cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

We Could All Be a Little More MoominMinded

Dallying With Mushrooms and Moomins Indeed
They pretend and pretend. But that's why they have such a good time. Are you familiar with the Moomins? Surprise! They are not French, they are Finnish. straight from Finland. Finnish you say? Finnish indeed. With finesse, finite personalities, and finicky story lines, Moomintrolls lit up the pages of childhood literary fantasy in a predate of Harry Potter for Swedish speaking children--and a few crazy American ones as well--beginning in 1945 through the pen of author Tove Jannson in short novels and comic strips. What on earth am I talking about? Well when I was little, I was assumed the dud. Not terribly bright in grammar school. I couldn't spell (wait, past tense?) I didn't read much aside from what was forced upon me, and even then i played the read every-other-page game. You see, I beleive my head was stuck in a tutu (there we go tripping about with the past tense again) As the extremely gifted prima ballerina, (that would be me) i didn't have time for words and their silliness in between dress rehearsals and costume fittings. Besides, with an older sister already a prodigious math wizz and a younger one born god's gift to academics as a member of the schools "gifted" program, I had to claim singular allegiance to something or risk failure in the sororal competition of distinction. So what if everyone thought i was dumb, maybe i was. People could be other things besides smart, couldn't they?

Then one day, maybe i was ten, perhaps eleven, i found a book titled moomin with little white critters on the cover that appeared to live in the clouds. Well it looks a lot better than Pippi Long Stockings, i thought to myself. And who woulda thought that after that quick glance at the cover i would start to like words, like letters and sentences and verbs. I began to see books and reading and story in another light, and pretend? pretend yes, that is why they have such a good time.

Moomins are really just Finnish people, you see their whiteness is a result of the lack of daylight hours. Have i offended you? The correct answer would be, oh mallory, then you are Finnish eh? (you are to utter a chuckle, a giggle, or guffaw here) They are little trolls A Moominmama and a Moominpapa live with their son Moomintroll and their adopted son Sniff who is actually some type of marsupial in a lighthouse in the Finnish land of moominvalley. There is a wandering vagabond character named Snufkin, and a growling gray blob named Groque. Moomintroll's even got himself a girlfriend, the flirty and fun Snorkmaiden whose tuft of blonde hair and classy gold ankle bracelet are all that distinguish her from the other white trollish looking creatures. But they truly are a match made in heaven. The stories are nonsense fairy tales, outlandish with words and names that could only be the product of, well, a Fin. They are, if you allow my truism, purely just a bit of foolishness where one can live happily ever after, eat jam, play with barometers, and fiddle about in a life with no consequences where nothing matters except entertaining your relations and wanting to be happy on you own terms. ahk! moomins or mallory?

How did this come up you ask? The ten year old me suddenly invaded my consciousness? No. The truth is, well, it was all because of a cup. You know how Americans are with their coffee/tea mugs--they are sacred. Touch my cup and i'll kill you. And i have a new one, a christmas gift from my sister, a moomin mug from Denmark where she spent the last four months. I stared at the tiny pink and white mug freshly shorn of its wrappings, what on earth? She--it's moomintroll! Don't you remember? I saw it and had to get it for you! And the floodgates of memory lane had been opened, the thousands of metric tons of water came crashing down, how could i have ever so completely forgotten little moomintroll? But then i think, have i really forgotten him? When i think about it, moomintroll has found me again, he was always there, slowly making his way back to the surface. Either way, Moomin Valley after all is nothing other than a variant word for cabbage patch, and really, don't we all wish for, more than any other possession, more than any other gain, wish just to be happy? Just to be happy, just like the moomins. So really, we all could and should be a little more moomin-minded. indeed.

Little moomins, what could i make moomin-inspired? Moomins are happy-go-lucky, they represent bohemian tolerance and that dirtiest of dirty words liberalism. Short of baking a marijuana infused-vegan-gay pride-peta-grassroots-free love-cake (did i cover all things nauseatingly hippy alternative?) I decided to go with Finnish. Cloudberries are the national fruit of Finland. Sounds like my kinda berry. But no cigar. I dare you to find a cloudberry in the western half of the United States. So eh, cloudberry jam (bakeapple is another word, but grows only in Newfoundland) Well perhaps mushrooms then as well. yes. Shrooms. The Finns and their shrooms. Can you tell I have never been to Finland and know absolutely nothing factual of the country? Excellent. But drug references aside--as i do not partake in any drug use other than the coffee bean, grape, and advil, if you do then that is your decisions--but i propose that instead of smoking out the mushrooms, bake them. Macarons seem like the perfect moomin treat, they look like moomins, but mushroom macarons? Nah, i won't go that far. Cloudberry macarons and mushroom muffins, cottage cheese mushroom muffins for you, for me, for the little moomins--of course, on y va.

Moomin Muffins are cottage cheese parmesan muffins adapted from the recipe here, and instead of tomatoes, mushrooms were used. Moomin macarons are cloudberry macarons, use Helen's instructions here, and for cloudberries (if you have them? then i am jealous) use cloudberry preserves (available at Ikea) to make a butter cream ganache with red food coloring to give it a pink tint. The muffins, as was told by their consumers, tasted pretty much like a mini-quiche, while the macarons--the macarons to the never-before-heard-of crowd were quite the success. What is this? was the repetative ringing phrase heard throughout the evening from people who are unfamiliar with French pastry and well, anything french desert. Is this thing on your blog? I wanna make this! hmmm. well well well Gabrielle, we'll talk. 2009...god damn i feel like an old lady now, my blog archive lists three years! ahhh!

Moomins are funny, are they not? Nationalistic cartoon characters make me very happy for some reason or another. They are similar to the Belgian Smurfs and my favorite investigative journalist Tintin, Japan's Hello Kitty, France's Asterix and (though upon further investigation she's actually German, but whatever)Diddlina, Brazil's cute little Monica, and America's...America's...Micky Mouse? Bugs Bunny? Sure. They all are so, so--so moominminded indeed.

I wish you a happy beginning to 2009, the year I finish college and start____life? I don't know what this year will bring, but i feel a change in the wind, and with any luck, i will take at it with an attitude a bit more true to happiness just as a genuine moomin would. Cloudberries, cloudheads, irrational, impractical--this is our year. I have great hopes for this year--hopes for me, for you, and for us. Bring on the New Year!


Christy said...

Ohhhh...moomin!! So that's what those cute lil' hippos are called!! I've only ever seen them illustrated on merchandise, but they seem really cute regardless! I did love reading Asterix though, even's very addictive!

Cloudberry...hmmm....there's just something very dreamy and fantastic about having a cloudberry patch. Wait is that possible? I like the sound of it anyway. So do you know if we can get the seeds from Finland? Would it grow in the Australian winter, at least, or is my dream of having a cloudberry patch as far-fetched as the name of the plant?

And I can't believe you didn't like to read when you were little!! I've always loved to read. Even now, a magazine or a book is never far from my reaches. Literally. J jokes that I can watch tv, read a magazine, read a book,and blog simultaneously. I even go so far as to carry a magazine/book with me around the house, and carry it in my handbag when I go out. Maybe I should work for a magazine or a publishing house.

Anyway, happy new year, may the new year bring more cloudberries, realised dreams and Moomins into your life!

Chocolate Shavings said...

Ah the Moomins! you bring back great memories of childhood Sunday morning cartoons.

Colloquial Cook said...

Moomins are not French but I am, and I know of them! They are the best. I even found baking tins and popsicle moulds in the shape of moomins and loads of fancy moomin stuff in a very gay shop in Brighton once, but dahhh didn't get anything, silly, silly me. You are a macaroon queen.

pixen said...

I never seen Moomins locally... but my little 2.5 year old son must have like hippos and even love his blue hippo head support pillow. Tintin and Smurfs are my favourite!

But your macarons are gorgeous! I haven't attempt making them without having a little boy always pops into the kitchen doors seeking attentions or hugs and even dares to ask for food tasting! Well, another addition to new year list... :-D

Elra said...

Ah malory,
How fun it is to read your post in the morning of new year day. I am not familiar with this cute Moomins, but sure it makes me want to look for the books and send it to my nephews.

And of course, your macarons looks absolutely great.

Here is a quick note to wish you a happy new year. I wish you and your love one always in a good health, lot's of luck and all beautiful things come in year 2009.

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

I am glad I happened upon your post about Moomins! They are my very favorite children's books, and I own them all. If only I could find cloudberries so I could attempt a proper tribute myself.

Looks delish.

Y said...

Very pretty! I still haven't had a chance to try cloudberries, but I can imagine they would be so lovely in a macaron.

The Blonde Duck said...

Happy New Year from a fellow writer! Love your blog!

Aran said...

awwww... cloudberries... you people in the northwest are too lucky! i just got some homemade huckleberry jam from my in-laws in MT. i should just fly to your place to taste these macarons. beauties! happy new year mallory!

Journey to a Centum said...

Mallory - No brain, no pain! That's how we do it.

I love your blog and the photography. One of our run club members just started writing restaurant reviews and is big into food. Her husband is a Infectious Disease Specialist but he'd rather be a professional chef. I'm going to send her the link to your blog. I think she will enjoy.

Take care of your knee. They take some time to heal.

Happy New Year!

PS - I've finished a marathon and a 50K in the last two days. Need to hit the hay for an early AM trail marathon tomorrow that will be brutal. Six laps with three miles of chin scraping climb and three and a half miles of descent. We will climb about 9600 feet total in roots rocks, and deep snow! Let the adventure begin!

Navita said...

Moomins...they are adorable! As a kid, my bro used to tease me by calling guess if he'd called me Moomin instead, no one would have no insult on

Hi, first time here. U got a lovely place girl.

M new to ur blog n blogosphere.
Swing by my lil place sometime plz.:)

Happy New Year!

Sophie said...

Quelle douceur dans tes photos ! Je te souhaite une magnifique année 2009 !

The Blonde Duck said...

Special edition of Twirl tommorow! Check it out and tell me what you think!

Moira said...

Feliz Ano Novo !
Happy New Year for you and your family !
Regards from Portugal

Navita said...

...thanks for stopping by :)

i hope i can expect frequent visits from you. :p

Sierra said...

I want a macaron!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mallory Elise said...

valentines valentines...wait for macaron celebrate our lack of valentines non!?

prettytastycakes said...

thanks for visiting my blog. these macarons really strike a chord as both a macaron and moomin fan (the latter introduced to me through my hubby). we have the plate version of your moomin mug!

Dibs said...

everything about this post is so delicate and pink and cloudy and fluffy and dreamy ....

thanks for introducing me to macaroons and moomins! wish you a wonderful 2009.

matt wright said...

Moomins really scared me when I was a kid back in England.. Lets be honest, they are still pretty odd..