This Strange Corona Spring

First I thought I’d write my next travel post about a nature destination here in Finland – one which we plan to visit during the summer holidays. I want to present some beautiful gems here in Finland. But before that, I thought I’d write down a few notes about this peculiar and unprecedented time, the corona spring. A few personal observations from this strange period before spring officially folds into summer.

I fully get that the coronavirus and the lockdown period treat people unequally. These exceptional times impact families and individuals very differently. Many struggle to make ends meet when their income is being threatened or taken away altogether; others feel the weight of loneliness during the isolation. Healthcare workers, those who are at high risk to get sick or countless entrepreneurs feel stress that many others do not. And in the most severe outcomes people lose their lives or their loved ones.

And then there are many who can enjoy the slower pace and the simple joys of life or use this time for personal development, maybe even a fitness sprint. But, despite the differences and the divides, there is also a sense that we are in this together. And we’ll get out of this together.

Even though this Spring 2020 has been very worrying globally, I want to take up positive and good things as well – things that have made life happier, brighter, lighter, and more delicious.

First of them is, you might guess, cooking. As we’ve not been able to adventure around the globe, we’ve travelled the world in our very own kitchen. We’ve cooked Melanzane alla parmigiana and lasagne and reminisced our former joyous summer days in Italy, Thai curry, Revuelto (a yummy Spanish take on scrambled eggs) with tomatoes and green asparagus, meat prepared by using the sous vide method (time consuming but an absolutely genius way of cooking) and Karelian stew, a delicious traditional meat dish from Eastern Finland. Cooking is both soothing and yummy. It seems that half of Finland has been baking their own sourdough bread this spring. Or planting their own herbs. Me included. Gardening game going strong: or at least there’s the will to master the art of gardening a bit better one gorgeous day.

Nature has always been my place of focus, quieting down and green meditation. I think that the significance of nature has grown and will continue to grow in people’s lives because of this spring. I anticipate that many will move closer to nature and invest in a community garden patch paired with a cute cottage.

What else? A few selected random recommendations: The miniseries Unorthodox in Netflix – a captivating story of a young ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman (played by the talented Shira Haas) who escapes an arranged marriage and the strict and conservative religious community to Berlin. High recommendations, it is shocking and excellent. Second, home workouts. There are many good and free ones on YouTube (I’ve for example done the full body workouts by Pamela Reif). Only 20 or 30 minutes at a time and the powerful feeling of accomplishment will be with you for the rest of the day. Third, having a rhythm in one’s day even if that rhythm is not given by a 9 to 5 job. Fourth, limiting one’s news consumption to one time a day (versus the 10+ times on the day the corona situation escalated). Fifth, mercy: an exceptional time brings forward all types of feelings, both the bright and the gloomy. And finally, talking to your dear ones.

Many say that small things have become big things this spring and that normal life has become a luxury. I’d also say that as a lot of the hustle & hurry of our everyday lives has been stripped away, the good things are highlighted and get more attention and value: a beautiful and colourful breakfast, a good and sweaty run by the sea while sniffing the salty sea air, the bright green birch sprouts pushing their way through optimistically. Puppies. Wild bunnies (countless of them hopping around here where we live). A cup of quality ristretto coffee enjoyed in the garden with a good book. The scent of fresh cut grass and lilacs. Bright Finnish summer nights. Seeing our one-year-old godson after two months and having a barbecue and an abundant brunch with the family.

I can’t wait for things to get back to normal again. But I believe it will be a new kind of a normal which will follow this odd period when we’ve had a chance to think things through and come up with new ways of doing things. A new normal with maybe a new type of a brighter focus. We’ll see.

And then more travel inspo will come, be it here from the Arctic or from a distant corner of the globe!

Thailand meets Kyrö: Thai curry and cocktails with gin and rosemary

It has been three months since our trip to Thailand and the longing for some rich Thai flavors got pretty acute. So we decided to bring Thai kitchen into our kitchen and prepare some Thai curry. And before tasting the sweetly burning chili on our lips it was time to try the award winning drink that has been on the lips of many:  Napue gin from Isokyrö. The cocktail of the evening was Gin & Tonic with Napue, Fentimans tonic water, a branch of rosemary and cranberries. It worked.

For the curry you’ll need the following ingredients:

1 teaspoon of olive oil
3 tablespoons of green Thai curry paste
1 can of coconut milk
1 tin of bambu shoots
vegetables (and fruits) of your choice: cauliflower, carrots, pineapple

400 grams of shrimp or chicken
2 teaspoons  of fish sauce
fresh coriander shredded
juice of 2 limes

And this is how it goes (originally a Ruokala recipe):

Heat a little bit of olive oil on the pan. Add the curry paste and then slowly add the coconut milk. Let the sauce boil quietly the whole time.

Add the bambu shoots which have been rinsed well, the sliced vegetables and the chopped lemongrass.  Let it stew until the vegetables are almost cooked.

Prepare the chicken on a frying pan and then add the chicken/sea food, honey, fish sauce and coriander.

Enjoy with Jasmin rice and let your mind wonder off to Thailand.

We made two kinds of curry: one with chicken and the other with seafood (shrimps and clams). They both turned out tasty.  But the sweet burning sensation was missing:  the curry could have been more spicy and next time I’ll add more chili and a more spicy curry paste. And prepare a bowl of Tom Yum as well.


Rye pizza Friday

I had been craving for a homemade warm and crispy rye pizza for some time and finally Friday was the favourable night for this. We prepared two different kinds: one a bit more adventurous with chicken, curry, banana (works very well) and mushrooms and the second one with beef, mushrooms, sweet pepper and cherry tomatoes. And tasty cheese on top of course, goes without saying.

Ingredients (for one pizza)

1 bag of dry yeast
2 1/2 dl lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 dl rye flour
2 dl wheat flour

Mix the flour, salt and and dry yeast. Add water and olive oil. Knead the dough well and then place a cloth on top of the dough bowl and let the dough rise and become double its size (takes around forty minutes).

For the tomato sauce you’ll need:

1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tin of smashed tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato pyre
salt and black pepper

Sweat the onion and garlic in olive oil, the add the rest. Let the sauce boil for about ten minutes. Taste and add spices, if needed.

Prepare the pizzas and bake them in 225 degrees Celcius for 25 minutes.

Before serving cover the pizza with a lot of fresh rucola. I was moderate with it for the picture but added a green handful afterwards. And then pour the wine into the glass and enjoy! These pizzas work really well as a lunch treat served cold the following day.