I wasn't hungry the same time everyone else was hungry last night. (I also wasn't in the mood for spaghetti marinara.) At 10 p.m., after our guests ambled off to their rooms, I went downstairs and found myself in the kitchen alone. Alone! Oh, how I've missed feeling alone. So what did I do? I reverted back to my old habits: I made myself a bowl of instant ramen noodles with a poached egg, munched on a cold cucumber, and flipped through a magazine–all while standing up at the kitchen counter. Pure satisfaction.
In the last company I worked for, our office manager ordered a case of Cup Noodles for the kitchen. "For emergencies," she said, in a motherly way, "When everyone is running to back-to-back meetings and there's no time to grab lunch." She was onto something. There'd be grueling days when our noses would be put to the grind and we wouldn't realize that we had missed lunch until we caught sight of the time at 3:30 p.m.
On those days, I'd scurry into the kitchen, tear open a Cup Noodles, and anxiously await for the water to boil in the electric tea kettle. It was such a guilty pleasure thing. Like, I knew it was totally bad for me, but at that point of hunger, I just wanted a "hot meal" on the spot. The boiling water burbles as it's being poured into the Styrofoam, cooking the noodles and creating a broth from a powdered seasoning. Magically, the dehydrated peas, carrots, and corn are brought back to life.
I'd twirl a heap of those thin curly noodles onto a fork and take a sip of that ridiculously salty broth after each bite. This is not real food, I'd tell myself. You're not doing this again. This is the last time! There's no nutritional value here—these are empty calories! Three minutes. When all you've got is three minutes, boy, does it feel real.
In a stunning display of wit, I parlayed leftover bolognese sauce into a bowl of "dan-dan noodles", the beloved fiery Sichuan noodle dish from cheapie Chinese joints. I call put this in quotations because the real dan-dan noodle sauce is made from ground pork (and probably doesn't call for tomato sauce), but, to be honest, you can't really tell the difference with all of the chilies involved.
It did not take much for me to make this at all, as these ingredients were literally all that I had left to work with in my fridge. Chili oil is spicier than you think so start with a little and build on the heat as you go. The cucumber adds a nice cooling contrast in flavor and texture. I ended up having these spicy, chewy noodles with cold leftover red wine.
A leftover portion of bolognese sauce
Instant ramen noodles
Soy sauce or Maggi Seasoning Sauce
Chinese chili oil (or, alternatively, Sriracha or another type of hot sauce)
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 a cucumber (optional)
Sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil
* I did not have fresh ginger, but if you do, adding freshly grated ginger will definitely give the bolognese sauce more of that authentic Sichuan taste.
1. Start by peeling and chopping the garlic cloves, julienning the cucumber, and chopping the scallions. You can chop the scallions or slice them into long ribbons. Set all of this aside. (Here's a video I found on how to julienne a cucumber.)
2. Cook the instant ramen noodles in a pot of boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes until al dente and drain. Drizzle a bit of sesame or olive oil on them and toss so that they don't stick. Then, shake some soy sauce or Maggi on the noodles and toss well to flavor them.
3. In a small pot, heat up a few teaspoons of the chili oil and the chopped garlic until it sizzles. Then add your bolognese sauce. Stir it around and taste. If you want it more spicy, add more chili oil. While you're at it, grind some black pepper into the sauce. Once it gets bubbling hot, turn off the heat.
4. Place the noodles in a bowl and top with the sauce, scallions, and julienned cucumber.
Yes. This really happened on a Friday night: I bought 9 1/2 Weeks on iTunes and watched it while eating a bowl of instant ramen noodle soup, to which I added chopped scallions and an egg in an attempt to add more nutritional value.
For those of you who don't know, it chronicles the complicated and risqué relationship that unfurls between Elizabeth, a vulnerable SoHo gallerist (played by Kim Basinger), and John, a Wall Streeter who possesses the qualities of an everyday psychopath (played by Mickey Rourke).
Other than the fact that it takes place in New York City, what I love about this film is Kim Basinger's look and wardrobe: Her tousled hair and smudgy eyeliner... The silky ivory blouse, slouchy sweaters, razor-sharp skirt suit... And sexy black dresses... Rent or buy this movie immediately!
Oops, I did it again.
I fell in love with a pair of shoes. Acne's ankle-wrapped, block-heeled "Terra" pumps, to be exact.
They're the kind of shoes that look sort of odd and hideous on display, but, when I tried them on, I just knew. It was like Cinderella's foot sliding perfectly into that glass slipper. What's special to me about these shoes is that they're sexy, but not in that typical Louboutin way. There's a certain allure in the confidence and boldness of the design. I was seduced.
I knew that I wanted them. It wasn't a question of if I would buy them. It was a matter of when, and, really, if we're to get down to it, how.
The obstacle for the "how" was my budget. I had been checking things off of my fall shopping list left and right and didn't expect to come across these beauties. They weren't on the list, so, I added them as "day-to-night heels."
On the same day that I made the purchase, I bought a 5-pack f instant ramen noodles, which I figured would cover dinner Monday through Friday. I also swore that I would make cut-backs on everything else in order to balance out this expense.
Strangely, this was a reminder that life is just moving pieces: If you want this, cut back on that... And so forth. When you really want to make something happen, there's always a way. Not entirely sure this was the most responsible way to go about it, but the answer is always there–you just have to figure it out.