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Cover Pinball, 1973 (Haruki Murakami)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.

Japanese dinner, Sunday February 13th 2011

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. ;)

Cover Vegetarian Table: Japan (Victoria Wise)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:

  1. avocado – wasabi veganaise – leek sprouts
  2. shiitake mushrooms – cucumber – spring onion – pickled ginger
  3. 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!

Hello Japan! Bento, 14-02-2011

Mr Gnoe’s bento (left container)

  • Tofu puff
  • Oak leaf lettuce
  • Assortment of sushi rolls
  • Soy fishy
  • Pickled ginger
  • Shiitake ‘slug’
  • Cucumber
  • Japanese strawberry candy

Gnoe’s bento (middle container)

  • Cherry tomatoes and shiitake mushroom on red leaf lettuce
  • Maki sushi
  • Cucumber

Right container

  • Shiitake mushroom
  • Lemon wheels
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Soy container (hiding)
  • Batavian lettuce leaf
  • Pickled ginger
  • Inarizushi
  • Garden cress
  • More sushi rolls

On the side (not shown)

  • Apple
  • Ontbijtkoek

Gorgeous gift from a generous soul!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! ;)

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.

Total amount of time spent on Bloggiesta: 20.30 hrs

Sunday Update no.2

Amount of time put in since last update: 6.30

Sorry you haven’t heard from me in a while! I’ve stopped working on my blog so even though there are still about 3 hours left of this Sunday, for me the Bloggiesta has ended. Boohoo! :(

I’ll write up my finish line post tomorrow, but this morning I promised to show you my lunch of leftover sushi and I always make good on my promises.

Lunch of leftover sushi

There’s kappamaki (cucumber) on the left, daikon maki on the right and some  ‘triple whammy’ sushi rolls in the middle containing kanpyo, daikon and tofu. Rianne also made us inarizushi (tofu puffs) but we ate them all last night… There’s a picture of all yesterday’s sushi on Flickr!

Please pay attention to the beautiful blue bottle of Kizan Sanban Junmai Ginjo sake as well! I hope to find the time to do another Hello Japan! post about our sake tasting session this month…

What have I been doing since my last update?

Bigger jobs

  • work on at least 1 post about another subject (relatively urgent: Hello Japan! January mission) ✔
    Oooh Nooooos! Another Foodie Challenge… > also added to Weekend Cooking and Whip Up Something New!
  • clean up at least some of the last 11 posts in ‘Uncategorized‘ category  ✔ (8 done)

Off the grid

I think 20 (and-a-half) hours is a nice figure to round off with. I had a lot of fun and feel really accomplished — which was my main goal for this edition of the Bloggiesta! See you all next time around?!

Sunday Update no.1

Amount of time put in since last update: 2.30

Oh no, today it’s already the final day of our Bloggiesta! Yesterday I got to put in less time than I had expected because of housework and a movie night for which I had to make a special miso soup; I worked on my blog just about half of Friday’s hours…

Still, I’m not disappointed because I had a great day. I can highly recommend the fun film Chef of South Polar to all foodies, especially if you’re interested in Japanese food — or Antarctica. The white miso soup turned out amazing (if I may say so) and the best thing of all: our host had spent many hours in the kitchen to make us a selection of mouthwatering veggie sushi — ExtraVeganza avant le lettre! ;) We even got to bring a doggie bag home, so I can show off again later on ;)

The hard part is that I am now tempted to go awol again and try those Japanese rice patties I’ve been wanting to make ever since Leeswammes posted about her rice cookies… They would go marvellous with last night’s makizushi!

But for now I intend to be strong and write up blogposts. Hey ho let’s go!

What have I been doing since my last update?

Quick & Easy

  • clean up sidebar (challenge buttons)  ✔

Bigger jobs

Brain teasers & Research

  • claim graasland domain? (research)  > in progress
    I’ve been looking into costs and how to claim a domain (even made a phonecall; very 1.0! ;) but had to stop because I ran out of time. I especially appreciate the support @Petra_Utrecht is giving me! If she can’t help me no-one can ;)

Off the grid

  • commented, replied to comments and tweeted
  • added  ExtraVeganza post to this week’s Weekend Cooking post on Beth Fish Reads
  • sent English translation of Friday’s espresso chili ingredients to Mari on request and added to comment

Mini-challenges

Since last update: 0
All mini-challenges participated in: 2

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there will be a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. You can post about the task on your blog. Or if you don’t have a blog, you can leave a comment on the Hello Japan! post for the month.

November’s topic:

We’re going to do things a little differently this month. Instead of a general topic to post on, I have five questions about Japan for you to answer. A kind of short Japan meme, if you will, just as a fun way to talk about some of what we like about Japan, and perhaps get some suggestions from each other of other things to try.

1. My favourite Japanese cinematographer is Hirokazu Koreeda because years ago I fell in love with his movie After Life (Wandaafuru Raifu). It is set in a waystation where the souls of the recently deceased are processed before entering heaven. They have to choose one single memory from their lives before being able to proceed: keeping that one memory is heaven. Such a simple, moving and thought-provoking idea! All filmed in a naturalistic way. Since then I have seen more of Koreeda’s works and was often moved by them. Maybe you have seen Nobody Knows (Dare mo shiranai), a film based on a true story in which four children (each by a different father), are abandoned by their mother in their Tokyo apartment. As a director Koreeda often uses amateur actors and his stories derive from things that have happened in real life.

2. The best Japanese sake I’ve drank this year is Kizan Sanban Junmaiginjo. There was a time when I thought all sakes would taste the same… Not. This rice wine has a light ‘fruity’ taste and is great for aperitif. The blue bottle looks awesome too ;) I was supposed to write a post about the sake tasting we did for Hello Japan’s summer topic: Doubles, but alas.

3. What Japanese author(s) or book(s) have you enjoyed that you would highly recommend to others?

I could say Haruki Murakami of course. We’ve got a whole shelf of his books at home, sometimes both in English as well as Dutch. But that wouldn’t be much of a recommendation — although it was at the time when I read my first Murakami, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, in 2004.

Murakami book shelf

A more ‘recent’ discovery is Yasunari Kawabata, whose 1962 novel The Old Capital was on the agenda for the November 2009 Japanese Literature Book Group. It turned out to be the second best book I read last year! You can imaginge how disappointed I am not to have been able to join this year’s book group read of his novel The Sound of the Mountain. Thankfully I have Snow Country on Mount TBR to look forward to :)

4. What is something Japanese that you’d like to try but haven’t yet had the chance?

Watching the cherry blossoms bloom in Japan :)

5. You’re planning to visit Japan next year. Money is not a concern. What is on the top of your list of things you most want to do?

Sakura fabrics, ice cubes and onigiri moldOMG: shop! Normally I’m not much of a shopaholic but once I’m set loose in Japan I won’t be able to restrain myself. It would be awesome to pick my own bento boxes & gear, instead of being dependent on what is offered on-line. I’m addicted to lovely fabrics and paper (origami, wrapping paper, stationary), can’t resist fine tableware (tea cups, sushi dishes, chopstick holders), could use a low mahjong table (or other furniture as well) and would love some Japanese artwork on my walls. Hey, when money is no concern I can have my own plane to ship it all back to Holland! ;) Dream on grrl…

But something that’s as high on my list and less expensive: to watch the cherry blossoms in spring! You felt that one coming, didn’t you? ;) I’d also like to see the colouring of leaves in fall. And it would be awesome to go hiking in Japan — so much gorgeous land to explore! But I’d be afraid to as long as I don’t speak nor read Japanese. Better not get lost in the ‘Land of the Thousand Autumns’ ;)

This tells you a bit of who I am: I can be materialistic in certain areas but essentially I only need nature’s beauty & silence to be happy.

* Bonus question * What was your favourite Hello Japan! mini-challenge topic?

I love all Hello Japan! mini missions! But if I had to name three favourites, it would be A celebration of spring and sakura (have a look at what kind of goodies I like to buy!), Japanese food (although it’s true I didn’t really challenge myself by submitting a Flower Bento post) and Summer Double — even though I failed to participate in that one. I guess I prefer foodie topics and those in which we can be creative ;)

Now you know even more about me! And that’s what this topic was about, right?! :)

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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