a little shocking

what's for dinner

Categories: Soups, Grains and Pasta, Dinner for Two, Supper, Lunch, Posted on April 13, 2020 by Sandy Bergsten

We are certainly living in turbulent times. Some more than others. My heart goes out to those and their loved ones affected with the virus and to all on the frontlines keeping us safe. While Covid 19 deservedly dominates the news, there have been a few things occurring around our country that are not making our collective newsfeed. 

For example, you might not know that here in the Coachella Valley, which is home to Palm Springs, we have had seventeen sizable earthquakes in the past week. Please don’t worry, everyone is ok. But needless to say, each quake has been a significant shock to pretty frazzled systems.

The first earthquake hit last Saturday evening. It felt like a train had derailed into our house. Until that moment I thought I had been holding everything together pretty well. But then with the house shaking, the earth bellowing, and every conceivable alarm going off, it became apparent that I wasn’t.

After two more aftershocks and two glasses of wine we decided to go to bed. I went into the kitchen and opened a super fizzed soda stream bottle. (Hitting that extra pulse on my soda stream has been one of my quarantine things.) I’m not sure if it was another quake or the arm of my robe, but the full bottle tipped and rolled off the counter into my dog’s basket of toys and up into a bookcase with all of my beloved cookbooks. Four dog towels and sixty-eight books strewn across my living room to air dry, I’ll admit at that moment I wasn’t showing my best self.

Over the next few days the aftershocks continued. Some small tremors, others window buckling rumbles. One surreally shook the petals off the tulips on my kitchen table.

It started to feel like Groundhog’s Day, with the bedside alarm clock playing “I Got You Babe” at 6am each and every morning. What I had forgotten about this wonderful movie was that it was so much more than being stuck in an endless time loop. It was about traveling though different stages realizing that while we are trapped, we also have an opportunity to reflect and better ourselves.

Don’t worry I’m not going to get all preachy self-improvement on you! But I will share a recipe I thought I’d never post, because I’ll be honest it’s embarrassing, and doesn’t really show what I might want others to think of me. In truth it’s a lot like my post-quake meltdown and Bill Murray’s early actions in the film. When you’re secluded in your home looking at others social media it can be deflating. If we’re honest with ourselves (and others) there are parts of us that occasionally might not be pretty, but they’re real and they make up the fabric of who we are.

So today I’ll embrace that self and share a recipe that I wish I could say I magically created from opening my pantry (looking completely put together) and got divine inspiration. Truth is- I’ve been making this for the longest time. The ingredients are less than stellar but the result is a homerun when it comes to comfort food. It’s adapted from a recipe by Roy Choi, considered to be the founder of the gourmet food truck movement. I first made it because he said this was his mac and cheese and PB&J. After one bite- I totally got it.

So if you too are a bit frazzled, or need to forgive yourself for maybe not showing your top self, or just craving something downhome delicious and don’t give a damn about the ingredients- then here’s a ramen for you. A plus- there’s a good chance you already have all of the ingredients.

For each serving of ramen

Start with a package of ramen noodles with a chicken flavor packet (I told you it’s embarrassing).

Then you’re going to need a poached egg. Don’t get stressed- poaching an egg is a simple affair. You can even make them ahead of time and store them in the frig for a couple of days. You just need to gently rewarm them before serving. Click on this link (poached eggs) and I’ll show you how easy they are to do.

Next thinly slice the green part of scallion on the bias.

Set out a quarter teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds.

Two slices American cheese (again- it’s embarrassing).

I like to add a drizzle of toasted sesame oil and a little sriracha, so put those on the counter too if you want.

A half teaspoon of butter.

Bring two cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the noodles and cook for two minutes. 

Add the flavor packet (still embarrassing). Stir, and continue to cook for another 30 seconds.

Meanwhile either poach an egg in a pan of simmering water for three minutes, or gently rewarm one you’ve prepared earlier in simmering water for one minute.

Transfer the hot ramen and broth to a serving bowl. 

Add the butter.

Layer the cheese slices on top. Stir gently. Or spoon some of the warm broth over the cheese to help melt.

Drizzle with a little toasted sesame oil and sriracha if desired.

Top with a poached egg.

Scatter with sesame seeds and sliced scallion greens. 

Dive your spoon into this bowl, then judge yourself.

I’m looking forward to reading my cookbooks over the next few years. And while they may sit on the shelf looking like they did before all this occurred, their warped pages will disclose how I navigated these waters. I for one, am going to take a bit of comfort in that.


April 15, 2020

Next time I go to the store (next week)...I will remember to buy ramen and american cheese slices, both of which I have not bought for at least 15 years. I'm excited!! I will use the remaining slices to try making your mac and cheese. The plus of this quarantine is trying out new recipes and having some fun in the kitchen. Thanks for your inspiration and for introducing me to Smitten Kitchen (such a fabulous blog/site!!).

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