By Gini Rainey
I’ve found that inspiration sneaks into your life in lots of different ways. I must say, that (as I’m sure my devoted readers have noticed) this summer I have been suffering with a lack thereof. What with work, the heat, aging in-laws, the heat, and – oh, did I mention the heat? It would seem I have had my share of the don’t-got-what-it-takes-to-write-a-blog disease.
However, imagine, if you will, the great bird of creativity that landed on my shoulders just a little while ago when I stepped into my library and spotted a cookbook on ramen! Especially when you consider that last night a friend of mine posted a photo on Facebook of her little munchkin munching on her snack of choice! That’s right! Abby, in all her cuteness, is holding a block of dry ramen noodles in her precious little hand and noshing down on them like some of us do on champagne truffles. Oh, the things we could teach her!
Believe it or not, Publications International, Ltd put out a cookbook in 2012 that highlights recipes that make splendid use of the ramen noodle. It’s not just for dorm rooms anymore, buttercup. Not at all. Gad, I wish they’d ramen noodles when I was in college. We couldn’t have a hot plate in our dorm, but we could have a popcorn maker! I guess the rule-writing folks had never taken a close look at the popcorn makers of the day. They were nothing more than a hot plate with a 2 quart, covered aluminum spaghetti maker, soup cooker, and canned stew heater, and believe me when I say, we took full advantage of that handy little gadget.
While this cookbook doesn’t credit any specific writer or contributor, my guess is that a whole lot of creativity had to go into the recipes that it features. While some of them completely obliterate the obvious shape of the noodles, after disposing the lovely, sodium-laced broth packet, the get crushed and used as a breading agent (much like cracker crumbs or panko) to create a crust for things such as chicken and salmon croquets or a filler/binder in Swedish meatballs. Tell that to Sven!
Of course, there is also a section devoted to Noodle Bowls (go figure) that really does pump the old ramen noodle up to a new level. The Shrimp and Pepper Noodle Bowl, Asian Chicken Squiggle Soup, or Asian Ramen Noodle Soup look and sound really yummy, however, I kind of think that using the dry noodles to make Open-Faced “S’Mores” would really be a stretch, but the Rocky Road Bundles look pretty good, Abby! (just a thought butter cup – you know, chocolate and all!)
The first time I ever had ramen noodles, other than in their broth, was when my Aunt Evie made a wonderful mixed green salad with a package of crumbled dry noodles tossed in right before serving. Now, the noodles gave the salad a great crunch, but her homemade sunflower dressing gave it an extra punch. So, for a cool summer dinner salad, you might want to give the ramen noodles a try and top with this dressing. Blend together the following: 1 cup honey, 2 ½ cups oil, 1 cup white vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, ¾ teaspoon white pepper, 2 tablespoons chopped, freeze-dried chives, 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon crushed garlic. Add ¾ cups roasted sunflower seeds and toss with salad. Add the noodles and the dressing right before serving. That salad has summertime written all over it.