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Vegan MoFo button 2013

Friday Try-out

Friday seems a good day to try things. Like those unfamiliar ingredients I bought on a whim, or that instant dessert I got sent but haven’t dared dip into yet. And don’t forget about the vegetables I don’t like much and need to find tasteful recipes for. Like beetroots, for example…

Gonna beat those beets!

Beets & I, we don’t get along very well. Can’t blame them because I used to HATE them as a child -of course that was in the time the only beet dish we knew in Holland was (over) cooked- but it beats me what my excuse is. Love their colour. ;) Okay, I guess I just don’t like the combined flavour of sweet and “earthy”. I’m more of a spicy, savoury kind of grrl; not too fond of a sweetish dinner.

Over the years I’ve found a few beet recipes that I can appreciate: beet risotto, red beet hummus, cooked beet salad or roasted beet salad, even chocolate beet cake. Still, each time those red veggies pop up in my CSA I go like: uh-oh. And I give them to my aunt. So the search continues until I root for beets!

Beet ‘n Berry smoothie

Beet & Berry Breakfast Smoothie
Time to try a beet smoothie. I found this rather attractive looking recipe on Choosing Raw combining beet with orange (juice) and frozen berries. Many of the ingredients I usually have at hand… unfortunately not today. I was not to be deterred though and experimented with substitutes from my pantry.

Ingredients
Serves 1 (about 1 litre)

1 medium beet, steamed (cooked), cooled, peeled & roughly cut
3 handfuls frozen mixed berries & strawberries (about 200 ml)
200 ml apple juice
250 ml vanilla soy milk
splash of rice milk
1 teaspoon of almond butter, heaped
1 tablespoon hempseed
1/2 tablespoon flaxseed oil
1 teaspoon sucanat (or other sweetener)

Preparation
Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender. I have a multi-purpose kitchen machine with blender option in which it took less than a minute.

The Verdict

Although it was not as delicious as my favourite breakfast smoothie, I rather liked this beet breakfast. I barely noticed anything earthy; only when the liquid starting warming up it appeared. Of course nothing beats the flavour combination of beet and orange of the original recipe so next time I’ll definitely try that. Still, apple juice complements quite nicely as well. I would have loved to use dates for sweetener but I hadn’t planned that: they need to be soaked for several hours. I’ve tried using dates dry once and I tell you: my immersion blender did not like that. At all. O_o Of course you need to cook, steam or roast your beet in advance as well, and give it a chance to cool down. So unless you’re using the pre-cooked kind that gives you enough time for soaking too.

I did a not-100%-successful experiment roasting my beet in the microwave… It seemed logical: if you can make jacket potatoes in it, the same goes for beets? Well, guess again (or smell my kitchen). Next time I’ll just nuke it in a normal way or cook it on the stove. If you’re lucky to have a Vitamix you can just blend beet raw!

Another thing: next time I’m going to use only frozen strawberries or raspberries. A smoothie should be velvet-y and the hard seeds of other berries annoy me. But your hearing me right: I’m talking about next time!

If you can recommend any beet recipes I’d really appreciate it!

* This post will be updated later to share whether this breakfast took me all the way to lunch or if I got hungry before that. *

Banner Vegan Month of Food 2013

VeganMoFo brings you a Month of Vegan Food. Bloggers all around the world share their favourite recipes, mouthwatering food pics, quick cooking tips, nutritional info and anything else food related to show that vegan living is awesome. It’s the best choice for animals (dûh), our planet and people! Check out the blogroll and drool… Or better yet: join us!

* Due to circumstances MoFo posts #3 and #4 are currently missing but will be updated as soon as possible *

Vegan MoFo button 2013
One of my reasons for joining VeganMoFo is that I seem to have lost my appetite for cooking and blogging. VeganMoFo combines the two and may be just the thing to get my mojo back!

The same goes for bentoing… Might this bento be a whole new beginning and not just the start of a new week???

Meatless Monday VeganMoFo Bento #210

A Meatless Monday VeganMoFo Bento” — now THAT’s a mouthful!
And a tasty one as well haha (yup, bad joke). A lunch that I happily dug into during my break.

Meatless Monday VeganMoFo Bento, 02-09-2013

Carbs tier
Pasta salad (chilli pasta with sundried tomatoes, spring onion, black kalamata olives, parsley and a pesto vinaigrette) on iceberg lettuce.

Veggie tier
Corn cob (freezer stash), cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper and radish to dip with houmous.

On the side
Houmous in the small container, carrots and two sandwiches with apple butter that are not shown in this picture because they were not in the box but in snacktaxi baggies.

Local & organic: corn, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, parsley
Organic: cucumber, olives, sundried tomatoes, pasta, apple butter, ingredients vinaigrette

What did YOU have for lunch on this VeganMoFo Meatless Monday? Have you ever made a bento?

Banner Vegan Month of Food 2013

VeganMoFo brings you a Month of Vegan Food. Bloggers all around the world share their favourite recipes, mouthwatering food pics, quick cooking tips, nutritional info and anything else food related to show that vegan living is awesome. It’s the best choice for animals (dûh), our planet and people! Check out the blogroll and drool… Or better yet: join us!

Banner Vegan Month of Food 2013

VeganMoFo 2013

It’s that time of year again: VeganMoFo has returned to your homes! And what could be better than a Vegan Month of Food than to revive this blog? If there’s any life left in it, some good food should do the trick ;)

Carnegie's Cottage

Today I had lunch in an ‘ordinary’ restaurant called Carnegie Cottage, located in the beautiful rural area of Hoge Veluwe. We were celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday and it was her treat. When she called a few days in advance to make reservations, she didn’t only ask whether they’d be able to provide something vegan, she was bold enough to request I’d have a choice! Wow, who doesn’t want a MIL like that? :D As the restaurant assured her that would be no problem at all, I was excited to see what I’d get!

Carnegie’s Cottage restaurant “review”

So, how was it?

Carnegie Cottage certainly didn’t disappoint me: there were two vegan options for me to choose from. Which I couldn’t… so I took both!

My vegan lunch at Carnegie's

Yes, there’s a bite taken out of that sandwich ;) My nephew who was hungry! There’s celeriac soup and a salad with green asparagus and chantharelle mushrooms. On the side some Waldkorn bread and a vinaigrette made of superior olive oil. It looks good, don’t you think? It was delicious! Both soup and salad tasted of fall, bearing the full flavours of their ingredients. Needless to say I enjoyed my lunch very much.

Hit or Miss?

It’ll come as no surprise that I do want to recommend this restaurant to vegans. I especially like that the staff immediately knew what veganism entails and was easy about getting me something plant-based. AND that was no empty promise — which has happened to me a few times. Carnegie’s Cottage has a pension as well so maybe I’ll go and stay there for the weekend sometime! It’s really a gorgeous area, especially suitable for outdoor recreation. But there’s cultural heritage to be found in Hoge Veluwe National Park too. Just perfect!

As a bonus they’ve got a special tea menu as well! I have no choice but to go back now because I only got to try two today: sencha lemon and sencha cactus & fig. Who doesn’t want to enjoy nice ‘cuppa’ like this?

Sencha lemon green tea at Carnegie Cottage

And an even bigger bonus… there’s a cute Carnegie Cat! So friendly that when I tried to photograph her on the table where she lounged, she immediately jumped off to say hi. :D Alas, as we’re kindly requested not to feed her we have no way of knowing whether she likes to eat vegan too. ;)

The red cat of Carnegie Cottage

Did YOU do anything special this Sunday?

Vegan MoFo button 2013VeganMoFo brings you a Month of Vegan Food. Bloggers all around the world share their favourite recipes, mouthwatering food pics, quick cooking tips, nutritional info and anything else food related to show that vegan living is awesome. It’s the best choice for animals (dûh), our planet and people! Check out the blogroll and drool… Or better yet: join us!

Readathon button

We’ve got a little more than an hour to go of the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon but I realised that I no longer feel like reading. So I’m going to quit! I’ve read for an embarrassing total of 3:15 hours (*hides in shame*) but that’s more than I’ve read in a long time and I got halfway The Book of Negroes -a chunkster- so I’ve met my goal. ;)

You can laugh.
You can point your fingers at me.
You may argue that I’m not a worthy readathonner.

BUT I’M HAPPY WITH WHAT I’VE DONE! And I know you’re all nice people and won’t think anything bad of me anyway! :D

A big THANK YOU to the organisers, mini challenge hosts, cheerleaders and all participants who made this spring 2013 read-a-thon possible. I hope to see you all around next fall!

Early End of the Event Meme

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
    The first few hours when I had expected to read a lot in one stretch before I needed to go to a birthday party but didn’t . :(
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
    Well, the book I have been reading today is definitely one of those: The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill!
    Another would be Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami or Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending for a shorter novella.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
    Not really, everything runs so smoothly! Except maybe that I don’t like mini challenges that take up a lot of reading time but are too tempting to resist. I’ve had issues with those in previous years and now I tend to ignore the challenges as a whole so I won’t get distracted.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
    I can’t think of anything that went better than other times!
  5. How many books did you read?
    (*whispers*) Not even one: just the first part of The Book of Negroes; books 1 and 2.
  6. What were the names of the books you read?
    Ha! I already mentioned that several times and I don’t think you want to hear me say it again! LOL
  7. Which book did you enjoy most?
    Well, THAT one. ;)
  8. Which did you enjoy least?
    -
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
    -
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
    Yes please! Looking at my results I shouldn’t challenge myself beyond reading though…

Sunday Salon logoThe Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, blogging about bookish things of the past week, visiting each others weblogs, and oh — reading books of course ;)

Crazy Comma Momma’s mini challenge for this twentieth hour is writing a haiku about the read-a-thon or the book you’re reading. Poetry is not one of my strong suits but here’s an attempt at a ‘zen moment’ in 5-7-5 syllables. Please don’t laugh! ;)

In bed with the cats
reading The Book of Negroes
- Sunday morning bliss

20130427-164209.jpgBah. So far I’ve only read for a short half hour in The Book of Negroes. I’m enjoying it and would like to read on! But I had some preparations to do for the b-day party (I’m actually on my way to that right now) *and* wanted to go for a run. Hopefully we’ll be home a bit early tonight so I can get some readin’ done before I’m too tired!

Button 24 Hour Read-a-ThonYay, after two-and-a-half years I’m finally participating again in the 24 hour read-a-thon! And I’ve been extremely looking forward to it. :) It was rather difficult to keep the date free since so many activities seem to be planned this weekend, but I was firm and only have a birthday to go to later on.

That’s also why I allowed myself to start an hour earlier than the set time for my zone here in Utrecht: at 13.00 instead of 14.00. And I already know I won’t be reading around the clock but that’s okay: today is meant to get some reading done and I NEED that because I’ve been in some kind of slump and I got this Bookcrossing bookray that I want to get on with – The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (Het negerboek in Dutch).

Cover Het negerboek / The Nigger Book (Lawrence Hill)

The bookmark you see I cut from a thank-you note card that was sent to me by a swap-bot member.

Delight in the little things

Balou the Bear from Jungle BookCute, isn’t it? That’s a quote by Rudyard Kipling, the author of Jungle Book (who used to be accused of racism but got revalued later on).

I also won’t be blogging, tweeting, FB-ing much today, nor participate in (many) challenges or lose myself otherwise in social media. I may post an occasional update but for me today is meant for reading even though I know the readathon is much about the community as well. A grrl has to set priorities!

Why don’t you follow my example and pick up a book?

Summarizing for the Introductory Questionnaire

  1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
    Utrecht – the Netherlands – Europe
  2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
    Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  3. Which snack are you most looking forward to?
    None in particular, though I’ll be having a nice mezze dinner at a birthday party with dishes like houmous, pide bread and caponata mmmmm. :)
  4. Tell us a little something about yourself!
    I’m looking forward to having some quality time with da ladies: Juno, Nina and Kuki! Reading and cats go great together! ;)
  5. If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
    I haven’t participated in the last read-a-thon (as I said at the beginning) but I know from previous ones that social media are majorly distracting!

This office lunch bento no. 208 is in African-Eastern style. I used leftovers from dinner I made following recipes from the Cookbook Challenge #1. Remember I said there were a few more recipes I wanted to try from the Modern Moroccan cookbook? Well, this box contains creamy couscous, agave-roasted courgette and home-made harissa. All delicious. :) Especially the couscous was surprisingly good.

Moroccan Bento (tier 1), 28-03-2013

The other tier is more… fusion. It holds some gherkin and pickled onions, mixed green salad with lemon olives, grapes, pecans, garden cress, fennel and spring onion. There’s onion bhajee with tamarind sauce in the paper cup (Indian takeaway) and a small piece of veggie dog with tomato ketchup.

Some more seedless grapes on the side.

Moroccan Bento (tier 2), 28-03-2013

I haven’t gotten around to blogging much (I’m  spending more time away from the computer these days), and I actually had this lunch on the 28th of March. So far, the first bento of April has still to come. :(

We’re eagerly awaiting spring here so we can celebrate o-hanami in the Japanese cherry blossom garden with our traditional picnic — that should make up for a lot of bentos in one go! ;)

Have you made any bentos lately?

If you’re on Instagram you’ve probably heard of the monthly #photoaday meme in which people daily post a picture inspired by a list of tags. I tried it once, but couldn’t keep up.

Yesterday I found out that The Estella Society -a reading playground built by book bloggers- is hosting something alike in March: a Bookish Photo a Day. I love the idea! So I jumped in right where we are, in week #2.

Curious about my contributions? View them on Statigram (hashtag #EstellaGram)!

Is anyone else playing along?

Sunday Salon logoThe Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, blogging about bookish things of the past week, visiting each others weblogs, and oh — reading books of course ;)

Modern Moroccan Cinnamon-scented Chickpea & Lentil Soup

After keeping myself on a leash for a while I finally joined Swap-bot late last year. I already told you about some food-related swaps in my previous Weekend Cooking post. Today I want to talk about another one: the Cookbook Challenge #1, hosted by Carmen of the Gastronomery Group. Like many of us she has several under-used cookbooks and she wants to tackle them with the help of fellow swappers. She made the challenge vegan-friendly so of course I had to join — never mind that I have a pile of books of my own… ;)

For this first ‘cookalong’ Carmen chose some recipes out of Modern Moroccan by Ghillie Basan and posted them on the group blog. The idea was for us to choose one recipe, test it, document it and send the (virtual) results to our swap partners; in my case our hostess herself. So Carmen, here’s my pick!

Cinnamon-scented chickpea and lentil soup

Serves 4-5.

Ingredients

Preparing Modern Moroccan Cinnamon-scented Chickpea & Lentil Soup

Don’t let the long list scare you: it’s not as much as it seems and most of these ingredients are fairly common in a foodie household. If you look at the preparations you’ll see this recipe is a breeze!

  • 1.5-2 tbsp olive oil (see my tweak among the modifications below)
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (djahé)
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric (kunjit)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 400 gr can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar (I used raw cane sugar)
  • 80 gr brown or green lentils, washed (I used Puy lentils)
  • 950 ml vegetable stock or boiling water & 2 bouillon cubes
  • 400 gr can cooked chickpeas (265 gr drained)
  • 150 gr cooked broad beans (I used 175 gr frozen peas)
  • small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt ‘n pepper to taste

Preparation

Chopping cilantro & flatleaf parsley for Modern Moroccan Cinnamon-scented Chickpea & Lentil Soup

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions until soft.
  2. Stir in the spices (ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron), tomatoes and sugar.
  3. Add the lentils and pour in the vegetable stock or water and stock cubes.
  4. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender (check the instructions on the package).
  5. Stir in the cooked chickpeas and beans and bring back to boil, cover again and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
  6. Mix in the fresh herbs and season to taste.

Serve hot!

Modern Moroccan Cinnamon-scented Chickpea & Lentil Soup

Mr Gnoe and me enjoyed this soup on a cold February night accompanied by (store-bought) bake-off buns and couscous salad.

Couscous Salad

The result?

I only made half of the original recipe on the Gastronomery Cookbook Challenge #1 page and that was amply sufficient for four diners. Especially served with accompaniments like ours. This soup is already plant-based (and chock-full of proteins!) so no veganizing was needed, but still the recipe got slightly tweaked.

  • I took the easy route and used a 400 grams can of chickpeas (= 265 grams drained) instead of dried beans that would have needed to be soaked overnight.
  • Dried broad beans are not commonly available over here (although it’s not impossible to get them in a city like Utrecht) so I had wanted to use frozen but forgot to add them to my grocery list. So I took 175 grams garden peas from my freezer stash instead. Together with the chickpeas that roughly summed up the 400 grams of cooked beans I needed.
  • I made vegetable stock with one bouillon cube instead of two and spiced it up with salt and pepper at the end. I’m still not sure whether I’d use two cubes anyway next time… (if there is a next time?)
  • I didn’t use olive oil for frying the onions but used leftover sunflower oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes in oil.
  • The original recipe said to fry the onions for about 15 minutes… It took me 2-3 to get them soft. ;) If you’re supposed to caramelize the onions then 10-15 minutes would be right but it just says “until soft” so I believe the time publicized to be an errata.
  • I added one celery stalk, just because it was lying around in the fridge. Not necessary at all.

Has the Jury reached its verdict?

This chickpea-lentil soup is certainly a hearty dish, but it didn’t tickle my taste buds. I’ve had bean and lentil soups before, some of which were much more special.

I couldn’t discern a specific Moroccan flavour and I don’t think using broad beans would’ve changed that. Do you? Maybe adding a spice blend like ras el hanout would be a good idea; there’s a recipe for that in the book -and on the Gastronomery blog- as well. But I also just can’t appreciate the combination of multiple legumes: lentils and chickpeas and peas. I do like vegan harira (Moroccan/Algerian chickpea-lentil soup), but this modern version is too much of a mismatch mishmash for me.

So. If you’ve had these kinds of soups before, this recipe is not very exciting. But if you haven’t – this is a good place to start! Common ingredients and little work bring a filling winter stew to the table.

Further ruminations

Blogging pal Uniflame also participated in Cookbook Challenge #1 and got me for a swap partner. She tried the Casablancan couscous with roasted summer veggies and shared her version of the recipe on She Likes Bento. In winter I regularly make oven-roasted root vegetables but I always forget to do something alike in summer. Gotta remember!

February has been a super busy month so I didn’t get around to cooking two other recipes from Modern Moroccan that I like. So there are still a vegan version of grilled sweet zucchini with spices and harissa on the menu.

Now if you feel like trying another Moroccan soup, how about this sesame soup recipe I posted before?

- – - – -

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