Shakshuka, the ultimate weekend breakfast

This easy to make, low in cost and all inclusive breakfast dish I mastered many years ago. On my service years in the IDF I found myself often posted on a rather deserted spot with only a small group of comrades. We had to feed ourselves with the culinary knowledge of our young lives, as no cook would do it for us. And so, this Shakshuka deli became our favorite dish. Vegetables and eggs, that’s all. On better days some cheese and fresh bread would upgrade it to new levels. You can improvise with this dish, using your favorite veggies, herbs and cheeses, however this is my basic recipe as I do it for all these years. This will feed 3-4 people. Enjoy!

shakshuka ingredients

Shakshuka, the ultimate weekend breakfast


  • 2 onions
  • 2 red paprika
  • 3 tomatoes
  • Spring onion
  • 6 eggs
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • sugar
  • chili powder
  • olive oil
  • 1 tea spoon cumin
  • 1 small tin of tomato puree


  1. Chop the onions, paprika, tomatoes and spring onion and keep separately.
  2. Warm olive oil in a skillet.
  3. Fry the onions then add the paprika and then the tomatoes.
  4. Add the spices; salt, black pepper, chili and cumin.
  5. Add the tomato puree and a little water.
  6. Add the spring onions.
  7. Let it cook for a few minutes on low fire, taste and balance with sugar.
  8. Break the eggs and place symmetrically on top of the sauce.
  9. Cover with lid and cook for about 10 minutes on very low fire.
  10. Check with a finger, shakshuka is done when the egg yolks get solid.
  11. Garnish with some chopped spring onions and serve with fresh white bread.

Nick Brandt in Salo Art Museum

nick brandt exhibition card

Salo is a nice small town that has a great museum of art. Their exhibitions have made me drive the 100 km distance from Helsinki more than once.
Salo’s museum of art is having a most fantastic show by photographer Nick Brandt: “On This Earth, a Shadow Falls” 31.1.-17.5.2015.
Brandt portrays his wild beasts in their home ground Africa in a most delicate and beautiful way. He works at close distance to his subjects, as close as a photographer who portrays a human being would be. No long focal lenses nor colors, but black and white pictures gently toned to sepia, wonderfully framed and digitally mastered. Those magnificent prints kept me smiling all through the show. The intimacy of the images truly reveals the soul of the animals. These pictures are like poems that Brandt creates with so much love and respect to his subjects.
If you are in Finland this spring go to Salo and visit the museum of art.

elephant by nick brandt

lion by nick brandt

zebras by nick brandt
zebras by nick brandt

buffalo by nick brandt

lion head by nick brandt

leopards by nick brandt

elephants by nick brandt

skull by nick brandt

lion king by nick brandt

elephant walking by nick brandt

Ode to small shops

One of the things I frequently hear from friends who return from a trip abroad is: “…and what nice small shops they have in their city…”
Last week I took a few hours off my studio work and headed to Museokatu, one of my favorite streets in Helsinki. The shops there are just the kind that we all adore when traveling abroad; small, quality stuff, nice interior design, personal service and of course a very friendly atmosphere .
Most of us would like to have such businesses and services in our own neighborhoods but we should then remember to use them too. Support your local street shops by using their services. Or else we all meet in one of the giant markets outside the city centre. How romantic…

elintarvike heinonenElintarvike Heinonen, Museokatu 20-22.
A classic small food store, the kind that is all too rare in this age of impersonal supermarkets. The store and it`s owner Liisa Heinonen have been serving the neighborhood for the past 40 years!
kultaus-kehysliike virtanen 2

kultaus-kehysliike virtanen
Kultaus- ja kehysliike Virtanen, Museokatu 28.
Harri Virtanen is a gilding master and second generation owner of the shop that was established in 1970. Professional master work for individuals as well as institutes.

pinkki paplari 3

pinkki paplari

pinkki paplari 2
Pinkki Paplari, Museokatu 20-22.
When walking along Museokatu, you can`t help noticing this vintage hair parlour and barber shop with its fantastic interior design and glam of the 1950’s America.
I’m greeted by hairdresser Hanna Grén who just fits the atmosphere perfectly. I have a feeling I just stepped into a movie set.

little copenhagen 2

little copenhagen 1Little Copenhagen, Museokatu 36.
Wonderful kids fashion store. The kind that I look for abroad when I want to treat my grandkids with nice special clothes.
Notice that they have a second hand department as well.

anton et anton 2

anton et anton 1
Anton & Anton, Museokatu 19
Minimarket/deli shop, the style we all admire when traveling abroard. Fresh quality food in the heart of a living neighborhood.


mizu sushi
Mizu, Museokatu 28.
Mio Orpo welcomes me in her lunch/coffee place.
This friendly and stylish small restaurant is a newcomer on the street, started January 2015.
Good luck Mio!

kaffecentralen 2

kaffecentralen 1

Kaffecentralen, Museokatu 9.
The shop is an institute for any coffee lover. As such I have visited their shops before, and have bought my studio Espresso Machine and coffee beans from them.
However you can stop over for a great cup of coffee even if you don`t have any intentions of buying the espresso machines.

hella et herkku 2

hella et herkku 1
Hella & Herkku, Museokatu 15
Stepping in and a few stairs up, I found myself surrounded by olive oils, pastas, preserved goods, special baking flour, dishes and other props. Far behind sits owner Anna Taipalus and welcomes me with a big friendly smile.
Hella & Herkku started in this location on October 2013. A cozy little shop where one can find an extra special product to complete a shopping list for an Italian home dinner or just pop in for a nice chat with Anna.

Getting romantic for Valentine’s!

Well, let’s talk about romantic holidays.

Romantic beach

A romantic holiday gives a spark back to a relatioship. That’s what says a fresh survey made by Tjäreborg. I don’t doubt that!

According to the same survey the top 5 romantic beach destinations were:

  1. Greek small islands
  2. Maledives
  3. Crete
  4. Mauritius
  5. Thailand

And top romantic 5 city holidays:

  1. Venice
  2. Roma
  3. Paris
  4. Barcelona
  5. Nice

Well, I would go to anyone! Rome has been on my list for a long time, in other city destinations I have been (and liked too).But from the beach destinations Mauritius and Maledives are still on my to do-list.

I have been in so many romantic places on my work and private trips and decided to make a list of my own . This is a mixture of beach and city, wilderness and villages. By clicking the destination you will be led to the local tourism info.

Andaman India Havelock Radha Nagar

Image: Daniel Koponen

1. Havelock, Andaman islands, India, where especially Havelock and Radha Nagar (Beach no 7) is a super romantic place with its emerald lagoon and beautiful, untouched sandy beach.

Jaffa port Israel

2. Jaffa harbor next to Tel Aviv in Israel is a place where many wedding pictures are taken. Narrow streets, art galleries, fish restaurant and the harbor. Very picturesque and romantic place!

Paris France

Image: Daniel Koponen

3. Paris. Had to add this to my list too. I guess no explanation needed.

4. Lapland.

Atmospheric, dark winter, Northern lights.  Unique and romantic!

Tasties Cafe Pano Lefkara Cyprus

5. Pano Lefkara village in Cyprus is a perfect hide away. Small streets, quiet village life and this lovely Tasties cafe where you can spend a long evening next to a candle light.

Elafonisis beach Crete

6.  Crete. The famous Elafonisis is great but try also small beaches. If you are lucky you can find a beach of your own. Like I did behind the beautiful Vai beach.

7. The sunset above the lake at our own summer cottage.

Oh, there are so many. This list could be endless. Walking in Taormina old town streets in Sicily, watching starts in Wadi Rum desert in Jordan, cycling on the beach in Jurmala, an old spa town in Latvia. Soon I am going to Epirus, Greece. Seems to be a very romantic destination as well, at least according to the pictures.

Happy Valentine’s and lovely holiday planning moments for the coming year! The planning itself is so much fun too, isn’t it?

Where would you go on a holiday? I’d love to hear your lists too!




The Nepali children stole my heart

Jeep drive in Nepal FidaTraveling in Nepal. The roads are narrow and very bumpy so we were lucky to have a 4 wheel drive.

I traveled in Nepal in November together with my brother Daniel. We made a campaign for Fida International, a Finnish NGO working in Nepal and other countries.

We toured around in Nepal visiting the local schools and interviewed children, teachers, principles, mothers and local employees. The days we spent with Fida’s Päivi Leppänen were something to remember. Poverty, people living in remote villages and lacking almost all the basic needs (at least when thinking what we consider here in Finland basic needs… the idea in Nepal is a bit different) but on the other it was lovely to see the incredible joy of the children and how hard they work if they just are allowed to have the chance to study.

Jeeplillä Nuwakotissa Nepalissa Fida

Removing stones…

Jeep Nepal Fida

And a little push…

Koulu Nepal FIda

Our reception at schools was more than welcoming. Lovely kids, big and small!

School visit Fida Nepal

The kids had brought us flowers from their homes and made us beautiful flower chains.

Fida Nepal



Kouluvierailu Fida Eväät elämään Nepal

Päivi Leppänen has worked already for years in Nepal and loves her work despite the challenges which are many. I guess these moments are her real reward. To meet the kids who against all the odds get the opportunity to go to school and have a chance for a better future. And to see how the schools supported by Fida start to flourish. Many people want to register their kids into Fida schools although they are government schools and not private schools which are traditionally more appreciated.

Fida Nepal koulutyö

Small school kids and Nepali alphabet.

School kids Fida Nepal

The interviews weren’t always so calm as the whole school wanted to be present. 🙂

FIda kouluvierailu Nepal

The principle and the director of the school board in this Nuwakot school are very proud of their school which has within the recent years become the best of the whole area.

Fida‘s aim is to support the government schools by educating the teachers, providing modern teaching material and for instance by building a bathroom for the school. It is extremely important to support the government run schools because they are free. If a child enrolls to a private school, his or her school career might end if the economical situation of the family becomes weaker. By enrolling the kids to a government school the chance that the child will study all the grades is much higher.

Transformation Nepal Durga

And here we go again… Durga from Transformation Nepal, a local NGO.

Jeeppi Fida Nepal

What would you do here without a jeep?

Images: Daniel Koponen




Paragliding in Nepal

Lack of any self-preservation instict. That was my last thought before jumping out from the mountain together with my paragliding guide Prem.

How did I end up there? Totally fired up, without blaming anyone 😉

(Check out the clip about my virgin glide at the bottom of this post)

Pokraha Nepal paragliding

Still jolly atmosphere driving up (although I already started feeling dizzy but that’s normal for me, I am not made for bumpy roads). The Chinese travelers were fun. We talked and laughed communicating only with sign language and probably with three words of English.


Paragliding in Pokraha Nepal

Still not having cold feet. Or it doesn’t show.

Varjoliitoa Nepalissa

The last instructions were: ” Walk, walk, walk – run, run, RUN!” And we were already in the sky.

Paragliding Pokhara Nepal

At 2000 meters above sea level. For greater views over Pokhara you will have to look hard.


Prem made me forget all my anxiety and dizziness with his singing and chatting..


Paragliding Safely on the ground. Luckily I heard only later about the recent accident in which the gliders had ended up in the lake near by.

Pokhara is a great place to try this hobby because of the views and the climate. Often the sky is full of paragliders with all the different colors.

Near the lakeside you will find many companies. I used this one and they were very reliable. Ask for Prem if possible!

You get this great experience for 80 euros, book in advance.

And to finish with, my clip about my ever first paragliding experience.