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Me & my rabbit Bumpie in the eighties

2011 is the year of the rabbit according to Chinese Zodiac. I love rabbits — had one myself once and it is roughly the equivalent of my western Zodiac sign Pisces, so it can’t be anything but G.O.O.D. :)

It’ll also give me a great excuse to buy lots of kawaii bento goodies with usagi. ;)

Wishing all my virtual and real life friends a warm, happy hopping 2011 with lots of love. Couldn’t do without you!


After all those read-a-thon updates on Graasland it’s about high time I posted my latest bentos. And what better motivation than to find a mail from Hapa Bento telling me I had won the September B.O.M.B. challenge?!

*blush* I am so honoured!

Bento #116 served as dinner on my train journey to an evening about ‘Foodies, Foodporn & Foodblogs’ in The Hague on Wednesday September 22nd. That day it was mid-autumn and the Chinese were celebrating their Moon Festival. On Thursday the 23rd there would be a full moon — the brightest and most beautiful moon of the year according to Japanese people!


Watching the full September moon is a special celebration in Japan, called Tsukimi (moon-viewing), tsuki being moon. It’s about honouring the moon and being thankful for the harvest. So, what could be more fun than to take an early Tsukimi Bento to the food event?

That meant I had to use seasonal produce (which is traditionally offered to the moon) and use ‘pampas grass’ for decoration. My organic CSA veggie bag came in handy! I really wanted to bring traditional foods, but no way I was having another attempt at making dango! I tried that on my first Holland Hanami (cherry blossom viewing, the spring counterpart of Tsukimi) and it made us gag! #fail

Thankfully I had recently bought some green tea mochi. But what am I doing, starting with dessert?

Tsukimi Bento (#116), 22-09-2010

Front tier

  • Buckwheat soba noodles (traditional) with leftover stir-fry of Swiss chard, silver onions, leek, carrot, corn kernels and chili pepper (all seasonal vegetables), braised in the soaking liquid of dried mushrooms.
  • Large shiitake mushroom (‘dark side of the moon’).
  • Slice of corn cob (‘full moon’).
  • Potato patty (no traditional sweet potato but hey, close enough).
  • Red pepper rabbits (tradition).
  • Fennel green ‘pampas grass’ for decoration, plastic sushi grass and flat leaf parsley for baran (dividers).
  • Slice of braised carrot, mini gherkins and pickled silver onions.
  • All on a bed of lettuce.

Background tier (which can be seen more clearly in another picture)

  • Edamame (traditional).
  • Apple – first local harvest!
  • Dried fruit: apricot & mango.
  • Green tea mochi (traditional).
  • Dollop of ketchup for potato patty.

But there’s more to it…

I didn’t get round to writing this blogpost because I wanted to tell you more of the thoughts behind bento #116.

In the Chinese Moon Fest round forms symbolize unity, completeness, togetherness. It reminds me of the circle of life, autumn being the season in which ‘the fruits’ get harvested. Of course the moon is round too. So I’ve used a lot of round foods in my round tsukimi bento :) Mix & match is what I say! ;) A lot of Chinese heritage became Japanese culture as well. Hey, I’m an European making bento, so what are we talking about anyway?

It’s interesting to know that the box that I used for this train bento is even officially called Tsukimi. The depiction of a moon-watching rabbit can be found in many Japanese decorations. All around the world people see things in the moon; here in Holland it’s a face and we’re calling it the Man of the Moon. Ancient Chinese saw a hare or rabbit pounding herbs for elixir, the Japanese believed it was pounding rice to make mochi. Making mochi is called mochitsuki (餅つき), which sounds similar to the word for full moon: mochitzuki (望月)!

Green tea mochiNow do you see the importance of my green tea mochi dessert? First flush (green) sencha tea is supposed to be best when kept till September, so that makes it even more appropriate.

Both moon and rabbit symbolize a long life. That probably originates from the Chinese life elixir myth — and the way rabbits know how to ensure eternal life through their offspring ;)

But there’s also a Buddhist story associated with this all, the story of Jade Rabbit. On a day of Uposatha — Buddhist Sabbath — an old man asked for food from a monkey, an otter, a jackal and a rabbit. The monkey collected fruits and offered them to the old man, the otter brought him a fish and the jackal a lizard. The rabbit didn’t have anything to bring, because the herbs constituting his food weren’t good for humans.
Then the rabbit decided to offer his own body and jumped into fire. Surprisingly his body did not burn, because the old man was the deity Sakra. And for people to remember the rabbit’s sacrifice, the old man drew the rabbit’s image over the moon.

If you look at Google images of ‘tsukimi rabbit‘ you’ll see the cutest rabbit-shaped sweets… I wish I could have had some! Still, I had so much fun making & eating this thematic bento! It’s wonderful it was awarded with a B.O.M.B. badge :)
Tsukimi Google logo 2009

Home-grown: red hot chilli peppers
Local & organic: Swiss chard, leek, carrots, corn, lettuce, potato, parsley, fennel, apple
Organic: sōmen, shiitake mushroom, egg, paprika, ketchup

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…

Meet bento #95, my Lente Bento! Lente is Dutch for springtime.
So, does it look like a Spring Bento to you?

Lente Bento (Spring Bento) #95
Mr Gnoe and I shared this snack box yesterday on our hike in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen (dune area near Amsterdam designated for water winning). I couldn’t see the North Sea, but I did hear & smell it! :)

Contents of the top tier: cinnamon bunny biscuits (with a white chocolate layer) in an alfalfa ‘hay’ nest with capers and chives ‘grass’ in front of some SPRING onion crackers. The cookies came from elm@’s surprise packet! The alfalfa sprouts stand for seedlings and the onion biscuits depict early spring sun and blossom at the same time :) Added is a cup of homemade blue cheese dressing. And… in Holland springtime is heralded by tulips, hence the apricot & basil tulips on the right :)

Kawaii usagi thermosBottom tier: blossom onigiri with avocado-wasabi filling (soy fishie hiding). The yellow sushi rice was coloured with saffron. The other flower is supposed to be pink(ish) but the beetroot didn’t dye as well as I thought it would. Next time I’ll check out some instructibles first ;) The garden cress (more young plant life), parsley and edamame are chosen for their bright green colour; the beans sprinkled with some FairTrade African Peper spices. And next to it you find a usagi RINGO (うさぎりんご) a.k.a. apple rabbit. ‘Ringo’ in capitals because it is the name of our cute tomcat :)

On the side we brought some Shincha (first flush sencha) tea in my cute new thermos. Remember what freshly cut grass smells like? Shincha tastes like that!

I’m submitting this bento in the 2010 Spring Contest on Justbento (ending today) and hapa bento’s April B.O.M.B. Challenge which is all about bunnies (open until April 10th). Usagi are true springtime animals and we had hoped to see some live ones on our hike yesterday — but we didn’t. No matter, because we saw lots of deer! 50 at least..! (Mr Gnoe says a hundred but I think he’s exaggerating ;)

Deer grazing near water

This week Weekly Geeks asked:

Do you live in a place where a famous author was born? Does your town have any cool literary museums or monuments?

D’oh! Maybe you won’t know the best known author of my hometown Utrecht, Dick Bruna, but most people LOVE his famous character: Miffy! Which is, btw, known as Nijntje by Dutch readers. That’s her real name ;)

Miffy is almost as well known as Hello Kitty :) And I really don’t have any feelings for the Kitty cat, but I can’t help feeling sympathy for little rabbit Nijntje :) Even though I didn’t have any books about Miffy when I was small. My best friend did!

My brother and I had one book by Bruna each. Mine was The fish (published in 1962, that’s 8 years after I was born :)) It’s about a little fish that’s sad because the swans and ducks in the pond eat all the bread that’s been fed to them. Then a little girl falls into the water and… the fish rescues her! After that (s)he can have all the bread it wants :)

As you might have noticed there’s no Miffy in this book, LOL. But it’s one of the author’s first stories!

Miffy chocolates!

Miffy, or okay, Dick Bruna ;) has its own museum in Utrecht: Dick Bruna House. And there’s a chain of Dutch bookstores called Bruna. Is that a coincidence?

Now I’m going to be generous here: anyone who would like a postcard of Miffy: mail me your address ;)

Tell me: did you know Miffy? Or am I imagining things? ;)

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!


Currently grazing

Gnoe herding…

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My current fav spot to graze

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