Thursday, 16 March 2017

Manchester's Finnish Festival of Orienteering

The Honorary Consul of Finland in co operation with Manchester and District Orienteering are putting on a themed weekend of Orienteering activities in order to celebrate and make the UK Orienteering Community aware of the 100 years of Finnish Independence.

The weekend (Friday 13th to Sunday 15th October 2017) will show how traditional Finnish forest orienteering as enjoyed in Finland and the UK has developed. The themed weekend is being promoted to the whole UK Orienteering Community as a Festival of Orienteering celebrating Finland's 100 years of Independence.

Notably, for the urban event we will have local Finns at strategic points around the town to inform the general public what the event is about and to promote Finland at the same time and hopefully wearing Suomi 100 T-shirts. The Local Council in Stockport representing over 250,000 residents are keen to help promote Finland's 100 year celebration as part of the urban event being held in the Town Centre.

The weekend will be promoted to the Orienteering Community in Finland who can travel directly to Manchester by Finnair and enjoy a festival of different orienteering disciplines that have developed in the UK in a compact weekend of activities. A hotel package will be available for Finns travelling to Manchester.

There will be a Street orienteering event utilising the local Tram (Metro) network, and a more Traditional event over open moorland in the grounds of a Stately Home.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

What bear?

Victor has been coming to the suomikoulu for a long time, and has had time to explore many of the more interesting nooks and crannies across Finland. He's become an expert on Finland's railways, and uses them to get about. 

Towards the end of summer last year, he could be found up near Kuusamo, visiting a wildlife refuge while staying with friends.

Their guide was an affable old gentleman, who set up the encounter we see here. One hopes it's just a trick of camera perspective that makes Victor's new acquaintance seem so close! (click on either of the pictures for a larger view)

Victor was very struck by their guide's relationship with the bear. He made sure that there was always a good distance between the group and the animal. But isn't it funny how sometimes a wire fence can seem a bit inadequate? However, he was quite happy to wander into the bear's enclosure himself - obviously the bear knew him and they were perfectly familiar.

All interesting wildlife stories are welcome for telling here! Any others?

Monday, 20 February 2017

Manchester Consular Association Gala Dinner 17/11/17

From Chris Rostron:

Manchester Consular Association's (MCA) Annual Dinner will be a celebration of Finland's 100 years and will be looking to the future on Friday 17th November 2017.

The event will promote Finland to the countries represented by the MCA's Consul Generals, Honorary Consuls representing over 30 countries,  also local dignitaries: such as the Lord Lieutenant, who represents the Queen; the High Sherriff, who represents the British Judiciary; the Lord Mayors and Mayors representing the Local councils in the Manchester Area.

The Ambassador of Finland in the UK is the Guest of Honour and the Honorary Consul of Finland will be the President of the Manchester Consular Association. Their speeches will help raise the profile of Finland by showing how Finnish products are part of everyone's daily life, and promote Finland, its achievements and future direction at the event.

Secondly, the event will provide a Gala occasion for the Finns in Manchester and the surrounding regions to celebrate the occasion of Finland's 100 years of Independence.

The venue is the iconic Monastery in Manchester which has been magnificently restored to its former glory and is a fitting venue for this prestigious event in Manchester.

It is intended that Finnish organisations e.g. Finnair who fly twice daily direct to Finland, will be attending to help promote their images. The world famous Chetham's School of Music are being invited to provide musical entertainment for the guests.

The cost will be approx. £60 per person.
Contact Chris Rostron Honorary Consul of Finland for more information and bookings.
chris.rostron@ntlworld.com

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Laskiaispullat

And no sooner is one seasonal cake baked and eaten, than we have another!
This week, the suomikoulu organised a competition to see who could bake the best laskiaispulla, and these were the entries. Heidi won, quite rightly - anteeksi, I can't remember which one of these was hers, but I suspect it was A - but Kari and Ria-Noora came close with some tasty looking bakes.

Heidi told us about a dispute, which goes way back, as to the proper filling for the laskiaispulla, almond paste or raspberry jam, and we also held a poll to find out what people thought (result not yet in, but it looked as if raspberry jam was shading it).

I had a go, and it was time consuming - grinding the cardamom, and of course kneading the dough and performing all those unholy rituals trying to persuade it to rise - but fun. I'll definitely do this again - after seeing the other entries I know what I'm aiming for!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Runebergintortut

Hyvää uutta vuotta!
And with no pause for breath, let me show off this baking effort - it's my first ever attempt at Runeberg cakes ie. Runebergintortut :)

They'll be available everywhere in Finland at the moment (properly baked ones, that is!). They're traditionally baked to celebrate Runeberginpäivä, the 5th February. J.L. Runeberg is regarded as Finland's national poet - he wrote the original Swedish words for Finland's national anthem - and is an excellent excuse for these tasty treats. I've become quite an addict, since I've often been in Finland at this time, and I've sampled the gamut from posh ones at Stockmann in Helsinki, to vegan/organic ones at an 'alternative' cafe in Joensuu. Which were actually very nice, but then home baked is always best, isn't it?

So I thought, what about baking some myself? And why don't you have a go as well, if you never have? I found I already had several recipes in various books. They do vary, so here are three different sets of ingredients - with one offering a bit of a Finnish lesson for you.

A
200g margarine or butter, 2dl sugar, 2 eggs, 2dl wheat flour, 1tsp baking powder, 1tsp ground cardamom, 
2dl sweet breadcrumbs (eg. crumbled biscuits), 2dl ground almonds (~80g), 1dl single cream, raspberry jam
To moisten: 2dl water, 1dl sugar, 2-3 tbsp arrack liquer or rum
Topping: raspberry jam or marmalade
Icing: 1dl icing sugar, 2tsp water or lemon juice

B
200g unsalted butter, 150g sugar, 2 eggs, 175g plain flour, 1tsp baking powder, 
125g fresh breadcrumbs, 90g ground almonds, 150g raspberry jam
75ml/5tbsp almond liquer eg. Amaretto di Sarone

C
150g rasvaa, 1½dl sokeria, 2 munaa, 1½dl vehnäjauhoja, 1tl leivinjauhetta, 
1½dl korppujauhetta (osa piparkakuista), 1dl (noin 50g) mantelirouhetta, ½dl kermaa tai omenamehua tai omenasosetta 
Koristeluun  vadelmahilloa tai -marmeladia, 1dl tomusokeria, noin ½rkl vettä

First, some preparation: there are all sorts of ways of producing 'sweet breadcrumbs', and I decided to use butter brioche rolls, so they went in the oven first on low heat and were then crumbled. I also had a go at grinding some cardamom seeds which was a total failure, so I didn't use them. But in future I'll get a tougher grinder because they would definitely enhance the flavour.
Then: cream the butter with the sugar. Then add the eggs, one at a time. Next, stir in the flour and baking powder; after that, the bread crumbs and ground almonds and lastly the cream.
The oven needs to be at 200C. Grease around the baking cups and put some mixture into each one. Poke holes in the tops and put a small amount of jam inside. Bake for about 15 minutes.
When they come out and are still hot, 'moisten' with the alcohol, or the water/sugar/alcohol as I did, as per A. I'm not sure about that now. But for me, Amaretto is the way to go, since it's almond liquer in the first place. Add more jam on top, though not as much as I did. Let them cool.
Lastly I did the icing (with lemon juice).

And how did they turn out? As you can see from the picture, my icing skills need some work. But they exited okay from those baking cups or whatever they're called. Their consistency seems good - 15 minutes does seem exactly right for them. As for flavour, they did indeed taste like Runeberg cakes. I probably used a little too much jam on some, and maybe not enough alcohol(!), and if I was to be very critical maybe they were a bit on the sweet side, but I'm sure some people would disagree. Anyway, now I can't wait to inflict them on other people. What about yourselves? How about some competitive Runeberg cake baking?