Seasonal Sundays (Week 3) Mid January

A collection of winter-perfect recipes plus how, after many months, a food project returned my "taste" for food.
Seasonal Sundays ♥, a seasonal collection of recipes and life ideas in and out of the kitchen.

Welcome to Seasonal Sundays ...

It's a truism for many that during the pandemic, a day may pass ever so slowly but a week or a month or ... ?

Just blink and oh my, A YEAR IS GONE.

And now it's been almost two years – two whole years of life, of living! – where days and weeks and months are reduced to X marks on the Covid calendar.

And so it's been for me since last April.

I sure didn't foresee an eight-month hiatus to Kitchen Parade and A Veggie Venture, my food blog filled with vegetable recipes.

It started when we lost my dad. He was 95 and heaven knows I miss him ...

And then ... it took weeks to empty his and our mom's home of some 65 years some 850 miles away, then almost as long to make room for a small U-Haul's worth of their belongings and personal treasures here in our own home in St. Louis: LOL it's not like there were empty shelves just waiting for my mom's dishes.

And then ... my husband's daughter was diagnosed with a rare cancer and we spent the summer supporting her, especially creating adventures for the 12-year old twinzz whose lives were upended by their mom's illness, surgery recovery and continuing treatment.

And then ... More Stuff. Personal. Technical. But Just Stuff: mere complications in the scheme of things.

But all throughout, One Big Thing overrode, underpinned, upended.

I compare it to the Covid symptom where people lose their senses of taste and smell. For me, it wasn't the virus but ...

I lost my "taste" for food.

Yeah, I bought groceries. Yeah, I cooked. Yeah, I washed endless dishes.

But food was mere fuel.

I wasn't taking notes. I wasn't trying anything new. I was no longer "writing" in my head while I cooked.


But slowly – verrrrrry slowly – food began to matter again.

  • In August, I started tracking what I cooked, a practice followed for years and years.
  • In September, I dusted my desk, opened up the ol' laptop, dealt with a big technical issue and began to update older recipes.
  • In October, I became curious about new recipes and pored through two useful new cookbooks, One-Hour Comfort: Quick, Cozy Modern Dishes for All Your Cravings and Five-Ingredient Dinners (affiliate links) both published by America's Test Kitchen.
  • DISCLOSURE Complimentary copies were provided by America's Test Kitchen but the opinions are my own. My Disclosure Promise
  • In November, I finally pulled out my camera to shoot those all-important photos.
  • In December, finally, finally, my "taste" came back: lots more detail on that below.

So why am I going on and on, here?

My personal troubles are way less than most, no more than many.

And of course, they are NOT why you're here.

But I do have the idea that this latest phase of the pandemic has left many of us feeling adrift and unmoored, wracked by changing situations and up-ended plans – and it all just feels so much bigger and ever-so more overwhelming because we'd all soooo counted on life coming back to some semblance of normal.

It's left us feeling stuck and frustrated and yearning for a "taste" of life again.

If this is you, too?

Maybe you can get unstuck by finding something to throw yourself into. For me, a food project worked but really, it needn't be food.

But it's important to find something that you can throw yourself into.

For how long?

A day? a week? a month? an entire year? That's up to you.

I happen to love the timeframe of a month, it's long enough to dig deep, long enough to learn something, long enough to figure out if the project has legs.

About the Photo By Popular Request, a Little Insight into the Top Image: My December food project produced the first Karelian Piirakka in decades! Pronounced [PEA-rock-uh], these hand-held pastries are a much-beloved Finnish treasure and, I've learned, way easier to make than they might appear. The pastry dough is made with rye flour, no yeast so need to let rise, just mix and roll it out. The filling is a thick, creamy rice that freezes well. That means warm-from-the-oven piirakka can be made on a whim. And that cooked egg and butter mixture that gets schmeared on top? OH MY.

How Stella Alanna Got Her Groove Taste Back.

In December, wow, it was like my "taste" for food came back in the snap of an asparagus!

Heaven knows, I love food projects.

Way back in 1995, A Veggie Venture's genesis was 30 days of new vegetable recipes. Before that, there were jars and jars of summer canning the year my mom passed away.

#PieDayFriday and Deep Mexico's ingredient-driven Mexican meal prep.

The funny thing is, I see only now that every single one of these "food projects" originated in response to some life event.

And so it was in 2021. I'd been "off" food for too many months. I wondered if I'd become one of those bloggers whose pixels just quietly fade away forever.

More, I knew I needed distraction and diversion.

Sadness about my dad was ever-present.

At the last minute, our Thanksgiving and Christmas family plans reverted into 2020-style Thanksgiving for Two and Christmas for Two and New Years for Two and ... .... ..

Early on, thinking about December's cancellations was like peering into an endless emptiness.

On a whim, I decided to focus December's cooking and baking on traditional Finnish foods.

Why Finnish foods? I lived in the south of Finland as an exchange student some 45+ yikes years ago and still keep close connections. That year, I learned traditional recipes from my Finnish "mother", now passed, laughing-laughing-laughing in her kitchen as we practiced our elementary English and Finnish while exercising the lingua franca of familiar ingredients and cooking techniques.

And what did I make? The list is long, these are just the recipes that have found permanent homes in my personal recipe collection.

Karelian piirakka, rye pastry wrapped around rice and topped with egg butter. Piparkakkut, small gingerbread-style cookies. Joulutortuttu, the Finnish windmill pastries filled with prune and apricot jam, so easy to make, especially two or three at a time. Rye cookies. The famous braided cardamon bread called pulla. Kiselli, a dried fruit soup/sauce served over rice pudding. Christmas rice pudding with an almond tucked inside for good luck. A whipped cranberry pudding, as light as air. Smoked salmon. Lohikeitto, the salmon soup that Finns moan over. Joululimppu, a Christmas rye bread that's so close to my long-time Swedish Rye Bread, this once, I'm defecting.

I even cooked not one but two Finnish dinners for the winter solstice, delivering one to my husband's daughter and family.

And it was fun! And distracting! And I have definitely come away with something I'm happy to have dug into and in some cases, really mastered.

And while it wasn't the point or purpose, sure, several recipes will also find homes in Kitchen Parade.

Just in case others are interested in Finnish food (or Scandinavian food in general), project or not, here are a few ideas.

FINNISH FOODS for WINTER Finnish Meatballs, Swedish Red Cabbage & Apples, Thursday's Split-Pea Soup and the hearty Karelian Borscht (Finnish - Russian Beet Borscht Soup) and ever-present Refrigerator Pickled Beets. Meal prep people, give Homemade Finnish Mustard a try. On snowy days, nothing warms like Finnish Glöggi: Hot Red Wine "Mulled" with Winter Spices.

FINNISH FOODS for SUMMER Finnish Summer Soup and Finnish Summer Potato Salad can't be missed.

ON SUMMER's SWEET SIDE Finnish Fruit Tart (Rahkapiirakka) and Finnish Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake.


Pick One is for those of us overwhelmed by life's unending choices. If that resonates, then check out this one recipe and then call it a day. It's one that I think could make the most difference, the one I hope will become a regular in your kitchen, as it is in mine.

Salmon Chowder ♥, fresh salmon in a creamy broth with carrot, potato, fennel.
  • THE RECIPE Salmon Chowder Flavorful fish and vegetables in a creamy broth.
  • WHY THIS, WHY NOW All Finns (who live there, in the diaspora, those with heritage, many like me who simply connect to the culture) l-o-v-e a salmon soup called lohikeitto [pronounced LOW-hee KAY-toe]. It's a feast but surprisingly low in calories and high in protein, both good January goals.

Best Recipes of the Year for 2021

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables ♥, barely roasted, big chunks meant for casual sharing. Vegan. WW Friendly. Low Carb.

Jubilee Greens, Another Master Technique ♥ How to sauté dark leafy greens like spinach, chard, kale and more.

The January Dinner Bell

Seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, the dinner bell rings. If we're gonna eat, somebody's gotta cook, some nights fuel, some nights a feast. Let's make it good, a welcome end to our days.
Slow Cooker Curried Vegetable Stew ♥, a spiced vegetable stew, your choice of vegetables. Vegan. Paleo. Very Weight Watchers friendly!

Chicken Sybil ♥, the 'multiple personality' chicken, just pan-cooked chicken in a creamy-mustard sauce with on-hand ingredients.

How to Make Homemade Vegetable Soup, a master recipe ♥ Never the same twice! Perfect for CSA members, farmers market shoppers and all vegetable lovers!

Calling All Bread Bakers

I'm working on a page that explores the ways bread bakers finagle a "warm and cozy space" where yeast doughs can rise, especially during the cold of winter.

How do you do it? What works for you?

If you have ideas to share, I'd love to hear from you! Just send a quick e-mail via

Thanks in advance!

Good to Know

One Quick Tip: Why Dried Beans Won't Cook ♥, the reason why dried beans some times won't cook, how to avoid it.

Put an Egg on Top aka "How About Eggs for Dinner?"

Why should breakfast get all the eggs?! If eggs for dinner were a club, I'd be president, chief marketing officer, resident evangelist, public advocate and ... hey, wanna join my club? Start here!

How to Make a Spinach Omelet, another quick, healthy breakfast ♥ High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly. Budget Friendly.

Soups & Salads Especially for January

What sparks us in January? Warms us from the middle out or nourishes us from the outside in? Soup, of course! Salads, of course! That's why I spent a year gathering all of A Veggie Venture's best soup and salad recipes into easy-to-scan month-by-month collections.

Dig into Seasonal Soup & Salad Recipes for January, tons of ideas!

Here's a sample!

Lasagna Soup with Fresh Spinach ♥, a healthy hearty soup, high protein.

Detox Chopped Salad, another healthy salad ♥ A Veggie Venture with broccoli, cauliflower, dried fruit, seeds and nuts. Vegan, great for potlucks and parties.

Feeding a Sugar-Conscious Sweet Tooth

You too? We're cutting back on sweets without demonizing dessert, usually with smaller batches, smaller servings, shareable desserts or fruit desserts in addition to limiting frequency. But some times?

Finnish Tiger Cake ♥, a mini chocolate marble pound cake with stripes just like a tiger, easy to double for a large family or a party.

Just Updated!

Potato Blintzes ♥, savory mashed potatoes wrapped in tender crepes, sour cream on the side.

Cranberry Walnut Bread ♥, special for the holidays, a barely sweet yeast bread studded with dried cranberries and toasted walnuts.
  • THE RECIPE Cranberry Walnut Bread Special for the holidays, a barely sweet yeast bread studded with dried cranberries and toasted walnuts.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Hot Cross Buns Sweet buns traditional for Easter.

Southern Corn Bread ♥, my favorite simple southern-style savory cornbread. Plus six tips for perfect cornbread every time.

Don't Be a Stranger ...

I'd love to hear from you. Comment, send me a quick e-mail via, dot-dash in Morse code, build a fire for smoke signals, launch a message in a bottle, send a Christmas letter, get the dog to yip, toss me a note wrapped in a rubberband, write a message in the sky, scratch a note in the sand, listen to a seashell, tuck a question into a plastic Easter egg, whatever.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.