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On Wednesday I made my first bento in almost two months… I had a movie date in Amsterdam with my friend Loes. We went to a special viewing of the classic 1983 Palm d’Or winner The Ballad of Narayama (Narayama bushikô), a film by Shohei Imamura. Last week was the Dutch première -yes, after 30 years!- and there are only a handful of screenings.
The film tells the story of Orin, a 69 year old woman in a rural hamlet of late-1900s Japan. It’s tradition, or rather law, that inhabitants reaching the age of 70 go to the top of the mountain (Narayama) to commit obasute: death by starvation, to limit the amount of mouths to feed. The eldest son is supposed to carry his mother on his back to her resting place. But Orin is still very strong and healthy…
The Ballad of Narayama is an unusual movie: at the same time pretty much “in your face” as well as burlesque — the latter possibly to soften the hardships of life that are shown. But it’s also something I’ve come across before in Japanese cinema. Isn’t the sometimes caricatural play not reminiscent of kyōgen theatre and kabuki? Anyway, I enjoyed myself regardless of the slow pace. The many images of nature are gorgeous and it’s interesting to witness how life in a poor Japanese country village may have been in another age. I was touched by the way Orin’s son was torn between his unwillingness to let his mom go, and not wanting to shame her by refusing to go along. His difficult journey into the mountains felt like a period of mourning and Orin’s first-born carrying her to her death mirrored the process of her giving birth to him. The cycle of life.
The title of the film refers to a song about Orin’s life stage made up by her grandson in the beginning of the story (wintertime), recurring several times until The End, on the threshold of another winter.
Contemplating this I seem to have a theme going in my life at the moment. My current book is Wild by Cheryl Strayed, relating of her experiences hiking the Pacific Trail Crest (PCT) in her early twenties, a few years after her mother died. I’m totally absorbed in the story and can’t wait to read on.
But first it’s time to get back to the subject of this post. I was travelling to the cinema at dinner time so I’d eaten a hearty lunch earlier that day and made myself a simple dinner bento to have on the train.
From top to bottom
- Aubergine caviar with corn kernels, Italian crackers and walnut spread.
- Lemon macadamia cupcake with lemon frosting (recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World), more crackers, dried apricot and baby fig.
- Cucumber salad with mini plum tomatoes, olives, radishes, chives, a cheezy dressing (recipe from Bryanna Clarke) and hemp seeds sprinkled over.
It was GOOOOD! I hope to have more bentos and nights like this. :)
Last week I started a series of posts called Les Vacances de Mme Gnoe, about how I fared as a vegan on a recent holiday in the South of France. Obviously I survived. ;) It may help other newbie vegans going on a journey — or those worrying about going to the land of bouillabaisse, fromage and cassoulet.
In the first post I related what to eat en route. Today I’ll write about our first dinner in France, when we spent the night in Dijon.
As a vegan it’s wise to be prepared when going on a trip. So if you’re not sure you”ll connect to the internet, do some homework before you leave!
My first ‘stop’ was at Happy Cow.net: a worldwide database of vegetarian restaurants and grocery stores, also marking them vegan(-friendly). There were two places listed in Dijon: Les Pieds Bleus and Le Shanti. The first was one being described as “simple family type cooking, buffet style, in a typical French canteen atmosphere” — sounds great! So we dropped off our luggage in the hotel and set off in the direction of Place Emile Zola.
Alas… The restaurant was closed for vacation and would reopen the next day when, of course, we had travelled on! This was a surprise to us as in the Netherlands restaurants do not usually close during tourist season. This holiday we were about to learn that the French do things differently. ;)
So we went to search for option #2, Le Shanti, window-shopping and making pictures of the medieval city on our way. This time we found the venue open. There were yummy things on the menu like veggie burgers, wraps, soups and salads. But… you get the picture? More like a place to have lunch or a just quick bite, not for a special occasion like your first holiday dinner!
Back to the city centre it was, where wecould pick from a choice of restaurants on the aforementioned Place Emile Zola. Considering Lebanese first, we felt more like having Japanese and ended up at the Sushi King, “retaurant Japonais” (and that’s not my typo ;).
Here they served a vegetarian sushi menu consisting of miso soup, salade de choux (cabbage tsukemono) and three kinds of maki rolls: cucumber, avocado and daikon radish. The usual condiments: soy sauce (sweet or salty), pickled ginger and wasabi condiments. Since I’m a sucker for chuka wakame I ordered an bowl of salade d’algues as well. For dessert I enjoyed a whole pot of Japanese green tea.
We had dinner outside, cozy among other establishments on the city square. The food was good but nothing special and, aside from plain or vinegar rice, these were the only vegan/vegetarian dishes on the menu. I haven’t asked whether the fried noodles with vegetables were (or could be made) vegan and it didn’t really seem like the place to serve food off the carte.
The waiters were fairly quick and friendly, except for one young man who managed to whisk away our plates a little too early first and ignored us when we wanted to order another drink afterwards. He probably didn’t have his day. ;) We did.
So. If you like to have a decent meal but aren’t too demanding, I can certainly recommend the Sushi King for a vegan dinner in Dijon!
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Join Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking with a food-related post!
Although many people seem to think so, it’s really not that hard being vegan. But travelling can be a bit daunting, especially going to places famous for their cheese, fish and meat-worshipping cuisine.
This summer Mr Gnoe and I had our first ‘big’ vacation abroad since I went ExtraVeganza. We’d decided to go to the Hautes-Alpes in France. When visiting the Auvergne some years ago, it was often difficult to find anything vegetarian on the menu — aside from omelet, “sans jambon, s’il vout plaît“. So I admit I was a bit worried there’d be nothing to eat…!
In a series of posts called Les Vacances de Mme Gnoe, I’d like to ramble about how I fared on this trip. Obviously I survived. ;) It may help other newbie vegans going on a journey — or those worrying about going to the land of bouillabaisse, fromage and cassoulet.
Today’s post is about our two day car trip to Oze, via Dijon. What provisions kept us on the road?
Bought or bRought?
I already wrote about the Bento En Route we had for lunch. It consisted of Indonesian leftovers accompanied by cold Thai carrot soup. For snacks there was some healthy fruit, a small bag of potato chips, liquorice and Napoleon candy as treats.
All these refreshments we brought from home. At the gas station I bought a bottle of Orangina with pulp to get into a French mood, and a bowl of fruit salad at the next pit stop. Can’t find the picture of that so I think I accidentally deleted it. O_o
The second day we only had a three hour trip left, so we just bought a drink, in my case Pago citrus fruit juice, and I ate the Utrecht opal plums I’d brought from home.
So the first part of our holiday I mostly relied on our own provisions. But I haven’t told you yet what we did on dinner time in Dijon. I’ll do that later in a restaurant ‘reviewing’ post!
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Have you heard of VeganMoFo yet?
It’s October turned into a vegan treasure box!
During the month 500+ bloggers around the world will highlight the wonders of a vegan lifestyle.
My posts will mostly focus on being EXTRAveganza, or ‘vegan on the road’. That’ll include bentos (dôh), travel-friendly recipes and examples of how I fared on our recent holiday in France — my first as a vegan. And then there will be some side-trips. ;)
Are you ready? Here we go!
Tiny Track ‘n Snack Bento (#197)
Yesterday I went hiking with a group of friends. A snack I always bring in situations like this, is a small selection of nuts and dried fruit. That’ll keep me on my feet when I my legs get wobbly – which always happens when I get hungry. Not only aren’t we always sure we’ll be able to buy food on the way, as a vegan I prepare myself for the chance that one can only get a cheese sandwich or a piece of apple pie. ;)
Nuts are packed with unsaturated (= good) fats, protein & fibres, which make you feel satisfied quickly — and it’ll last for a while. In my experience some dried fruits have the same effect.
Now if you’re worried about the calorie intake… You shouldn’t! Nuts are really good for you. Unsaturated fats actually help balance your cholesterol and protect against hart disease. Nuts also contain plenty of vitamins & minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, omega-3, calcium, phosphor, vitamins A, B, E and more. And hey, hiking = burning calories anyway!
Of course not all nuts are good for you, just unroasted and unsalted ones like, for example, almonds, walnuts and cashews. Still, sometimes I bring some of the ‘bad’ ones as well. A grrl can have a treat, can’t she? ;) Yesterday there were a few (salted) rosemary-garlic cashews and cocktail nuts in my little box among more healthy goodies like died cranberries, apricot and apple, candied pineapple, walnuts and Brazil nuts.
Oh, and I almost forgot… I also indulged in some chocolate-covered soy beans! :D Got those in France so I’ll tell you more about those later in a post about Les Vacances de Mme Gnoe! ;)
I hope all this talk didn’t make you go nuts?
On our journey to the Hautes Alpes we had an Asian style lunch along the autoroute. All leftovers, packed by Mr Gnoe.
The second tier from the left was actually more fanciful than it looks now, but we dropped the box when getting it out of the car. We were a bit impatient to have lunch, hence the carelessness. ;)
From left to right
- Homemade atjar ketimoen (cucumber pickles) with pickled white onions, gherkins, caperberries and a super chilli from the balcony. A small yellow heirloom tomato.
- Tempé goreng and a variation of heirloom tomatoes.
- Gado-gado leftovers: salad, cabbage, steamed carrots & green beans, baked tofu, spring onion and pecans for lack of peanut sauce.
- Can’t remember exactly what was in this tier but it must have been something like a salad with tofu, cucumber, spring onion and sesame seeds. Dressing in the small container. No need to mention the carrot – that one’s obvious!
But that was not all. We had a long way to travel so we’d also made some Thai carrot soup. Contrary to what the thermos says, it was chilled. Yum! In celebration of summer we also had a huge snack box full of fruit: seedless grapes, strawberries and cherries.
Of course we brought lots of other provisions -kind of a vegan emergency kit- but our main ‘meals on wheels’ consisted of the above. And then there were foods we bought along the road, but that’s something for another post. VeganMoFo is coming up soon!
What do you bring when you’re travelling?
Do you have any suggestions for our next trip?
When there was a warm summer night at last on July 25th, we immediately took off to
our back garden the park to have dinner. Of course there were plenty of others who’d had the same idea, some of them BBQ-ing, others eating takeaway or -like us- having their own healthy homemade yummyness.
The large container holds the last spoonful of Lebanese bulghur and spinach pesto that I also had the day before. Next to it there’s the first dish I cooked from vegan goddess Isa Chandra’s bible Veganomicon: basmati rice with chard, chickpeas, dill and lemon. It was good cold as well as hot! A mixed salad containing marinated zucchini leftovers fills the other half of this box.
The medium box has half a veggie dog, ajvar (bell pepper relish), spelt crackers and red berries for dessert.
And finally the small side container holds some more crackers (olive and rosemary) to eat with both spreads and chilled soup: we brought green gazpacho in a thermos, a new recipe coming from Puur Plantaardig. In fact: I’ll be making the same soup again for my mother-in-law’s birthday tomorrow. Perfect in this tropical weather!
Yay, number 180: the last of my bento backlog! Now I’ve only got today’s Meatless Monday Bento left to blog, which hasn’t been assembled yet at the time of writing this post (in the weekend).
Tuesday April 17th 2012.
I went on an outing with my colleagues of the Nederlands Politiemuseum (Netherlands Police Museum), recently merged with the (‘Firefighter Museum’) under the working title Nationaal Veiligheids Instituut (‘National Security Institution’). We wanted to meet our new co-workers in Hellevoetlsuis and travelled along to Almere, to check out the building in which the new museum will reopen in a few years. On the way there we shortly went into Almere Public Library to drool — oh my what an awesome place that is! I wanted to be sure I’d get to eat vegan, so I packed myself a nice bento – sort of an emergency meal. ;)
Nasi goreng, braised pak choy, peanut sauce and serundeng. Grilled courgette, plum tomato, garden cress, pickles, tempeh bacon, dried cranberries and a salad corner with alfalfa, sundried tomato and caper berries. the all familiar buttered gingerbread with agave syrup for a moment of sweetness. Not shown: a country cookie to have with tea, when the others were having cake.
It feels really good to be up-to-date again with my bento posts! I hope I haven’t bored you?
On Sunday March 25th we had a very special — BIG — picnic bento to celebrate spring with our friends. Like every year, we held our own Hanami Matsuri (cherry blossom feast) in the Amsterdamse Bos sakura garden. Unfortunately the Japanese cherry trees were only just starting to bloom, but there hasn’t been a better spring day afterwards so we were lucky anyway!
First of all I had to bake ‘something cherry’. Browsing brought me to a Martha Stewart recipe for vegan chocolate cupcakes with a cherry frosting, tried by BakedBree (substituting raspberry vinegar for plain and using cherries from a jar as fresh are not in season). Bree and her omni friends were quite positive so the choice was easily made!
At the risk of sounding immodest: don’t you think they look awesome?? :) And yes, they were nice as well.. but I don’t think I’ll make them again. I didn’t much care for the buttery topping and you can’t really have the cupcakes without.
Here’s the rest of what we brought to the picnic.
Up front is my sakura box loaded with tofu puffs or inarizushi (a recipe from The Vegetarian Table: Japan cookbook by Victoria Wise), onigiri rice balls filled with umeboshi (pickled plum) and chickpea-wasabi mixture, rolled in respectively plum furikake and nori seaweed.
Both tiers of my yellow Circle bento box are filled with raspberries; behind that stands a small bottle of Kikkoman soy sauce. There’s an oval tier with Japanese style coated peanuts (the other two contain more sushi), a can of wasabi peas (which we didn’t eat) and white chocolate Mikado “Pocky’s” that are not vegan but a leftover from my life as a vegetarian that I wanted to get rid of. ;)
For drinks: plum wine, sake and lots of hot water for a choice of sakura hoija tea, plum vert, sencha, gyokuro asahi and genmaicha.
Dôh, of course we overdid it. But it’s o-hanami only once a year, so who cares? ;)
And if you thought that would be all… There’s more! Because our friends are foodies too. :D They contributed their own yummy goodies, like vegan apple pie, dolmas, dorayakis (sweet red bean paste pancakes) and cheese cookies for the non-vegans among us, cucumber and more nibbles. We think alike because additional batches of inarizushi and onigiri (with cucumber and plum filling) were brought to the party.
Here’s a picture of our belly-pleasing banquet…
Are you getting hungry yet? ;)
Next up is my Bihun Bento!
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Yesterday was Spring Equinox ánd I was going on a hike with my brother, so I couldn’t let the chance pass to make a celebratory bento. Especially since I wanted to do something with quinoa for week 11 in the Vegweb Cooking Challenge 2012.
What I didn’t consider was that I really didn’t have much time to cook… So I just got to make the salad and ended up with a not-so-spectacular, half-a-bento to share with @variomatic. Still, it may not look very festive — we were quite happy with it. And I’m learning to be less of a perfectionist. :)
South-West American quinoa salad with avocado, sweet potato, orange bell pepper, red onion, cilantro and a lime dressing on a bed of red Batavian lettuce and rocket. Pepitas for topping hiding under two ‘sour key’ candies (zure sleutels). Rosemary crackers on the side.
Although we enjoyed the salad during our break, I was a little disappointed by it: it tasted a bit dull even though I had added African Peper Mix to spice it up. It was okay, just nothing special — and I like my foods to be exactly that! ;P
I have some other interesting quinoa salad recipes up my sleeve, so let’s wait what those shall bring.
Today was definitely a feast of new beginnings. It marked my brother’s AMAZING accomplishment of loosing 50 kilos in 14 months. It was the first time in about 7 months that we took up another stage in our Groene Hartpad hiking project. And I hadn’t made a bento in two weeks. ;) YAY for spring! :)
Bento no.149 was quickly put together for a hike in the northern Dutch province Fryslân, on our way to a family photo shoot in occasion of my mother-in-law’s upcoming birthday. We got going pretty late so we only had time for the 7.5 kilometer walk in Spanga and not 19, nor 11.
I’m combining this post with my weekly logging of our CSA vegetables since I got to use several of the greens in our lunch! As you will be able to check out for yourself down below. :)
Both containers carry blue potato salad (Eliza potatoes, apples, red onion, gherkins and a raspberry dressing) on lettuce, corn on the cob and parsley. Mr Gnoe’s tier also has a non-vegan vodka candy. Oh – and he had to drive! ;) A cup of golden mandarin green tea accompanied this yummyness.
Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 32, 2011
- Red onions
- Blue Elize potatoes
- Collina apples
As you can see the only thing that didn’t make it into Spanga Bento is fennel!