The Sisterhood of the Enchanted Forest
Sustenance, Wisdom, and Awakening in Finland’s Karelia
What would happen if you built one of the world’s most advanced societies inside a forest—and strove to make women full partners in power?
After living for twenty-five years in New York, Naomi Moriyama moved with her husband and co-author William Doyle and their seven-year-old child to the vast forest of Finland’s Karelia, a mysterious region on the Russian border that helped inspire J.R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth fantasies.
She entered a life-altering zone of tranquility, peace, and beauty, the spiritual heart of the nation ranked as the happiest nation on Earth, with among the world’s most empowered women.
Finland is also the country with cleanest air and water and the best schools, a country where motherhood and fatherhood are championed by law, childhood is revered, schoolchildren are required to play outdoors multiple times a day, and trains contain mini-libraries and mini-playgrounds for children to enjoy.
It was here in the Karelian forest that Naomi found a culinary symphony of succulent wild edibles, herbs, berries, mushrooms and fish, all freshly plucked from the moss-carpeted forest and sparkling clear streams.
She also found something that changed her life—a tribe of invincible women who became her soul-sisters.
As an idyllic summer and fall gave way to a sub-Arctic winter of mind-bending darkness and cold, Naomi faced her fears and her future. Over the course of six unforgettable months with her family and her new “sisters”, she found her life transformed, and discovered the power that lay within her all along.
Then she tried to leave. But she kept coming back.
Come, take a journey deep into Europe’s most distant, magical wilderness, and join the sisterhood of the enchanted forest.
With two pieces about parenting in Finland out now with INSIDER, Naomi addresses the question posed by her book – what would happen if you built one of the world’s most advanced societies inside a forest – and strove to make women full partners in power?
After living for twenty-five years in New York, Naomi Moriyama moved with her husband and co-author William Doyle and their seven-year-old child to the vast forest of Finland’s Karelia, a mysterious region on the Russian border that helped inspire J.R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth fantasies.
There, Naomi found something that changed her life – the “Marthas,” a volunteer collective of Finnish women, taught Naomi how to forage for mushrooms and wild herbs, to meditate in steaming saunas, and to drink water straight from crystal clear forest streams. They laughed at the idea of skipping an outdoor event for poor weather, saying that in Finland there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.
Included in this remarkable book about nature, community, and parenting are a myriad of recipes from Finland – Karelian pies, brown chanterelle cookies, lingonberry porridge, chilled blueberry soup, traditional pan-fried perch, and lingonberry-blueberry multigrain bread. I’ve included an example below my signature!
Whether you pick up this book for its insight into traveling Karelia, its meditations on what parenting and gender equality can look like, or just for some delicious recipes, The Sisterhood of the Enchanted Forest offers a journey deep into Europe’s most distant, magical wilderness, and insight into a new way of living, one situated in harmony with nature and in support of gender equality.
Summer Dandelion Salad
In spring, dandelions pop up and bloom in fields and grass patches throughout Finland. Pick young leaves with smooth edges, which taste mild, while grown leaves with zigzaggy edges are tough and bitter. Serves 4 as side salad.
For the salad:
2 pounds young, fresh, and tender dandelion leaves
2 pounds leafy greens
2 oranges or 1 grapefruit
2 small red onions or 1 medium-sized yellow onion
4 dandelion flowers
For the dressing:
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 crushed garlic clove
¼ teaspoon dried herbs (onion, basil, thyme, marjoram, salt)
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon liquid honey
1. Pick some young dandelion leaves with smooth edges that have grown in a shaded place.
2. Rinse the dandelion leaves and tap them dry with kitchen paper or towel.
3. Cut/tear the leafy greens into bite sizes.
4. Peel the oranges/grapefruit and slice them.
5. Chop the onions.
6. Put all ingredients in to a salad bowl.
7. Blend the spices and honey with orange and lemon juice.
8. Pour the dressing on the salad and let rest for couple of minutes.
9. Garnish each serving with a dandelion flower.
10. Serve immediately.
About the Authors: Naomi Moriyama grew up in Japan and moved to Manhattan in her twenties. She is a U.S.-Japan marketing professional. She has coauthored three non-fiction books on traditional Japanese home-cooked meals and their health benefits with her husband William Doyle, and has been a judge on The Food Network’s acclaimed Iron Chef America, and a featured guest on The Today Show, The View, and Dr.Oz .
William Doyle grew up in New York City and has produced television programs for HBO, PBS, the History Channel, and A&E. Since 2015, he has served as Fulbright Scholar and scholar-in-residence at the University of Eastern Finland, as a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Resident Fellow, and as advisor to the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland. His 2019 book Let the Children Play was coauthored with Pasi Sahlberg.
Did You know?
• Finland has been named the #1 Happiest Country in the World for the past four straight years by the United Nations.
• Finland was just named the #1 nation in the world in handling the Covid-19 pandemic by Der Spiegel, based on mortality, freedoms, economic performance, and vaccination coverage.
• Finland is the world’s #1 nation in Sustainable Development according to a recent ranking by the UN and the Bertlesmann Foundation.
• Finland has in recent years been named one of the world’s greenest, most stable, most literate, most gender equal, most business-friendly and most family-friendly nations in the world, with the cleanest air and water and among the world’s best public schools.
• Finland today is run by women – the 35-year-old Prime Minister Sanna Marin, mother of a 3-year-old girl, leads a governing coalition of five political parties, all of which are led by women. Finnish women were the first in the world to earn the right to vote and run for office.
• Finland is over 70% forest – the most heavily forested nation in Europe.
• Finland is a nation of “Forest-to-Table” foodies and foragers for wild mushrooms, berries and herbs, who enjoy “Everyman’s Rights” privileges to forage almost anywhere in the nation, including private property.
• Childhood is revered in Finland – schoolchildren are required to play outdoors multiple times a day, and trains contain mini-libraries and mini-playgrounds for children to enjoy.