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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

As I mentioned in Part 1, applesauce was high up on my to-do list for canning this year. As baby food, snack, or ingredient — there’s really no bad in having lots of applesauce around. Although I had previously made it before, I never had such a glut of apples that I was able to try more than one recipe. This year, I did at least five and half our apples are still in deep freeze for later processing The first time around, I just washed and halved the apples before tossing them into the steamer. This was the only time I …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

I mentioned last year that we had a few apple trees on our property. Two large ones that produce very decent cooking/eating apples and two smaller crabapples. All of them were very prolific this year, owing to a gentle spring followed by generously long growing season. For the past two years, I’ve been using a blend of these apples to make a very nice juice. Which is great, since apple juice is something we like to have in the fridge all the time and that can get spendy with Finnish grocery prices. Our two larger trees in flower earlier this …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Another batch of muffins for post-hospital entertaining of guests. These freeze really well – I defrosted and zapped them in the microwave some for visiting grandparents the other day and they turned out really moist and fluffy. I used a base recipe from Taste of Home, with just a smidge of substitution in the main muffin but quite a bit of tweaking for the topping and glaze. Despite my increasing the natural lemon ingredients, I probably would go so far as to add in a splash of lemon extract in my next batch, like some reviewers have suggested, just to …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Rauma does not have an Indian restaurant. Nor does it really  have any place where you can conveniently get the ingredients necessary to make most Indian dishes at home. So, like I do for most Asian ingredients, I stock in bulk whenever we make it over to an ethnic grocer in Turku or any other larger city. I’ll also tend to this if we visit a restaurant — a practice that once ended in a plastic takeaway bag filled with a mixture of three different types of curry when the containers upended halfway through my drive home. Still, I stubbornly …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

A few years ago, I visited a friend who took me to see her friend, who had just recently had a baby. I remember being totally impressed with how together this woman was, despite her chaotic schedule, recovering health and our last-minute visit — to the point where she sat us down and busted out fresh baked goods in what seemed like mere minutes. It was like magic! Just make a pot of tea and that’s that. I promised myself that I would learn from her and stock up on frozen pre-prepped items to make entertaining guests stress-free. Never did get …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

This smoothie was the result of wanting to make something without additional sweeteners that the hubby would also like, since he’s been kind of eyeing the pitcher when I make these now. And this one tastes like fruit punch! For the mango, I wash it thoroughly but leave the skin on. There’s lots of nutrients and fiber in the skin, which I’d prefer not to just throw away. Plus it looks like pretty multi-colored confetti in the finished smoothie Just make sure you scrub the fruit down thoroughly with a safe fruit wash before using it, then slice around the …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

I took a break from my fudge-centric ice cream purchases last week to try another flavor in the Core line, Blondie Brownie. The label read “A Soft Salted Caramel Core Surrounded by Chocolate & Vanilla Ice Creams with Chocolate Brownie chunks & Blondie Brownie chunks”, which sounded promising enough. Salted caramel is a close second to fudge in my list of favorite toppings of all time, and it didn’t disappoint in this tub. However, the blondies did. It was kind of weird — on the chocolate side, I dug up plenty of brownie bits (yes, I do fish out the …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Here’s something from my mom’s standard repertoire when we were growing up. It was easy to toss together and made lots of leftovers, which is great when you want a fast meal for a family of 5. We probably had it at least every month. Really, this is like the Japanese version of mac and cheese — warm, filling and full of starchy goodness. Except without the lactose issues, because Asians, yo. My version departs only a little bit from hers, which in turn departs a little from the original recipe that is printed on the back of the box. …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Yet another quiche! This one, because I happened to find canned crab meat at the supermarket when I was out shopping the other day. Although that might not seem like anything special in, well, just about any other country, it was a huge and pleasant surprise to me. I use crab meat in lots of dishes and I was vastly disappointed when I found that most Finnish supermarkets simply didn’t carry it back when we first moved here. I’d have my out-of-country friends load up on it when they came visiting, which I’m sure got them all kinds of weird …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

I’m often asked by locals what I miss the most about moving away from home and my immediate answer has always been FOOD. The variety, the availability, the convenience of having countless food options available with a mere phone call or short drive. This is one of those cooking experiments that came out of desperation for food I would never have tried to make back in Cali. Usually, items like char siu, soy sauce chicken (another favorite I will one day make), and roast duck are bought from a little BBQ meat shop, filled with customers slurping noodles at greasy …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Whilst digging through the downstairs freezer for smoothie ingredients the other day, I came upon a bag of wild bilberries (the juicier European cousin of blueberries) that I’d picked in the forest surrounding our house during our first year living here. Cue excited glee, since I’d thought they were all used up ages ago and they’re not the cheapest things to buy frozen at the supermarket. Last year was exceptionally bad for wild berries and mushrooms, since we didn’t get much summer rainfall in our area — I went out with my berry bucket and came back with 2 (count them) …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

I’ve written about my ever-evolving pancake tinkering in the past, and I’m pretty sure this will not be the last post. However, it has been a little less than four years since I last mentioned these, so I suppose they are fair game. Especially since I am now converting everything over to printable recipe format with my shiny new plugin. As I mentioned before, these are the result of years of tinkering to come to a happy compromise between the eggy thin Finnish pancakes the hubby likes and the fluffier American ones that I’m used to. They’re a little of …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

I popped by my favorite grocery store yesterday to refill my asthma meds and grab a few small items to keep us until our big supermarket binge later this week. They had moved things around since I was last there, so I spent about five minutes stalking up and down the frozen foods aisle, looking more and more perturbed with each round. There was not a single tub of Ben & Jerry’s in sight, you see. This was highly unlike them, since this is the one store that can always be counted on to have a lot of non-Finnish specialty …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

One of the big things on my list for pre-baby prep has been to make and freeze as many meals as possible so that we have a wide variety of easily-reheated homemade food to last through the first months when we’ll (well, let’s be honest — I’LL) be too tired to cook. To this end, I try to double everything I make now and freeze the leftovers as fast as possible so we don’t end up eating them all ahead of time. It encourages me to keep cooking rather than rummage around for the easy stuff. With the whole gestational …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

I have been very pleased with this one lately. We used pear juice as filler or thinner for our smoothies at the shop all the time, because it has a mellow sweet taste that blends well with just about any other flavor. So I guess it’s no surprise that pear and banana (the two most common fruit bases) would get along harmoniously with each other to make a mild, creamy foundation that lets other ingredients stand out easily. Like, say, peanut butter, which I’ve been using more of lately as a protein source. Ripe pears, a banana, peanut butter, vanilla …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

But first, a brief moment whilst I pat myself on the back for completing the migration of seven-ish years of posts from VKFood to this blog. Save for a few misdirected links (which all point back here in the end, I believe), they all arrived intact. What a trip to see some of those really old posts and think back on what life was like back then! Right, the smoothies. Sorry for the less-than-composed photograph – it was snapped moments before I buried my face in the glass. “Must eat” has taken on a whole new meaning in third trimester …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

This is one of those things that some people might like to blame on pregnancy cravings, but I know myself well enough to doubt that is true. I’ve definitely been feeling more drawn to ice cream in third trimester than I ever have in recent memory (I’m looking at you, Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food), but it’s not like I was ever indifferent to the stuff. So several weeks ago, I was sitting in the kitchen contemplating ice cream and tea. Mostly that I wanted both, but was trying to decide which would come first. Then at some point, I asked …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Remember this post about pumpkin puree where I mentioned always saving the seeds from pumpkins to use for another recipe? This would be one of those recipes. Super simple and gives you loads of snacky stuff to have in a bowl for entertaining guests or to keep in your purse for when your stomach starts growling before lunch. You can crack them open like sunflower seeds or eat them whole (the way I do). The crunch is the fun part! Two small pumpkins’ worth of seeds, rinsed of as much pulp as humanly possible. I did a batch a couple of …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

So back in Cali, the main thing I knew about blackcurrants were that they were a strongly-scented European fruit that was used to make booze and Ribena. The main thing I knew about Ribena syrup was that it was really handy to use when mixing up blood substitute for film and TV productions. Never actually drank any of the stuff until a couple years ago, since it was usually relegated to some obscure specialty shelf. First winter we were here, then, T’s grandmother merrily handed me a bottle of homemade blackcurrant juice and I thanked her, despite looking somewhat puzzled. We …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

This post is mostly for my parents, who were curious about the odd fruit I’d posted a picture of on Facebook the other day Funny thing is, rhubarb originated in Asia and the root has been used for medicinal purposes in China for thousands of years. I guess they never got around to trying the stalks? Then again, the Chinese were never big on desserts, so that could be part of the reason. Being Californian and all, I didn’t have much experience with rhubarb beyond the occasional specialty pie until moving to Finland. Out here, though, it seems that everybody …

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