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!

The little monkey in my brain is saying that this is bento number 210 because there’s been a sloppy no.209 a while back. But I can’t find any pictures of it (looked everywhere!), so we’re back to the old saying: “No photo? No o-bento!”

Ergo: meet today’s office lunch — my easy summer meal bento!

Easy Summer Meal Bento #209

Right tier
Leftover gado-gado with tofu, bawang goreng and pickled white onions.

Left tier
Emping, summer fruit harvested on my own balcony: strawberries and raspberries. Fresh basil for colour.

On the side
Leftover pickled salad (not shown) and an apple.

Shabby seems to be my new style.. :\ That’s because I’ve been lacking inspiration to make bentos. Not only that; I rarely feel like doing anything food-related lately. Uhm except eating of course. O_o I hope it’s just a phase that will pass soon!

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 ;)

The Ballad of Narayama film posterOn 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.

Title roll Ballad of NarayamaThe 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.

Ballad of Narayama Bento (06-03-2013)

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. :)

Submitted to What’s for Lunch Wednesday #145 and Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking.

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