Last quarteryear

Dear friends,

I am still alive! (Not that I thought any of you might have thought I was dead because of what seems like forever-lasting radio -erhm- blog silence)

My last post was something about food, posted from my home at that time – actually my mom’s home- in Tampere. After that, so many things have happened, that they would be worth several posts. Anyhow, since it’s the New Year and the new year is all about looking back and ditching all the bad things and thinking positively about all the great things that lie ahead, I decided to make a comeback. No matter how unpopular this blog might be in the Finnish scale, since Finns read only blogs from Finns that are in Finnish (go figure)…here I go. Again.

La vie, c'est belle!
La vie, c’est belle!

Yeah, I went to Paris (and I did go closer to la tour Eiffel than that). For a brief few days in October, to visit NatExpo trade show for organic industry. Ate a lot of baguette, and have been gluten-free ever since! No more French paradox for me, merci beaucoup. The trip and all the pictures I took would definitely be worth a post itself, but I’ll just give you a hint: if you go to Paris, you must visit all the markets, i.e Bastille, Raspail (organic!), and if you get a chance, go eat in Sol Semilla. I didn’t, and I regret it. Paris, I’m not done with you quite yet.

Morning sunrise in Pyynikki
Morning sunrise in Pyynikki

In September I was feeling out of breath, and not in a I-just-ran-5k way, but in a What-the-f-am-I-doing sort of way that makes you want to just, well, I don’t know how to describe it, really. Long story short, I changed the view above to the biggest hustle and bustle I could find in this country: Helsinki.

Big city life.
Big city life, no kidding

Here I have been since November, busy as a bee. There was Smoothie national competition where I was not smoothing but working for my friend’s company, there was Chocolate Festival where I was working and eating myself up a weight category (though I don’t do any sports that require categories…), there was the Food &wine expo where I was promoting Vitamix for 4 days to people who were interested mostly only in free samples, there was the new job, the other new job, the thesis that finally got started in a way…and trying to figure out which gym to join or sport to start.

My “day job” is now working in a raw food/smoothie bar that is inside Finland’s oldest vegetarian/living foods restaurant. I have learned a lot about coffees and such, get to work with nice people and see people at my workplace (which is luxury), and get to eat proper food! Win win win. Maybe soon I’ll learn how to make the heart shape to cappucino.

Silvoplee, aka who wouldn't want to eat/work here?
Silvoplee, aka who wouldn’t want to eat/work here?

The other job has been editing and creating product descriptions for Foodin.fi, my friends’ online store that sells the best quality stuff I know and have had the chance to try. I am proud to be able to sell the same products in Silvoplee.

The best candy.
The best treats and Lasse.

The third job is not really job – I am working on my thesis for Goodio (chocolates, which just happen to be the best chocolate, pictured above). Coconut ice cream coming up! I have been extremely lazy on the thesis, but this Christmas time I got a kick to do it since it was pitch black and raining all the time, my brother and dad were in Thailand, and I just wanted to feel at least tiny bit proud about being miserable and stuck here. Mission accomplished.

Umm…I was supposed to post this on 2nd of January, but there was few things that got on my way…like a broken wrist. Anyhow, we’ll see how things go. See you soon, I hope!

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Tila Kaupungissa, growing organic food movement

It makes me happy to see that people in Finland too are starting to pay more and more attention to the (too often low) quality of their food. Even if going back to the roots and eating foods your grandmother knew to be good to eat is just for the sake of being oh-so-trendy and because everybody else is doing it, I still think it’s a win-win situation: small producers get much needed income and support, people get to know what real, near produced food is, and they maybe appreciate the valuable ingredients more. There is a big difference between frozen, prepacked and slices veggies to fresh ones straight from the farm. Some state that there is a difference between soy/corn fed and grass-fed meat, let alone wild game, too. Go figure! Once you know how you want to take care of yourself and others, the next thing is to figure out how to do it. Luckily, the options are growing and the selection is getting wider.

 

More farm fresh and organic products in Tampere
More farm fresh and organic products in Tampere

Yesterday I visited the opening of Tila Kaupungissa(Space in the City), a new sort of organic incorporated store in Tampere. For 100€ you can buy a share of the store, which entitles you to certain discounts as well as events. Some of the products come from owner farms, in addition to the imported organic items. The shop is open to anyone, not just the owners.

 

Got greens?
Veggies from a near-by farm

The opening of Tila was filled with people (mostly older), and I believe there is strong demand for this kind of action. Currently there are only few organic stores in Tampere, and not many of them sell organic produce. Somehow it seems like all the organic stores are located in the same small area, too; good for the customer to be able to shop in different places at once, but may be challenging for the entrepreneurs in terms of competition. Though the organic movement is improving, the majority of the supermarket chains still keep on advertising food like products as opposed to veggies, and they don’t offer substantial organic selection. The strength of these small, person-run stores lies in their personality and character. It is always nicer to go to a store where you talk to people, maybe have a cup of coffee or tea, and know that you are supporting a good cause.

 

Space in the city
Space in the city

In addition to Tila Kaupungissa, one can find good produce and great food ingredients as well as natural cosmetics and products around Tampere, for example the following:

Vegetarian/vegan stores

  • Ruohonjuuri, in Keskustori. Besides offering the most variable selection of packaged superfoods and organic food products for almost all possible needs, Ruohonjuuri has some organic frozen products as well as produce and dairy. The store also stocks a large selection of natural cosmetics, bodycare products as well as essentials for cleaning, babies and pets. The store has become my second home since moving back, because in the corner just happens to be my other workplace! So, with your shopping you can also enjoy delicious, organic raw smoothies, cakes and chocolates made on-site.
  • Runsaudensarvi, in Kauppakatu (behind the City Hall). My go-to place for bulk items: nuts, seeds, beans, flours, trail mixes and fruit treats, superfoods, etc. The bulks are cheaper than in other stores, and you can choose how much to buy, win-win! They have a great selection of other vegan cooking products, too. The staff is very nice, and there is a tea corner with some books and (vegan) magazines to read, too. 10% discounts to members of certain assocations (i.e Animalia), product samples and small gifts with a purchase over 5€!
  • Punnitse&Säästä, in Kuninkaankatu (Next to Anttila). Largest variety of bulk items, including candies, sugar coated fruits and non-vegan items. In my experience it is more expensive than Runsaudensarvi. The abundance of selection can make you go nuts over nuts, and besides getting sugar high you end up emptying your wallet.

Local food & organic stores

  • Ruokapuoti Lempi, in Tammelantori. Lovely interior and a cafe corner, this store offers produce, meat and dairy products as well as some bakery items from near-by farms. Great place to stop by when visiting the Tammelantori market. If you are in the area, also check out Kahvilla cafe, which is on the same street as Lempi.
  • Luomukauppa Ani, in Kauppahalli. If one visits Tampere, they simply must go to Kauppahalli (market hall). Just for the sake of the atmosphere.

Now is the best season for spending some time in the outside market – something I always want to do, no matter where I am. Too bad the season in Finland is so short, so you must make the most out of it! Nothing so far has beat the combo of sunshine and strawberries!

Moomin hut
Moomin hut

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!

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

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…