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I couldn’t wait to use my new, super tiny bento so on Saturday I filled it up with snacks for our hike with @Petra_Utrecht and R. in the Betuwe; a district famous for its fruit production, surrounding the Linge stream, that is very popular at this time of year because of the blossoms. Last week I went to explore another part of the area with the Wandelgrrls.

Unfortunately we didn’t get to eat the ‘ieniemienie snack bento’ till we were home, so Petra & R. never even saw it! :(
‘Ienieniemie’ is Dutch slang for Súper Tiny ;)

Ieniemienie Bento, 24-04-2011

Contents: fresh date, dried fruits (cranberries & apricot) and cinnamon coated almonds. The nuts were store-bought (organic) and not really cheap, so I may try my hand at making them myself, tweaking the recipe of sweet ’n spicy nuts I’ve posted before.

Every once in a while when we go hiking, we get to see something marvellous. This time it was an occupied stork’s nest, with adult & baby! You’ll have to look closely, but the picture is proof!

Stork & baby @ Betuwewandeling

Have you been going out, enjoying the wonderful spring weather?



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.

Risotto ball Bento #133, 17-02-2011

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! :))

Autumn Bento (#119)

On Tuesday I took this wholesome fall bento to work (#119).

Autumn Bento (#119), 26-10-2010

Top tier
Eggplant-lentil salad on Romaine leaf, apple slices and sesame dressing for dip. Flower made of farmer’s cheese.

Lower tier
Celery stalk salad with walnuts & cheese on a bed of curly red leaf lettuce, garden cress, endive roll filled with couscous, goat’s cheese, pesto genovese and pine-nuts – and another ‘cheesy’ decoration.

About 8 ww propoints. All ingredients are organic except for the nuts & oil I used, most of the veggies are local too (cress homegrown).

If you’ve seen my menu plan for the week, you’ll notice this lunch consists of several leftovers: aubergine-lentil salad, Japanese sesame dressing and an endive roll. I had also kept a little aside of yesterday’s lunch: the celery salad. So you see? Making a bento doesn’t have to be time-consuming! Just think ahead and use what you’ve already made.

The kimono box containing this lunch is one of my favourite bentos. But one thing bugged me: it’s smaller than other boxes and I didn’t have a bag that fitted. Yes, past tense — because now I do :) And I made it myself! Cute, isn’t it?

Bento #119 snug in its new bag

Faithful readers might remember my previous bento post was about #116, the award-winning Tsukimono Bento. So what happened? Am I lousy at counting, or keeping track? (Computer says…) Nooo, I’m just way behind on (b)logging. And I bet you won’t mind if I just put numbers 117 and 118 up here too?!

Noriless Noriben (#118)

It will not come as a surprise to you that whenever I’m watching Japanese films, I’m on the lookout for bentos. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the marvelous lunches in Megane, a film about a stressed woman taking a holiday on a very relaxing Japanese island.

And when I checked the Camera Japan festival schedule this month, I almost passed out when my eye fell on a movie called Noriben – the Recipe of Fortune (Nonchan Noriben)… A whole feature film about bento!

Komaki has a seemingly impossible task ahead. She has just separated from her husband, moved back to her parents’ house and she wants to rebuild a meaningful life. For a 31 year-old mother, this is easier said than done. She has to deal with the expectations of her mother, an ex-husband who hunts her down and her lack of education. There seems to be one opportunity that can save her: Japanense bento, or lunchboxes. Follow Komaki through this struggle and let her teach you how to make a perfectly balanced lunch from rice and leftovers, looking like the Italian national flag!

You can view a trailer of Nonchan Noriben at the official website.

This typical (?) Japanese comedy was fun to watch. It inspired me, but unfortunately I didn’t really get any new ideas out of it. The few animations of bento composition went way too quick for me! LOL. Thankfully Maki, the Big Onigiri, takes us through them step-by-step on JustBento.

Of course I couldn’t go to a movie like this without bringing a bento of my own! Especially since we were meeting up with MaaikeB & family, who’d probably expect me to ;) Here’s my four o’clock bento for five.

Noriless Noriben (#118), 16-10-2010

Round bento box

  • usagi ringo (apple bunnies)
  • mini cream cheeses: herbs, walnut & pepper
  • fresh walnuts
  • curly red leaf lettuce

Oblong bento (from top to bottom)

  • green tea mochi, baby figgs & cranberries
  • kisir (Turkish bulghur salad; a favourite) with cilantro & caper on a bed of lettuce
  • tzatziki & cucumber

On the side

  • Japanese ‘WANT’ rice crackers (up front)
  • SkyFlakes toast & spring onion rice cracker toast

When you click on the picture you’ll jump to Flickr where you can view bento#118 together with Maaike’s GORGEOUS bento box filled with her DELICIOUS home-made carrot cake. *craves*

The five of us had a great day out, also watching a documentary about foreigners (Western people) in Tokyo, They Call Us Aliens, and wrapping it up with a Japanese teppanyaki dinner.

Amelisweerd Hike Bento (#117)

The last bento I want to share came along on a walk in Amelisweerd woods at the end of September. I hadn’t gone on a hike for a long time — let alone solo — so it felt really good to finally do so again. And of course I had to treat myself to a nice, simple bento :)

Amelisweerd Hike Bento (#117), 29-09-2010

Top tier

  • salad of lettuce, tomato, fresh basil and crumbled feta cheese.

Lower tier

  • ‘apple of my eye’
  • dried apricots
  • pesto dressing for salad
  • sweet ’n spicy nuts

On the side (in the SnackTaxi bag)

  • ‘orange sammies’; sandwiches with orange coloured spreads: organic cheese with pumpkin & pumpkin seeds and Tartex veggie spread.

Submitting this post to Midnight Maniac’s Meatless Mondays {no.4} & Shannon’s What’s for Lunch Wednesday (week 22).

Meatless Monday button Bento Lunch

Bento #104, 02-06-2010

Left & right tier: asparagus on a bed of lettuce, boiled egg with cilantro and wasabi sesame, salt.
Middle tier: inarizushi, spicy Tao Kae Noi (crispy seaweed) and soy sauce.
On the side: milk chocolate with hazelnut.
Drinks (not shown): light Orangina with pulp, tab water.

Bento #104 came along on the 3rd stage of our long term hike through the green heart of Holland (Groene Hartpad).

Wlfr and I walked for 14 km from Zoetermeer to Hazerswoude. To get there we took autobus 206 along the N206, on Tuesday (0)206… We noticed this when we were still in the bus and we were ‘kind of’ relieved to ascertain that it was 13:36 and not 12:06 or 2:06. Not that we are superstitious or anything… ;) It just was REALLY weird. At first I even thought that the day’s bento for 2 (!) was #103… (you can do the math yourself). Fortunately I was mistaken; Betuwe Bento was my 103rd. Phew!

I was surprised to hear wlfr remark that the eggs looked so ‘even’, because I had been experimenting with a new way of boiling eggs. I guess it had passed the test! Freezing tofu puffs hadn’t though; that was no success and I won’t be doing it again.

Along the road in Zoetermeer

Anyway, we had great day with amazing weather and the hike was fabulous. Part of it had seemed monotonous looking at the map in advance, but it turned out to be a wonderful ‘mini survival track’ in a water bird reserve. And we wouldn’t let one killer curlew scare us away ;)

100 Mile Fitness Challenge logoAs you may or may not know, I’m participating in the 3rd 100 Mile Fitness Challenge from April-June. The first and second time I tried to walk 100 miles / 162 kilometers in 3 months, I only crossed the finish line with effort, in the last few days of the challenge.

This time… I’ve trotted my amount of miles a whole month early!

Of course I won’t stop now: let’s try to get to the next round number before July 1st: 200 kilometers (125 miles)!

Swan on nest

(Water) birds nesting; a typical May view

On Saturday Mr Gnoe and I went for a nice walk called Klopwandeling, taking a short cycling trip to get there. If you ever go on that hike (or either the Utrechtpad or Waterliniepad) I recommend stopping for a drink at Fort aan de Klop (closed on Mondays)!

A weird thing happened: we bumped into a couple we met in Cappadocia (Turkey) a few years ago. They don’t live in the area — just got here for a weekend outing. Ain’t it a small world?

ETA: on June 26th I ended my 2nd 100 Mile Fitness Challenge with a total of 147 miles = 235 km!!! Wow. I impressed myself ;)

Today I went on a hike in the Betuwe with Mr Gnoe. We were supposed to walk for 17.5 km but somehow it turned into 19 (11.8 miles). I’ve got tired little paws now!

Betuwe is known for its fruit production, so we had hoped to see many blossoming trees… Alas, the bad weather of the last few weeks had discarded most of the flowers. Still, we got a bit of sun today and no rain, so we were happy to be outdoors anyway!

Bento #103 came along on our trip, together with a big thermos of tea. Lunch for two in my new Bento Color Box!

Betuwe Bento #103, 14-05-2010

Click on the picture for a close-up of Betuwe Bento

Top tier

  • potato salad with peas, gherkin and pickled onions on a bed of radicchio and topped with fresh thyme and wasabi sesame seeds
  • ramsons leaf as baran
  • small packet of scallion crackers from elma’s surprise packet

Middle tier

  • spicy stir-fried veggies (red paprika and zucchini & a little leek) with soy sauce and wasabi sesami topping on radicchio
  • ramsons flowers
  • radishes

Lower tier

Round container on the side

  • apple slices in lemon juice

Square container on the side

  • raw vegetables: cucumber, carrot, celery stalk, ramsons lower stems
  • yoghurt-garlic dip for veggies
  • lemon olives

I guess I don’t need to tell you we had a feast ;)

Organic & local: thyme, ramsons, radishes
Organic: potato, pickled onions, radicchio, bell pepper, cukes, apple, mayonaise, yoghurt, buttermilk, egg & butter (in scones)

WW propoints: 16 total (= 8 per person)

Hyaku bento (#100)
A 100th bento calls for cake! So in the upper right corner of the first tier there’s a mini almond cake (in pink wrapping) that I found in elma’s surprise packet. It is sided by an Anpanman orange candy and a packet of soy sauce for my inarizushi on the left. In the middle there’s Maki’s carrot kinpira and a small container of pickled ginger on the right.

The second tier overflows with miso tamago and edamame sprinkled with shichimi on a bed of romaine lettuce. I usually like my boiled eggs soft so I tried that with this batch of miso tamago, but they really taste better when hard-boiled.

Hyaku bento might not look very special to you, but it is pretty rare for me to compose a 100% Japanese lunchbox. Confession: I prefer my edamame with FairTrade African Peper Mix but because of my Nippon theme I had to use shichimi, or nanami togarashi, a traditional Japanese mix of 7 spices. In which there are actually only 4, according to the label on my bottle: red chili pepper, sesame seeds, nori and lemonpeel. MIA: poppy seed, hemp seed and sancho (pepper). But let’s not digress ;)

This bento was my well-deserved lunch on a day-long hike called De Blauwe Kamer (‘The Blue Room’), named after a riverside nature reserve in Utrecht province. The day started out cold but got better along the way, so I had a nice time. Priorfatgirl had challenged us to workout for 60 minutes on April the 20th and somehow I managed to expand that into 6 hours ;) Of which I took 30 minutes to eat my bento btw. I also had some geen kukicha tea, apple juice and tab water. No hydration problems here ;)

This seems a good moment to tell you that I joined in a new round of the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge too, running from April – June. I just barely finished my 162 kilometers / 100 miles the first and second time, so I guess I need a little push to get going sometimes ;)

View of hiking area De Blauwe Kamer

Impressions of my day: WINDY, the smell of ground pinewood, water, cuckoo-flowers-a-plenty, traditional Dutch landscape, singing birds, crossing borders (the river Rijn is a natural divider between Utrecht province and Gelderland and I’ve been hopping across) and oh, did I mention it was windy?

There are some details about De Blauwe Kamer that might be handy for other people going to walk this Capitool route, but I’ve added those to this post in Dutch.

Additional remarks about the track in Dutch

Bunny Bento #96, March 30th 2010

You know how it is with rabbits… You start with two and suddenly there’s a whole bunch of them! So, bunnies galore in bento #96. Let’s make it my 2nd entry in hapa bento’s April B.O.M.B. Challenge!

Bunny Bento #96 en routeIn my usagi sakura bento box you find a Tofu Puff Bunny snuggling up to ordinary inarizushi, a bottle of soy sauce, rucola and parsley greens, a piece of snack tempeh and two avocado maki rolls. Yesh, I made all the sushi myself :) And it was goooooooood.

The snackbox contains homemade chuka wakame (seaweed salad), no.1 farmer’s cheese — nationally elected as ‘the best’ — and bunny marshmallows. On the side I had a mandarin and spicy rooibos tea.

Almost at the end of my hikeThe bunny bento hopped along on my hike today, where it got devoured on a bench next to the water. I walked the last 9 kilometers for my 2nd 100 Mile Fitness Challenge! Deadline is tomorrow so I’m right on time :) It was a nice trail called Kortenhoefse Plassen, crossing peat lands. A bit soggy at times ;) I especially liked the end, overviewing the lakes of Loosdrechtse Plassen.

So, what’s my end total for the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge?
163 kilometers = 101 miles. Yay!

100 Mile Fitness Challenge logo

Should I go for another round? I wouldn’t have gone out today if I hadn’t needed to trot those last few miles…

Well… after bento #92 I had even less in my fridge and cupboards, but viris’ lunch inspired me to make a chickpea salad to take on the walk I had planned for Wednesday: Amerongse Berg. Like bento-ing, hiking has been kind of slow. Again, there are many excuses that you really don’t want to hear ;)

I have a lot of exercising to do this month, will I be able to accomplish my 100 Mile Fitness Challenge before April 1st: right now I’m at 102 kilometers = 63 miles. So I’m glad I made a new start yesterday, even though I had to opt for a shortcut because I wasn’t feeling too well. I still had a really great time! The weather was great: cold, but sunny all day long. You should have heard those birds sing… Wow. Spring is really coming!

So what exactly did I put into bento #93?

Bento #93, 10 March 2010

Top tier: carrot, walnuts, mini smarties, gingerbread with honey and crackers.

Lower tier: oyster mushrooms baked with garlic, traditionally cut gherkin, salad of garbanzos, tomato (fresh and sundried), spring onion, a few green beans and a tiny bit of fenugreek cheese, lemon juice, olive oil extra vierge with Tuscan herbs, black pepper, African Peper Mix spices, dried basil and chives. Topped with two fenugreek cheese flowers.

On the side (not shown): plain tab water and apple juice.

The spot next to Amerongen Castle where I had planned to eat my lunch, turned out to be way too drafty in this cold weather because the bench is set on a dike overlooking the polder (as you can see in my photo set on Flickr). So after a few bites I packed up my bento again en went along. Unfortunately the park service had decided to prune trees on this nice day and access to a particular part of the trail that I had looked forward to was prohibited, so I took a short detour. Anyway, here’s where I finally did enjoy my bento, sitting quietly on a sunny bench… :)

View from lunch spot on Amerongse Berg hike

Organic: carrot, walnut, honey, garlic, chickpeas.

I’m a bit late with my January update for the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge because I came down with a very bad cold (a.k.a. the flu) after my last solo hike at Langbroekerwetering on the 26th. Because of it I have also missed out on two great hikes since then! :(

Still, I exactly achieved my monthly target of 55 kilometers (about 34 miles). I have not added an inch to that since. But I hope to be ‘up and running’ again next week ;)

Molenstein FollyThings are not always what they seem. What do you think this is? Church? Chapel? Wrong.

It’s Molenstein Folly. It was built as a barn with a dovecot in the tower and is now (presumably) a house. I like follies; I think they’re funny. On my first walk for this challenge in October 2009, I came by Stoop Pavilion. And I’ve also written about Austerlitz Pyramid in relation to Napoleon and a book I read about him: The Little Emperor by Martin Bril.

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!


Currently grazing

Challenge logo

Gnoe herding...