Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Homemade

Finnish Rye, Feed Sack Fashion, and Other Simple Ingredients from My Life in Food

2016
Author:

Beatrice Ojakangas

Homemade

A celebrated cook’s recipes and reflections on growing up in a big Finnish family in northern Minnesota

This memoir-cum-cookbook from celebrated cook Beatrice Ojakangas is 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.

Beatrice Ojakangas has long been my personal cookbook hero. Her life story, told with candor and dry wit, describes what could be nine lives in the world of food and cooking—all of them riveting. From her mother’s cardamom-scented rural kitchen, to the editorial offices of the famed Sunset magazine, to her rightful place cooking alongside Julia Child, to her Minnesota kitchen where she authored twenty-nine (now thirty!) cookbooks, this book proves that Beatrice Ojakangas is not only one of this country’s most important food writers, but a national treasure. As I read, I laughed, got very hungry, picked my rhubarb, wept with fondness, and then I did what she’d want me to do: I pulled myself together, tied on an apron, and preheated my oven.

Amy Thielen, author of The New Midwestern Table

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.

Homemade

Beatrice Ojakangas grew up on a small farm in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota–Duluth. Childhood 4-H, college Home Ec, and work as a hospital dietary assistant, food editor, teacher, homemaker, and mother influenced her cooking career and her food writing for such publications as Gourmet, Bon Appétit, Woman's Day, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Midwest Living, Cooking Light, and numerous newspapers. Ojakangas is the author of twenty-nine cookbooks and was inducted in 2005 to the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame. She received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Minnesota in 2007.

Homemade

Beatrice Ojakangas has long been my personal cookbook hero. Her life story, told with candor and dry wit, describes what could be nine lives in the world of food and cooking—all of them riveting. From her mother’s cardamom-scented rural kitchen, to the editorial offices of the famed Sunset magazine, to her rightful place cooking alongside Julia Child, to her Minnesota kitchen where she authored twenty-nine (now thirty!) cookbooks, this book proves that Beatrice Ojakangas is not only one of this country’s most important food writers, but a national treasure. As I read, I laughed, got very hungry, picked my rhubarb, wept with fondness, and then I did what she’d want me to do: I pulled myself together, tied on an apron, and preheated my oven.

Amy Thielen, author of The New Midwestern Table

Beatrice Ojakangas makes her compelling family stories rich for all senses: we smell the cardamom in the bread cooling on the counter, savor the cream of morel soup, and long for chiffon cake. Best of all, we experience the joy of recreating these flavors ourselves with the recipes she provides. This book is a public service to history as well as to our stomachs.

Lucie Amundsen, co-owner of Locally Laid Egg Company and author of Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky, Industry-changing Egg Farm—from Scratch

Even if you've never visited Minnesota or taken a sauna, the warm, conversational tone makes for an engaging read.

Tangled Up in Food

Foodies everywhere, especially those who have an interest in the actual cooks behind the recipes will thoroughly enjoy this well-written book. Ojakangas is a wonderful, down-to-earth person; regular people can relate to her, and this cookbook will provide not only good recipes, but a good reading experience.

BellaOnline

I highly recommend Homemade for any kitchen. The recipes are easy to follow and Beatrice's story is a wonderful accompaniment.

Heavree Reviews

Ojakangas, who lives in Duluth, has published “Homemade,” a look back at growing up in a Finnish-American community in northern Minnesota, and her travels through the world of cookbooks (she has written 29), gourmet cooking and bake-off prizes--all salted with plenty of recipes, especially for Finnish favorites.

Rochester Post-Bulletin

If it seems surprising that a farm kid looking for something new could end up taking pictures with Ronald Reagan and baking with Julia Child, pick up a copy of the book.

Mpls. St. Paul Magazine

Beatrice Okajangas has gifted her loyal readers and new fans with a most beautiful and heartfelt memoir of her life in food–a well-told tale of family origins, inborn talent, opportunities seized, and hard work–flavored throughout by her own irresistible spirit.

Northern Lights Reading Project

A great pick for those interested in cooking-based memoirs.

Tara’s Multicultural Table

Homemade

Contents
Acknowledgments
Prologue: Any Questions?
Part I
My Paternal Grandparents: A Story of Commitment and Perseverance
Finnish Cardamom Coffee Bread (Pulla)
Korppu
My Maternal Grandparents: A Story of Famine, Fire, and Fear
Grandmother’s Sugar Cookies
First Names First
Finnish-Style Mojakka
Growing Up on a Farm in Northern Minnesota
Salt Cake
Mummy’s Simple White Cake
There Were Ten of Us
Being Finnish
Thin Finnish Pancakes (Lattyja)
Sunday Services at Uncle Frank’s
Summers on the Farm
Wild Berry Jam
Swimming
Cows in Wintertime
Finnish Baked Cheese (Leipäjuusto)
Venison
The Best Venison Liver and Onions
Visits from Aunts and Uncles
Orange Date-Nut Cake
My Twelfth Birthday
No Recipe Needed
Mummy’s “Juicy” Cinnamon Rolls
Feed Sack Fashion
Hired Men
Mrs. Long’s Graham Rieska
Christmas Trees
Pulla People
Some Stories Are Hard to Tell
Vesala
Floodwood, My Hometown
Sam’s Socklat Cake
Lincoln School in Floodwood
Anne Brown’s Beauty Parlor
Town Kids versus Country Kids
Country Carrot Meatloaf
Seeds for a Bible
Heaven and How to Get There
Confirmation in the Finnish Lutheran Church
Till the Cows Come Home
The End-of-Summer Prize
Lemon or Orange Chiffon Cake
Back to the State Fair
Cheese Soufflé
Finnish Rye Bread
Part II
Becoming a Home Economist
A Turn in the Road
My First Taste of Gourmet Food
Hot Cheese Puffs
Burnt Sugar Ice Cream
My “Toast in the Morning Man”
Almond Cardamom Scones
The Pillsbury Bake-Off
Cheesy Picnic Bread (Chunk o’ Cheese Bread)
A Year in Finland
Lanttulaatikko (Rutabaga Casserole)
Swedish Prince’s (Princess) Cake
Stories from Finland
Finnish Blueberry Bars (Mustikkapiirakka)
Sunset
Magazine
A Marriage Encounter with Moussaka
Moussaka
A Food Writer and a Mom
Jumbo Sugar Jumbles
Welcome Back to Duluth
Somebody’s House
Rabbitburger
Stroganoff Burger
Swiss Fondue
Jeno and the Big Idea
Two Years at Vocational School
Karjalan Paisti (Karelian Three-Meat Stew)
Cooking School in the South of France with Simca
Tarte de Nancy
Pâté Sucrée
Nice Is Nice
A Totally Untraditional Bouillabaisse
The Seven-Course Morel Festival Meal
Cream of Morel Soup
In the Kitchen with Julia Child
Quick Method Danish Pastry
Danish Pastry Braid
On TV with Martha Stewart
Katja’s Birthday Sponge Cake
Peachie, the Butter Spokesperson
Cookie Questions
Chocolate Chip Cookies
The Great River Road
Nauvoo Wheat-Nut Coffeecake
Shrimp à la Creole
The Butter Churn and My Beloved Mom
Twenty-Nine Cookbooks and Counting—All of Them “Pot Boilers”
Cooking in a Church Kitchen (Bring Sharp Knives!)
Three-Grain Wild Rice Sunflower Seed Bread
Summing It Up