Pasha

In Finland, both Lutherans and Greek Catholics celebrate Easter on the same day, and this year that day was this past Sunday, April 1. But Russian Orthodox Easter will be celebrated this coming Sunday, April 8.

No Orthodox Easter meal, whether in Finland or Russia, would be complete without pasha (in Russian, пасха; the same word also enotes the holiday itself). To my mind, it is the most delicious sweet treat I have ever tasted, and it is all the better that purists, like my boon companion, make it only once a year for serving on Easter Day itself and finishing off in the days following Christianity’s most important feast day.

My sweetheart makes pasha the old-fashioned Russian way, which takes a few days. First, she makes Russia творог (quark, curd, cottage cheese, farmer cheese) from fresh milk before mixing the homemade curd with the other ingredients and pouring the thick liquidy mixture thus produced into traditional wooden molds, lined with gauze.

The molds are turned upside down and drained for 24 hours before being placed in the refrigerator to set up. On Easter Day, the molds and gauze lining their insides are carefully removed, revealing tiny pyramid-like mounds of pasha in all their delectable glory, impressed with the Cyrillic letters ХВ (standing for Христов воскрес! or “Christ has risen!) on one side, and the Orthodox cross on the opposite side.

The recipe I have translated, below, is a quick, easy Finnish variation on its hardcore, time-consuming Russian cousin.

One year, my true love and I found ourself celebrating Easter in Finland. We brought our wooden molds along with us, but we used a Finnish recipe much like this one, whose mainstay is the Finnish variety of quark/farmer cheese/curd/tvorog, known as rakha. Rakha can be bought readymade and packaged in any grocery store. As we discovered, it makes an excellent pasha, and is generally less watery than tvorog, homemade or bought at the market, meaning it drains and sets up more quickly, and is thus much less of a hassle to work with.

Make sure to watch the video, below the recipe, for a great tip on how to turn your pasha into a pyramid with using the Russian wooden molds.

Pasha

Ingredients

    • 100 g creamery butter
    • dl sugar
    • 2 packages (250 g each) quark
    • dl whipping cream (double cream)
    • egg
    • fresh-squeezed juice of half an orange
    • tsp vanilla sugar
    • 1/2 dl chopped almonds
    • 1/2 dl raisins
    • 1/2 dl succade (chopped bits of candied fruit)
Directions
  1. Whip the cream. Whip the butter and sugar until frothy. Add the quark, eggs, flavorings, and whipped cream. Pour the quark mixture into a gauze-lined pasha mold or colander to drain. You can also used a coffee filter lined with filter paper. Let the mixture drain in a cool place (i.e., a refrigerator) overnight.
  2. Flip the pasha over the next day onto a serving dish and garnish with slices of fresh fruit if desired. Serve as a dessert or at coffee time with other Easter goodies.

Source: K-ruoka.fi. Translated by Living in FIN

 

Aperol Spritz Cheesecake

This dessert combines cheesecake and my favorite cocktail, Aperol Spritz. The cheesecake contains alcohol, so you should be careful to whom you serve it. Alternately, the ingredients containing alcohol can be boiled, whereupon the alcohol evaporates.

The cheesecake’s bottom crust consists of minced Jaffa Orange Biscuits, which are perfect for it. The combination of the biscuit’s pastry crust, orange marmelade, and chocolate form a solid, tasty base for the cheesecake. The cheesecake itself is fashioned from orange-flavored cream cheese and orange juice, so you are in for a rather orangey treat.

The top layer is a refreshing mixture of Aperol and mineral water. I think it produces a gorgeous color and constitues the core of the entire cheesecake tastewise. It is topped with “ice cubes” made from chilled Prosecco mixed with gelatin sheets: a pretty fun imitation that looks like real ice.

This cheesecake can be recommended to all lovers of Aperol Spritz and anyone else who wants to try something new. Aperol Spritz Cheesecake can also be made in a springform pan, in which case the recipe should be doubled. A pan twenty centimeters in diameter should probably do for this purpose.

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Aperol Spritz Cheesecake

Ingredients (two servings)

Crust
100 g Jaffa Orange Biscuits

Cream Cheese Filling
2 gelatin sheets
200 g orange-flavored cream cheese
1/2 dl orange juice

Aperol Jello
1 dl Aperol
1/2 dl mineral water
1 tbsp sugar
2 gelatin sheets

“Ice Cubes”
2 dl sparkling wine (Prosecco)
3 gelatin sheets

Prep time: 1 h 30 min

Cooking Directions

Chop the Jaffa Orange Biscuits into tiny bits with a knife and place at the bottom of the serving dishes. Press the crust down a bit into the dishes.

Place seven gelatin sheets in cold water and soak for at least five minutes.

Prepare the cream cheese filling by mixing the orange-flavored cream cheese and orange juice. Melt two gelatin sheets in the microwave for approximately ten seconds (remove the sheets from the water and place in a small bowl without squeezing out the excess water) and stir into the cream cheese mixture. Divide the mixture evenly among the serving dishes. Refrigerate until jelled.

Prepare the top layer by mixing the Aperol, mineral water, and sugar. Melt two gelatin sheets in the microwave for approximately ten seconds (remove the sheets from the water and place in a small bowl without squeezing out the excess water) and stir into the Aperol mixture. Pour the mixture on top of the cheesecake mixture. Refrigerate.

Prepare the “ice cubes” by melting three gelatin sheets in the microwave for approximately ten seconds. (Remove the sheets from the water and place in a small bowl without squeezing out the excess water.) Stir the melted gelatin sheets into the sparkling wine. Pour the mixture into a container, approximately fifteen centimeters square, in which clingwrap has been placed on the bottom. Refrigerate until set, approximately one hour.

Cut the sparkling wine jello into cubes and top the serving dishes with them. Garnish with a slice of orange at your discretion.

Source: Meillakotona.fi. Translated by Living in FIN

Easy Finnish, Lesson Five: Getting Home on the Slang Bus

One of the most dismaying things you discover if you study Finnish long enough is that the extremely morphologically complex and otherwise utterly alien-sounding language you have been melting your brains to get a tenuous grip on is, in fact, textbook Finnish, the literary language or standard language (kirjakieli) used in newspapers, magazines, and books, and spoken, as it were, by TV and radio presenters, politicians, schoolteachers and other professionals, and government clerks.

In real life, Finns speak bewildering combinations of conversational Finnish (puhekieli) and regional dialects (murteet). In Helsinki, the local dialect or argo is stadi (the word itself is a Finnish take on the Swedish for “city,” stad), a mind-numbing melange of Swedish, German, Russian, and English loanwords embedded in a Finnish grammatical, syntactial, and morphological matrix.

When I run head on into something that looks like slang or conversational Finnish, I often turn to the website Urbaani Sanakirja (“Urban Dictionary”). One of the things I like about the online dictionary is that it almost always provides down-to-earth examples of usage.

The website also features a Päivän sana (“Word of the day”), helpful for building and reinforcing your Finnish slang vocabulary.

Today’s word of the day is a personal favorite of mine, dösä, “bus.”

dösä

Although Finns also often use the word bussi (“busÄ), it is a colloquialism; the word for “bus” in standard textboox Finnish is linja-auto, the very same word Urbaani Sanakirja uses to define dösä.

The example it supplies—Tulin eilen dösällä himaan (“Yesterday I got home by bus”)—contains another slang word, hima.

hima

Hima means koti (“home”) in standard Finnish. “Translated” into book Finnish, then, the entire sentence would read, “Tulin eilen bussilla kotiin.” That is a far cry, lexically, from our original sentence, “Tulin eilen dösällä himaan.”

What does the sample sentence supplied for hima (“Nauran heittereille matkan himast pankkiin”) mean?

“I laugh at the haters all the way from home to the bank.”

That is a slightly obscure sentence (at least, to this non-Finn: is it a peculiar Finnish way of saying, “I’m laughing all the way to the bank”? Who are the “haters”?), so let’s look at the second example provided. It, on the contrary, is a perfectly clear and typical specimen of conversational Finnish with a bit of slang tossed in for good measure.

hima-2

“Mun pitäs varmaa jo lähtee himaa” means “I should probably go home already.” Translated into standard Finnish, it would read, “Minun pitäisi varmaa jo lähteä kotiin.”

If you find this confusing, you’re not alone. In conversations with actual Finns, I rarely venture beyond the bounds of my still quite shaky kirjakieli, although often as not what I hear in return is conversational Finnish or the Karelian dialect of Finnish, spoken in parts of southeast Finland (where I hang out) and once spoken in Finland’s former second city, Viipuri (Vyborg), and the area to the south of it, known in Finnish as the Karjalankannas (Karelian Isthmus), but usually called simply Kannas or “the Isthmus” by Finns.

For obvious reasons, Kannas is a charged word in Finland, but that is a topic for another, less frivolous post.

Sweet Potato Curry

 

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Sweet Potato Curry

Ingredients

4 servings

    • (600 g) sweet potato
    • (100 g) onion
    • cloves garlic
    • tbsp oil
    • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
    • tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • dl water
    • tin (approx. 230 g) chickpeas
    • 1 bag (approx. 65 g) baby leaf spinach
    • 2 tbsp tandoori curry paste
    • carton (2.5 dlcoconut cream
    • tsp lemon juice

Cooking Directions

Prep time: 30–60 minutes

  • Peel and cube the sweet potato. Chop the onion and garlic finely.
  • Sauté the sweet potato, onion, and garlic in oil in a saucepan for about five minutes. Season with the cumin, salt, and pepper. Add the water to the saucepan and simmer with the lid on another ten minutes.
  • Use a colander to rinse and drain the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas, spinch, and tandoori curry paste to the saucepan. Add the coconut cream and bring to a boil. Finally, season with the lemon juice. Check the taste. Serve the sweet potato curry with basmatic rice and naan bread.

Source: k-ruoka.fi. Translated by Living in FIN

Ilya Kapustin: Escape to Finland

iljasuomessa1_ulRussian activist Ilya Kapustin has fled to Finland, where he is currently seeking asylum. Photo by Pasi Liesimaa. Courtesy of Iltalehti

Russian Activist Ilya Kapustin, Seeking Asylum in Finland: “When the Stamp Thudded in My Passport, It Was Like a Huge Weight Had Been Lifted from My Shoulders”
Nina Järvenkylä
Iltalehti
March 10, 2018

A familiar looking man sits opposite me. We have met earlier via video link, but now there are coffee cups between us.

“I now feel considerably better than in Russia,” says Ilya Kapustin, 25, but he grasps for words when I ask how things are going.

Iltalehti interviewed Kapustin in early February, just a few days after Russia’s security service, the FSB, most likely abducted and tortured him. At the time, Kapustin was still in Petersburg, and the interview was conducted via video link. Kapustin is currently in Finland. He has applied for asylum.

Kapustin is still the same quiet and slightly nervous man as when we spoke the last time.

“I feel a bit shakey. I still sleep badly and cannot get to sleep. But the situation in Russia was even worse,” Kapustin says at first.

He says he also feels sad.

“I may never return to Russia.”

“More importantly, however, there is no threat to my freedom,” he continues.

Kapustin said earlier he was not terribly politically active. Now he can speak more freely because he has left Russia. The connections with terrorism, alleged by the FSB, are absurd. Kapustin has been involved in politics, however. He has been involved in activities opposed to Putin’s regime and the dominant power structures in Russia.

Due to the trumped-charges against them, his fellow activists in Russia could be facing as many as dozens of years in prison.

Escape to Finland
Kapustin decided to escape from Russia to Finland, like many other Russian dissidents and members of minorities have done in recent times.

In an interview with Yle, Esko Repo, head of the Finnish Migration Service’s asylum, said that as a whole it was a matter of hundreds of Russians who had applied for asylum in Finland. In 2016, the number was 192, and last year it was over 400. Repo told Yle there had been 73 applications since the beginning of the year.

Last year, 21 Russians had their applications approved, and 12 of these were asylum seekers.

Kapustin traveled to Finland in a quite ordinary  way. He bought a ticket for one of the minibuses that circulate often between Finland and Russia. The mode of travel was humdrum albeit nerve-wracking in Kapustin’s circumstances.

“At the border, one man was questioned for fifteen minutes,” Kapustin recounts how things went on the Russian side of the frontier.

He was afraid that he, too, would end up being grilled by officials. Luck was on his side, however.

“I noticed a second queue had been opened at the border checkpoint. I quickly moved over to it.”

“When the stamp thudded in my passport and the trip continued on the Finnish side, it was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders,” Kapustin says.

Ilja Kapustin yrittää nyt järjestellä elämänsä Suomeen.Ilya Kapustin is now trying to put his life together in Finland. Photo by Pasi Liesimaa. Courtesy of Iltalehti 

“My Mind Was Playing Tricks on Me”
Just a day before his escape, their minds had been playing tricks on Kapustin and his loved ones.

Kapustin fled to Finland as soon as his visa was ready. The last night at his sister’s home had been excruciating, however. Kapustin can now smile at what happened, but that night nearly a month ago was as frightening living through a nightmare.

A minivan with dark-tinted windows was parked on the street in front of his sister’s flat. His sister and her husband did not recognize the vehicle, but it was quite reminiscent of the one in which Kapustin had been kidnapped and tortured in January.

“I was really afraid. I immediately packed my belongings and left their place in the morning,” Kapustin recounts.

It later transpired the vehicle parked in the street was owned by his sister’s neighbor.

“He had bought a new vehicle,” Kapustin laughs.

“My mind, however, was playing tricks on me, because I was really afraid at the time. Until I arrived in Finland I wondered who was in the vehicle lest they do anything to my sister’s family.”

Kapustin’s loved ones are under surveillance in Russia. For example, his brother-in-law’s VK social network page has been hacked. He had posted several articles about Kapustin’s case on his page.

“The [hackers] posted only a single link on the page. It led to the site of a well-known reality TV show,” Kapustin says.

In the event, the ludicrous part was that the reality TV show in question, Dom 2, had been hosted by TV presenter and Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak. Kapustin regards the hack as bad police humor.

“They wanted to show us they can do whatever they like.”

Life in Finland
Kapustin’s parents and his sister and her family still live in Petersburg. The family urged Kapustin to flee after he had been abducted and tortured. Nevertheless, Kapustin told them about his escape only after he had arrived in Finland.

“Mom ordered me to leave, but I didn’t tell them ahead of time [when I was leaving] just in case.”

His parents and sister know about the events that led to the escape, but Kapustin did not tell them all the details. He believes the authorities will not go after his family.

“I’m not so interesting to them (the FSB),” he conjectures.

His life is in Finland now. Kapustin worked as an industrial climber in Russia and hopes he can find similar work in Finland.

“I worked in high places. We installed things, cleared snow from rooftops, and washed windows,” Kapustin recounts.

He understands the training he received in Russia is not necessarily valid in Finland and is prepared to study and do other work.

And how will he deal emotionally with the waiting, with going through the asylum application process, and coming to grips with the ways of a new society?

“I’m trying to think of it as an adventure so I can move forward. It is an episode in my life I’ll remember, and now I can remember it as a free man and not in prison,” Kapustin reflects.

If you haven’t heard yet about the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case, you need to read the following articles and spread the word.

 

Stop Deportations: Shady Forced Repatriation Practices at Baghdad Airport

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Stop Deportations
Facebook
March 12, 2018

Shady Forced Repatriation Practices at Baghdad Airport

Stop Deportations was in contact today with a Baghdad Airport policeman via the Danish journalist Kods Almsaray. The policeman did not want his name published. We asked under what terms and agreements they accepted Iraqi asylum seekers forcibly repatriated to Iraq by the Finnish police when the Iraqi immigration minister had said Iraq did not accept any forcibly repatriated Iraqis. The source at Baghdad Airport said they accepted only asylum seekers convicted of crimes, such as terrorism, for example. The criminal background check was done in such a way that the airport police got the forcibly repatriated asylum seeker’s legal documents from the Finnish policemen escorting him, Mohammed said.

When we said the forced returnees were largely ordinary asylum seekers who had not done anything illegal while they were in Finland and most were still in the middle of asylum application process, the line went dead.

Several forcibly repatriated asylum seekers have confirmed the Finnish police gave their asylum application papers at the airport to the Iraqi police, who made photocopies of them. Then the Iraqi police questioned why the applicants went to Finland and checked whether they were on the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s list. All of this put the forced returnees in grave danger, as the asylum application papers contained confidential information about how the applicants were persecuted and who persecuted them.

One can also end up on the Interior Ministry’s list for quite arbitrary reasons and those who are on the list can be victimized indefinitely.

The lack of a passport is no longer an obstacle to forced repatriation when the Finnish police can write up a disposable “European travel document for third-country nationals illegally residing in the country,” although asylum seekers whose application review process is still underway are not residing illegally in Finland.

Forced returnees who even had steady jobs when they left Finland have shown us pictures of their European travel documents. According to the documents, they had been residing in Finland illegally.

Last week, Stop Deportations asked Finnish Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen on the basis of what treaties and documents Finland has been engaged in forced repatriations to Iraq, when neither official Iraq nor Finland has admitted to the repatriations. The minister managed to avoid answering the question. An employee with state-owned Iraqi Airways estimated today, in conversation with Stop Deportations, that Finland is currently the most active forced repatriator in the EU. But where is the agreement on forced repatriations? Where are the transparent practices?

Translated by Living in FIN. Thanks to Comrade AR for the heads-up. Photo courtesy of Stop Deportations