Ground moose pasties and childhood poetry trauma


This time I have no recipe for these yammy pasties, just some approximate directions – I will make similar ones one day and will post -  but it’s not a complicated thing so feel free to just work it out yourselves. And as with any moose recipe, you can always substitute the meat with good quality organic lean beef or of course venison.

Ground moose pasties

These ground moose pasties were made by a caterer lady who lives in the same little village where my mum is from and where my parents still live some of the time. She has catered in a few family parties for us like dad’s 70th birthday, which was a fun event and the food was great. There were speeches and some piano music by my talented niece and mum performed a poem like she always does where two or three are gathered. She is a great performer, she really gets the emotion into every line. She has actually studied this, hosted her own poetry recital evenings and even given lessons in vocal technique and articulacy. Mostly to me with scant results. But one of her external students became an MP in the Finnish parliament. She subsequently got mixed up in some kind of corruption scandal involving washing machines and is now disappointingly using her vocal skills as a spokesperson for Finnish fur industry of which we do not approve.

So mum. It’s just that her choices for poems are sometimes a bit weird, but we must grant her her artistic freedom I suppose. For Dad’s jolly 70th she had chosen a poem about when love is over, a journey is at an end and the loneliness and sadness when it’s all over, whatever it is. The poem is more suited for funerals I think. But then, most Finnish poetry is best suited for funerals as are most Finns – it’s not easy for mum to find upbeat material.

I remember when I was a kid she used to read this poem to me called “The Funeral”. Yes, I know. It is a morbid name and topic for a children’s poem, but this is 1970's Finland we must remember. There was no SpongeBob SquarePants (Paavo Pesusieni) and we only got Jiminy Cricket’s (Samu Sirkka) Christmas for 45 minutes a year on Christmas Eve. Apart from some Czechoslovakian wax animations that was the entirety of children’s entertainment of the day.

This poem “The Funeral” by a great Finnish poet Lauri Pohjanpää is about a butterfly whose life was ever going to span for that one sunny day only, but she had to die early in the morning. The starting words still make me well up: “Oli kaste viel’ yli kukkien, kun kuoli päiväperhonen, joka lensi tuokion vain. Niin niin ja se aamulla haudattiin. - The dew was still covering the flowers, then died the butterfly, who only flew for a moment. Yes yes. She was buried in the morning.” It does sound a bit more poetic in Finnish, but still a kind of a straight forward punch in the gut. I don’t know why mum thought it would be appropriate entertainment for an oversensitive animal loving 7-year-old.

The poem elaborates at length on how lovely it would have been for the butterfly to happily fly all of the sunny day, but she only was allowed a brief flight and then she had to die. She was even buried in the morning. I never knew of such hasty burial arrangements in our country where bodies keep for weeks in the cool temperatures so time can be taken. Anyway funeral it is, and the crickets play the funeral march, ants carry the tiny coffin, the reverend Morning Cloak (or Camberwell Beauty in Britain less aptly) performs the ceremony and a choir of ladybirds sings a hymn of mourning. Movingly at the end of the poem the tough Beetle, the gravedigger who has seen all kinds of things, a bit of a Yorkshire-man I imagine, not exactly wearing his heart on his sleeve, looks at the small coffin of the little butterfly lying deep in the ground. He secretly wipes away a tear with the back of his hand  and mutters “On kovaa niin aamulla kuolla - It’s hard to die so early in the morning”. I remember ending up hiding behind a cupboard crying hysterically for the little butterfly and all her lovely insect friends so heartbroken on a bright summer’s morning. Still, early cultural education is important even when it comes at a cost.

So back to the caterer lady.  She bakes amazing traditional sour dough rye breads which I always bring with me when I visit home. These are the kind of round, fairly flat breads with a hole in the middle that have been made in Finland for generations. Originally the whole in the middle was there so they could be speared with a pole and hung from the ceiling to dry there, when there were no freezers.

Round sour dough rye bread

For the moose pasties my parents take the ground moose to the catering lady and she creates these delightful little parcels. The pastry is lovely, not greasy, but somehow substantial and light at the same time. I think she uses quark. The tasty filling is made of onion, ground moose and rice. Seasoning is simple, just salt and pepper I would imagine. You could always throw in some parsley I guess. But it must be kept simple, that is the point here, no garam masala, turmeric or other funny Asian business which I otherwise love.

Husband loves these – I remember I brought some to him some time ago and then had to go on a work trip and leave him to his own culinary devices. I called home one night and asked if he’d had any of the “samosas” as he calls them rather than “hirvipasteija” which they actually are. He had had seven.

Ground moose pasties recipe

Puff pastry

Meat filling:
Ground meet

Fry onions and ground meet, season. Separately cook the rice. Mix and add the egg to the mixture.

Roll the pastry to 1/3 inch thickness and divide to about 3 inch squares. Place a big spoonfull of filling on the square and fold corner to corner. Seal the sides with a fork. Brush with eggwash and bake in 200C for 15 min.or until pastry starts to colour a bit.

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