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Pille

eG Foodblog: Pille

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Tere õhtust (that’s „Good evening“ in Estonian)!

I’m very, very, very excited to be doing my first ever eGullet foodblog. Foodblogging as such is not new to me – I’ve been blogging over at Nami-nami since June 2005, and am enjoying it enormously. But this eGullet blog is very different in format, and I hope I can ’deliver’. There have been so many exciting and great food blogs over the years that I've admired, so the standard is intimidatingly high! Also, as I’m the first one ever blogging from Estonia, I feel there’s a certain added responsibility to ’represent’ my tiny country :blink:

A few words about me: my name is Pille, I’m 33, work in academia and live with my boyfriend Kristjan in a house in Viimsi, a suburb just outside Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. I was born and schooled in Tallinn until I was 18. Since then I've spent a year in Denmark as an exchange student, four years studing in Tartu (a university town 180 km south), two years working in Tallinn and seven years studying and working in Edinburgh, the bonnie & cosmopolitan capital of Scotland. All this has influenced my food repertoire to a certain degree, I'm sure. I moved back home to Estonia exactly 11 months and 1 day ago, to live with Kristjan, and I haven't regretted that decision once :wub: Edinburgh is an amazing place to live, and I've been back to Scotland twice since returning, but I have come to realise that Tallinn is even nicer than Edinburgh :rolleyes:

I won’t be officially starting my foodblog until tomorrow (it’s midnight here and I’m off to bed), but I thought I’ll re-post the teaser photos for those of you who missed them in the 'Upcoming Attractions' section. There were two of them. One was a photo of Tallinn skyline as seen from the sea (well, from across the bay in this case):

gallery_28661_5138_17211.jpg

This is known as kilukarbivaade or sprat can skyline :biggrin: A canned fish product, sprats (small Baltic herrings in a spicy marinade) used to have a label depicting this picturesque skyline. I looked in vain for it in the supermarket the other day, but sadly couldn’t find one - must have been replaced with a sleek & modern label. So you must trust my word on this sprat can skyline view :)

The second photo depicted a loaf of our delicious rye bread, rukkileib. As Snowangel already said, it’s naturally leavened sour 100% rye bread, and I’ll be showing you step-by-step instructions for making it later during the week.

gallery_28661_5138_5722.jpg

It was fun seeing your replies to Snowangel’s teaser photos. All of you got the continent straight away, and I was pleased to say that most of you got the region right, too (that's Northern Europe then). Peter Green’s guess Moscow was furthest away – the capital of Russia is 865 km south-east from here (unfortunately I've never had a chance to visit that town, but at least I've been to St Petersburgh couple of times). Copenhagen is a wee bit closer with 836 km, Stockholm much closer with 386 km. Dave Hatfield (whose rural French foodblog earlier this year I followed with great interest, and whose rustic apricot tart was a huge hit in our household) was much closer with Helsinki, which is just 82 km across the sea to the north. The ships you can see on the photo are all commuting between Helsinki and Tallinn (there’s an overnight ferry connection to Stockholm, too). Rona Y & Tracey guessed the right answer :rolleyes:

Dave – that house isn’t a sauna, but a granary (now used to 'store' various guests) - good guess, however! Sauna was across the courtyard, and looks pretty much the same, just with a chimney :raz: The picture is taken in July on Kassari in Hiiumaa/Dagö, one of the islands on the west coast. Saunas in Estonia are as essential part of our life – and lifestyle – as they are in Finland. Throwing a sauna party would guarantee a good turnout of friends any time :)

Finally, a map of Northern Europe, so you’d know exactly where I’m located:

gallery_28661_5138_29580.jpg

Head ööd! [Good night!]

I'm off to bed now, but will be back soon. And of course, if there are any questions, however specific or general, then 'll do my best trying to answer them!

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Too cool. Can't wait to see more.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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Wow, that's an impressive skyline. Gothic spires and "onion" domes made me think of Eastern Europe but I did not guess Estonia. I am particularly interested in learning more about your country since my great grandfather came from Kihelkonna, Estonia (250 km SW of Tallinn) to Canada before WWI. I have one photo of him but know very little except his grandfather Peeter Vonalderslaven apparently has a statue in the town square.

Looking forward to the food!


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Hey, Pille! I'm really looking forward to following your foodblog.

This is known as kilukarbivaade or sprat can skyline  :biggrin:  A canned fish product, sprats (small Baltic herrings in a spicy marinade) used to have a label depicting this picturesque skyline. I looked in vain for it in the supermarket the other day, but sadly couldn’t find one - must have been replaced with a sleek & modern label. So you must trust my word on this sprat can skyline view :)

I'll take your word on it! I do hope that you'll give us a few snaps of the interior of that supermarket. I'm also hoping we'll get to see a cloudberry or two, pre-jam!


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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too, cool, pille

we have a local restaurant whose owner/chef is latvian.

any good(read exotic for most) meats? red deer/ caribou? or for johnnybird any salmon?

what do you miss most about scots food that you can't get where you are now?


Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Tere hommikust!

Thank you for all your kind welcoming words!

I thought I'll share some typical breakfasts with you over the week. I'm sure lots of Estonians have cornflakes or other cereal for breakfast, but it's not typical. We've got Kellogs K Red Berries in the house, which we sprinkle on yogurt every now and then. Having a hot cereal for breakfast (alias porridge) is much more traditional, and this morning Kristjan made a semolina porridge - mannapuder. We have it about once a week, I think. It's a real childhood porridge - my mum used to make it often. It's not as nutritious as oatmeal or mixed cereal porridges, so we try not to have it too often.

For two portions, he heated some butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, added 500 ml milk and brought it almost to the boil. Then he added 50 ml (alias 3 heaped Tbsp) of semolina (known as Cream of Wheat in the US, I believe), stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. After 10 minutes, he added an egg yolk whisked with 2 tsp of sugar and a pinch of salt. Stirred, until combined.

Here's today's breakfast table:

gallery_28661_5138_52095.jpg

There's no table in the kitchen, so this is our dining table both for weekday and festive occasions. There's a bowl of apple slices on the left - that's our snack bowl these days - we get lots of apples from my mum. Our cafetiere is a basic Bodum one, mugs are Moomin mugs - I love them both :rolleyes: The small jar of red jam is wild strawberry one, the stripy bowl of yellowish jam is an apple and flowering quince jam (NOT quince jam).

We drink Finnish Paulig President coffee as our regular coffee. It's 100% Arabica, quite light roast and acidic mixture of Kenian and Ethiopian mocca beans (no, I don't know this by heart, just read it on Paulig's website) :raz:

Behind the cafetiere are some small jars and pots we keep on the table for easy access. There's Maldon sea salt, demerara sugar, sugar crystals, pot of honey, and a tiny jar of flowering quince extract for sweetening teas (you can see it on the photo below). The brown cookie tin contains various crispbreads.

Here's a closeup of my porridge - served with a generous dollop of wild strawberry fridge jam (you can read more about the jam here):

gallery_28661_5138_120835.jpg

We left house 8.15am this morning. Kristjan drops me off at work in the mornings, and it's usually a 20-minute drive to the city centre. As as we ended up in a traffic jam, it took us 35 minutes. The route is very scenic - we drive along the coast a lot of the time, and the teaser photo of Tallinn skyline is taken on the way. We both have quite flexible schedules, so we usually leave home a bit later, around 9ish, to avoid being stuck in traffic.

Now, work. I'm a sociologist by training, specialising in multiculturalism and national identitites. Both my BA and PhD are in Sociology, with MSc is in Nationalism Studies. I work as a research fellow at Tallinn University, and my office is in on the sixth floor of this newish building from 2005 (ignore the unsightly and unofficial parking area in the foreground):

gallery_28661_5138_3673.jpg

The university is a ten-minute walk from the city centre. There are quite a few reasonably priced nice cafes in the neighbourhood, so having a decent lunch is easy. I'll try to have lunch in different place every day, so as not to bore you :cool:


Edited by Pille (log)

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Wow, Pille, so nice to see you blogging! You've already made me homesick, with your mannapuder which sounds just like what I think of as Christmas Porridge, because when I was briefly an au pair in Sweden it was what we left out for Santa, and your Moomin cups. When I went to Finland almost the first thing I did was visit the Moomintroll museum.

We've just moved to France for a while, which you can read about at French Letters where there's no bread like your sour rye, so I'll certainly be following along with you making a loaf of my own.

I'm really looking forward to your blog!

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Time for some feedback, I think :laugh:

I am particularly interested in learning more about your country since my great grandfather came from Kihelkonna, Estonia (250 km SW of Tallinn) to Canada before WWI. I have one photo of him but know very little except his grandfather Peeter Vonalderslaven apparently has a statue in the town square.

That's exciting, Peter-the-eater! Kihelkonna is on Saaremaa/Ösel, the biggest island of Estonia (you can see it on the map above). Too bad I'm not able to trace down the statue for your great-great grandfather! :sad:

I'll take your word on it! I do hope that you'll give us a few snaps of the interior of that supermarket. I'm also hoping we'll get to see a cloudberry or two, pre-jam!

Yes, there will be a cloudberry photo - though not taken this week, as the season is over - and I'll be making at least one cloudberry dessert during the week, so stay tuned! :raz:

Every Foodblog opens my eyes to a whole different world!!

I'm very excited to see your side of the world and what your life is like.  I'll be 33 in October, so we're very close in age.

Thanks for taking time to show us your side of life!

I'll do my best, Shelby!

too, cool, pille

we have a local restaurant whose owner/chef is latvian.

any good(read exotic for most) meats?  red deer/ caribou?  or for johnnybird any salmon?

what do you miss most about scots food that you can't get where you are now?

I don't know much about Latvian cuisine, though I suspect it's quite similar to ours, as the cultural influences have been more or less the same (at least re: Russian and German influences). I imagine Scandinavian/Nordic elements are more prominent in Estonian cuisine..

Re: exotic meats - that's a tricky one. I don't think pork, beef and wild boar count as exotic at all :biggrin: I could go for some bear meat at Olde Hansa medieval restaurant, but not sure I'll have time during the week :wink: I will try, however, to use some little known fish in my cooking this week.

And I'll get back to the topic on Scots food soon. Tomorrow, probably..

I'm so jazzed about this blog from Estonia and the Baltic Sea -- romantic, beautiful and so much to learn. (Don't forget the fridge and pet shots!)

Thanks :rolleyes: There will be a fridge shot, but as we've got no pets, then none of those. Unless I can snap a photo of one of those numerous cats that pass through our garden during their hunting trips - I saw 2 different cats with freshly caught mice over the weekend!?!

Wow, Pille, so nice to see you blogging!  You've already made me homesick, with your mannapuder which sounds just like what I think of as Christmas Porridge, because when I was briefly an au pair in Sweden it was what we left out for Santa, and your Moomin cups.  When I went to Finland almost the first thing I did was visit the Moomintroll museum.

We've just moved to France for a while, which you can read about at French Letters where there's no bread like your sour rye, so I'll certainly be following along with you making a loaf of my own.

Abra - I'll be checking out your French foodblog with great interest. Kristjan and I had our first proper date in France (Paris, obviously), and we're thinking of spending a week or so in Souther France later this autumn, time permitting..


Edited by Pille (log)

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Pille - I'm also really looking forward to your blog. One of the things I'd like to do in life is to travel Europe and your blog will be a nice introduction to your country. :biggrin:


Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Pille - I'm also really looking forward to your blog. One of the things I'd like to do in life is to travel Europe and your blog will be a nice introduction to your country. :biggrin:

Very excited about this blog, and learning about a country reasonably close by that I know absolutely nothing about, food-wise. And nami-nami looks great too...

Blog on!

Thank you, Domestic Goddess & Markemorse!! I'm glad to hear that you liked my non-eG foodblog :rolleyes:

gallery_28661_5138_109822.jpg

I had lunch at one of the university cafes today. The atmosphere is very nice, but the food is nothing spectacular. The choice is limited to salads, cakes, pastries, and the larger cafe also has a soup and a stew every day. I was in the smaller one, and had a salad with smoked chicken, iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, creamy dressing for lunch, accompanied with a coffee. Coffee comes with a nice chocolate truffle (I'm a real chocoholic :raz: ).

gallery_28661_5138_64693.jpg

I need to dash off now. I started a cookery diploma course last week at one of the vocational schools here in Tallinn. It'll run until mid-December, so I'm busy every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4pm until 7pm with that course. Today is our first hands-on kitchen practice class, and we'll be making soups.

There's soup for dinner tonight as well. Stay tuned!

[Edited to add photos]


Edited by Pille (log)

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What a great start! I know that I'm going really enjoy this blog.

Unfortunately, I never made it across the strait from Helsinki, but I still have hopes to get up your way.

Thanks for the kind remarks about the Apricot tart. Also, you were kind about my guesses.

Does your sauna ritual differ much from that of the Finns? Are Estonian linguistic roots similar to those in Finland? Or are they more Germanic as in the other Scandinavian countries?

Finally, are Estonians as nutty about crayfish as the Swedes & Finns?

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I've been fascinated with Estonian culture since my husband started conducting composer Veljo Tormis' Forgotten Peoples musical cycles with his (American) choir. It has been a fantasy of mine for years that we will go to Estonia and interview Tormis and have a chance to check out the local cuisine. Thanks for giving me a taste!

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Very excited about this blog, and learning about a country reasonably close by that I know absolutely nothing about, food-wise. And nami-nami looks great too...

Blog on!

What markemorse said. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this week!

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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I'm really looking forward to following this along. I would suspect that my German husband would love that bread!

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Hello Pille,

I dated a woman (American) who lived in Tallin for a few years. She said the Estonian diet is very pork heavy. Will we be seeing some interesting pork dishes this week?


Edited by mojoman (log)

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Where else but eGullet would there be so many people interested in Estonia, and its food. A month ago it was only a place across from Helsinki to me. Then we booked a boat trip on the Russian Waterways, with a couple of days in Tallin at the end. The more I read about it the more charming and interesting Tallin sounds.

I already know I want to go to Olde Hansa (maybe from your other blog?) and I always like a city with lots of cafes. When you are a packaged tour tourist you usually get one day of included touring to the highlights. Then you have either an optional (extra cost) tour , or a free day. It is tough to find the neat places with so little time to plan and to get your bearings. BUT I will know WAY MORE after this week. What great luck!

Thanks, Judy

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I'm really looking forward to this blog. The photos so far have been very scenic; I hope you'll include more location shots throughout the week.

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Back home after our first hands-on cooking class, where I made one soup and tried nine different soups! I should have thought of that when making soup for us over the weekend. Kristjan should be at home within an hour or so, and we'll have a light dinner together.

Here's the soup I made at the class:

gallery_28661_5138_64946.jpg

Vegetarian sauerkraut soup (sauerkraut, carrots, onion, pearl barley)- very homey and typically Estonian (though a pork version would be more common). The teacher approved :smile: My classmates were in charge of making 2 different solyanka soups, a lentil and bacon soup, a farmer's soup (beef, onion, potato, carrot, tomato, sweetcorn, peas, celery), minestrone, cabbage & pork soup, borsch, fish frikadelle soup. It was fun - though I didn't enjoy the fact that we had to clean the whole kitchen spotless afterwards :laugh:

Just to clarify: I don't plan a career change - I'm pretty happy with my job as a sociologist - but I did think a diploma might come handy with some of the plans I have with my Estonian language recipe collection. I've had this site (also called Nami-nami) since 2000, and it currently hosts about 8000 recipes. I'm planning a major redesign there (the design is from 2000, too :unsure: ) and hence the thrice-weekly evenings at the cookery school.. The woman who was in charge at the kitchen today has been teaching cookery for 46 years, so it's pretty old-school stuff. No nouvelle cuisine whatsoever :raz:

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Thanks for the kind remarks about the Apricot tart. Also, you were kind about my guesses.

Does your sauna ritual differ much from that of the Finns? Are Estonian linguistic roots similar to those in Finland? Or are they more Germanic as in the other Scandinavian countries?

Finally, are Estonians as nutty about crayfish as the Swedes & Finns?

Dave - well, that apricot cake was delicious, so it was easy to be kind about it!

Estonian & Finnish sauna rituals are pretty much the same. Sitting naked in a hot steamroom, beating oneself with dried & soaked birch branches, then running out of the sauna and jumping into a cold lake/soft snow, depending on the time of the year. The usual, you know :biggrin:

As far as crayfish parties are concerned, we're definitely not as nutty. I think that's unique to our Nothern neighbours.

And language. Estonian is a Finno-Ugric language, just like Finnish (and Hungarian, though more distantly). It's spoken by about 1 million people. Finnish and Estonian are very similar, though not as similar as, say, Swedish and Danish (I speak the latter and can therefore also read Swedish and Norwegian). People in the Northern Estonia usually understand Finnish easily, but then we were able to watch Finnish television even during the Soviet years. You need to have some contact with the other language and understand how to understand (does that make sense? :wacko: ) Estonian is a phonetic language, there's no future dense, no grammatic gender (there's only one word to describe she/he - tema), we don't use prepositions*, but we've got 14 cases to compensate for that (you need to use one of the 14 various options for every noun, depending on what you're saying). Estonian Institute has a good article on eesti keel. A difficult, but very melodic language with lots of vowels.

* That's the main reason behind my wrong use of prepositions. :unsure:

I've been fascinated with Estonian culture since my husband started conducting composer Veljo Tormis' Forgotten Peoples musical cycles with his (American) choir. It has been a fantasy of mine for years that we will go to Estonia and interview Tormis and have a chance to check out the local cuisine. Thanks for giving me a taste!

If you only knew how many times the people I had just met in Scotland would tell me about their love for Arvo Pärt and/or Veljo Tormis!!! I used to sing in a choir when at school & uni, and Veljo Tormis was always such fun to sing!

What markemorse said. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this week!

MelissaH

Thank you!

I'm really looking forward to following this along. I would suspect that my German husband would love that bread!

I bet he would love that rye bread, Annecros!

Hello Pille,

I dated a woman (American) who lived in Tallin for a few years.  She said the Estonian diet is very pork heavy.  Will we be seeing some interesting pork dishes this week?

Mojoman - yep, it's pretty pork heavy, apart from the coastal areas, where fish would be more common. We don't eat much meat at all in our house, but I'll make sure there's a typical pork dish featured somewhere..

Where else but eGullet would there be so many people interested in Estonia, and its food.  A month ago it was only a place across from Helsinki to me.  Then we booked a  boat trip on the Russian Waterways, with a couple of days in Tallin at the end.  The more I read about it the more charming and interesting Tallin sounds. 

I already know I want to go to Olde Hansa (maybe from your other blog?) and I always like a city with lots of cafes.  When you are a packaged tour tourist you usually get one day of included touring to the highlights.  Then you have either an optional (extra cost) tour , or a free day.  It is tough to find the neat places with so little time to plan and to get your bearings.  BUT I will know WAY MORE after this week.  What great luck!

Judy - well, I hope to give you plenty of necessary prior information. And yes - Olde Hansa is a must. It may be touristy, and it's definitely not a gourmet place, but it's such a great venue (and yes, I've mentioned it on my other blog on several occasion). I've taken all my visiting friends there, and they've all enjoyed it. Mmm. Let me know if you need a dinner partner, I might be available :raz:

I'm really looking forward to this blog. The photos so far have been very scenic; I hope you'll include more location shots throughout the week.

Jensen - thank you! I'll make sure to include more location shots. Hope you don't mind some shots from the Old Town? It's the best preserved medieval town in Northern Europe, and there's loads of picturesesque views to be taken. Incidentally, I'm meeting a friend in one of my favourite courtyard cafes in the middle of old town tomorrow afternoon :wink:

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farthest from the mark is pretty normal for me......but I liked that cyan on the building.

Will we see some dumplings? I'm not even certain of the naming for them in Estonia. This is exciting, as it's a part of the world we hear so little about.

But, whatever you cove, I know it'll look good (as good as it tastes!).

Cheers,

peter

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The soup looks wonderful. i would absolutely love that cooking class. I am looking forward to your blog this week, and learning about Estonia's culture and food.

I'm Polish and love rye bread so I'm looking forward to the recipe. I hope I can do it justice.

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farthest from the mark is pretty normal for me......but I liked that cyan on the building.

Will we see some dumplings?  I'm not even certain of the naming for them in Estonia.  This is exciting, as it's a part of the world we hear so little about.

But, whatever you cove, I know it'll look good (as good as it tastes!).

Cheers,

peter

Mmmm. Dumplings. I'm afraid that's more Eastern/Southern European thing. We've got something called pontšikud, which are deep-fried curd cheese 'dumplings', but I doubt I'll be eating them this week. I promise lots of nice looking cakes and pastries, however! :cool:

The soup looks wonderful. i would absolutely love that cooking class. I am looking forward to your blog this week, and learning about Estonia's culture and food.

I'm Polish and love rye bread so I'm looking forward to the recipe. I hope I can do it justice.

I'll blog about the rye bread in a few days. And I'm quite enjoying the cooking class, too. It's heavy stuff, however - 220 hours of various theoretical, practical and internship classes. I won't have any free and relaxing evenings in the near future!!!

Ok. Kristjan is back home, and ate his dinner alone, as I realised I was simply too stuffed after all that soup tasting at the cookery school! He ate a large plate of vegetarian borsch (remember the title of Alinka's great food blog from Moscow? :smile: ) I had made the soup last weekend, thinking that I'll be too tired to cook tonight after work. Soups like that are life saviours during busy periods, as you can make them in advance and their flavour only improves over the next few days.

You'll find a recipe for the soup here earlier today, and I also give you a picture taken during the weekend, as the light is so much better on that photo than on anything I could take at 9.30pm. Hope you don't mind :cool:

gallery_28661_5138_96747.jpg

Monovano - is this similar to Polish beet soups at all?

I did some baking tonight, however. I thought it would be nice to have something 'cakey' for breakfast tomorrow morning, so I quickly made one of my staple apple cakes. It takes 5 minutes to assemble (plus the time it takes you to core and chop the apples. I never peel the apples from my mum's garden, so it's a quick task). I got so many apples from my mum last weekend that if we'd want, we could eat only apples for the week and still get all the necessary calories!!!

Again, I've posted a recipe for this easy and delicious (and typically Estonian) cake on here on my non-eG blog, so I won't reprint it here. I actually made this cake last week, too, to take along to my grandma's 86th birthday party. She loved it :rolleyes:

gallery_28661_5138_78952.jpg

It's easy: mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt (top left corner). Melt the butter, whisk in kefir and eggs, mix with dry ingredients. Fold in the apples, pour into a tin, sprinkle with pearl sugar, bake and cut into chunks. I just had two squares with a cup of herbal infusion, Kristjan had four.. We're not very good in exercising self-restraint :biggrin: Luckily, there's still some left for breakfast..


Edited by Pille (log)

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    • By chefmd
      My son married a lovely young lady from Yakeshi, Inner Mongolia, China.   Mongolian: ᠶᠠᠠᠠᠰᠢ ᠬᠣᠲᠠ (Ягши хот); Chinese: 牙克石; pinyin: Yákèshí
       
      We had a wedding in the US but her family also wanted to have a traditional wedding in China.  DH and I have never being to China so this was an exciting opportunity for us!  We spent a few days in Beijing doing touristy stuff and then flew to Hailar.  There is only one flight a day on Air China that we took at 6 in the morning.  Yakeshi is about an hour drive from Hailar on a beautiful toll road with no cars on it.  I wish we took pictures of free roaming sheep and cows along the way.  The original free range meat.
       
      The family met us at the airport.  We were greeted with a shot of a traditional Chinese spirit from a traditional leather vessel.  Nothing says welcome like a stiff drink at 9 AM.  We were supposed to have a three shots (may be they were joking) but family took pity on us and limited it to one only.
       

       
    • By Panaderia Canadiense
      Wow, this is my third foodblog for the eGullet….  Welcome!   I'll be with you from Palm Sunday through Holy Sunday to give you all a taste of the veritable food festival that is Easter in Ecuador.  As usual, I intend to eat on the streets, visit a plethora of small shops and vendors, and talk about (and eat copious amounts of ) the specialty dishes of the holiday.
       
      A bit of background on me and where I am.  I'm Elizabeth; I'm 33 years old and since the last foodblog I've ceased to be a Canadian expat in Ecuador, and become a full-fledged Ecuadorian citizen.  I run a catering bakery out of Ambato, and I deliver to clients on the entire mainland.  I've got a large customer base in nearby Baños de Agua Santa, a hot-springs town about an hour downslope of me to the east; I'll be visiting it on Wednesday with close to 100 kg of baked goods for delivery.  Ambato, the capital of Tungurahua province, is located almost exactly in the geographic centre of Ecuador.  It's at an average elevation of 2,850 meters above sea level (slightly higher than Quito, the capital) - but this is measured in the downtown central park, which is significantly lower than most of the rest of the city, which extends up the sides of the river valley and onto the high plain above.  We've got what amounts to eternal late springtime weather, with two well-marked rainy seasons.  Ambato has about 300,000 people in its metro area; it's the fourth largest city in the country.  But maybe the most important thing about Ambato, especially to foodies, is that it's a transport hub for the country.  Anything travelling just about anywhere has to pass through Ambato on the way; it gives us the largest, best-stocked food market in South America.  I have simply staggering variety at my fingertips.
       

       
      This view, which was a teaser for the blog, was taken from my rooftop terrazzo.  It is a fraction of the panorama of the river valley that I see every morning, and since Easter is traditionally somewhat miserable weather-wise, the clouds stick to the hilltops.  The barrio you can see in the middle distance is Ficoa, one of the most luxury districts in the city.  Ambato is notable amongst Ecuadorian cities for having small fruit farms (300-500 m2) still operating within city limits and even within its most established barrios - it's from this that the Ambato gets one of its two sobriquets: The City of Fruits and Flowers.  The tendency for even the poorest barrios to take tremendous pride in their greenspaces gives the other: The Garden City.  My barrio, Miraflores Alto, is a working-class mixture of professors and labourers, and my neighbours keep a mixture of chickens, turkeys, and ducks in their yards; someone down the hill has a cow that I frequently hear but have never seen.  Consequently, if the season is right I can buy duck eggs from my neighbours (and if the season is wrong, entire Muscovy ducks for roasting.)
       

       
      Today, I'll be doing my largest fresh-food shopping at the Mercado Mayorista, the largest market of its kind in South America - this place covers nearly 30 square blocks, and it exists to both buy and sell produce from across the country.  Sundays and Mondays it also opens up to a huge, raucous farmer's market where smaller quantities are available for purchase.  Sunday is the day of the freshest food and the largest number of vendors.  And I'm going to cross more than half the city to get there - I've moved since the last blog, and my new house, on the slopes of the river valley is further away than the old one on the high plain.  I promise to take many pictures of this - particularly close to the High Holy days, the Mayorista is alive with vendors and there will be special sections cordoned off for sales of bacalao, truly enormous squashes, and if it follows the previous years' trends, a festival of Hornado (about which more later).  Apart from mangoes, which are just finishing up their season, it is harvest time across the country, and the Mayorista will be well stocked with all manner of fruits and vegetables.
       

       
      To start us off, I'll demystify one of my teasers a bit.
       

       
      The Minion head that peeks out of my cupboard every day belongs to my jar of ChocoListo, the Ecuadorian equivalent of chocolate Ovaltine.  Since I gave up coffee for Lent, it's my go-to morning beverage.  ChocoListo normally comes in the plain white jar with orange lid that you see in front of the Minion; that's now my hot chocolate jar because I just couldn't resist when the company came out with the specialty jars.  I firmly believe that one is never too old to have whimsical things!
       

    • By therese
      Good morning, y’all, and welcome to the party chez Therese.
      As per the teaser, this week’s foodblog does indeed come to you from Atlanta, where I live with my two children (hereafter known as Girl and Boy) and husband (hereafter known as The Man). Girl is 11, Boy is 14, and The Man is old enough to know better.
      Atlanta’s huge: the total metro population is about 4 million, and there are no physical boundaries to growth like rivers or mountain ranges, so people just keep moving (and commuting) farther and farther out of town. Atlantans can be divided into ITP (inside the perimeter) and OTP (outside the perimeter), the perimeter referring to the interstate freeway that encircles the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods, separating it from outlying suburbs. The politically minded may note that these areas could be designated red and blue. I’ll let you figure out which is which.
      We’re about as ITP as it gets, with home, work, school, and restaurants all in walking distance. The neighborhood’s called Druid Hills, the setting for the play/movie “Driving Miss Daisy”. The houses date from the 1920s, and because Atlanta has so little in the way of “old” buildings the neighborhood’s on the National Register as a Historic District. Charming, sure, buts lots of the houses need some updating, and ours (purchased in 1996) was no exception. So we remodeled last year, including an addition with a new kitchen, and this week’s blog will look at the finished product.
      So, some encouragement for those of you presently involved in kitchen renovation, some ideas for those who are considering it.
      But never mind all that for the moment: What’s for breakfast?


      Dutch babies, that’s what. And even better, these Dutch babies are produced by my children, the aforementioned Girl and Boy. The first picture is right from the oven, the second is after the somewhat messy job of sifting powdered sugar on top. They are delicious (the Dutch babies, I mean, not the children) and a great weekend treat.

      The Man drinks coffee in the morning whereas I prefer tea. He's not up yet, having played poker last night. I'm hoping he makes it out of bed in time for dinner.

      I also eat fruit whereas he prefers, well, anything but fruit. This is not such a bad thing, as it means that I don’t have to share the fruit. Pomegranates are a pain to eat, but not so bad if you’re reading the newspaper at the same time. This one’s from California, but you can also grow them here if you’ve got enough sunshine (which I don’t).
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