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Beth Fish Weekend Cooking logoThis Weekend Cooking post is a hotchpot of food-related topics that have been left stewing the past weeks. I’m focussing on bentos and swaps.

Bentos

Bento making has gotten a bit neglected lately; the following, hastily filled boxes are the only lunches I have to share.

Buckwheat Pancake Bento #205

Buckwheat Pancake Bento #205

Rabbit food:

  • buckwheat pancakes from Vega Dutchie (which I found too gritty, even more when eaten cold like this)
  • cranberries
  • Lithuanian dried plum “cake”
  • treacle for pancakes in the small container
  • cucumber
  • corncob
  • carrot-cabbage salad with walnuts


MiL Bento #206

MiL Bento #206

The brown rice with ratatouille in the round blue thermos is a leftover from dinner at my mother-in-law’s the night before. The small lock & lock box contains red cabbage coleslaw with apple, raisins and an orange dressing. Two sandwiches in the butterfly bag and clementines for dessert.

Swap-botting

I’ve recently discovered swap-bot. What I don’t like about that other random mail-exchange ‘program’ Postcrossing is that I often put a lot of thought in what I write on a card, but get the shortest messages in return. Also, although I receive awesome postcards every once in a while, many people send free ad cards or touristy multi-views, both of which don’t interest me. On Swap-bot on the other hand there’s themes you can choose — and people that really like to write! A trip down memory lane as I was a fervent penpal when I was young. So thanks to Uniflame for reacquainting me with S-B! :)

Now what does this have to do with food? I hear you think. Well, the first two swaps I joined are food ‘n drink-centered.

Tea For You And Tea For Me, What’s Your Resolution?

Tea for You and Tea for Me, What's Your Resolution? swap

For the easy Tea For You And Tea For Me, What’s Your Resolution? trade we had to send three bags of tea to our partner plus a note revealing our resolutions for 2013. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I have things that I’d like to achieve this year concerning my health. So I shared those.

Tea for You and Tea for Me, What's Your Resolution? swap

Now the assignment may originally have been quick and easy, it wasn’t as simple as it seemed… My partner Barsook likes green teas — how was I supposed to choose only three??? So I sent her a whole bunch. :)

Tea for You and Tea for Me, What's Your Resolution? swap

Myself, I was pampered with five teas in a lovely decorated envelope: pure rooibos red tea, earthy vanilla scented rooibos, Tulsi sweet rose, apricot vanilla crème and jasmine green. But I won’t tell what JessicaLynn1978‘s resolution is!

Tea for You and Tea for Me, What's Your Resolution? swap

Lovely Vegan Dinner Recipe Swap

Recipe cards seem to be common in the States, but not here in Holland. I very much like the concept though! So I joined the Lovely Vegan Dinner Recipe Swap in which I had to share a virtual meal via recipes for a starter, main course and dessert. All animal-free. Luckily it was okay to make your own recipe cards as long as they had the standard format of approximately A5. So these are the ones I made for lob.

Recipe cards for Vegan Dinner Recipe swap

The recipes that travelled on these are:

Vegan Dinner Recipe swap

Now I got the most AWESOME package from long-time veggie Seaglass! She put a lot of effort in making my parcel extra special — she’s the sweetest!

Vegan Dinner Recipe Swap package from seaglass

There’s recipes for:

  • vegan ‘blue cheese’ dressing
  • potato, sorrel & watercress soup
  • quinoa salad with tofu
  • tofu with snow peas and lemon lime vinaigrette
  • spicy polenta with chili paste
  • Lisa’s vegan zucchini carrot muffins
  • chocolate upside down pudding cake

I have no idea where to start! :D I guess it won’t be the soup though since I have to find out first where to get sorrel (zuring). Any ideas, Dutchies? Should I just go and pick some in the fields? I’m a little afraid of catching tetanus from dog or fox pee… :\

Seaglass also included some empty recipe cards for me to use and a load mouthwatering vegan candy bars — those are hard to get over here! And a packet of California powdered chili for me to compare to its Dutch counterpart: American recipes containing chili somehow always get too hot; even though I can usually handle heat.

I LOVE the paper Lisa (Seaglass) wrote her letter on: it has a heron! So cute!

That’s it for me now. Do you have some foodie news to share for Weekend Cooking?

Vita Bento #203

On Thursday I enjoyed an office lunch with several of the Lithuanian goodies I got from my November Foodie Penpal Vita.

The box up front contains both the kūčiukai and cookie rings (yay, cookies to add carbs to my bento ;) a freeze dried strawberry and candied radishes.

The middle ‘meat & veg’ tier holds some onion-leek-garlic-pepper (yellow & green) stir-fry, slices of Healthy Planet “chicken” fillet, a fresh radish, mini Brussels’ sprouts and a skewer of sliced raja potato and gherkin, all on a bed of corn salad. I also brought a small container of tomato ketchup for the faux meat but forgot to include it in the picture.

Dessert comes last of course: apple & clementine.

I didn’t mean to cross the bento-200 line so silently… Alas, I lacked the time to post numbers 200-202 but plan to make up for that later this month!

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November 2012 Foodie Penpal!

YESH! It’s Foodie Penpal Reveal Day!

It was my first time participating but I’m SO happy that I overcame my hesitation and joined. Vita spoiled me with a big box of vegan goodies from Lithuania. Thank you so much!!!

November Foodie Penpals postcard

She enclosed a lovely card in fall colours (and glitter — I love sparkly stuff!), explaining the contents of the parcel and her choices. So nice! And handy, since I can’t read Lithuanian labels. :) Are you curious??? Here’s what I got!

November 2012 Foodie Penpal!

Up front is my biggest treasure: Vita’s home-made almond butter with a Dutch label. Vita studied my language for a shortwhile in the past! Wow. I haven’t tried the spread yet because I want to cherish it a little while longer and I didn’t want to open everything at once. I expect it will be awesome on some hot toast… So I’ve taken the necessary steps to finally get a new toaster – ours has been broken for two years! I can’t wait till the morning when I’ll be slathering this fluid gold on my first toast for ages. Mmmmm.

Speaking of gold, you should taste some of the pine bud syrup from the bottle at the back! OMG it’s delicious! I crowned it as my new favourite sweetener, leaving agave syrup far behind. I guess I’ll be booking shopping trips to Lithuania soon! ;)

But for now Vita appropriately sent me Lithuanian Vitamins, to get through winter. These freeze-dried strawberries melt in your mouth and have the full taste of fresh ones, though a bit more sour than I expected. Lovely! Perfect for breakfast, bento, or on the road. I bet Mr Gnoe is going to appreciate these a lot, but I haven’t let him taste any yet. I secretly enjoyed them on my own first. :)

I also got two kinds of cookies, the sweet-ish taste of which slightly reminds me of the Liga bars from my childhood. My mother never bought those, but I got them at a friends house. ;) The poppy seed balls are called kūčiukai, Lithuanian traditional pastries for Christmas Eve. You’re supposed to eat them with poppy seed milk, but as I had no idea what that is and the recipe is pretty time-consuming, I just had them with roasted cauliflower soup. A good combination! Though probably sacrilege. ;) The cookie rings in the green bag are organic wheat “Javine crisps”; Javinés traškučiai.

Roasted cauliflower soup with Lithuanian Kuciukai

Now whát are those bright green and pink chips in a bag almost at the back??? Candied radishes! Sounds scary, I know, but they’re quite good. I cannot explain what they taste like, more than “candied radishes”, which doesn’t do them justice. ;)

Last but not least there’s Vita’s favourite nutty buckwheat pasta left to try, and a slice of plum cheese. I’m particularly curious about the latter, which I’ll be having at tea-time or dessert. Maybe after a dinner of buckwheat macaroni with a creamy mushroom sauce and almond topping. :) That brings us to a full circle!

Foodie Penpal logo

I thoroughly enjoyed this first Foodie Penpal exchange. I hope Vita did too, as well as Sara, the recipient of my parcel in London. She’ll be writing a guest post on Graasland! But for now, please check out some other Foodie Penpal revelations from the link-up.

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As I told you last time, we get loads of salad greens among our organic CSA. We love that, but notwithstanding the Salad Sac it’s sometimes still hard to keep up… Causing the veg drawer in the fridge to overflow. A perfect moment to put lettuce soup on the menu!

I’m sure some of you can relate to this, so today I’ll share the recipe with you after my menu plan at the end of this post. There will also be a translation available for Dutch readers.

But first: this week’s veggies!

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 24, 2012

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables wk 24, 2012

  • strawberries again!
  • pak choi
  • parsley
  • Romaine lettuce
  • vine tomatoes
  • garlic scapes (flower stems)
  • Batavian endive (escarole)

Another sunny bouquet of vegetables and fruit. :)

Menuplan 6-12 June

  • Mihun with bok choi, broccoli stems, chestnut mushrooms and ginger stir-fried in light soy sauce, ‘apple juice tempeh‘ and salad with miso dressing (miso, ume vinegar, sake, agave syrup, cumin, sage). Cantaloupe and strawberries for dessert. [Wednesday]
    Veggie stir-fry, mihun and 'apple juice tempeh'
    Mixed salad with miso dressing
  • Leftover pumpkin curry with cashews, pimped up with peas, baked garlic scapes, Thai noodle salad with leftover rice noodles (La Dolce Vegan! p.80), cantaloupe and the first 2 strawberries harvested from the balcony for dessert. [Thursday]
    Pumpkin curry and baked garlic flower stems
    Cold Thai noodle salad
    Cantaloupe and 1st strawberry harvested from balcony
  • Snow pea salad with Japanese dressing, (VEGAgerechten p.191), garlic-sunchoke soup (freezer stash) and bake-off mini baguette. [Friday]
    Garlic-sunchoke soup
    Snow pea salad with Japanese dressing
  • Potato mash with endive, faux ‘chicken’ from the Vegetarian Butcher and tomato salad with homemade basil dressing (La Dolce Vegan! p.91).
  • Saffron couscous with vegetable goulash (La DolceVegan! p.140; challenged by Dani on NVV forums).
    Saffron Couscous with La Dolce Vegan!'s Veggie Goulash
  • Courgette & fresh peas in persillade, lentil loaf, escarole salad with mustard vinaigrette (Eethuis Iris’ Verrukkelijk vegetarisch p.41) Fry’s schnitzel and baked potato.

Lettuce soup

Lettuce soup

Ingredients
Serves 3-4

  • 1 tbsp neutrally flavoured cooking oil
  • 1 potato
  • 1 shallot
  • white of 1 leek (sliced)
  • 1 bundle garlic (sliced) or garlic clove
  • about 3/4 litre vegetable stock (fresh or instant)
  • 1 head of ordinary lettuce
  • 1 dl soy millk
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • black pepper
  • optional: a dash of white wine
  • optional: chives to garnish

Preparation

  1. Clean the vegetables
  2. Cube the peeled potato.
  3. Tear the lettuce into pieces.
  4. Shred the shallot.
  5. Heat the oil and gently sauté the onion, leek and (bundle-)garlic until the shallot is transparent.
  6. Add stock and potato and bring to a boil.
  7. After about 10 minutes add lettuce and simmer for a few minutes more.
  8. Add soy milk, wine, tarragon and more (hot) water if necessary.
  9. Purée the soup.
  10. Flavour with salt and pepper to taste and heat the soup before serving without letting it boil.
  11. Serve in bowls and garnish with chives.

Enjoy!

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Sustainable Salad Sac

You may have noticed that we get a bunch of lettuce in our CSA every week. And I’ll be honest with you: when it still needs to washed once I’m making lunch, 8 times out of 10 I just leave it sitting in the fridge. Guess what happens after a week or two…

So. I need to wash my greens right when they come in. I used to spin them dry and store ‘em in plastic zip-lock baggies. I reused these, but that doesn’t really feel like the most appropriate way for sustainable living with local veggies.

Now I’ve discovered the Salad Sac! Additional advantage: there’s one step less in the process because you don’t dry the leaves before they go into the bag – its wetness moistens the fabric so that the lettuce stays crisp and is ready to use.

You know what? It works! Here’s a pic that I took on the morning of our next CSA, when I had the last salad leaves of the previous week for lunch.

Lettuce

A plus of plastic over cloth is that it’s transparent. As the salad sack is rather big I sometimes put several leafy greens in together and there’s a lot of digging around to get the right stuff out. Or Mr Gnoe doesn’t dare put in his hand at all as he has no idea what’s in there. ;) Then again, transparency would allow light to filter in, which is not helpful in keeping the vegetables fresh!

But it would be wonderful if the bag came in different sizes. Of course I’ve thought of making some pouches myself… But I think it may be a special kind of terry cloth, maybe even treated (although it’s supposed to be 100% cotton). Any thoughts on that?

I haven’t yet tried to put in things like sliced cucumber or other chopped vegetables. But the ‘instruction tag‘ says that works too!

Now just in case anyone wonders: I bought this article with my own money and am not in any way connected to the manufacturer, nor do I get paid for a (positive) review. I’m just a happy user! :)

On with our colourful organic CSA vegetables of the past three weeks.

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 21, 2012

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 21, 2012

  • red Batavian endive
  • pointed pepper
  • spinach
  • pumpkin chutney
  • rucola
  • spring onion

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 22, 2012

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 22, 2012

Don’t you just LOVE the purple of the beets and mustard greens?

  • Swiss chard
  • mustard greens
  • mizuna turnip tops
  • curly leaf escarole
  • beets
  • bundle garlic
  • ramson flower (daslook)

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 23, 2012

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 23, 2012

This week’s veggies:

  • leek
  • plain lettuce
  • spring onions
  • basil
  • tomatoes
  • strawberries!!!

I may be late in posting my bentos but I try to keep up the pace of a bento a week.

Here are my latest bentos — both office lunches — dating from Thursday November 10th and Tuesday the 15th.

Bright Bento (#163)

Bright Bento #163

Bento #163 was full of seasonal colours. Some hearty fall food! From left to right (a click on the pic will bring you to Flickr where you can look at a larger version):

Tumbler
Garlic-sunchoke soup with parsley. Toasted rosemary bread (two slices shown, the rest packed in my SnackTaxi bag). I wanted to try bringing toast but  I’m not going to do it again because it doesn’t hold well.

Left container
Radish flowers, a scoop of Ethiopian lentil dish with faux sour cream and cucumber slices.

Middle container
Two kinds of hummus (beetroot and pumpkin) with veggies to dip: the beforementioned cukes & radishes, gherkin, carrot and lettuce. Next to that some spicy kabocha pumpkin and sundried tomato.

Right container
Sweets: a stewed pear, dried apricot, cinnamon almonds and a ‘beach ball’ apple.

I figured you might want to have a better look at the paper cups MaaikeB brought me from Japan You ask, we deliver! Cute stuff eh?

Bento gear

Jumble Bento (#164)

Jumble Bento #164
Bento #164 contained another mix of leftovers, most of which you already saw in Bright Bento.

Top tier
Stewed pear, red beet hummus, lettuce, Ethiopian lentils and faux sour cream.

Lower tier
Veggies to dip: gherkin, carrot, cucumber, red paprika, radishes and steamed green beans. Some mini Zaanse kermis biscuits for dessert. Just because I find them so cute!

The photo below shows my side container with pandan rice, Thai green curry and steamed baby cauliflower.

Jumble Bento #164 sidedish (Thai green curry with baby cauliflower)
Did you notice I’m using even more new bento gear? I found these kawaii mini loaf cups at Xenos!

Bento gear

November 1st Bento #161
Here’s the bento I had on November 1st to celebrate World Vegan Day. Apologies for the bad pic: quinoa seems to be camera shy.. ;)

Left tier
Quinoa salad with tomatoes, cucumber, spring onion, corn, bell pepper and more on a bed of lettuce. Cute red paper container with orange-basil tempeh as salad topping.

Right tier
Radish, fig, half a kiwi fruit, another kawaii container from Japan (sakura print) containg nutmix for salad (sunflower seeds, pepitas, pinenuts and pecans), apple bunny (usagi ringo) and cinnamon almonds.

The almonds had sweated and gave my apple a sweet spicy taste — nom!

Lots of proteins in quinoa, tempeh and nuts! :)

Now where did I get those nice new paper foil containers? My friend MaaikeB and her family went shopping for me in Japan! Here’s a picture of the goodies they brought back. I’m one happy grrl!

Goodies from Japan!

Find more bentos at Shannon’s What’s for Lunch Wednesday  (week 75).

This food-related post is also submitted to Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking!

Spring birthday gift with origami flowers

In april I wrote about getting reacquainted with origami. Remember I made some flowers to decorate a present?

Some of you asked how I did it and I decided to make a video… Let me tell you: that’s easier said than done! ;) But I’m going to present my 7-minute amateur film anyway, since this month’s mission for Hello Japan! is to create some origami. And who wouldn’t want to be eligible for that awesome prize consisting of kawaii origami paper and droll geisha bookmarks?

If you’re familiar with the art of paper folding, you may want to know that we’re starting of with a bird base (of which the well-known origami crane is created), folding it into a ‘small kite’.

And if you’re an origami newbie and I’m working too quick for you — or the video is too vague, knowing this will enable you to search for additonal instructibles on the web. ;) But try and watch this first!

I have also scanned the instructions I originally used myself. They’re in Dutch so I will redirect you to some English sources and roughly translate the part I couldn’t find online.

It’s best to choose some flamed origami paper for this flower.

  1. Start with a square base with the coloured side of your paper down.
  2. Continue to make a bird base.
  3. Follow the instructions accompanying the picture below.
Instructions for Origami flower
  • Hold your bird base in front of you with the open point downwards.
  • Fold the ‘wings’ down to make a small ‘kite’ shape.
  • Now unfold the whole figure!
  • Using the same creases, fold the coloured part inwards and flatten the paper. You’ll get a 33° pyramide shape; I guess you’ll really have to watch my video for this to understand.
  • Slightly open all four sides and curl the leaves outwards with a chopstick or pencil.
  • You’re done!

Have fun!

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task relating to some aspect of life in Japan.

Long-time-(n)o-bento #145, 20-07-2011

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last made a bento… But yay, Gnoe’s back on track!

Bento #145 was my five o’clock ‘snack’ on stage 8 of the Groene Hartpad I’m hiking with @variomatic. We had to walk 21 kilometres from Woerden to IJsselstein, starting around lunchtime — and there wouldn’t be any dinner until we had walked each and everyone of those miles! We defied rain and thunder and had a great day. :)

So, what vegan goodies did I bring?

First tier
@Petra_Utrecht’s lemony couscous salad, grilled veggies (yellow paprika, fennel, courgette, red onion), garlic olive, raspberries from the balcony, radicchio leaf and romaine lettuce.

Second tier
Spicy roasted chickpeas, gherkin, dried apricots, mushrooms & leek in Bulldog tonkatsu sauce, half a tomato, orange-teriyaki tofu with extra sauce (should have added sesame seeds as topping but alas, I forgot).

Round container
Melonhomegrown organic strawberry.

And here’s what I had on the side.

Bento #145 snacks (20-07-2011)

Apple juice, almond cookies and forest fruit Evergreen.

It all came along in my kawaii *** new *** thermal bento bag!

Thermal bento bag

Chinese woodblock print of orchids (postcard)

Hanakotoba is the language of flowers: emotions or messages are communicated through the symbolism of flowers. Since it turned summer on June 21st, I figured I’d tell you about the meaning of orchids.

Mahjong Guardian Stone Summer OrchidAs a mah jongg-player I thought it was THE flower of the season, orchid being the Summer Guardian Stone. But having looked into Japanese flower symbolism, I seem to be wrong! Yeah well, mah jongg is originally Chinese, so.. :) Never mind. As the game is being played in Japan as well, this post is still relevant as my submission for June’s Hello Japan! mini challenge about Flowers & Japanese Gardens. ;)

Mahjongg Card Summer OrchidStarting of with a haiku by Yosa Buson (1716 ~ 1783), translated by R.H. Blythe.

An evening orchid,
Hidden in its scent,
The flower’s whiteness
yoru no ran
ka ni kakurete ya
hana shiroshi

The orchid represents refinement. It is no common plant and it’s pleasures are reserved for the privileged few, so it is also a symbol of the rare and precious. The essence of refinement is an continual process of improvement until absolute perfection is reached.

In the art of fortune telling with mah jongg cards or stones, the Orchid Guardian protects young girls. If it appears in response to a question about a daughter or a younger female relative, it serves to allay any anxieties regarding their welfare.

I have a white orchid at home. It was a birthday gift from my aunt several years ago. White seems appropriate for a flower like this, since it indicates purity and cleanliness in traditional Japanese society, and is seen as a blessed colour because of its sacred nature: it’s the colour of the gods and therefore free of all ‘contamination’. But what is maybe best — if you’re into Zodiac signs that is (which I’m really not) — the white orchid belongs to my sign of Pisces.

White orchids

I’ll leave you with the Japanese version of a beautiful song about flowers by Einstürtzende Neubauten: Blume, sung by Etsuko Sakamaki-Haas. I invite you to listen to the English translation afterwards.

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. June’s mission is ‘Flowers and Japanese Gardens’.

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