Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Back from the lakes

We're back from an excellent week in the UK. I was lucky enough to climb another 11 of the peaks that make up my little project. So I have now been to the top of 75 out of the 451 mountains in England and Wales. I need to thank my father in law for indulging me, especially on our mental Monday morning stroll that had me crippled for 2 days! We went over Hellvelyn via Striding Edge and it was a glorious windless day that allowed us to take the path right over the edge as opposed to the more conventional path.

I was also treated to what would be (to normal people) an overdose of gooseberries and rhubarb but to me was just catching up! We even brought some gooseberries home to make sure we have enough until our own plants bear fruit.

This evening after work we had an excellent BBQ of Satay skewers, roasted red onion, corn, halumi cheese and new potatoes followed by Norfolk Gooseberry Tarts. The trick I managed this time was to get the portion control right so that we had just enough to enjoy and not so much that we were stuffed and it is amazing how the roast red onions and the halumi can be a great substitute from another damn supermarket bought burger!

Red onions - pop them on a skewer whole and let them BBQ for 15-30 minutes depending on size, then peel when they are cool enough to handle. How easy is that?


Being back at work is, of course, a pleasure however the highlight so far has been listening to Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony on my iPod as I cycle back and forwards. It is just brilliant!

Friday, 12 June 2009


I have had a good few weeks off, my list of things to do has been a partial success: I have read the Count of Monte Cristo, I have been very good at studying Finnish, I have swum in the Olympic pool we have been to Turku, we went to see the cherry blossom in Hertomiemi park (except there wasn't any but that is another story), we had a day trip to Tampere, we had a fantastic evening cruise with dinner in Helsinki's western archipelago with a friend who came to visit and maybe a few beers have been enjoyed in the sunshine along the way. We didn't make the Kalevala exhibition at the Ateneum or visit the design musem in Helsinki but that we can do at anytime.

Now I am about to start reading the very serious book pictured above, inspired mostly from our visit to the museum of occupation in Riga. Hopefully it will be an interesting and thought provoking read. Especially after the fluff of Mr Dumas' book.

Due to various things I have to do (eating Jam sandwiches being quite high on the list!) there will be no posting for the next two weeks so please come back in early July. Until then have a great summer.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The lemons from Helsinki railway station

Doing nothing can be quite time consuming. I started my holidays last week and find myself surprised to be here a week later with no idea where the time has gone. Please do not feel sympathy for me, especially if you have been at work, and please don't think I have wasted my time at all.

The weather over the weekend was marvelous and we had a BBQ outside in the garden. I have made mention on this blog of how BBQing food does not grant a licence to carbonise. The trick as ever is to be prepared and be patient. We had chicken, halumi and water melon skewers, corn, asparagus and courgette and some pork marinated in what I will call a Mediterranean fashion. The best bit was that for the two of us it was way too much food and the pork made its way onto a very tasty bruschetta with sun dried tomatoes for lunch a few days later.

On Saturday we were in Helsinki and we managed to find a large piece of the magnificently titled Merikrotti (Monkfish) and set about preparing to cook "Rape in Adobo" from the cookbook Big Flavours and Rough Edges. (If you are ever in London I recommend you eat at the Eagle if you can get a table!). The last ingredients we needed was a lemon. As we were walking towards the train the fruit stall in the station was selling bags of Lemons 2 for 1 euro! So we went home with a beautiful piece of fish that would do at least two meals and more lemons than we knew what to do with!
The Adobo was magnificent: it was a dry cooked marinade consisting of onion, carrot, garlic, parsley, thyme, olive oil and white wine vinegar. The fish was marinated for several hours and then rolled in flour and fried. We served it with some home made tortilla and a little salsa. The sun shone and we could have almost been in Spain!

However this left us with many lemons still to use, the boss stepped in with her usual aplomb and offered to make a lemon meringue pie which is delicious and I have made a lemon and asparagus risotto straight from Nigel Slater's excellent Kitchen Diaries. However that still leaves quite a few lemons in the fridge!

If all that is not enough I have also found time to go, explore and swim in the outdoor Olympic swimming complex in Helsinki, visit the Arabia museum of porcelain, the Kiasma museum of contemporary art, the Parliament of Finland, read half of the Count of Monte Cristo and do my Finnish homework!

We are also busy plotting a train tour around Finland in July with some friends and I manged to organise hotel rooms in Kuopio yesterday on the telephone in Finnish - a first - and find some reasonably priced, if still slightly on the expensive side, rooms in Savonlinna during the opera festival which most people tell me is impossible!

Here's to doing nothing, but to doing it with Lemons!