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HoningstickYesterday I was home late after an appointment for work in Amsterdam and visiting a friend with a new baby, so I went to bed immediately without making preparations for my bento. Consequently I found it difficult to get out of bed this morning ;) So bento #62 was made in a hurry — I even forgot to photograph my honey stick.
What would we do without mobile phones? ;)

Bento #62 contained:

  • gingerbread
  • cashews with herbes de Provence
  • raspberries
  • edamame with sea salt
  • smurrie-egg (egg with curry, tomato, paprika and parsley)
  • bed of lettuce
  • honey on the side (gingerbread topping)

Edamame is really easy to prepare, especially frozen ones — and there are no (or hardly any) fresh beans available in Holland. So check out the freezer of your local Asian store.

  1. Bring water to a boil; for fast cooking I use my water cooker and then pour the boiling water in a small pan.
  2. Add a little salt (this can be omitted because of stage 5).
  3. Put in the edamame and boil for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Drain and cool down quickly by pouring over cold water (or throw the beans in cold water).
  5. Sprinkle thoroughly with freshly ground sea salt.

Yes, I know too much salt is unhealthy, but I normally don’t use it a lot and I eat pretty healthy anyway, so I don’t worry about my salty edamame. The salt on your lips is so good when you suck the beans out of their pods… Sounds yummy? ;)

Each time I have to choose again between putting whole beans in my bento or shelling them. Without their pods they (obviously) take less room and they are nice & shiny. But.. they dry out quickly as well so considering taste it is better to leave them unpeeled until the moment of consumption.

Last weekend summer officially started and we’ve been having some fine weather in Holland since then! So on Thursday it was time for a mediterranean bento (#56).

Upper tier

  • currants
  • black olives
  • dressing for Greek salad
  • cashews with Provencal herbs
  • basil

Lower tier

  • Romaine leaves
  • basil
  • black olive
  • mix of feta goat’s cheese, tomato, spring onion, sundried tomato and red bell pepper

The salad leaves, paprika, basil and red currants all came from our weekly organic veggie bag!

Oops, it took me a whole week to post about bento #52! It came to work on Wednesday May 20th — and it’s been my last bento up until today. I was too busy! And I don’t have to go to the office for a while now, so bento’s will be sparse in the next few weeks.

In the picture my lunch looks quite cute — but don’t be fooled! The hint is a packet of Smint…

The red stuff you see in the left hand tier is Mediterranean bean paste, which erm.. had a bit too much garlic in it :-o I don’t like tasting garlic all day, so I came prepared.

Here’s another one of Gnoe’s tips: natural & healthy remedies against garlic smell (and taste) are drinking milk, eating an apple and — last but certainly not least — chewing on a bunch of parsley. That’s after you’ve eaten garlic, not before ;) In my experience these solutions work best if you don’t apply them immediately, but after you’ve brushed your teeth without result.

Well, my apple is not in the picture but it did come along. And in the photo you can also see some fresh parsley (not enough though, LOL) — and the before mentioned package sugar free Smint for emergencies ;)

What else could be found in bento #52?

  • red leaf salad (hiding)
  • 3 conchiglioni (pasta seashells) with herbs, slightly greased with olive oil so they wouldn’t stick together
  • black olives
  • slices of orange sweet bite
  • capers, small & large
  • yellow cherry tomatoes
  • parsley (like I said)
  • yogurt coated apricot
  • roasted sunflower seeds as topping for:
  • leek salad (leeks marinated in a basil-garlic dressing)
  • Mediterranean bean paste made of white beans, tomato, red bell pepper (paprika), onion, olive oil and oven-roasted garlic (to eat with the pasta)
  • grated cheese for the conchiglioni
  • pistachios and cashews
  • cranberries

Both the leek salad and the bean paste were easy to make. But… the bean spread was best on the day it was prepared. Next day it had gotten a bit ‘watery’ and needed the salty & sour addition of capers and olives.

So, bento #52 was like a wolf in sheep’s clothes: looking cute, but with a sharp bite! Well, I got a lot of work done that day with few colleagues disturbing me ;) Which is good — is it? It was really my day off… :\

Well, guess what we had for dinner yesterday… Gado-gado! Since my first — and very succesful — attempt to grow my own bean sprouts (taugeh) we have to think of recipes to use it all. LOL Gado-gado is an all-time favourite and had to go on the menu. It’s a salad of either raw or blanched vegetables, served with peanut sauce as a dressing and emping and (dried) fried onions as toppings. Fried tofu and boiled egg are essential ingredients as well. Can’t get any easier, can it? :)

Our meal was (of course) delicious and I had made enough to put some in bento #50. Yay, a real feast! Unfortunately we were out of fried onions and ate all the emping at dinner :\ In my bento I took a Japanese sesame-soy rice cracker instead; not the same — I knoooow — but something crunchy to bite anyway ;)

For those of you who’ve never heard of emping: it’s a type of krupuk (or kroepoek, as we say) that is made of melinjo nuts. No shrimp, so it’s a good alternative for vegetarians like me :) It seems you have to love it or to hate it (it has a bit of a bitter taste) but I really can’t understand that anyone wouldn’t like it! :\

About my jubilee bento. Gado-gado is a great bento filler because it should be eaten at room temperature. The veggies are either blanched or raw so it’s easy to use leftovers ;) Of course it can be nice to have a hot peanut sauce with it, but roomtemp or cold is fine. So what do you see in my bento?

Top tier (which is actually the bottom tier :\ )

  • Japanese grape sweet (Anpanman mix fruit hard candy)
  • 3 stars of dried apricot & wild berries snack
  • mix of cashews and dried cranberries
  • Apricot & wild berries fruit snacksesame-soy rice cracker
  • container with peanut sauce
  • strips of fried tofu for the gado-gado
  • homegrown mustard cress
  • little radish stars

The bottom tier contains a mix of the following

  • red leaf salad (raw)
  • white cabbage (blanched by pouring some hot water over it)
  • bean sprouts (raw, but can be poured over with some hot water as well)
  • cucumber (raw)
  • carrots (blanched)
  • green beans and haricots verts (blanched)
  • slices of boiled egg (obviously)
  • more radish stars
  • radishes with gherkin stars

I’ll post a more precise recipe of gado-gado sometime soon… (oh, me and my promises..! :\ )

Tonight we will be having more Indonesian food with taugeh on the menu: loempia (spring rolls) and lalab taugé! Spring rolls and mushroom soup as a matter of fact, because I ran out of bean sprouts! :-o

I’m afraid the recipes are in Dutch (one of them is really Flemish, to be exact ;)

witte bloesem

Sakura-feest

Gisteren hebben wij hier ons eigen Hanami gevierd: het feest van het ‘bloesem kijken’. In Japan wordt dat jaarlijks gevierd als de kersenbloesem bloeit. Wanneer dat moment precies is (eind maart-begin april), wordt nauwlettend in de gaten gehouden via speciale sakura-voorspellingen na het weerbericht en op websites. Als het zo ver is trekt heel Japan naar buiten om met vrienden en familie of collega’s te picknicken onder de kersenbloesem. De bloesem is maar kort op zijn top en staat daarom symbool voor de vergankelijkheid van de schoonheid en het leven.

Genji

Het bloesemkijkfeest werd voor het eerst genoemd in de oudste roman van Japan Genji monogatari (The Tale of Genji), van Murasaki Shikibu, ongeveer uit het jaar 1000. Een groot deel van dit (superdikke) boek heb ik in 2005 gelezen en daar ben ik blij om want ik herken daardoor veel in modernere Japanse literatuur, zoals boeken van Haruki Murakami of Taichi Yamada (welke auteurs ik graag lees). Maar dit terzijde.

Hanami

roze bloesemWij hebben de mazzel dat we in een groene wijk van Utrecht wonen en omringd zijn door bloesembomen. Helaas zijn er afgelopen jaar een paar gekapt vanwege bomenziekte, maar daarvoor zijn andere (kleinere roze) in de plaats gekomen. We keken dus vol verwachting uit naar het moment dat alles hier in volle bloei zou staan. En deze week is het zo ver! Wat heerlijk dus dat we dit weekend mooi weer hebben, zodat we een Hollandse Hanami konden vieren in het park. Dat moest wel een beetje in Japanse stijl, dus met toepasselijke gerechten in de kleuren van kersenbloesem (roze en wit, groen voor het blad en bruin van de stam).

De picknick

alles voor de picknickOm te beginnen hebben we het traditionele dango gemaakt, gestoomde balletjes van rijstemeel, kersensmaak en teriyakisaus. We hadden het nog nooit gegeten en wisten dus niet wat we daarvan konden verwachten. Ehm, hoewel ze naar ons idee wel zijn gelukt vonden we het eigenlijk niet te eten : De roze leken op grote hompen supertaaie kauwgom! Brrr, niet opgegeten dus. Tja, ieder bakavontuur kan mislukken. En gelukkig hadden we nog andere lekkere dingen!

Heerlijke Hollandse frambozen, de black bottom cupcakes (ze smaken nog prima als ze uit de vriezer komen :), edamame oftewel gekookte sojabonen in de peul met zeezout (yummy), wasabi-erwtjes en sojacrackers, en Aziatische Sky Flakes toastjes voor de paddestoelen-cashewnotenpaté, een recept met silken tofu dat we een aantal jaren terug in Toronto hebben gescoord.

de picknickTe drinken hadden we genmaicha thee en prosecco wijn met biologisch zwarte-bessensap, een soort kir royale dus :)

Komende week komt er weer regen en wind, dus dan zal alle bloesem wel snel weg of lelijk zijn. Wat een geluk dat wij er nu volop van hebben genoten!

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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