Meal Planning Monday 3rd Aug - Post-holiday blues


Holiday is over. I could have gone on for another week or two, but I'm trying to convince myself that it's good to be back to normal.

I had a perfect two weeks back home in Finland. Husband came with his kids for the first week and a bit and I stayed for a few extra days being spoiled by my parents. I suppose you can't stay in your mum and dad's spare bedroom forever in your mid (= late) forties, but it's hard to return to the real world and start fending for yourself again.

Life is so uncomplicated there. Breakfast is ready when we walk downstairs. Sometimes we start with a bowl of porridge and there's always a selection of white, brown and sour dough rye bread, toast, smoked and cured meats, gravadlax, cheeses, cakes and biscuits. 

We sit around the large table in the sunny dining area with big windows and a view of the lake and the village church and drink endless cups of coffee with our breakfast.

Afterwards we walk to the village with the dog bouncing around us looking for hare poo which is a great delicacy. Ask any Labrador retriever. From the little village shop we get some milk or whatever we need and then slowly walk back.

That's pretty much morning done. Lunch is served midday. After lunch we either take a little nap or sit back and read the papers. Then we might do some light gardening for a bit before it's time for afternoon coffee and cakes. 

After coffee we take the dog for a walk before it's dinner time. After dinner we chill for a bit to recover from the hectic day. We take the dog for a walk before sauna and swimming. 

After sauna it is time for a sauna drink - a lonkero, beer or a glass of cider to rehydrate. Around nine o'clock a little evening snack is served, often a Karelian rice pasty with smoked meat on top or a moose pasty with tea, cakes and biscuits.

Thinking about this at 7am in my car on M4 I was wondering if I have made all the right choices. Oh well. One day it'll be just me and husband, his two goats and 5 chicken, my two yellow Labrador girls (they will be called Daisy and Poppy) (There may also be Ivy, Holly and Lily, husband hasn't fully approved all of them yet, but in my opinion there can never be too many Labradors) and we will live somewhere in the country not worrying about a thing just cooking, eating and walking the dogs in a never ending beautiful circle of erm... cooking, eating and walking dogs. And feeding the chicken. Goats, I imagine, feed themselves.

But before that can happen about 20 years of office work must happen and a 1000 weekly meal plans are to be drafted. We both have of course been enjoying so much fantastic Scandinavian food, that this week should be slightly less Nordic and also maybe quite light. But I'm still in an Arctic mood so some Finnish stuff will feature, particularly as I'm now again fully stocked with Finnish ingredients. 

I am a little bit fished out though - there was an awful lot of fish. The local fisherman is back in business. He was taken ill last winter, but has returned with a vengeance. He goes out most mornings at 5 o'clock. By 8 am he has returned, cleaned and gutted the fish, smoked some of it and is doing his rounds in the village selling his booty from the boot of his car. This time he had loads of fresh and smoked vendace and whitefish.

My mum's epic last dinner for me before I left contained 6 kinds of fish. The main was pan-fried freshwater whitefish with freshly picked chanterelles and as sides she served potatoes, salads, pickled Baltic herring, smoked vendace, smoked whitefish, hot-smoked salmon and cold-smoked salmon. Beat that if you can.

Leaving the country I decided to go out in style and stopped for a little snack in the Nordic Kitchen Deli, Bar and Bistro at Helsinki Airport. By the way, Helsinki Airport is one of the nicest airports I've been to, particularly as we get to fly from the quiet non-Schengen area. The tax-free sells some exotic Finnish goods like bear, moose and reindeer meat and scary looking alcoholic drinks like Valhalla.

Nordic Kitchen Deli, Bar and Bistro at Helsinki Airport

Smoked salmon rye sandwich at Kitchen Deli, Bar and Bistro at Helsinki Airport

There's a selection of nice shops and boutiques, selling designer clothes and bags, Finnish design like Kalevala jewellery, Marimekko and Iittala and Finnish souvenirs including reindeer hides and Moomin paraphernalia.

Finnish canned bear meat

There is a selection of classy restaurants and bars. I had a pretty damn good open dark rye sandwich. The bread was the sweet malted kind we call islander bread - it comes from the large archipelago west of Finland - the biggest in the world (by the number of islands). The bread slice was topped with a generous mound of cold-smoked salmon, salad leaves, cucumber, onion, cream cheese and whitefish roe. And I washed it all down with a glass of Cava.

This week's meal plan

Monday         BBQ lamb chops, Greek salad, tin foil BBQ vegetables
Tuesday         Prawn and smoked salmon lemon pasta
Wednesday    Cream of vegetable soup
Thursday       Some kind of risotto - not decided yet
Friday            #fishfriday, BBQ fish skewers, halloumi-vegetable skewers
Saturday        Reindeer salami and mushroom pizza
Sunday          Feta and oregano chicken

Looks like Mrs M is still on holidays - otherwise would share the plan there. 

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  1. Bliss! It sounds fantastic, and good to hear you have had such a great time. I am adding Finland to my 'must go to' places, and I've even decided it's where I will finally have a tattoo done (know an amazing tattooist over there). All that fish sound like heaven to me, and goats, chickens and dogs on long walks sounds perfect! Shame the bilberries weren't out, they're kind of out in some places here, but then over the tops they're not quite ready.
    Your meal plan sounds spot on as usual, and though I'm not a massive soup fan, your mention of cream of veg soup has really got me hankering after some! :)

    1. :) I'm glad you know a tattooist - I wouldn't be able to help you with that! I think Finland's pretty awesome, but then I would. I tried to keep the plan a bit lighter hence the soup.

  2. Your description of breakfast alone makes me want to go to Finland. :)

    Loving your meal plan as well, particularly the bbq lamb and the salmon pasta.

    1. :) Thanks. Both the lamb and the pasta turned out really nice!

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