Today we're saying hei! to Sini, a 24-year-old graduate student from southern Finland. She is the thoughtful and creative blogger behind my blue&white kitchen, a space dedicated to seasonal Nordic cooking. Sini (which she says rhymes with "Lily," except with an "s" and an "n") wants her food to reflect her history — whether that's the time spent cooking with her Bavarian grandmother or the months during which she trekked the world over with nothing more than a 10 kilo (that's 22 pounds) backpack. I love the honesty and intimacy of Sini's posts. Her passion and humility shine through so charmingly that she's hard to resist. Her bright, beautiful photos don't hurt, either.
Read on to get to know Sini!
What is your all-time favorite book?
This is a really tough one; I have many, all for different reasons. I'm going to say When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams. I read it last summer, and it touched me in a way no other book has. I found myself reading the pages over and over again. There's so much wisdom in her words.
What meal do you love to cook?
I enjoy cooking for my family and friends more than anything else. For me, food is about sharing, nourishing, and creating memories. It's always special to cook something from ingredients you have foraged with your own hands. I find great joy in picking berries, like raspberries, blueberries, and currants, in summer and foraging different mushrooms in fall as well as in creating dishes that highlight the characters of each foraged ingredient.
What is your favorite food scene from a book?
"Harry drank deeply. It was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted and seemed to heat every bit of him from the inside." (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, p. 149). I've always wondered how the butterbeer from the Harry Potter books tastes like. In my mind it's even better than hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce.
Coffee or tea?
There's nothing like the smell of freshly ground coffee in the morning. Or at 10 pm. Yes, I drink coffee at night, often just before I go to bed. My caffeine tolerance might be a bit too high...I blame my Scandinavian genes.
What is the last book you abandoned?
A book from my childhood hero, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and Susan Schiefelbein: The Human, the Orchid and the Octopus. But just because there were so many other books distracting me on Christmas. I'll continue with it as soon as I find a nice spot by the water. After all, you have to be surrounded by water when reading tales from Jacques Cousteau.
Author you’d most like to meet for dinner, and your order?
This is an easy one. Without question, the Finnish novelist, painter, illustrator, comic strip author, and Moomin creator Tove Jansson who would have turned 100 years this year. I have adored her since I was a child. I grew up in a home where her work, both as a writer and as an artist, was always present. It would be one of those nightless summer nights here in Finland when the sun never really sets. We would sit on the shores and watch the stormy sea. Waves crashing on the gray rocks, the sky dark and mighty, the wind messing up our hair, and the seagulls screaming. Just feeling the power of nature. Maybe we would make crêpes on an open fire and enjoy full-bodied red wine.
Where do you go to find new recipes? New reads?
I'm a lover of cookbooks, and I have quite a collection sitting on my bookshelves at home. On evenings, I often sit on the floor surrounded by cookbooks. I'm not necessarily looking for a specific recipe; I just enjoy flipping through the beautiful pages and reading the stories. Furthermore, I love to read magazines. Some of my favorites are Kinfolk, Donna Hay, Jamie magazine, and the SwedishELLE mat & vin. Another recipe source is of course the Internet: blogs, Pinterest, social media, etc.
I often read books that have either been recommended to me by a friend, or that have been reviewed in a newspaper or on the Internet. I also love to get lost in bookstores and find interesting new reads. I think I visited hundreds of bookstores on my 11-month round-the-world trip in 2009–2010. Again, the cookbook section was the first one I sought. I even had a small notebook in which I wrote down the titles of books I found and fell in love with, so I could buy them once I got home. I was also known to always carry at least three books in my backpack; the book exchange shelves at hostels were amazing.
Tell us about your blog — the inspiration for it, why you blog and your favorite aspects.
My love for food blogs began in 2007 when I stumbled upon delicious:days (which, by the way, still is one of my most favorite blogs). For years, I read food blogs on a daily basis; I found like-minded souls, delicious food, and inspiration. Although I always felt the urge to start my own one, it didn't happen until last summer. Maybe it was fear of failing. Would anyone want to read my stories and see what I cook? What if I'm really bad at blogging? Today, I'm really happy I took the leap and created my blue&white kitchen. For me, it's my creative space; a place to share my love for food and cherish my Nordic-Bavarian heritage. One of the best things about blogging is connecting with readers and getting to be a part of a community of like-minded people all over the world. I'm grateful to have met so many kind souls through blogging. It's truly amazing.
What are your favorite blogs, and why?
La Tartine Gourmande, Cannelle et Vanille, and Sprouted Kitchen are long-time favorites, and I love their cookbooks as well. I adore Happyolks, Local Milk, the Vanilla Bean Blog [link to ATTW interview], and Manger not only for their delicious recipes and their superb photography but most of all for their tremendous writing. The photography on Suvi sur le vif, Dagmar's Kitchen, Hortus Cuisine, and from Linda Lomelino (both on her English and Swedish blog) make my heart beat faster. The posts on My Name is Yeh [link to ATTW interview] always make me smile. Cake Over Steak [link to ATTW interview] is a great illustrated blog, and the Brooklyn-based Dolly and Oatmeal and Two Red Bowls are wonderful places to seek inspiration and to share ideas and thoughts. Oh and please make the buckwheat waffles from London Bakes! Sorry, this was me trying to keep it short. For the full list, head to my blog's Sites I Love page.