Summer delight: Strawberry cheesecake, fast and simple

That time the recipe will be super easy, fast to make, tasty and yet, relatively a healthy one. It’s a cake that will always remind me of Finland and the Finnish summer, the time when you can enjoy one of the best Scandinavian treats, – forest and garden berries.

 

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I took it easy and tried to minimize the time for cooking, a number of ingredients and effort in general. Just 5 simple steps and it’s done!

There are 3 key ingredients:
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Runeberg cake: dessert for poets and all the good people.

I’m quite excited to present you this hidden Finnish treasure, the cake that you won’t be able to taste unless you are traveling or living in Finland or Sweden in mid of January – beginning of February. And even then you might miss it on the cafe shelf, with it fancy-classy yet modest shape and decor. The cake has a story how it was created and tradition that has been built around it within the time, – all tiny details that I adore and interested in so much when I’m looking for new recipe to try on my (or my friend’s) kitchen!

No doubts, this cake can speak for itself. And for those who, like me, are seeking the magic in the cooking process and curious about the details I address this text.

So, long story short: according to the legend, the recipe invented by Frederika Runeberg for her husband, Finland-Swedish national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804–1877). Her recipe book from the 1850s has the torte’s recipe, which is believed to be a variation of an earlier recipe by confectioner Lars Astenius from Porvoo. The story claims that the cake became the part of the poet’s daily breakfast. Oh, he had a sweet tooth indeed. 🙂

Now Runeberg cakes can be found for a limited time all around Finland (and probably in Sweden too): traditionally they are baked to celebrate the poet’s birthday that is on 5th of February. Only in Porvoo (small beautiful town 50 km away from Helsinki) the cafes are granted the privilege to keep it in their daily menu for all over the year. If you visit the city, I would highly recommend you to go and try it there, can’t be a mediocre experience for sure!

The most distinctive flavors and taste of this cake come from sweet almonds, bitter almond extract, raspberry, molasses, orange zest and cardamom. The traditional shape is a cylinder 3 cm in diameter and about 6-7 cm high. There are a lot of variations of the original recipes and while making my own research I almost got crazy and desperate with my attempts to find a ‘genuine’ formula for this cake. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one doing my research, – I found the recipe that seemed to be more canonical that anything else so far from the Blogdessertsforbreakfast blog and after baking I should say: that feels just right to me! Besides the recipe, authors shares a very nice story about her experience with making this dessert, so you’ll be entertained well enough while backing your torttu. 🙂

file_000Hence, you can go straight there and follow that recipe, or follow one I am listing below. We (me and my friend Kate, who are accompanying me in my baking adventures from time to time) changed the measurements from cups (that was quite confusing for us) to grams and the Fahrenheit to Celsius for the oven to make it easy to follow. Also, we changed a few ingredients to the similar ones that are available at our area. Otherwise, we followed the process described in the linked blog  above as close as possible.

Runeberg Cake (Runebergintorttu in finnish)
makes 8 3×3 round cakes (one per portion) Continue reading

It’s time for a challenge, designers!

Winter season is approaching us in Helsinki with its full speed. It is a great time to warm up your house with the candle light and make your days more bright from within. For doing so, I am starting the challenge campaign of my own and invite you all to share it with me. You are welcome to join me with your own challenge, comment on my posts and help me to keep things going or like my posts if you think it’s worth it!

From 8th of November till the 27th of December, every day I will post the result of my quick lettering exercise.

50 days in the row and 50 lettering exercises are awaiting to be created! 

For the first time I decided to dedicate this challenge to the spices in my kitchen. I’ve chosen this topic because spices are making taste of the food bright, different and interesting and the variety of tastes are endless!

So, the rules are simple:

  • Draw one quick (15 min max) hand-lettering design for one spice.
  • Any instruments to draw are allowed.
  • Photograph or scan and post it in my Instagram with hashtag #letteringspicechallenge.
  • Keep the challenge going every day for fifty days, starting from 8th of November.

Cheers and keep things rolling!
Valeria

The components of the digitalization

What are the components of digitalization?

First of all, digitalization is only possible with ‘the devices capable of managing digital signals’(1) (Verhulst, 451), and the established eco-system that connects all those devices to each other.
The information presented in code (digital signal) can be understood, transmitted and manipulated by almost any digital device, so in this case the method of storing the data in digital form is more universal. For example, ‘one system created for transportation digital signals may carry services that in the past were provided in separate ways’(2), as video, audio or text, for example (Pool, 23).

Thus, the first component of digitalization that ordinary people are dealing in their everyday life is a tangible object that people can own (rent) and/or interact with. It can be a mobile phone, smart watch or any kind of smart wear (sport bra, for example), laptop, cameras in the parking lot and any kind of sensors that ‘detects events or changes in the environment, and then provide a corresponding output.’ (3) Continue reading

Accelerating the digitalization, design point of view.

Last week I was happy to participate in the ‘Breakfast Date: Accelerating Digitalization’ organized by Women in Tech Finland.

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Photo of the venue taken by Microsoft Flux staff.

The digitalization topic is directly related to my thesis I’m currently writing in Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture. And even thought the big part of my thesis supposed to be about digitalization and the influence it has on our everyday life in general and public healthcare services in particular, it was so interesting to listen the speakers who are extremely fluent in their area and working at the very core of the digitalization processes. Two IoT professionals Henriikka Åkerman and Hanna Nikkilä were talking about their work and projects they were involved in,cloud technology and IoT with Microsoft Azure. The event took place at the Microsoft Flux co-working space and was organized by ‘Women in Tech, Finland Chapter’ community.

This morning gave me new insights to continue my writing, talks were very inspiring and educative. I’d like to thank the presenters and organizers for this opportunity, atmosphere and motivating discussions!

So, what the Digitalization is?

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Rhubarb and quark-lemon pie for Midsummer’s eve

Midsummer’s dessert.

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Some seasonal vegetables can only be available for a few weeks per year and once you’ve tried and liked it, you won’t miss this experience again. New potato and cabbage, tiny cucumbers just picked from the plant, are so crunchy, fresh and sweet, – for all of those you need to be in a right place in a right time.
Luckily, some of the vegetables, berries and fruits can keep their wonderful qualities and taste we admire. They just should be picked up, prepared and frozen carefully so everyone can enjoy it all over the year.
The recipe that I am presenting you today can use both fresh or frozen rhubarb, and depends on it the final result will look a bit different but taste remains the same. I think this pie is a great option for summer brunch or evening dessert, it is light, lemony and looks good. Also it is very easy to make. I don’t think you can fail it even if you really try to do so!

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Things that designed to solve problems and things that designed to be loved.

How do you design things that people will love?

There is always something else out there, that is better, faster, smarter, more efficient and resourceful. How do you pick the one you will love and be attached to? How would you design meaning and not just a function that fulfil someone’s (talked through and researched) needs and solve the well-analyzed problems?

We want our life to have a sense, a purpose, and we are in constant search for it. The new day, the new projects, new people and places, – time is running and we just can’t help ourselves to stop the flood. World nowadays is full of solutions and that’s the problem. There are a tons of things that grab your attention and it’s very easy to miss the point, loose your focus and sense of presence. It’s a big challenge nowadays to keep your purity, be mindful in what you’re doing and honest with yourself. We live in an era of destruction and our brain can’t keep up with this pace.

The experience that fascinates people is directly linked to the meaning of interaction with the product(service). Thus, the way how you design products and services while you’re looking for creating the new meaning and experience should be totally different to one when you design products based on facts, user research, analyzed needs of the users and all other possible data, collected beforehand. Continue reading

Website building: purpose, navigation and identity, IDBM case.

When I got the task and had to build the website for IDBM program that would replace the old one (that was down at that moment) I was so excited and had a lot of fireball ideas and wanted to try all of them at the same time. 🙂

In reality I was not able to code anything but very simple html (now I’m a bit better and still learning the basics of coding), and of course my colleagues have had some sort of ideas what kind of website they would like to have (”We need a new website and it is quite urgent. “ :)). Continue reading

The IDBM Book 20/5, anniversary edition. Part one: design and teamwork, the best combination ever.

The IDBM Book 20/5 was made while I was working as a designer in IDBM program in Aalto University School of Business and the length of the project was about 3-4 months. The idea of ’The IDBM book 20/5’ was to showcase the IDBM program, its projects and activities, and provide a solid understanding of what the program entails. The first edition, for the academic year 2014-2015, is produced celebrating 20 years of IDBM as a minor and 5 years as a master program. Continue reading

“We can’t design experiences. Experiences are reactions to the things we design.” Amen.

A very interesting and quite long reading about perspectives of digital design, homogeneity and patterns in a designing a user experience. There are a few quotations from it, something that grabbed my attention and resonate with my recent thoughts. You might find there something for you as well. Continue reading