Stuff I’ve been up to in October

So, if you thought October couldn’t get any better after ‘3 Oktober‘, you’re wrong.

October so far has been good, very busy but very good. Too busy to blog apparently so here’s a little catching up on what I’ve been up to lately.

One of the biggest events this month was the annual ‘Afstudeerfeest’ organised by The Foundation for Refugee Students UAF.  On this day we celebrate the graduation of all our students who graduated over the past year. As always, a great and inspiring event. I organised the children’s part of the program, and that kept me busy on October 10th and in de days and weeks preceding this celebration! But it was a joy, and particularly so because my friend Marije once again decorated the kids with beautiful paintings on their faces and arms.

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Furthermore, yes October is Vegan challenge month in The Netherlands, and I signed up!  I will be honest with you…the occasionall bite of milk chocolate or a tiny bit of cheese did happen yes. Especially when eating out I find it hard to be strictly vegan, though I try. It’s a process I guess and as this month is progressing I feel better and better about the whole ‘vegan thing’. Definitely something to continue after October! The daily mails and facebook posts and the  extensive recipes on the Vegan challenge website bring on a lot of motivation and inspiration by the way.

I’ve been focussing on including more and more vegetables in my meals, and have been eating lots of soup this month.

I was also very happy to find kale leafs at our local organic supermarket. You know, the Dutch must be the number 1 kale eaters in the world. We’ve been eating kale since long before it became fashionable, and we all grew up with ‘stampot boerenkool’; which basically consists of a mixture of chopped up kale and mashed potatoes. (which is also just about the only recipe for kale in the entire Dutch cuisine!).  So, the only kale you can buy is chopped up and put in a plastic bag. Convenience.is.everything.

Anyway, I stopped counting how many times I ate kale this month, but it was a lot. Imagine the things one can do with those green leaves: kale smoothies, kale pizzas, kalechips, macaroni’n kale…… shall I go on?

vegetables

Meanwhile the kids are enjoying their fall break, and I will also be taking  a few days of. We’ve already had a sleep over at the grandparents, a visit to Naturalis Biodiversity centre, and an autumwalk looking for chestnuts in the golden sunshine. And there’s more to come. Hurray for holidays!

fall

And finally I am trying to get my crochet-groove back. Crochet is always such a good way of escaping the busy day to day events, but it’s also something that ends up as the last thing on my list all too soon. But now I’ve started on a new crochet scarve for a good cause:

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Following a call from @vintageretrokitch on Instagram, I decided to participate in her #swapwithamessage. An initiative to send parcels to the mothers staying in a large refugeecamp in Nijmegen; women who have to look after their children in overcrowded places with little privacy, thousands of kilometers away from what’s left of their homes, and facing an uncertain future. There’s no ‘me time’ for these women, and I fully support the initiative to send them caring welcoming packages!

Now, let’s see what the last week of October will bring!

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Vegan ‘hutspot’ and a celebration

In October 1574, after a siege that had lasted for months and left many people starving, a young boy climbed upon the citywalls of Leiden. He saw how  the Spanish soldiers  had left their campements, fearing the rising water. They left, leaving everything behind. This boy, Cornelis Joppensz, ventured outside the city walls to explore the deserted army camps. He found a pot, filled with a mixture of carrots and onions, and brought it home. Ever since that day, people in Leiden eat ‘hutspot’ on the 3rd of October.  And so did we….

3 oktober 2015 leiden After an eventful day on the fairground, I cooked a large pot of hutspot to end our 3 Oktober celebration in style.

Hutspot is usually eaten together with meat, but I went for a vegan variety!

For a hungry family of four you will need:

1 kg potatoes, 750 gr carrots, 2 medium parsnips, 3 medium onions, vegetable stock, olive oil, ground black pepper.

optional: vegan ‘meatballs’.

hutspot 2Clean the potatoes, carrots and parsnip, chop in roughly equal cubes, cover with water and cook for about 15-20 minutes (check in between: you want to mash your veggies, not make porridge).

Chop the onions and glaze them in some olive oil, and powdered vegetable stock and pepper to taste.

Drain potatoes,carrot and parsnip,  add onions and mash. You can make it as smooth or as lumpy as you like. Add some more oil and vegetable stock or pepper according to taste.

Et voila, you’re done!

Just fry some vegan meatballs or even falafel (did that last year..) to go with your hutspot and you’ve got yourself the vegan version of  Leidens ‘signature dish’.

Eet smakelijk!

Vegan bananabread

I think it’s two years ago since I first participated in the Vegan Challenge. During the Vegan Challenge, hundreds of people  sign up to eat vegan for an entire month, to share experiences and to receive tasty recipes in their inbox. The next edition starts on October 1st, over 1700 people have signed up,  and I’m in!

Ever since that first Vegan Challenge, I’ve started eating vegan more and more. I remember feeling like a failure when, during that first challenge, I somewhat gave up after a week or two. Nevertheless, that challenge taught me a couple of succes recipes that I still use. And over time, I tried again and again to eat 100% vegan. That, however is something I haven’t achieved as yet.

I do believe a plantbased diet is better for the environment, and for a lot of animals, and I feel healthier and ‘cleaner’ when eating vegan. Participating in this next edition of the Vegan Challenge I hope will help me focus more, and be inspired to cook, bake and eat vegan more and more…..

To get in the mood, I explored the Vegan Challenge website, looking for new recipes. I came across a recipe for vegan banana bread (hurray! all other recipes I found contained eggs or dairy), and this was a real must try since I had a couple of brown spotty bananas waiting on the kitchen table.

The orginal recipe can be found here, but I made some adjustments because:

A. it was Sunday evening when I baked this, and I had to work with what was available (use what you have etc…..)

B. I am trying to cut down on my sugar consumption so I wasn’t comfortable with adding 150 grams of sugar

C. I had only 2 bananas instead of the required 3, so I adjusted the quantities of the other ingredients a bit.

vegan banana bread

First, I pre-heated the oven at 180 degrees Celsius, Then, I mixed the following dry ingredients in a bowl:

250 grams of whole wheat spelt flour, 50 grams of coconut blossomsugar, 50 grams of oatmeal, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 75 grams of chopped apricots, 75 grams of mixed nuts (walnut and pecan), 2 table spoons of cinnamon (because I looooove cinnamon, and because an extra touch of cinnamon can compensate for the lack of sugar, I hoped).

Then, in the blender I mixed:

100 ml of water, 100 ml of sunflower oil, 2 ripe bananas and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.

I added the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stirred a bit. Then I filled a small baking tray with this batter. I added  some raw cocoa nibs to the rest of the batter and filled 6 cupcake molds with this. I put it all in the oven and removed the cupcakes after 25 minutes. I baked the larger cake for 40 minutes, let it cool down a bit, put the kids to bed and made myself a cup of tea…..oh boy.

vegan bananabread2

From now on, I know what to do with overripe bananas!