Living, Eating, Remembering

I have loved to cook for a very long time. In elementary school, I started making dinner for the whole family - all 12 of us! And starting carving out the middle of the pineapple carefully so that it could become the bowl in which I served the fruit salad...admittedly not enough for 12. I learned through trial and error, and was terrible with salmon - I put in the oven at 365 F for 2.5 hours, just like the beef. Salmon jerky, anyone?

I got jam making duty at one point too, and remember being quite proud of the way the quart jars of jam looked, all lined up on the shelf: Strawberry, Raspberry, Blackberry...until I got bored with the standard fare, and then it was Straw-Rasp or Rasp-Black-Blue or Strawberry Rhubarb, or even more entertaining, Study Power Jam for my friend Stephanie when she was studying for her final exams (guess the flavor!). Later it was canning peaches, plums, pears, applesauce...then on to pickles and salsa...and now it's plum jam with vanilla and apricot jam with rosemary (thanks Johanna!) and homemade apple pectin instead of the store-bought powdered stuff. Experimenting has always been part of the fun!

I started digging through cookbooks to have more to play with - and learned my way around caramel popcorn and peanut brittle, cheesecake and blackberry pie - simple stuff, probably, for a seasoned cook, but big steps for me. In college, I paid for books, tuition and other miscellaneous expenses by working for a catering company (catering, not cooking, was my role!), which introduced me to the refined side of food: pumpkin ravioli, cranberry mousse in a dark chocolate cup, and later, chicken buerre blanc, which I had no idea whatsoever how to make...until many years later when I took a sauces course in Helsinki and realized just how much butter is infused in that sauce...

Moving to Europe changed the way I looked at food - made me experiment a bit more, note more closely the impact of the way food looked on the way it tasted, made me appreciate how unexpected (at least to me) flavors could create magic out of simplicity: roasted beets with a slice from a log of goat cheese and put under the broiler just long enough for the cheese to melt. Grilled or pan-fried halloumi with oven roasted golden cherry tomatoes and a touch of basil on Ciabatta toast with a drizzle of olive oil. Chanterelle mushrooms, freshly picked from the local forest and fried up with butter, onion and a touch of salt, served over garden-fresh baby potatoes. Traveling as I did for 3 years, throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, I had the pleasure of enjoying a lot of great food in amazing places and very good company, and a bit of bad of all of the above. I loved it. And I especially loved the food.

Good food makes for a good life.

This blog is more for me than you - I'll admit that up front. I want an archive of my experiments and a place to record and share my stories about food as the years go by. Yesterday I was eating coconut almond granola over Mountain High vanilla yogurt at the kitchen table in Colorado with my friend Suzanne, gazing out at the summer sun hitting the mountains...or it seems like yesterday, except now from my window in Helsinki I can see the season changing again and the fall winds bringing in something new as I enjoy a bowl of homemade unflavored yogurt with a touch of apple jelly on top. Life moves so fast, and I want to remember.

So the seasons will change, and I will cook my way through them - learning about life in a once foreign country, a place I now call home. Learning to understand how to marry my old world with my new one; the traditions from my home country with my adopted one, and looking for the joy in the every day...with food.

I welcome your comments, your questions! Come along and dine with me.

Eat Simply, Eat Well. It's a good life.