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So. The bed is made, a load of laundry is running and the dishes of dinner, snacks, breakfast and lunch can wait a while longer while I write up this second-and-last update for the April 2014 24 hour read-a-thon. Let me say first: I had such FUN! My go-with-the-flow attitude was just what I needed to make this readathon a success. I am very grateful to my reading buddy Kuki whom stayed with me (or rather on top of me) most of the time. She even tried to wake me up before the alarm to continue reading ;) Her being so faithful made me less sad about my former readathon buddy Juno isn’t here any more.
I’ve been reading just one book and wasn’t able to finish it in time: Crossing to Safety ~ Wallace Stegner (ebook)
Percentage of book read: 51%
Amount of time spent reading: 7 hours and 35 minutes
Amount of time spent socialising: 1 hour 30 minutes
Mini-challenges: just the kick-off and end of the event memes
End of Event Meme
- Which hour was most daunting for you?|
The first few… I was looking forward to it so much and then I something came up that made me miss out on the first six hours. So in fact I got an eighteen hour twentyfour readathon ;) Had to adapt a little and try not to be too disappointed. Also, when I went to bed at 1:30. I had planned on reading a while longer but my eyes fell shut even before my head hit the pillow.
- Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
YES! I’ve only been reading Crossing to Safety and time flew! I can definitely recommend it to everyone.
- Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
- What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
My own attitude of going with the flow and just enjoying the event, taking part in the community stuff. I may not have made that concious decision if Andi hadn’t mentioned it in one of her video blogs!
- How many books did you read?
- What were the names of the books you read?
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner (1987).
- Which book did you enjoy most?
- Crossing to Safety obviously ;)
- 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?
I want it to start RIGHT NOW! Reader and unofficial cheerleader (like I did now).
According to my e-reader I need only 3 more hours of reading to finish the last 27% of Crossing to Safety. If.. I had started at the right time I had made it. So I am a little tempted to steal that time right now but on the other hand there are several tasks waiting for me. Appealing my self-discipline. ;)
Anywayz, I have enjoyed myself SO MUCH that I’m determined to make reading part of my daily routine again (and play on my phone less). Thanks to Wallace Stegner I already know I want to read Bill Bryson’s Walk in the Woods next. Yay for getting out of my reading slump!
THANK YOU Dewey and all the awesome people behind the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon!
I opened and closed this week with a bento for lunch: first a Yummy Meatless Mondays Bento (#152), and then a healthy Veggie Bento on Friday (#153). Showing you the last one first!
Veggie Bento (#153)
My Friday bento came along in a box that I don’t often use — because it’s technically not mine. ;) Click on the pic to follow the link to an overview shot on Flickr.
We bought this Hanaougi ‘Flower Fans’ bento for Mr Gnoe when I only owned one other box (can you believe there ever was such a time?): my first usagi bento. Both are two-tiered, rectangular and dark blue. The idea was to use our similar bentos for picnics. :) But it has been gathering dust on the shelf so this Friday I decided to put it to good use.
Half a ‘space bar’ (vegan sausage) and tomato ketchup to dip, rye bread with tofutti cream ‘cheese’, cucumber fans, radish flowers and green beans with African Peper spice mix on a bed of lettuce.
Red beet salad with balsamic & raspberry vinegar, green grapes, cherry tomatoes (homegrown on the balcony), basil and fennel with peas.
On the side
Organic apple & elderberry juice.
Yummy Meatless Mondays Bento (#152)
Although Friday bento was good, it couldn’t beat Monday bento which contained one of my favourite foods: kisir, a traditional Turkish bulghur salad. The one from Ana’s Kuzin is best but I’m hoping to find a recipe that comes close. If you have one, please let me know?!
Kisir, veggies (cucumber, radishes, lettuce, steamed green beans, cherry tomatoes, flat leaf parsley) and dressing.
Tiny leftovers of antep ezmesi (hot mix of tomato, chili peppers and garlic) & börülce (spicy bean-lime tomato dish), lots of seedless grapes, rye bread with vegan ‘cream cheese’, almond and dried apricot.
And an apple on the side (not shown).
If you can help me to good recipes for kisir, antep ezmesi, and/or börülce, I would really, REALLY appreciate it very much!
Find more bentos at Shannon’s What’s for Lunch Wednesday.
This month I’ve tried several new recipes for the Whip Up Something New! challenge that Trish was hosting. All these dishes were vegan — but I bet you wouldn’t have noticed!
- Tempeh ‘Sausage’ Crumbles
- Red Endive, Pear and Walnut Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
- Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts
- Spicy Couscous Stuffed Mushrooms
- Sun-dried Tomato Aïoli
- Quick Spinach Quiche
- Links to previously posted February recipes
Tempeh ‘Sausage’ Crumbles
Something absolutely new to me were tempeh ‘sausage’ crumbles, a kind of topping from the Appetite for Reduction cookbook that I found on the Post Punk Kitchen website. It was recommended for pasta with marinara sauce or as a pizza topping, but is also supposed to be good as a burrito filling or served for breakfast alongside scrambled tofu. Pigheaded me decided to try it for something totally (?) different: as a topping for potato mash with raw escarole, accompanied by caramelized red onions. It was good but sort of weird too because the saltiness combined with anise-fennel taste reminded me a little of liquorice. :\
Also, the substance was a bit wetter than expected. I had thought it would be dry, like tempeh goreng, whereas on the other hand the fennel seeds had kept their bite more than I’d figured. Now that had nothing to do with the fact that I had forgotten to add the lemon juice at the right time and just threw some over the mixture at the dinner table. ;) (TG that we always have a bottle of good organic lemon juice at hand ;)
Maybe this is just how it’s supposed to turn out? Or shouldn’t I have used tempeh that was slightly past its expiration date? :-o Anyway, it seemed to me that the liquid wouldn’t evaporate more if I’d cook the dish any longer — rather the opposite.
This was a very interesting recipe to try — it looks rather meaty, doesn’t it? But I really wouldn’t sell it as ‘sausage’ crumbles.
Since I also had an open packet of tortilla’s I made a wrap with the leftovers for lunch the next day. I was happy to learn that the food-additive E471, which can be animal-derived as well as plantbased (and no way to tell them apart chemically), is vegan in the case of the Dutch Albert Heijn’s brand tortillas!
Red Endive, pear & walnut salad with raspberry vinaigrette
I found this Broad-leaved endive, pear & walnut salad with raspberry vinaigrette recipe in the Vegetarian Times. It’s a nice salad, but no real surprise for us: the combination of pear & walnut/endive is a classic and raspberry vinaigrette of course goes well with pear. If you’ve never made raw escarole salad before, you should definitely try it! I used red endive, and replaced honey with agave nectar to make it completely vegan. Since I only had one head of endive I also added a few leaves of Salanova lettuce.
Yes, I’ll probably make this again, but I won’t be following the recipe to the letter. Though this pear & raspberry vinegar combo with endive is certainly more delicate to serve guests than our usual variation with apple & lemon juice.
Roasted Romanesco Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts
I had some Brussels sprouts and Romanesco cauliflower in my fridge, so the Roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts recipe in the Vegetarian Times seemed like the perfect dish to try. And it’s great! It’s very easy to make, although you have to remember to prepare the ingredients one day in advance… That makes it the perfect dish for entertaining guests. Just don’t forget to keep your eye on the oven; I almost let my veggies burn. Oops.
Mr Gnoe especially liked these veggies so it’ll definitely find its way back to our table!
Curry Couscous Stuffed Mushrooms
I found a Curry couscous stuffed mushrooms recipe from the 500 Vegan Recipes cookbook online and they sounded so yummy that I made them the same day, to accompany my roasted Romanesco & Brussels sprouts. Alas, they were rather a disappointment.
I like the idea of mushrooms with spicy grains (couscous) but there’s something missing in this dish and I just can’t figure out what it is. Mango chutney? Ginger? More salt?
I followed the instructions for preparing couscous on the package, not the 500VR recipe, which means I mixed the dry couscous with herbs & spices, added water and let it rest for 4 minutes (covered). Sautéed onion, garlic and mushroom stems in separate skillet, then added the ‘finished’ couscous to the onion mixture.
According to the instructions of the cookbook I should have sautéed the dry couscous & herbs/spices together with the onion mixture instead, adding water and stirring until all liquid would have been evaporated… It could be that would have made the flavours come out better (especially the curry & garam masala). But as far as I’m concerned, it’s really not worth giving this snack another chance: it’ll never have that Wow-factor I need for my omnivore friends.
The amount of couscous in the recipe was also way too much for 12 medium cremini mushrooms (the required 8 oz), so we’ve been eating it as a side-dish for days after…
Sun-dried Tomato Aïoli
I want to buy a good vegan cookbook and for that reason I’m looking for recipes from recommended books on the web to give them a try. The mushrooms with spicy couscous were a #FAIL but I found another recipe of which I’m relatively certain that it’s from the same 500 Vegan Recipes cookbook by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman: Sun-dried tomato aïoli. Please correct me if I’m wrong because I have no way of checking this.
Well. About that Wow-factor: this sun-dried tomato aïoli has become an instant favourite!!! It’s the perfect substitute for a previous fav of mine: sun-dried tomato butter (which I can no longer have now that I’m going ExtraVeganza!). It is a great dish to bring along to pot-lucks and I will definitely serve it on my own birthday party next week.
I made just half the recipe as a try-out and used some veganaise that I made with part sunflower oil, part olive oil. It wasn’t really clear to me what I was supposed to do with the pine nuts — I felt they should be toasted & ground but the recipe didn’t say so. I decided to do both: ground half and keep the rest as a whole. Seemed perfect to me. :)
Quick Spinach Quiche
I stumbled upon an easy recipe for spinach quiche that seemed great to take along on our ‘Day at the Oscars’. It’s in Dutch and we made some adaptations, so I’ll just summarize.
- frozen puff pastry (vegan); 4-6 depending on your pie mold
- large packet of frozen spinach (slightly thawed) — or fresh spinach leaves (cleaned & cut)
- (optional) small onion, diced
- small can of corn kernels
- sun-dried tomatoes, cut and welded
- dried basil
- ground pepper
- soy sauce or salt
- a few dashes of soy cuisine (cream)
- Preheat oven (220 °C).
- Cover pie or oven dish with parchment paper.
- Thaw puff pastry, roll out dough a little and line in pie dish, covering the sides.
- Sauté onion, add spinach and let it shrink a little. If you’re going the easy way with frozen spinach you can leave out the onion and skip this step!
- Stir in all the other ingredients, mixing well.
- Put the filling on the pastry, folding any protruding dough over the filling.
- Put in the oven for about 30 minutes.
This spinach pie is best eaten cold. I think we’ll make it again for a pick-nick or such.
The crust looks a bit bleak and I would love to get (vegan) tips on how to get a golden-looking pie?! We’ve covered the dough with a bit of olive oil but that didn’t help. ‘In the old days’ I used either egg or coffee creamer — do you think a bit of soy milk or plain water would do the trick?
Also whipped up in February
And here are this month’s new dishes that I’ve already posted about.
Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. February’s mission is ‘Cooking Japanese’!
I’ve wanted to try gyōza for ages. I never had any and I don’t know where to get a vegetarian/vegan version around here, so there was no other option than to make them myself. With a
little lot of help from Mr Gnoe, because it’s fun to cook together on a Sunday night!
We took the recipe on Something to Eat for guidance but skipped on the tofu, added some nameko mushrooms to the shiitake and used white cabbage instead of Chinese. We poured boiling water over the thinly sliced cabbage in a colander and left it to cool. A major improvisation is that we sautéed the mushrooms, garlic and spring onions first, mixing it up with the cabbage, soy sauce and sesame oil in the end. The filling should actually cook within the skin, but we are a little pigheaded. ;)
Using a small bowl I cut some square wonton wrappers into circles. And then, finally, we got to use the handy gyōza press mold that had been waiting useless in our kitchen for some months now! ;)
We followed the steam-fry method Something to Eat describes and the yaki-gyōza turned out delicious, although a bit ‘mushy’ — no way we could eat them with chopsticks so we had to use a regular knife & fork. LOL We dipped the dumplings in a sauce I had whipped up from two tablespoons of tamari, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, some splashes of tabasco chilli sauce (since we don’t have any hot oil) and a little yuzu powder. YUM!
Next to our Japanese potstickers we had some improvised mushroom-miso soup with ginger. (Of course I really should have been reading In the Miso Soup because discussion in the Japanese Literature Book Group starts today… uh-oh) “Not a lot of veggies?” I hear you say, but we’d had spinach quiche in the late afternoon, so a big or balanced meal wasn’t really required.
We’ll probably have the leftovers for dinner this Meatless Monday.
Are you eating vegetarian today as well?
I’m definitely going to make gyōza again, trying different recipes (with tofu or minced seitan) and cooking methods (steaming, boiling, frying). The lazy days are over for our gyōza kitchen tool! ;)
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New recipe(s) tried for the Whip Up Something New! Challenge!
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Join Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking with a food-related post!
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This awesome egg-less mayonnaise is the discovery of the year. Not just for me — Mr Gnoe also thinks it tastes better than any ordinary variety we’ve ever had. So even in the unlikely event that I’ll turn into my old 100% lact-ovo vegetarian self again, we’ll probably stick to eating this veganaise!
And you know what? It’s soooooo easy to make: you can whip it up in under 5 minutes! Of course only if your stick blender doesn’t die on you in the process, like mine did today. :\
The recipe originates from EVA, the Belgian Vegetarian Association, but I learned about it in my ExtraVeganza kick-off: Happy Herbi’s Eat Good, Feel Good cooking class. And it made my vegan pilot project so much easier! I’ve put it on sandwiches with avocado, used it for several dipping sauces, guacamole, salad dressing and wasabi ‘mayonnaise’ for sushi. Now how could I keep a fabulous recipe like that from you? Not.
100 ml soy milk (it is very important to shake well before use!!!)
175-250 ml sunflower oil
1 tbs cider vinegar
1 ts mustard
1/2 ts salt
1 ts agave syrup
The original recipe states double measures but since this egg-less mayonnaise keeps well in the fridge for about 2 weeks these are the amounts I use.
Put all ingredients — except oil — in a tall bowl and slowly mix with the immersion blender while pouring in the oil. Voilá! ;)
Now you can add al sorts of things (herbs & spices) to make your own fabulous sauces.
Mr Gnoe & I like ‘olivonnaise’ so next time I’ll be trying olive oil (partly) instead of sunflower.
Eat Good, Feel Good Cooking Class
After an introduction on the vegan lifestyle and answers to some questions we had asked in advance, the four of us made a three course meal together of potato-carrot soup & kale pate on toast for starters, a main course of spicy seitan satay (made from scratch!) with peanut sauce, rice with capucijner peas, cumin & veganaise and bean sprout & apple salad. For dessert we had a delicious (but pretty heavy for someone not used to afters ;) raw banana mousse ‘petite-pie’. And like I said, us lucky participants got to take the leftovers home! :)
I was the only first-timer but didn’t do too bad. ;) I am glad I took this cooking class for a kick-off because it totally inspired me!
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Join Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking with a food-related post!
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New recipe(s) tried for the Whip Up Something New! Challenge!
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Recipe submitted to Midnight Maniac’s Meatless Monday & the newly discovered Vegan Mondays.
I had some leftover mushroom risotto and inspired by Uniflame’s recent risotto ball bentos I decided to make my own vegan version.
Risotto is sticky in itself so it doesn’t really need any egg or cheese. Still, since I have an open package of soy mozzarella — which tastes like nothing and I certainly won’t buy it again — I grated some and added it to the cold rice mixture along with a handful of bread-crumbs. I rolled 12 small balls, covered them with more bread-crumbs and put ‘em in the fridge to rest a little. Then I baked the round ‘croquettes’ in a skillet with sunflower oil.
Preparing the risotto balls didn’t take a lot of time, but the baking did! :( Next time I’ll try either frying or oven-baking.
Next to the risotto balls there’s radishes on a skewer, a basil flower and chilli bean-rice mix topped with parsley on a bed of red-leaf lettuce.
The other tier holds mustard dip for the risotto balls (a simple mixture of mustard & veganaise; recipe will be up on Saturday), small caper, leek sprouts, a few slices of shiitake mushroom, cherry tomatoes with fresh basil, salted pecans, dried apricots and… NO cookies! The small flowers are toasted tortillas to eat with the chilli, made according to the recipe I’ve posted in the summer, except that I used a cookie cutter for a nice spring-inspired shape. And I left them in the oven a bit too long…
A perfect bento to take along a hike on a perfect springtime day!
I walked the ANWB Aetsveld Route in Weesp polders. It was not as good as I had hoped; although it was supposed to run through diked marshes, most of the track went over asphalt. The view on the Vecht river was nice, but the traffic noise kept distracting me and made it hard to clear my head for the first 2/3 of the hike. But I’m not complaining! The weather was awesome, sunny all afternoon. And I saw a tiny, pure white baby goat, it must have been born just before! It still trembled on its little leggs and part of the navel cord was hanging from its belly. I stood and watched for ages — it felt like such a present to get! :))
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! ;)
My Monday lunch won’t be much of a surprise as I mentioned on Saturday it would contain quinoa. The following day I shared my Thai bean sprout salad recipe, revealing a tweaked version could be found in today’s bento too.
Well, I was glad with my meal anyway. ;) I made the leftover quinoa stir-fry with kale chilli and nuts look fancy by shaping it with an onigiri mold. But looks come second and yes — it still tasted good (both with and without shoyu)!
- Red lettuce
- Taugeh (bean sprouts) & cilantro
- Soy sauce fishy
- Toasted peanuts
- Homegrown garden cress
- Mix of cucumber, grated carrot, a little bit of celery stalk and cilantro
- Dressing container for the Spicy Bean Sprout Salad
- Quinoa stir-fry with kale chilli and cashews, nori details
- Cherry tomatoes with basil
- Radish flowers
- Sauteed mushrooms with fresh herbs (left over from my Sunday lunch of mushroom bruschettas, inspired by Stephanie in the Whip Up Something New! challenge)
On the side
- Pear and kiwi fruit
- Ontbijtkoek with soy margarine & agave syrup (last minute addition, not shown)
I hope someone can answer the following question for me. I know 25 grams of (dry) beans in a meal combined with grains provide sufficient protein. Now bean sprouts were mung beans just a few days before… And the nutritional value of sprouty greens is much higher concentrated than their full-grown adult versions. So: does eating bean sprouts and grains at the same time work as well?
Just for the sake of argument I’m ignoring here that quinoa is really a grass seed and no grain. ;)
Other sources of protein in this bento are cashews, peanuts, mushrooms.
I can’t believe that Day Nine of ExtraVeganza! has ended and I’ve got only 1 more day to go of my pilot project. I’m actually pretty upset by it!
It’s going really well and I’m feeling so good about myself I’m thinking of prolonging Gnoe’s vegan adventures… I didn’t think it would be this easy! Only the ‘social’ part of it is a struggle: being a ‘problem’ for other people (including Mr Gnoe). I wonder how other (wannabe) vegans deal with that? I just don’t want to be a pain in the *ss to others… :\
Menu Day 9 (Friday February 4th)
I had a huge fruit smoothie of 1/2 cup lime soy yoghurt, 1 1/2 cup red fruit juice, 1 banana and a handful of frozen ‘forest fruits’. Filled me up till lunchtime.
I keep forgetting to make a picture of one of my smoothies… Yeah well, it’s just after I get up! I never had smoothies for breakfast until I started looking into a plant-based diet.
Last night’s leftovers: pumpkin-coconut soup and coleslaw, pimped with grated carrot and toasted nuts. Two sammies:
- Tofutti, shredded rocket, radish, agave syrup and toasted walnuts (omega-3).
This sandwich was a bit bland and needed more ‘cream cheese’ (which I had spread pretty thin) or the saltiness of sun-dried tomatoes — of course my taste buds were a little in shock of the spicy soup ;)
- Green gunk. ;) In other words: avocado mashed with pickled green chili, veganaise, gherkin and African Peper mix. Topped with alfalfa and cherry tomatoes. This one was yummy!
We had planned to eat out at Kitchen Punx in ACU, but it is very stormy weather and we felt like staying at home. It might be a more festive idea anyway to go out to dinner on ExtraVeganza Day 10!
So instead we had the last leftovers from our Indian meal: Basmati rice, Orissan Jagdish Saag Aloo and green lentil curry. We added some mango chutney and tried a new dish from the World Food Café cookbook with the cauliflower florets that were hibernating in our fridge: Kashmir Gobi (p.64) — cauliflower in a sauce of onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves, sugar and salt; topped with cashews and dried apricots. [Alright, actually raisins but I don’t like those in my food so I usually swap them for cranberries or apricot.]
It was pretty good! A bit strong but the recipe called for a large specimen and we only had about 1/4th for which we took about half of the spices etc. Instead of fresh tomatoes we used an open carton of passato tomato. Having more cauliflower would probably be better, but I’m not sure about the tomatoes. Will need to make it again and find out! ;)
Again, no snacks: I didn’t feel the need to eat in between meals at all.
Anything special about today?
Nope, nothing I didn’t tell you about yet.
Yesh. Feeling sad that it’s almost over! :( And thinking hard about how to deal with that.