Beatrice Ojakangas, the oldest of ten children, came by it naturally—the cooking but also the pluck and perseverance that she's served up with her renowned Scandinavian dishes over the years. In the wake of the Moose Lake fires and famine of 1918, Ojakangas tells us in this delightful memoir-cum-cookbook, her grandfather sent for a Finnish mail-order bride—and got one who’d trained as a chef.
Ojakangas’s stories, are, unsurprisingly, steeped in food lore: tales of cardamom and rye, baking salt cake at the age of five on a wood-burning stove, growing up on venison, making egg rolls for Chun King, and sending off a Pillsbury Bake Off–winning recipe without ever making it. And from here, how those early roots flourished through hard work and dedication to a successful (but never easy) career in food writing and a much wider world, from working for pizza roll king Jeno Paulucci to researching food traditions in Finland and appearing with Julia Child and Martha Stewart—all without ever leaving behind the lessons learned on the farm. As she says, “first you have to start with good ingredients and a good idea.”
Chock-full of recipes, anecdotes, and a kind humor that bring to vivid life the Finnish culture of northern Minnesota as well as the wider culinary world, Homemade delivers the savory and the sweet in equal measures and casts a warm light on a rich slice of the country’s cooking heritage.