Wait…she’s cooking?

Moving to a new place, with new experiences, new expectations and new roles…well, one would anticipate there would be changes to the way one views their place in their new life. Such is what I am encountering now. It’s not been a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s actually been a very positive experience thus far.

Right now, I can’t work. Not that I don’t the ability, but I don’t have the legal right to work. So I am now ‘temporarily retired’. While being retired is usually something one looks forward to, I can see why it can be a difficult adjustment. Add to this ‘abundance of time’ on my hands to also being in a strange place, well, you can probably see why I am branching out to try new things.

Like cooking.

Let’s face it. I’m not a cook. My kids will tell you that I rarely cooked a square meal in their life. They didn’t starve, but mealtime was not a ritual in our household. For me, it was something to be dreaded, as my skill never seemed to be up to par, and with the exception of one child, my girls were pretty picky eaters. So it was easier to go the hot dogs and mac/cheese route. And we’re talking the boxed, neon yellow stuff, too. It’s good, but that’s about as complex as my ‘cooking’ got. When they got older, they pretty much fended for themselves (which was fine by all parties involved, given schedules, likes, dislikes, etc).

My mom, on the other hand, is an excellent cook. I have memories of some rather great meals when I was younger, though I have to admit that most of them included the words fried, potatoes, gravy, breading, etc., and rarely a vegetable. But they were very good tasting. Still, my mother says that she enjoys cooking, and always has. Over the last decade or so, especially on her own now, she has branched out into some pretty esoteric stuff (like making her own mascarpone cheese, making her own yogurt, making pasta from scratch, etc). And she is really good at it, too! She even runs a cooking forum on DephiForums called CooksTalk that has a whole passel of people who love to cook, and many who cook for a living. They are artists with food!

My mom and I took a cooking course in Florence, Italy while on my honeymoon (yes, my mom came on my honeymoon with us. Another story for another time! 🙂 ) We enjoyed the heck out of it, and I actually made pasta from scratch. By hand. And it was edible! And easy! No intimidating machinery, no hard to find ingredients. I started to feel this sort of ‘Hmm, I could maybe enjoy this’ kind of feeling. I returned home, but was busy packing for my cross-world trek that there wasn’t time to explore this new thing.

Mom and I at the cooking class in Florence

Mom and I at the cooking class in Florence

Tiramisu--I made it myself!

Tiramisu–I made it myself!

Now, I’m here in Finland, and I have many a daytime to myself. A few days ago, I wanted to make that shepherd’s pie, but couldn’t find pre-made pie crust. So I…made it. I had leftover dough, which stayed in the fridge until today, when I decided to just wing it, and made these magnificent little…pies. I guess that’s what you’d call them. I used glass votive candle holders that I got from IKEA the other day, to put the crust in. I made four strawberry and three lingonberry. Below are some pictures of the process.

Preparing for the oven

Preparing for the oven

In the oven!

In the oven!

Final product, served with vanilla ice cream

Final product, served with vanilla ice cream

I learned a few things from this little experiment that I will do differently next time, but nothing too earth-shattering to call a ‘mistake to be corrected’. I enjoyed the process of asking myself, ‘I wonder if this will this work?’, then trying it, and finding out that it does. I’ve made dinner nearly every night that I’ve been here, be it something simple (steak and fries), or more elaborate (the aforementioned shepherd’s pie). The point is, cooking has always been something I’ve never really enjoyed. Something I considered a chore, a drudgery to get over and done. I’m actually enjoying it now, and feeling like I would like to do more.

I want to take a pause here, to apologize to my kids for not cooking more when they were younger. It seemed like such a pain, and I just didn’t enjoy it. Maybe now that I’m older and have less demands on me, I can focus on it more. At least you weren’t poisoned by my cooking when you were little! I know that all three of you already cook more than I ever did, and I’m so proud of you for the things you create. Each one of you has surprised me with a wonderful dish at one time or another.

To follow through on this new hobby, I’ve looked through the Familia Club pamphlet for the end of the year, and there are a couple of cooking events going on in November. I’m going to sign up for them and go explore. Sure, Finland is not known for their cuisine, but what the heck, cooking is cooking, right? As long as it isn’t pickled herring or something vegetable-centric, then I’ll be fine. 🙂 And as a plug for the Familia Club, for a mere 20€ annual cost, they have a lot of really neat free (and nearly free) classes, excursions and events that they offer. You can check them out at http://www.familiaclub.fi (something I recommend!).

In the meantime, I’ll bore you with my cooking exploits until someone says, ‘Enough already! So you can cook! Tell us about something more interesting!’, in which case, hopefully I will have something more interesting to talk about. 🙂

In other, brief news, it was COLD this morning.


I was a bit a’feared of going out today, but I really didn’t need to be. In spite of the temperature, it was actually rather nice, if one was dressed appropriately. I actually wore a sweatshirt out to the store later, as my heavy coat had been almost uncomfortably warm. I think it helped that it was dry and calm today. When it’s raining and windy, I’m sure I’ll sing another tune.

I did forget my phone when I went out, so you don’t get any pictures of the landscapes today. Maybe tomorrow!

Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow!