in Swedish.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

War Is Not for Human Beings



29/52 Michael Ondaatje. The English Patient (1993). I enjoyed reading this multi layered and abundant novel full-heartedly from the first page. I have never read anything from Michael Ondaatje so his work was a wonderful surprise. I read another book from him right after this one, Anil's Ghost, because I enjoyed this so much. This is perfect summer read. I found the novel entertaining because it has many interesting details and lots of happenings. It also enlightened me about the history of Second World War.

The happenings take place in Italy in 1945 when the Second World war  is still having it's influence on people who have survived.  I have had my schools in Finland so my understanding about the history is very Eurocentric and focused on Finland's role and relations with other countries.  All four main characters come from very different backgrounds bringing their own history and interests. Hana is from Canada and has worked as a nurse in the war. She has lost both her child and father. The English patient has traveled through the desert and has now lost his memory. He has no idea who he is, where he is from and what he was doing before the Bedouins found him badly burnt from the desert. Caravaggio is Hana's father's old friend who has worked as a spy during the war because of his skills to infiltrate to the most difficult places. Kip is an Indian Sikh whose job to undo bombs doesn't end at the moment when the war does. Mines of many kind and dud explosives remind that the scars of war can't be forgotten in a day or two. What has been done can't be undone without a sacrifice.

I felt like this party gathered in an Italian villa is making an effort to collect themselves after the horrible events that have drained them. They close the world out and concentrate on what is left. They all have still work to do. Hana is still needed as a nurse and the ground is full of explosives for Kip to broke. But at the moment they need time of to realize where they are. Like they have gone through a series of incidents they have had nothing to say and now they need to make peace with their decisions to cope with the future. Hana has lost her father and in the moment of her grief meets the so called English patient. A badly burnt man whose history is not known. She decides to concentrate on taking care of the man the best way possible. She is first left to the villa alone with the man but soon Caravaggio and Kip make her company. Caravaggio says Hana is in love with the burnt man but as I understood it she is processing her grief and bad consciousness about not being able to help her father.

What comes to the burnt man whose past is unclear I was not sure if  he really didn't remember or if he just tried to forget. When the past years begin to unravel it becomes understandable why he might have wanted to bury it all and start as a new person. In the middle of war people have been making decisions that looking back seem immoral and wrong. When evaluating the circumstances it becomes possible to understand the real motives behind the actions. This novel doesn't use war as an exciting background for dramatic love stories. It literally tells how great love stories end to dust and bone in cruel world that is not made for human beings at all. The war comes to destroy the lives for all four main characters and nothing beautiful comes out of war.

The English patient has been making a search with his colleagues at the desert when barbaric war arrives making the members of the scientific community enemies to each other. It is absurd how people who are sharing a passion together and who have been working together for ages can become enemies because of the politics. It is artificial how these politics search to keep people apart by the rules of war. The researches of the desert are studying ancient cultures and focus on happenings far back in the history. The new war is surprising, plain stupid and irrational. I thought it was an intelligent choice not to romanticize the lost love that the English patient has had. I think it would have been dangerous to do such as make heroes of war and love. War makes you lose and war is always ugly and unnecessary.

Mines have been planted to places where people should be able to live. Explosives under the ground are so unjust because you can't see what you are fighting against. Also one who has planted those bombs can never know who they are killing or harming. Civilians become the sufferers too often. Also what makes those so horrible is that you can't switch off the mines when the declaration of peace has been run on the radio. Even after that someone will be harmed or killed. A lot of work has to be done to clear the Earth off from danger.

What I like about Ondaatje's style is that he doesn't over explain but trusts the reader to understand and feel what the characters are going through. He uses subtle hints when he describes the choices the characters have done. One can come to a decision by self when reading and learning about the characters. The novel focuses in the moment when all four are living under the same roof. There are no clear or simple relationships. The reader is left to sort out what was all about again and make their own interpretation. I don't want to open the plot too much so you will have the amazing reading experience but I have to say that I found that many of the relationships left questions we might all answer differently. For example the English patient's and Katherine's love story that is revealed piece by piece made me question what was it about? They both seemed very surprised about their emotions  towards each other. They did have some kind of relationship, but where they in love and would they have become a couple if things would have gone in a different way? This book is written for people who like to read carefully and ponder every nuance of the text to make a conclusion. You also have to be prepared that you might not get an answer at all.

30/52 Michael Ondaatje: Anil's Ghost (2000). Just few words about this novel I read right after I finished The English Patient. The happenings take place in Sri Lanka where there is a war going on and people are disappearing. Some of the people are found dead some have gone missing and their relatives are left to uncertainty to what has happened to their loved ones. Anil has been born in Sri Lanka but lived fifteen years abroad, mainly in United States. She is a forensic pathologist and sent to make a research about what has happened in the war. In Sri Lanka she gets to work with Sarath who is an archaeologist. Together they try to sort out who is the person they find from an old grave but is proven to be a victim of a more present violence than the others found from the same place. The two professionals are forced to work in circumstances where they have to be afraid that by doing right thing and revealing the truth they might get harmed. The people of the society are coping from day to day in uncertainty what might happen. It leaves the question how to succeed to do the right thing when keeping silent might keep you safe? Yet the whole situation won't change if  everyone in staying scared at home trying to survive. Someone has to do the first action towards justice. But how much can you expect an individual to be ready to sacrifice for the sake of better tomorrow?

Hope you have wonderful and thought provoking reading experiences with both books! 
Happy Weekend!

Sannu