Thursday, December 30, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pièce de résistance

This is can only be appreciated by video:

video

Christmas lights

Christmas lights are not completely foreign to Lepplax, but the craziness that comes out in the U.S. at Christmas is unheard of there. Throughout the past weeks, we've enjoyed looking at the lights around Butler. Some of them are very pretty like this one:


But they get progressively cooky (note that there are some very beautiful homes in Butler):

Then there are those like this one...

...which can only be appreciated from afar:

Then there are those that cross the line of cooky to crazy:

Christmas Eve service



Julbord - Christmas table

Much planning went into the Julbord as we were trying to set some traditions down this first year. Kristina's mother, Sara, usually makes a huge sirloin roast and a mustard glazed ham for Christmas, and you all can imagine what happens at Tanglewood Dr. Since there were only two of us, some compromises had to be made. The meat we decided to use was a hickory smoked ham (Weslie's choice) with a homemade Christmas mustard by Kristina. It was really a great combination, though the ham needed to be smoked in the Pennsylvania winter:


Final result:


The final Julbord consisted of smoked ham, Christmas mustard, gravlax with lime-cream sauce, fresh limpa, saussicon sec, Sylvia's potato salad, pickles, cheeses, salad, and carrot casserole (morotslåda) and rutabaga casserole (kålrotslåda). To drink we had Coke, since IKEA was sold-out of julmust (although we did get one in November!):

Also, a special thanks to the Ventins for the Tro, Hopp, Kärlek candle holder. We have really enjoyed it!

Christmas gifts

Finally, the wait was over for both of us. Kristina had a not-so-mysterious bag of candy from Finland waiting for her for nearly a month. She also received several neat books for sewing and cooking and a very pretty framed collection of pictures of her hometown taken by mom-in-law while she was over there. Here was the reaction:


Here is the stash:


Weslie got several books, a collection of Moomin things from Finland, and a great pocket knife:

Smaug:

Christmas Eve breakfast

The Christmas Eve service at Faith didn't start until 7pm, so we decided to have a bigger breakfast, no lunch, and then our Julbord before the service. Weslie (me!) made french toast, bacon and eggs.



Kristina was then introduced to the American (and English?) tradition of stockings. For this, Jul tomten had to use the Alabama stockings sent by aunt Jan, as the other ones were hanging in the bedroom:


Kristina got clementines, real Finnish licorice, good Oltermanni cheese, and a bag of mixed nuts:


Weslie got peanut brittle, Nuttella, and a bit of Red Liechester cheese (just like we had in England):

Gravlax

One of the items we wanted to make for our Julbord (Christmas Table) was gravlax, a salt-cured salmon. The cure I used was modified from a recipe online and included orange zest, fresh and dried dill, and gin. It was quite tasty. We're planning on sending our snow-bound cousin some next time since we know how much she likes it:



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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saucisson sec is finished!

Today we took the Saucisson sec down. This was the sausage I first tasted in France all those years ago, and the one that really inspired me to try and make a little sausage. This was our first time making a dry-cured sausage. As you can see, it dried alright! I think that I didn't stuff the casings full enough, which resulted in a slightly "flat" dry. Next time, I'll be sure an stuff it to the gills.


It really looks great!


And, it tasted delicious! This will be a staple in our house.





Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas tree

On Monday we braved the fury of the elements (15 degrees, gusting winds with a wind chill of 5, and snow) and went to get our Christmas tree from a farm nearby. We found a beautiful Frasier fir, which Weslie quickly conquered...
Showing his great strength, he then carried the tree from the woods...
The tree was then bound, so it was easy to take home.
Decorating...
We are pretty happy with the outcome:

Tack Ivar...

...för den fina julkrubban och lyktan du gav oss förra julen! De passar så bra på vårt bord, och vi tänker på dig - och saknar dig - när vi ser dem. Puss och kram!

Tro, hopp och kärlek

Vi ville gärna köpa tro, hopp och kärlek innan vi åkte från Finland, men tyckte de var för dyra. Så min kära man sa - som vanligt med gott självförtroende - jag kan göra sådana till jul, det ser ganska lätt ut! Jaha, sa jag. Tror du mig inte, sa han. Visst, sa jag, men tänkte i mitt stilla sinne, vi får se. Han är ju en sådan optimist, och saker och ting brukar ta ganska mycket längre tid än han förutspår... Men här är nu beviset på att han kan! Det var mycket jobb, men fina blev de. (Förlåt att jag tvivlade...)

The symbols of my hometown are faith, hope and charity. Every Christmas they hang enormous street lights on the main street, see http://www.jakobstad.fi/index_en.html, but there are also mini versions of these lights (http://kimtuote.fi/producten.html) which almost every household in the area has. We wanted to buy some, but they are really expensive, so Weslie promised to make some. Here are pictures of the process.

Redo för den stora uppgiften:

Först gjorde han modeller på datorn, skrev ut dem, och limmade dem på en tunn finsk (!) björkskiva.

Sedan skar han ut ramarna.

En klar - fem kvar.

Efter mycket skärande och limmande är äntligen stommarna klara.

Silkespappret limmas på.

Nu är det bara att hänga upp dem.

Så här fina blev de! Man skulle inte tro att de är hemgjorda. Bra jobbat, älskling!

Karelsk pirog

När man inte kan köpa karelsk pirog så måste man laga egna. De var lätta att laga och smakade ganska bra.

This is a Finnish delicacy, Karelian pasty. It's a rye crust filled with rice pudding and eaten with eggs mixed with butter. Sooo good! For a recipe see here: http://tinyurl.com/25nll3s

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tribute to our brave Finnish soldiers

Remembering our veterans, among them my grandfather (faffa), who fought so hard for our freedom.

Finlands självständighetsdag

Dagen till ära, Finlands 93:e födelsedag, har vi ett blått och ett vit ljus brinnande i vårt fönster.

Today is Finland's independence day. Thanks be to God for 93 years of freedom. Here is our simple celebration - a blue and a white candle, a common way of celebrating in Finland (although the candles should look like this: http://bit.ly/hcoC31)



Thursday, December 2, 2010

Winter

So, the winter has arrived in Butler. It has been snowing for two days now, and it's supposed to continue for another week.

Vintern har kommit till Butler. Det har snöat de två senaste dagarna, och de har lovat mera snö den här veckan och nästa. Det är så där lagom kallt, mellan 0 och-5 grader. Få se om vi får en vit jul här också...



ROLL TIDE!! Alabama football warms hearts (and bodies) even in Pennsylvania...

Jultårtor

Jag hittade smördeg och plommonsylt, så jag var tvungen att prova laga jultårtor. Inte riktigt som hemma, men ändå fantastiskt gott. Nästa gång ska jag laga plommonsylt av torkade plommon.

This is a Finnish Christmas dessert, called Christmas tart or star. It is made of pastry dough and plum jam with powdered sugar sprinkled on. Very easy and very, very good! Here is a recipe if you would like to try it: http://aweebitofcooking.co.uk/2007/12/02/joulutorttu-finnish-christmas-tarts/

Första advent

Adventstid och nytt kyrkoår har kommit också till Butler. Vi gläder oss åt att få tända adventsljus i den här vackra ljusstaken (tack Kika o Martin!). Det är bråda tider för Weslie med gudstjänst på onsdagskväll och söndagmorgon, samt bibelstudie på söndag, men han jobbar ganska mycket hemifrån, så jag får ändå se honom.

Gäster

Förra fredagen hade för första gången gäster i vårt "nya" hem; Chris Barnekov från Ft Wayne, Hans & Sylvia Andrae och Eric & Paula Andrae med dotter från Pittsburgh. Vi bjöd på pot roast (grytstek), potatis och hembakt limpa, med glögg och pepparkakor till efterrätt - en blandning av amerikanska södern och Norden :). Det var en jättetrevlig kväll.

Thanksgiving

Sista torsdagen i november är en stor högtid i USA, thanksgiving. Vi var bjudna på middag hos ett par församlingsbor, och hade en trevlig dag med god mat och gott sällskap.

My second thanksgiving in the US. A couple from the church invited us to their house for dinner. We had a very nice day with good food and great company.