Recipe for Homemade Finnish Mustard

Mustard only comes in garish-yellow plastic squeeze bottles and pricey shelf-stable jars, yes? No more! Here's a homemade mustard for special occasions, made with just a few pantry ingredients and a quick stir on the stove. This mustard is a personal favorite, from the year I lived in Finland as an exchange student. It's a staple in my kitchen, a meal prep standard. ~ Skip Straight to the Recipe ~

A World Apart: My First Real Finnish SaunaIn Finland, sauna is pronounced SOW-na, not SAW-na and its ritual is revered in the lives of Finnish families. If you picture an American girl just-turned 18 and a just-arrived exchange student, you’ll understand why my first Finnish sauna was unnerving.The setting was idyllic, a treeless stonecrop island in the Finnish archipelago on a golden September afternoon. As my Finnish "sister" and I gathered driftwood along the shore to stoke the sauna fire, she explained the routine: men and women together, seated naked in a tiny hut heate…

Recipe for Lamb Stew with Sweet Tomato Jam

A Moroccan-style lamb stew, cooked in a savory “jam" (which really isn't a jam at all) made with onions and fresh summer tomatoes, seasoned with cinnamon, saffron and honey. One hand, it’s enough to count the times lamb has reached my plate, let alone my stove. But I’m learning! When you buy a whole lamb (or a whole hog or a whole steer or a whole elk, say), you fly through the chops, steaks and tenderloins. And then you’re left with a freezerful of the so-called ‘lesser cuts’ that need a little TLC to cook. (TLC? That would mean Time, Largess and Curiosity.) Confession: I so do not “get" cuts of meat, my eyes glaze over at those butcher diagrams showing the loins and hams and the sirloins and butts (which are actually shoulders, by the way, confusing me even more). Buying a whole animal for the freezer, it’s this former-vegetarian's, still-meat-squeamish cook’s attempt to learn my way through the less-expensive just-as-tasty pieces of meat.This is the first lamb dish…

Recipe for Calico Beans
aka "Alanna's Famous Cowboy Beans"

Nothing like a big ol' pot of great beans, doctored, that is. This is hearty bean dish, meaty enough for supper, but more often served as a side at potlucks. In my history, these beans are called "Calico Beans" or some times, "Cowboy Beans". Just this week I learned that they are also called "Roosevelt Beans" and are so famous at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming (which I visited for the very first time yesterday!) that the park kitchens print out the recipe as a souvenir for park visitors! But now I've given them another name, Alanna's Famous Cowboy Beans. That’s because this is one of my most-requested and most-anticipated recipes! I send it along to elk camp, to deer camp and serve from extra-large cast iron Dutch ovens for outdoor parties. Men especially love the beans and no kidding, beg me to send the recipe to their wives.
"... they were very good." ~ Gary
During my vegetarian years, many Midwestern dishes confo…