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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

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…

Aardvlo veggiebag week 51

Het op één na laatste Aardvlo groentenpakket van het seizoen… Het is dan ook al week 51! En we kregen weer eens nét wat we nodig hadden :)

  • boerenkool
  • kabocha pompoen (Japanse! :)
  • knolselderij
  • zomerworteltjes (wie had dat gedacht? ;)
  • knoflook
  • sjalotjes
  • pastinaak

Zomerpeentjes in de wintertas, dat is een verrassing! Laat ik nu net wortel nodig hebben voor inarizushi! Dat zijn zoete tahoebuideltjes gevuld met sushirijst (naar wens met wortel en zwart sesamzaad), ook wel tofu puffs genoemd. Het is een ‘snack’ in de bento’s van Japanse kinderen. De voorgeprepareerde zakjes kun je hier in vacuümverpakking kopen — en ik heb dan ook 2 pakjes op voorraad die dringend op moeten. Hm. Dat doet me eraan denken dat ik dringend weer eens verslag moet uitbrengen over mijn hamsteruitdaging ;) But first things first.

Een experiment om met ei gevulde buideltjes te maken, tamago no takarabukuro, mislukte deze week :( De gefrituurde sojazakjes zijn al voorgesneden en — helaas — gewoon te klein om een heel ei in te doen. Maar dat niet alleen: ze scheurden ook meteen… Ik denk (fluister) omdat ze door ouderdom wat te droog zijn geworden :\ Moet ik die dingen maar niet zo lang laten liggen! Nu het pak open is moet de rest snel op; hopelijk gaat het beter met de tofu puffs. Daar hebben we al ervaring mee, dus als die ook mislukken is de oorzaak duidelijk ;) *shifts blame*

Naast de zomerworteltjes ligt bevroren boerenkool. Zo van het land ;) Die kan niet lang bewaard worden en gaat dus als eerste in de pan. Als Hollandse boerenkoolstampot met vegaworst of nepspekjes, dan wel een ‘Indische’ variant: pittig gemaakt met lekkere sambal en daarbij gebakken tempeh en gefruite uitjes.

De knolselderij? Die gaat natuurlijk in een erwtensoepje (beproefd recept). Daar is het met die sneeuw buiten echt weer voor!

Ha! Yesterday we were out of bread so I bought a veggie ekiben for lunch on my 15 km hike from Delft to Zoetermeer; the first stage of our new hiking project: Groene Hart Pad. An ekiben is a bento sold at railway stations (eki). Of course it was no smart thinking on my part because the weather made it difficult to stop and eat lunch… Sammies are way easier to eat on the road! But on the bright side: now I was treated on a marvelous lunch while working at home today!

Ekiben lunchWhat did I have? Kappa maki (cucumber), nigirizushi with tamagoyaki (omelet) and chuka wakame (seaweed salad). Accompanied by some first flush sencha tea: Shincha. I am such a lucky grrl sometimes :)

I just wanted to share that with you — oh, and make you drewl of course ;)

Obviously I am not used yet to my new routine of working at home on Thursdays — I started making a bento last night! And did I have some good foodies to put in it… YUM! But when I remembered I stopped and went to do other things (like blogpost my third book review for the What’s in a Name challenge), so today’s bento is a small one. It’s a pity I can’t name it #77.5! LOL

We tried out some new Japanese take-away — Dutch readers might think I mean Tiny Tokyo which can be found at train stations but noooo, we went to Maneki, which seems to be a new branch of Kyushu, our favourite local restaurant. And I managed to save 1 avocadomaki (avocado sushi) and 1 tamagomaki (Japanese omelet) each, alongside some seaweed salad known as chuka wakame (わかめサラタ).

I LOVE that salad — I wish I could make it myself! But it is really hard to find the exact recipe, let alone kuki wakame: the stems and ribs of wakame seaweed that are the main ingredient. I’ll have to wait until an acquaintance is going to Japan again so I can put in a request! According to the great (Dutch) Tokowijzer weblog the correct name for this salad would be chuka kuki-wakame. “Chuka” meaning ‘Chinese way’ btw, because of the typical Chinese ingredients.

I have read somewhere that most Japanese restaurants in Holland/Europe buy this salad prefab… I wonder if that is true.

But I am getting side-tracked. The rest of bento #77 contained radish flowers, a cucumber divider, some runner beans and a soy fishy that Katie and Anita brought me all the way from Japan. In the lower tier there are also a small shalot ‘fan’ and a ball of dark miso to make miso soup. Next to it in the container you can see a tiny piece of black stuff: that is fueru wakame: dried leaf of wakame seaweed, which will swell enormously when soaked in hot water. The beans, onion and some radish also went into the soup.

All this talking about kuki wakame made me think of kukicha, or ‘takkethee’ (‘twig tea’) as we call it. I am going to make myself a pot RIGHT now! Strange how a small bento like today’s can result in such a long post like this… ;)

This bento is the first bento ever dear E (Mr Gnoe) has brought to work! He probably wouldn’t have done so if his colleagues weren’t on their holidays, nor if it hadn’t contained real leftover sushi — but who cares? There’s hope now! My bento was identical to his, except for the wasabi paste ;)

Top tier:

  • kappamaki (cucumber role) and a little wasabi paste
  • tamagomaki (Japanese omelet)
  • avocadomaki on the right (I don’t have to spell that one out, do I? ;)
  • mandarin candy

Bottom tier:

  • ginger pickles and cherry tomato
  • soy sauce in container
  • seedless grapes
  • Japanese rice cracker mix (that got a bit sticky because of the humidity in the box; I’ll have to figure out to prevent that because it has happened before…

I had also meant to put in some romaine lettuce next to the maki but I forgot :(

The maki rolls were very tasty, we got them at a relatively new restaurant nearby: Kyushu. I guess they will be seeing more of us over there ;) The secret of their avocado maki is wasabi mayonnaise so we must buy some of that to try out ourselves. We also had some chuka wakame salad, hand rolls (yasai temaki), tamago sushi and inari. So it’s not strange at all we had some leftovers ;)

BTW: at Kyushu they sell bento boxes for lunch! It’s the first time I’ve discovered a restaurant in Holland that does that, but unfortunately they don’t have a vegetarian variant :(

Today’s bento (only my sixth bento ever) was completely Japanese! Please look at it in Bento Lunches (with additional info) or at my Flickr page.

It was no effort at all thanks to yesterday’s Japanese cooking marathon ;)

Japanese cooking spree
Sushi rolls with avocado, cucumber and red bell pepper (avocadomaki), sushi rolls (kappamaki) with cucumber, scallions and Japanese omelet plus shredded daikon for toppings, tofu puffs (inari-sushi) with minced carrot and black sesame seeds, edamame (yes!!!), tamago-nigiri (sushi rice topped with Japanese omelet) and a sauce of dashi, soy sauce, mirin and shredded daikon. The pickled ginger and wakame salad (seaweed with sesame) were the only dishes that came from the shop.

We drank some plum wine (and plain water) with it.

You might also want to see the lovely red miso soup with shiitake that we had for starters..? *grin*

table set with Japanese starter course

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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