Midsummer festivities: How to Open a Watermelon

As I have posted before, Midsummer or Summer Soltice is one of Finland’s biggest celebrations. Last year in New York I missed all the traditions: summer cottage, new potatoes, dunk people and whatnot, so this year was my opportunity to take it all back!

Guess what? I decided to stay in the city. Apparently I was not the only one, since there was (still is) a rather big city festival in Pyynikki. No summer cottage (though we do live next to a forest and have a nice view of the lake, which to me is the point of the whole thing), and no new potatoes with fish, but a lot of drunk people at the festival. It all evens out, right? The sun was shining, I even managed to  burn my back on the beach(!), and it was almost full moon, though still light outside at midnight. I “forgot” to collect 7 different flowers to dream of my future husband or the love of my life, nor did I do any other magic tricks and hocus pocus that is traditional to this feast ofthe inevitable: the days are getting shorter, and the winter is coming.

Midsummer midnight swim. Not me, though.
Midsummer midnight swim. Not me, though

With this long intro to the whole deal, I will now reveal to you how to deal with the uncomfortable situation of making a watermelon edible without a knife. A fast youtube search suggested banging your head to the fruit, which I was not that keen on trying (wonder why…) As smashing it to the ground would not have been cost-efficient, I wanted to find an alternative solution.

Battle of strenght
Battle of strength

At this point, you already have the solution. It is suggested to start off with the equipment.

The most beautiful melon
The most beautiful melon

To open a melon without a knife, you need a friend -or someone random- who just happens to carry around some nail scissors or a sewing kit. Just poke holes and cut around the whole damn thing, then start pulling with a friend. Or use karate moves on the cut line, which ever you fancy. The result is much greater than the boring triangles you get with cutting with a knife!

Getting at it
Getting at it

And as a bonus, after scooping the flesh out with your plastic forks and spoons (reserve few extra cause if you’re like me, you’re gonna break at least 4), there’s juice left for making punch drinking.

Sweet juice
Sweet juice

An idea: the left over bowls can be used as helmets, or hats.

So…that was yesterday, there still is today of everything-being-closed-and-drunk-people-wandering, we’ll see if I’ll get the courage to get out of the house and to the city! So far, I have just been devouring on chocolate sauce I made because I didn’t have enough patience to make actual chocolate. Recipe would be coming up in another post, but it’s ridiculously simple and I have no pictures of it besides my chocolatey mouth, so here goes: basically just mix melted coconut oil with cocoa powder and (raw chocolate) honey, then add some lechitin and toco (/other “superfood stuff” or just skip the powders, they’ll add creaminess and vitamins and stuff but who needs those, anyways) and bee pollen to the mix. No need to freeze, scoop it up (with sliced apple, for example) and smile!

The winter is coming, but who cares – it’s summer now!

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Simply happy

Sometimes the special things in life make it, well, special. In most occasions, the small things and everyday luxury make me wake up every morning with a big smile on my face. Maybe it’s because I’ve been away for so long, and the city seems to offer old and new people and new flavors to savor day after day, but I am now more happy than I could have imagined! Sometimes I do have to push away the itch in the back of my head that makes me wonder and worry about my next destination, since I do have to admit that the image of Finland in October is not tempting at all, more the opposite.

But, living in the moment and enjoying right now, instead of worrying about the future:

2 am
2 am, I am home

It is never dark. The nature is at its’ best, and it is pretty gorgeous. Except when it’s raining like hell, like yesterday and most of today.

Armas cafe, near produced food in Tampere market hall
Armas cafe, near produced food in Tampere market hall

Seeing old friends and talking for hours in a nice environment. The market hall is definitely one of my favorite places in (any) city.

(Raw) chocolate, probably 2kg of it. OD, anyone?
(Raw) chocolate, probably 2kg of it. OD, anyone?

Damn Good (Nutrient Dense Super) Food. I have been pigging on a daily basis and eating my way towards bigger jeans ever since coming back. I guess there’s worse things to indulge in than antioxidant-rich Food of the Gods (aka cacao) and berries and nuts, just to name a few of my current staples, but I have to admit that together with increased snacking and general food consumption, my activity level has decreased significantly since leaving HK. Trying to find the balance with all the treats within my grasp and the lazyass lifestyle that my dog is teaching me is not that easy!

Life juice, some shrooms and new great friends
Life juice, some shrooms and new great friends

I have never tried sprouts in a juice, or used a juicer before now. I prefer to eat my vegetables, but I do have a thing for dehydrated crackers using the leftover pulp from juices. The shrooms here are slightly different than those I used in Asia, but there are some similarities, too. 😛 And the new friends are the best part of it all!

Other good things right now: The pink kettlebell I bought, the trimmed appearance of my dog, the job (in Finnish only, but ahh the food porn), the view from our balcony, July’s activities, upcoming strawberry picking season(!!), and the list continues.

 

Every morning, day and evening I get to look at this
Every morning, day and evening I get to look at this

Going bananas (raw banana cake)

One of the various perks of my new job includes the possibility to mess around with different ingredients, and create whatever delicacies comes to mind, from organic, top notch ingredients. Right now we have an abundance of bananas going over-ripe, so besides making banana chips (Excalibur dehydrator, hallelujah!), I decided to make a cake. Forget banana bread, use your left-over bananas for this instead!

4 layers of banana goodness, topped with nut crumble and raw chocolate shavings
4 layers of banana goodness, topped with nut crumble and raw chocolate shavings

Crust
– 1 cup brazil nuts (or macadamia/pecan/walnuts/almonds)
– 1,5 cup shredded coconut
– pinch of salt
– 12 small dates, pitted and chopped

Filling
– 2 cups sliced bananas
– 2 cups (soaked) cashews
– 4 tbs coconut palm sugar
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/3 cup coconut oil (liquid)
– 3 tbs raw cacao powder
– sliced bananas (approx. 3)

Crust, cream layer topped with bananas, chocolate cream and more bananas
Crust, cream layer topped with bananas, chocolate cream and more bananas

Cream topping
– 1 3/4 (soaked) cashews
– 1/4 cup chaga tea/coconut water/water
– 3 tbs coconut palm sugar/honey/agave
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup coconut oil (liquid)

Crumble
– 1/2 cup nuts (pecan/macadamia/almonds)
– 1/2 cup coconut flakes
– 1 tbsp coconut palm sugar/honey
– pinch of salt

Like stones in snow - coconut flakes, brazil nuts and palm sugar
Like stones in snow – coconut flakes, brazil nuts and palm sugar for crumble

TO DO
For the crust: blend the nuts and coconut to a paste, add dates and salt. Blend until puree, press to a cake pan that is greased with coconut oil. Put to freezer to firm up.

For the filling: Blend the banana, nuts, sweetener, salt and vanilla until puree. Add coconut oil slowly, continue to blend.
Divide the filling into two, blend the cacao powder together with the other half. Pour the non-cacao filling to the cake pan, add a layer of banana slices, the cacao layer, and another layer of bananas. Put to the freezer to firm up (approx. 1 hour).

For the cream: Blend everything except the oil, then add the oil slowly while processing the ingredients. Make sure the consistency is puree, not clumpy. Put to the freezer to firm up. After firming, spread onto the cake.

For the crumble: Blend the ingredients, add on top of the cream. If you want more color, grate some raw chocolate on top to finish it all off. Cut from the cake pan when frozen, slice up and store in the freezer.

Who said bananas are for monkeys?
Who said bananas are for monkeys?

Go bananas!

Back home

I came back to Finland on Thursday, and somehow it seems as if I never even left! Some things have changed to the better in Tampere, but mostly everything looks scarily familiar. I have been occupying myself with loads of fun things this weekend – coming back has definitely felt like a good decision! Seeing friends and family after almost a year, going to all my favorite places…so far, so good.

View from the balcony: perfect for the morning/afternoon/evening tea
View from the balcony: perfect for the morning/afternoon/evening tea

Besides enjoying the sun and the fact that it is light even at midnight, I have been pleased with the green nature and fresh smells of blooming flowers. I also realized, how much I’ve missed biking around!

My sweet ride
My sweet ride

This weekend I’ve got the chance suit up: first to a graduation party, then to my mom’s birthday brunch, which was in a fancy old-fashioned hotel, serving local food at its’ best.

Something I learned in Asia, doesn't work here
Something I learned in Asia, doesn’t work here

I’ve been to my favorite organic stores to catch up and see all the new things, I’ve visited the farmers’ market and market hall, eaten fresh strawberries, whirl the blender, seen kids drunk on their school ending day…ahh, Tampere! The only thing I am missing is my dog, who is taken care of by my grandma in Kuopio right now. Next week I’ll luckily get her back (probably fatter than ever). Next week I’ll also start a new job, which I am really excited about. More about that later. For now, it’s all about the sun and 28C, no humidity or mosquitos!

Our private "junk" boat on the lake
Our private “junk” boat on the lake

See, Finland is not all that bad, no matter what I might say…