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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
- 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 . :(
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- How many books did you read?
(*whispers*) Not even one: just the first part of The Book of Negroes; books 1 and 2.
- 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
- Which book did you enjoy most?
Well, THAT one. ;)
- Which did you enjoy least?
- If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
- 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…
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
Bah. 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!
Yay, 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).
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
Cute, 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
- What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Utrecht – the Netherlands – Europe
- Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
- 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. :)
- 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! ;)
- 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.
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.
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?
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
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
- Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions until soft.
- Stir in the spices (ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron), tomatoes and sugar.
- Add the lentils and pour in the vegetable stock or water and stock cubes.
- 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).
- Stir in the cooked chickpeas and beans and bring back to boil, cover again and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
- Mix in the fresh herbs and season to taste.
Mr Gnoe and me enjoyed this soup on a cold February night accompanied by (store-bought) bake-off buns and couscous salad.
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.
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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Join Beth Fish’s weekend cooking with a food-related post!
In June and July this year, the Dutch youth foundation Viva Las Vega’s organized the Veggie Challenge: a dare to eat less animal produce for at least once a week during a whole month. Depending on their diet, participants would set their own goals, e.g. 1 day vegetarian for omnis, a day vegan for vegetarians, an extra day veggie for flexitarians et cetera. 2000+ people gave it a go! Among them were three people I know — and no, I had nothing to do with that ;) Curious about their experiences, I decided to interview them for VeganMoFo.
We’ve heard from YvonneP and Uniflame and today the spotlights are aimed at JannyAn! Again, Janny is someone I met on-line first at the Boekgrrls mailinglist; I’m not sure how long ago exactly. Soon we saw each other in real life on book swaps and Wandelgrrls hikes. Now we’ve even started a film club together: the Cinephyles! It’s obvious we’ve got lots in common, except maybe that JannyAn is a real globetrotter, and I’m a bit of a homebody. ;)
Janny discovered Tartex cremisso paprika-chili sandwich spread – she thinks it’s the best alternative to cheese! I agree it’s absolutely yummy. :)
How would you describe yourself before starting the VeggieChallenge?
I was a flexitarian. By the way, there are certain things I really refuse to eat. Those are tuna, lobster, veal, frogs legs. And of course only farm-laid eggs.
Why did you decide to join the challenge?
Because I think it’s better to eat less meat. For my own health, environmental issues and, equally important, because of animal welfare.
What goals did you set and did you achieve them? Was that hard?
My goals were to eat 4 days vegetarian and 1 day vegan. The vegetarian days weren’t that hard to achieve. The vegan days were the real problem. Mostly because I do like cheese a lot. And so many products I usually eat contain butter or eggs.
What was you biggest discovery?
That’s a difficult one. Maybe that I really don’t miss eating meat. O, and I discovered that whole-meal bread with peanut butter and banana is delicious :-)
What was the most difficult or disappointing?
Eating vegan one day in a week. So many products that contain butter, eggs, gelatin, etc. It was even difficult to do shopping, find something that you like to eat on a sandwich instead of cheese, or, how can I replace eggs in a recipe.
What was the best thing you ate or drank during the VeggieChallenge?
Well I really like this pasta with spinach beet, raisins and pine seed…
If you’re in a relationship: did your partner join you in the challenge and how did he/she experience it?
No, he didn’t. Sometimes I make a dish without meat and he’ll eat it. And if it tastes good he won’t mind eating vegetarian. But he likes meat too much to become vegetarian. Not to mention eating vegan.
Has anything from the challenge lasted?
I still am a flexitarian, but I now eat less meat/fish and more often vegan.
Would you recommend the VeggieChallenge to nothers ext time? Why (not)?
Yes, I would. It’s good to think about what you’re eating.
The VeganMoFo theme on Graasland is ‘vegan en route’. Do you have a suitable tip to share with us?
Always bring your own peanut butter ;-)
Do you know I’ve never tried banana on peanut butter? I guess I should! Thanks JannyAn, it’s fascinating to read about your experiences in the Veggie Challenge as a flexitarian. I recognize your frustration about how many products contain dairy, eggs or gelatin. As a vegetarian I never paid that much attention to labels, especially E-numbers,and now I’m shocked to find that some of them are not even veggie! So as a vegetarian I have probably been eating ground scale insects (E120), bones (e.g. E542, E640) animal fat (e.g. E470-479) and horse’s, cow’s, pork’s and even human hair (E920). Eew!
Anyway Janny, I hope you know that you can always ask me questions about substituting ingredients?! That goes for anyone, really. :)
Over viewing this series I’m so glad to see that all three participants look back positively! Imagine you’d join the Veggie Challenge next year, what goals would you like to set?
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Join us with a food related post in Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking!
I had planned a nice bento in orange colours last week, but unfortunately I had to skip it. But here’s a green one today instead!
Pasta salad with avocado sauce, peas, corn & sun-dried tomatoes, escarole and tiny tomato from the balcony.
Pecans for the salad, courgette fritter, cucumber to dip in spicy houmous, and (Gnoe getting frivolous here ;) gherkin hearts.
On the side
Gingerbread with soy margarine & agave syrup and fruit salad for dessert: apple, satsuma and mango in a lemon-ginger dressing with cinnamon.
I’ve been looking for a good pasta salad recipe and now I’ve found it! I use Chloe Coscarelli’s avocado-pesto sauce, either leftovers of dinner like today, or made afresh. The sun-dried tomatoes are a must but for the rest it’s just what I have at hand. Made it with young broad beans once — ‘t was great!
Bento submitted to What’s for Lunch Wednesday on Bentolunch.net