More often than I like to admit I fantasize of the weekend. I can finally get things done! All the German homework that I haven’t had the time for during the workweek, maybe I can paint, maybe bake something I’ve wanted to make for ages…
On Saturdays I’m fairly active. We go to the Helsinki centre for some shopping and cafés and at home I tackle the admiringly large pile of laundry. I feel productive and excited!
Unfortunately the feeling doesn’t last to Sunday. I still have plenty of things to do but the drive is gone. I’m laying in the bed, blanket protecting me from the grey world outside with one cat laying on top of me and the other one under the blanket with me. None of us wants to move. It’s Monday tomorrow!
During the wintertime Tiia always has had problems with atopic skin, especially on her hands. Depending on the weather it can be quite tolerable or awful in a few days change. Also she noticed that it gets worse if she has to use hand disinfectant and commercial liquid soap at work (plus stress and lack of sleep is a big factor). A while ago she had bought a quite pricey Dead Sea salt scrub which helped her quite well but didn’t have the best ingredients. Dead Sea salt is full of minerals and great for eczema in cosmetics and baths but of course you don’t have to suffer from atopic skin to enjoy it.
I wouldn’t recommend using a scrub if your skin is already damaged so much that it has open wounds. For Tiia the scrub has prevented the skin to get that to that stage and she didn’t find the peeling effect too harsh on her skin. I bought a whole kilo of unprocessed Dead Sea salt at the eco market for around 10€. Way cheaper than the store bought ready made scrubs! You’ll mostly find the pure salt labeled as bath salt since it’s not edible. A kilo is a lot so I’d recommend also using it for the bathtub, if you have one, or for a relaxing foot or hand bath.
Pure Dead Sea salt Cold pressed oil of your choice – in this case I used sesame and macadamia
The salt is quite coarse (probably differs depending on the brand) so you need to break it down in a food processor first. You don’t want the peeling to be too harsh, so make sure the salt is quite small. I didn’t add any amounts because the recipe is really simple and you can start out making only a small batch to test it or a big jar.
The only other thing you need to add to the scrub is oil. Whereas store bought peelings often use the cheapest processed oils, I would recommend using cold pressed oils only. Best would be if you already have experience in which oil your skin likes and which not. Sesame is a really great and mild oil that I also use for my face, while macadamia is a bit heavier and therefore I only added a small amount of.
Mix the salt with one or two oils of your choice in a bowl. Make sure everything is covered properly and there is a small layer of oil on top of the mixture. Then transfer into a jar or tin and your scrub is ready to use! You can keep it for a long time since there aren’t any perishable ingredients in it. Selfmade scrubs are also a great gift!
On 5th of February Finland celebrates Runeberg day, the birthday of national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg who lived in the 19th century. Although he wrote in Swedish, part of his most popular work became the National Anthem of Finland. It is said that his wife, who was a writer herself, invented the Runeberg cake which her husband loved to eat for breakfast. The pastry is flavoured with almonds, cardamom and is topped with raspberry jam in the middle of a sugar ring. Traditionally it is eaten on Runeberg’s birthday.
Tiia usually makes Runeberg’s cakes herself but this week was so busy that she didn’t quite have the time for it so far. Fortunately Kanniston Leipomo, a bakery nearby, sells freshly made ones, so I got two pieces for the afternoon. On the weekend she’ll hopefully get around to make some of her own and put the recipe on the blog, so everybody who is not able to buy these great pastries in their country can make their own.
In the wintertime my skin often needs a bit more care, especially here in Finland. The changes of temperature (coming from the cold and going to a heated apartment) stress the skin and often leave it a bit dry. This selfmade avocado mask is a great treatment for dry winter skin. Avocado contains lots of unsaturated fats and vitamins and will make your skin soft and nourished. Honey and ghassoul clay are great against blemishes, the rose water and aloe vera will add extra moisture. If you suffer from super dry skin you can also add a mild oil like sesame or grapeseed.
If you have the chance, use the mask in the sauna. The heat and steam will open up the pores on your face. If you don’t have a sauna, put the mask on right after a shower.
1 ripe avocado 1 tsp honey 2 tsp ghassoul clay rose water pure aloe vera gel
Puree the avocado or mash with a fork. Add the honey and clay and as much rose water and aloe vera gel as needed to make the mask smooth but not too thin. Apply to clean skin and leave it on for about 20 minutes. Wash off with lots of warm water.
Leftovers can be stored in a jar in the fridge. The mask will stay good for around 4 days.
I was looking for a more unusual winter drink when I found this recipe for a Harry Potter inspired butterbeer. I wanted to make it for Christmas Eve and the recipe seemed to suit well since, unlike the name suggests, there isn’t actually any beer in it. The recipe uses cream soda which I had never had before, so I first bought a bottle to try in case I didn’t like it. In the Finnish stores there aren’t many options for cream soda, so basically the only one I could find was Boylan‘s Creme Cane Sugar. It tasted really great and decided not to look for other brands.
I changed the amounts around a bit because first I had made a bigger batch and in the end we had too much cream left over. Not a bad thing though. The maple buttercream is so delicious I think it would work well in a cake as well. Otherwise you can of course always drink another butterbeer but it is quite heavy and I didn’t manage to drink a second one on the same night, although I really much wanted to! This recipe is with the adjusted amounts, so you shouldn’t have any extra cream but of course it depends depends a bit on the type of glasses you’re using. Same for the cream soda. I used a bit less than a bottle per glass.
Ingredients (around 4-6 servings)
400 ml heavy whipping cream
4 tbsp salted butter
4 + 2 tbsp maple syrup
~ 1 bottle of cream soda per serving, chilled (I used Boylan’s cane sugar cream soda)
Chill you glasses in the freezer or outside if it’s cold enough and start making the maple butter.
Melt the butter and 4 tbsp of the maple syrup on medium heat on the stove and bring it to a simmer while constantly stirring. It will get thicker and smell like fudge. Set aside and whip the cream with a bit of salt and 2 tbsp of maple syrup until it is light and fluffy but not completely firm. You will still have to add the butter mixture, so don’t overbeat it! Add the maple butter slowly to the whipped cream and mix until everything is smooth and foamy.
Now you can take the glasses out of the freezer and add a little bit of the cream (~heaped tbsp) to the bottom of the glass and also some whiskey if you want. Fill it up slowly with cream soda. It will produce a lot of soda foam, so you should take it off. Top your drink with another spoon or two of buttercream and enjoy! If you have cream left over you can use it for desserts or another drink the next day. My cream went a bit runny the second day in the fridge but I could whip it up easily. Enjoy!