Nettle Pesto ‒ Nokkoslevite

They say young nettles won't sting. "They" couldn't be more wrong. It's starting to be the best time to pick those delicious and nutritious shoots and leaves but don't do it like I do. Wear gloves. Can't believe I forget it each and every year.

Another thing you might want to learn from my mistakes is to check what you're foraging exactly. Once again I fished out some grass, a few brown leaves and two dead larvae (that probably weren't dead to begin with) from my nettle pot. Nettles can be eaten raw as well but you do understand why I prefer to leach them.

- 2 dl young stinging nettle leaves
- 1 dl pine nuts (or sunflower seeds)
- 0.5 dl rape oil
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 garlic cloves
- fresh coriander (or herb of your choice)
- black pepper

See that all your nettle leaves look healthy and free from insects. Leach them for ten minutes or so. Puré with all the other ingredients. Use as a pasta sauce or spread on your bread.

Nutritional values / 205 g:
energy 852 kcal
fat 87 g
protein 18 g
carbohydrates 13 g
fiber 8 g


Rye Waffles ‒ Ruisvohlut

It's hard to stay still. There are loads of stuff I should be doing but all I'd like to is wondering in the forest and traveling around like a tramp. It's bright and warm again, little green leaves have come out from all those brown piles, birds are trying to sing each other into swamp like Väinämöinen and Joukahainen. Nowadays I just can't wait getting to pick the first wild salad or harvest the little herbs on my window sill. The crispy waffles I made today were already accompanied by freshly picked dandelion, wood sorrel, lady's mantle and woodland strawberry leaves.

Root vegetables are nowadays an essential part of Finnish cuisine. That's why it's hard to believe that only a few hundred years ago Finns thought gardening as something that only Swedish-speaking upper class would do. Carrots and beets didn't become popular until 20th century. Previously common folk either ate very simply (and barren of nutrition) or gathered anything edible they found from the nature. Furthermore, after the second world war no one wanted to eat the same stuff they had learned to be just a substitute, used because of the shortage. You still can't find such wildly used ingredients like chicory or pine flour from stores today.

However, there are some week signs that foraging and growing things yourself are gaining more popularity again. Perhaps they will become trendy and then common in all classes? I sure hope so. One of the things I hope to see is my generation learning to appreciate their land and nature. After all, they have so much better chances for it than their parents did. I myself hope to play a squirrel this year and learn more about preservation for winter.

- 3 dl oat milk (or apple juice)
- 3 dl sparkling water (or tab water)
- 2 dl rye flour
- 1.5 dl dark wheat flour
- 2 dl rye flakes (or rolled oats)
- 3 tablespoons rape oil
- 1 tablespoon potato flour
- 1 tablepoon dark syrup (or maple syrup)
- 1 teaspoon apple wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- salt

Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the liquid ones as well. Let the batter rest for at least half an hour. Bake a scoopful at a time according to the instructions of your waffle iron. I got six thick waffles out of this amount.

Rye waffles can be accompanied by many kinds of toppings both sweet and savory. This time I had them as the main dish with salad, well-spiced soy strips and garlicky yogurt sauce but for dessert I'd go with strawberry jam and oat cream, together with a cup of coffee. Some of the toppings you can use as a filling before closing the iron. And of course, they make a perfect picnic food when cold.

If you don't have a waffle iron just use more liquid and make pancakes or ropsu instead. When making ropsu you can also disregard the oil if you wish. With waffles you need to grease the iron between every waffle if there's no oil in the batter itself.

Nutritional values / 1 waffle (165 g):
energy 266 kcal
fat 8 g
protein 6 g
carbohydrates 41 g
fiber 6 g


Tempeh Bites with Herbs ‒ Yrttiset tempehpalat

Highly glutamic tastes tend to divide opinions. Even people who do love them have usually needed to get themselves accustomed to them. I didn't. As a kid I used to eat a mixture of MSG and salt straight from a spice jar. The first time I took a bite of this thing called tempeh ‒ which I had heard so many people find disgusting ‒ I instantly fell in love. This moldy chunk of soy beans is rather expensive in Finland and only found in special stores so we eat it rarely, usually just sliced and fried without any extra spices. This time I thought I'd see some extra trouble to see if it can be made even better. At least these finger-size taste consortiums should crown any fine dinner.

- 300 g tempeh
- chili powder
- onion powder
- smoked paprika
- salt
- 1 tablespoon rape oil

- 100 g fresh cheese type of soy spread (or cashew cream or hefu)
- 1 punch of fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon apple wine (or birch bud schnapps)
- birch buds (or rosemary)
- dragon's wort

Chop the parsley. Mix it and the other herbs with the spread and the wine. Refrigerate for couple of hours, allowing the mixture to juice up.

Cut the tempeh into thin slices. Fry from both sides with the oil and the spices. Spread a thick layer of the filling on them and pile up so they resemble small sandwiches. Enjoy with some milder sidekicks, for example barley and veggies.

Nutritional values / 504 g:
energy 1045 kcal
fat 75 g
protein 65 g
carbohydrates 45 g
fiber 1 g


White Sauce ‒ Valkokastike

When writing about the brown sauce I promised to tell you later about the other mother sauce my mum makes, the white sauce. Just like the brown one, this is really simple but can be used as a base for many other sauces. While I tend to associate the brown sauce with winter, the white one is much more summery. It crowns many of those seasonal delights of springtime: new potatoes, asparagus, fireweed and dandelion leaves or artichoke but can also be used for seitan steaks or in lasagna. French cuisine calls it béchamel.

- 3 tablespoons wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons margarine (of good quality!)
- 5 dl soy milk (I find this works better than oat milk but that's naturally only a matter of taste)
- white pepper
- herb salt

Melt the margarine in a sauce pot. Sift in the flour, stirring all the time so it won't get clumpy. Add the milk as a thin strip, stirring all the time. Spice up. The sauce is ready after it has thickened up.

For asparagus and dandelion I like to add some mayonnaise and a teaspoon of vinegar. Dill, garlic and blue-type soy cheese also fit here just perfectly.

Nutritional values / 5 dl:
energy 469 kcal
fat 32 g
protein 24 g
carbohydrates 25 g
fiber 1 g


Birch Bud Schnapps ‒ Silmuviina

Although this is already starting to resemble more of a drink blog than a food blog...

Along with most plant roots, one of the first things you can forage after the spring has arrived are birch buds. They are a refreshing spice to many salads, sandwiches and drinks. The only problem is that there's only a few days time to gather them ‒ when they're still young and tender, just barely opened up, feeling a bit sticky from sap. The easiest way to preserve the characteristic taste is making a tincture. Save it for winter and you will literally taste spring.

- 1 dl birch buds
- 3 dl good quality vodka
(- 1 teaspoon sugar)

Put the buds into a glass jar and pour the vodka on them. Seal the jar. Let the mixture stand for 2-3 weeks in room temperature, shaking occasionally. Remove the buds or keep them as a garnish.

Enjoy chilled as an aperitif or use in cooking.

The same thing can be done with most herbs. Just remember that some of them (like dill) quickly develop a bitter taste so you should taste the stuff every now and then to decide when it's best to your liking.


May Day Sima ‒ Vappusima

The must have drink for May Day or Vappu is low-alcohol mead known as sima in Finland. Last year I made some rhubarb sima for the occasion, this year I was planning to have dandelion mead but the preceding week turned out so busy I didn't have the time for picking flowers. So instead, I brewed a portion of the basic type so strongly associated with Vappu.

I asked my spouse to bring me couple of lemons for this but I should've been more precise: he bought a whole kilogram. So I decided to double the lemon amount from what it said on the sugar package. (Also, we've been having a lot of noodle soups imitating Thai cuisine lately...) Because of that and the fact I only used fariini sugar my version tastes a bit stronger than most simas. If you'd rather have it light you can replace half of the fariini with white sugar and use only 1-2 lemons.

- 4 l water
- 4 lemons
- 1 pea-size piece of fresh yeast
- 2 dl raisins
- 500 g fariini sugar (A byproduct of sugar making, highly aromatic and moist, not as sweet as pure sugar. I haven't found any English name for the stuff. However, I've been told dark muscovado and molasses share a similar taste but I can't guarantee this is the right amount for them.)

Wash, then slice (or smooth down) the lemons. Bring half of the water to a boil. Pour into a a fermentation vessel. Dissolve the sugar in it (save about two tablespoonfuls), then throw in the lemon slices and the rest of the water as well. When the water has cooled down to the room temperature you can add the yeast. Seal the lid air tight but don't forget the fermentation lock.

Next day, wash and sterilize (for example with boiling water) some empty glass bottles. Portion the remaining sugar and the raisins into the bottles. Remove the lemons and bottle the mead. Seal the bottles. The sima is ready to drink when the raisins have started floating. (This normally takes 2-3 days.)

Enjoy chilled with donuts or wieners while listening to left-wing political speeches and wearing a silly hat.

Nutritional values / 4 l:
energy 2240 kcal
fat 4 g
protein 5 g
carbohydrates 529 g
fiber 14 g



Tippaleipäs saw the day of light during the 18th century in the homes of the nobility but ironically enough they're nowadays almost entirely associated with Labour Day, along with potato salad, donuts, wieners and mead. The basic idea is pretty much the same as in strauben from Austria or funnel cake from Dutch area of the U.S. You drizzle batter into hot oil and get little cakes that demonstrate how human brains work. Somehow tippaleipäs manage to be crunchy and soft at the same time. Some find their outlooks rather dubious but I think they're fun to look and eat, tube by tube.

So yes, they seemed like enough reason to boil a litre of oil for the first time in my life. To my surprise that turned out quite easy. Didn't get even first degree burns though I happen to be rather prone to accidents.

The batter:
- 5 dl dark wheat flour
- 4 dl soy milk
- 3 dl water
- 0.5 dl dark syrup
- 0.5 dl flax seed
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 0.5 lemon peel (plus a drop of the juice)
- salt

Other stuff:
- 1 l rape oil
- piping equipment (I used a washed ketchup bottle)
- round metal mould (I used washed fruit cans)
- tongs for the mould
- a slotted spoon for the tippaleipäs
- newspapers

Soak the flax seeds in the water for about an hour to achieve slime. (Filter out the seeds if you don't want them in the final pastries.) Whisk the slime together with the other batter ingredients. See that your batter is very even and clumpless. Fill the ketchup bottle.

Heat up the oil. Place the mould into the hot oil. Squeeze a free-form batter web into the mould. (If you have more patience than me you can add more layers after the previous layer has started floating, achieving a tall type of tippaleipä they sell in markets. If you add batter too soon it will loose its shape. I find it easier to just pile them up.) Let it fry for a moment, detach from the mould and flip it over. When the tippaleipä looks golden and delicious, fish it out with the slotted spoon and drain over newspapers. Repeat as long as you have batter.

If you wish decorate with powdered sugar. Serve with mead.

Nutritional values / 1285 g:
energy 3160 kcal
fat 206 g
protein 50 g
carbohydrates 277 g
fiber 29 g
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