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Noooo, I’m not going to a bingo night ;) It’s just that I’m rather preoccupied with our sweet tomcat Ringo – and one of his many nicknames is Bingo! :)
Coffee-time tier: mini croissants (inspired by Bentobird) with strawberry jelly. There’s also a small cup of ‘faux sour cream’ in this box for the Mexican beans in another tier.
Fruit tier: pink grapefruit, opal prunes and white berries.
Background tier: rice, chili pepper ‘flower’, frijoles with corn and slices of gerkin, lettuce.
Office Lunch for Tuesday August 2nd, 2011.
Edited to add on Tuesday…
Of course I was not preoccupied with Ringo without reason. Today our adorable shy-guy died; he joined Yoshitoshi to roam the Eternal Graasland. Ringo only got to stay with us for four years but it seems like a lifetime and we enjoyed every minute of it. We were really lucky to find him — ask Juno if you don’t believe us! ;)
To the contrary of what you may think, we did not name Ringo (directly) after that Beatle person with the same name. It’s just a family rule that cats should have a two-syllable name ending at -o and both Mr Gnoe and I love the happy song “Ringo, I love you” by Stereo Total. Bye bye, cute little guy!
Shunbun No Hi
I don’t think people in Japan are feeling very celebratory after the disasters that struck the country this month (earthquakes, tsunami and serious trouble with the Fukushima nuclear power plants), but yesterday was a national holiday in honor of spring equinox, called Shunbun No Hi. It is a moment to reflect on our relation with nature, which seems only natural in light of the current events.
Stemming from Buddhist tradition, it is also a time to visit the resting places of ancestors, cleaning their graves and offering ohagi, sweet rice balls covered with red bean paste — it’s believed spirits prefer round food. :)
So when my plans got canceled yesterday morning while it was such wonderful weather, I picked up the Spring Equinox Bento I had quickly made the night before, packed my bag and put on my hiking boots. Destination? My father’s family grave. I hadn’t been there in a while so it felt really good to tidy up (yes, even scrub) and leave some spring flowers — in my country we usually don’t offer food to the gods or deceased. ;) And there was even someone there to greet me..! #MurakamiMoment
Afterwards I had planned to take a long hike but there wasn’t much time left, so instead I went in search of a small lake nearby to wait for Mr Gnoe. Together we went to the North Sea shore for a walk on the beach and to see the sun set. The sea is my mother’s resting place (sort of), so I had the most perfect day contemplating both nature & my ancestors. What a great way to start springtime! :)) But of course my thoughts went out to the people of Japan too.
Quick Spring Equinox Bento (#136)
As you can see there isn’t anything resembling a ball in my Monday bento, although there is some circular movement going on. ;) The only real round food I had were cherry tomatoes, but they had to make room for their tiny plum tomato siblings because these are smaller.
The main aspect of this lunch is my sunny tofu scramble in a night-blue cup symbolizing equinox: the day being exactly as long as night. It was my second time making tofu scramble and I ‘adventurously’ added some cumin and veggie BBQ sauce that was given away for free at the Asian store (nearing its expiration date). Nice.
- Mixed salad with La Dolce Vegan!‘s Sesame Miso Vinaigrette
- Switchback cut banana
- The last bit of creamy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (recipe also from La Dolce Vegan!)
- Italian scrocchi crackers
- Grilled vegetables: zucchini & green bell pepper
- Dried cranberries & apricot (sliced)
- Cauliflower fox, oak-leaf lettuce & garden cress
On the side I also brought an apple, vegan sammy and a bottle of water.
On Sunday several tweeps held a low-key minireadathon and some of us decided to buddyread Haruki Murakami’s Pinball, 1973 together. I think @Chinoiseries, @inspringthedawn and @Owl59 accomplished more than I did… I got distracted by the fine hiking weather (still rare these days) and this month’s Hello Japan! mini-challenge which seemed such a great conclusion of my Murakami day: cooking (and eating) Japanese.
After making shiromiso soup for January’s Hello Japan! mini mission I had an open packet of aburaage (bean curd bags) that desperately needed finishing, so I put inarizushi (tofu puffs) on this week’s menu plan. But who can resist preparing some maki rolls as well when making a batch of sushi rice? Especially now that I had some avocado waiting in the fruit basket!
Next to that we had steamed broccoli with sesame seeds and lemon wheels. Pickled ginger, soy sauce and sake could not be omitted. ;)
All recipes for our Sunday dinner came from a fabulous cookbook that I’ve mentioned before, The Vegetarian Table: Japan (Victoria Wise). For our sushi rolls I didn’t follow a recipe but picked the ingredients from what I had at hand:
- avocado – wasabi veganaise – leek sprouts
- shiitake mushrooms – cucumber – spring onion – pickled ginger
- avocado – wasabi ‘mayo’ – shiitake – spring onion – (white) sesame seeds
They were all very nice but I think no.’s 1 and 3 were my favourites. Having leek sprouts was a lucky coincidence — and I’m definitely going to remember that for next time!
The tofu puffs contained carrot, broccoli stem and black sesame seeds mixed into the rice.
A good thing about eating Japanese is obviously that possible leftovers make a great bento. And what a surprise, Mr Gnoe opted for a small Monday bento too!
Mr Gnoe’s bento (left container)
- Tofu puff
- Oak leaf lettuce
- Assortment of sushi rolls
- Soy fishy
- Pickled ginger
- Shiitake ‘slug’
- Japanese strawberry candy
Gnoe’s bento (middle container)
- Cherry tomatoes and shiitake mushroom on red leaf lettuce
- Maki sushi
- Shiitake mushroom
- Lemon wheels
- Soy container (hiding)
- Batavian lettuce leaf
- Pickled ginger
- Garden cress
- More sushi rolls
On the side (not shown)
Now I’d like to put the spotlight on those lovely chopsticks you see in the picture. I got them for a present from a kindhearted fellow bentoïst on my 3-year bentoversary. I use them regularly but rarely with a bento because most times a spoon suits my European-style lunches fine.
Don’t you love these bright sakura hashi? I instantly get a spring feeling when I hold them! And I even got another pair of chopsticks and some more goodies along with it. *Lucky grrl!* Months have past but I am still immensely grateful for this kind gesture.
Bentoïsts make the world a better place! ;)
So here goes…
The first book you read in 2010: Trespass by Valerie Martin
The last book you finished in 2010: The Christmas Quilt by Thomas J. Davis
The first book you will finish (or did finish!) in 2011: Caos Calmo by Sandro Veronesi
Your favorite “classic” you read in 2010: The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima
The book series you read the most volumes of in 2010: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec by Jacques Tardi (both graphic novels)
The genre you read the most in 2010: literary fiction (quite a lot of it being JLit)
The book that disappointed you: The Evenings (graphic novel) by Gerard Reve & Dick Matena
The book you liked better than you expected to: Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami
The hardest book you read in 2010 (topic or writing style): The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon (struggled with it for months and almost gave up!)
The funniest book you read in 2010: Mutts by Patrick McDonnell
The saddest book you read in 2010: this is a hard one.. probably The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam
The shortest book you read in 2010: ‘A Steam Whistle in the Night‘ by Haruki Murakami
The longest book you read in 2010: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A book that you discovered in 2010 that you will definitely read again: I’m really not much of a re-reader but I know I’ll be picking up David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet again: I just won a Dutch copy and because of the games Mitchell played with my language in the English version, I’m curious to know how it was translated. I’ve heard the author say he liked what the translators did, so… That’s why I worked so hard a winning a copy ;)
A book that you never want to read again: Thomas J. Davis’ The Christmas Quilt; not that it wasn’t a cosy read for the holidays, but once is enough
And finally, make a New Year’s Resolution: since 2010 was a slow reading year I plan to read more — in time as well as amount of books; at least 11 more to be precise (Books on the Nightstand +11 reading challenge) BUT I won’t give in on quality over quantity!
And what’s the relevance of cat pictures in this post?
Absolutely none. :)
They’re just my cuties that almost didn’t make it into the new year.
And I’m awfully grateful they did.
It’s December and the gift giving season has definitely started. This week I received my parcel from Lavender Lines in the awesome Great Grocery Bag Exchange that Carin from A Little Bookish hosted. YAY!
Of course we all want to live ‘green’ (right?), so why not Bring Your Own Bag to the store?! Or better still, bring a friend’s bag! The cool part of this international swap is that you get to have a unique reusable bag from another country to lug your groceries back home in :) And mine-came-from-bilingual-Canada. Ha!
Curious? Well, here’s the loot Colleen sent me!
Yep, you’re seeing that right: next to two bags, I also got some special Canadian goodies. :)
Oh, but the cat was not included! That’s our Handsome Man, Ringo. He was curious too ;) If you’re one of those rare cat-haters, here’s a link to a picture without him. :-o
The small red bag came from Claire de Lune, a wonderful Canadian candle shop, as Colleen describes it. It’s cute and it does smell sweetly of candles! :)
The bigger blue bag is from the Co-op grocery store. This bag is truly Canadian in that it has a French, and an English side. I can’t believe how global I’ll look carrying this! :) It’s pretty sturdy and I already used it to bring a bunch of heavy goodies to my aunt.
Please don’t tell anyone but there’s a secret to this bag too… Come closer to the computer so I can whisper it in your ear!
*low volume* There’s a small zipper pocket inside to put my money in! *volume up*
Colleen was so sweet to include her favourite Canadian chocolate bars: Coffee Crisp and mint-flavoured Aero. I visited Eastern Canada in 2000 but I can’t remember having come across them. So they’re rrrrrreally special! I’m saving them for a treat on one of my hikes or to cheer me up when I’m feeling down. Well, if I can resist them that long anyway ;)
I am a bit worried though :\ Colleen writes: I should warn you — they’re addictive!
Before you know it I’ll need to order them on-line in large numbers… LOL
So, a BIG Thank You! to my friends across the Atlantic: Colleen and Carin. I’ve had a great time participating in the grocery bag exchange and will continue to do so whenever I use my bags. Can you picture the jealous looks I’ll get? :)
It was impossible to shoot a decent ‘solo’ picture of this week’s organic vegetables. I had locked out my feline friend Juno when I went to collect our veggie bag, so when I got back she was determined to stay in sight where ever I went and whatever I did. rest assured that she won’t be anyone’s dinner ;)
- Red Frills mustard
- Tree onion
- Turnip stems ? (raapsteeltjes)
It was fun to find something new among the loot, again :) When I say ‘new’ I really mean unfamiliar, since Amelis’Hof farm mainly grows traditional and often even ‘forgotten’ foods. Today’s treasure is ‘Red Frills mustard’ (mosterdblad) which can be used in salad, Indian saag or as garnish. I already had some in the Greek salad I ate for lunch; it’s nice and spicy.
The arugula went into a couscous dish last night with spinach, dried apricots and pine nuts. Next to it we had a salad of last week’s red Batavia, radishes and bundle garlic, tomato, egg, cucumber and a yoghurt-mustard dressing.
I’m not sure yet what to do with the rhubarb. I hated it as a child. In my heart head I still do, but I’ve tried it again and I know it’s not as horrible as I think it is. Maybe I’ll bake the rhubarb crumble that’s described in the leaflet accompanying the vegetables, or make some rhubarb oatmeal bars. They might provide a nice change for the Marmite cereal bars ;)
I guess I should start planning my menu for the week..!
Today is a special day: Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year. Yay, The Year of The Tiger has started! This afternoon I went to a Chinese festival and released Paper Tiger (Papieren tijger) by Olivier Rolin for our Bookcrossing Monopoly Game. And I hopped by our city’s red light district for a Valentine’s release called Solely Lust (Louter lust): erotic stories for women. Both have been caught already!
Now, this Valentine’s Day Sunday Salon provides me with a good opportunity to talk about Weekly Geeks 2010-6: ‘Romancing the Tome’. Have you heard of The Romantic, a book by Barbara Gowdy (one of my favourite authors)? You should have! It got longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003, and was in the running for several other awards. I haven’t been able to write a coherent review of this book about a zillion kinds of love; I had too many feelings to make any sense of them. So I’m going to give you the synopsis from Waterstones:
How do you love someone who sits, smiling, at the edge of oblivion? Award-winning Canadian writer Barbara Gowdy unravels a romance, and the idea of romance, in this spry, witty, agile novel full of all the species of love. Louise Kirk falls in love. She’s 10, lives in a cosy, unremarkable suburban home, but, remarkably, has lost a mother already. Or, rather, her chic, sharp mother has disappeared. So, Louise, lonely and steeped in complicated yearnings, decides to fall in love. Furiously. First, she falls in love with her magnificent new neighbour, the operatic and exotic Mrs Richter. Then, within the year, she falls for Mrs Richter’s brilliant son Abel. Distracting him from his attentive study of everything around him — the constellations, the moths, the music — proves quite a struggle. But before long Abel finds he loves Louise ‘too much’. A dozen years later, Abel is gone and Louise is devastated. This is the unravelling story of their romance! In The Romantic, Barbara Gowdy tracks and identifies all the species of love. Each of her characters is iridescent, but Louise Kirk, who flies to love again and again like a moth at a lamp, is a creature from whom no reader will easily tear their gaze.
I am not a person to reread books — so many books, so little time! But I have been wanting to start over in The Romantic ever since I finished it (and that was in 2004). Yes, that’s how much I loved it. Well, I’d better finish my current book first — I seem to be STUCK in it! :-o That’s the 3rd part of I Am a Cat by Natsume Sōseki. And the bookgroup discussion starts tomorrow! I guess I’ve left it for too long. But I don’t want to put the novel aside; I should be able to finish the last part of this classic! Although it seems to be keeping me from reading at all…
The Pillow Book read-along
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Oooops, I still haven’t started reading yet! It’s because of my problems with I Am a Cat. I hope I’ll have some better news for you next week! Anyway, I did buy another book to read once The Pillow Book read-along has ended. A bit premature, I knoooow LOL, but I couldn’t leave this discarded library book for someone else to find, could I?
It’s My Name Is Sei Shonagon in Dutch (Mijn naam is Sei Shonagon), by Jan Blensdorf. You can find a review on Curled Up With a Good Book.