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January 27, 2009

The White Death and ramen noodles



Last night, what with the White Death weather forecast and all, I thought it would be a really good idea to go to the supermarket after work. I only needed one item, a package of ramen noodles.

I never learn. ...

I did eventually get home with my purchase. I toss out the seasonings package and cook the noodles in chicken stock with snow peas, sliced mushrooms, bean sprouts, red bell pepper, broccoli florets, sliced carrots, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger root, garlic, peanuts -- whatever strikes my fancy.

On the surface, this seems like a healthful enough supper, but when you look at the nutrition information for the noodles, you find that one serving (there are two to a package) provides you with 190 calories, 16 percent of your saturated fat allowance for the day and 20 percent of your sodium. Add to that the sodium in the chicken stock and soy sauce, plus the fat of the sesame oil and peanuts...All I'm saying is, don't kid yourself.

The last time I bought ramen noodles must have been a couple of years ago, so I was surprised to find that you can no longer buy individual packages, at least not at my supermarket. When my daughter was little, Oodles of Noodles was one of the four major food groups, and the only one she would eat, so I could have used up a six-pack quickly.

Now I've got enough ramen noodles to last me the next 10 years.

(Photo of the White Death by me)
Posted by Elizabeth Large at 11:10 AM | | Comments (48)


When I was away at college, my mom would send "care packages" to me. Maybe it's time for Gailor to get a Ramen Noodle "care package."

The sodium was certainly almost all in the seasoning packet that you threw away.

I ate Ramen Noodles a lot during my teenage years, but if I had a choice would rather eat cup-o-noodles. My 11-year old niece eats the chicken flavored ramen noodles for breakfast everyday. They are available in individiual packs in many stores.

Much of the sodium is in the seasoning packet. Some packages even say to reduce sodium use less of the seasonings. I don't think they list the noodle ingredients by itself, just the total, so you can't tell what the noodles alone contain. Somebody did make a "baked, not fried" ramen noodle a while ago, but I haven't seen it recently. You must be shopping at Giant. They stopped selling individual ramen noodles a while ago. I think Safeway still has individual packages, including some more "authentic" noodles from Japan and Korea.

You can buy the noodles by themselves. Ka-Me makes "Japanese Curly Noodles (Chuka Soba)" which look very much like the ramen noodles. They come in a 5-0z package and a 2-Oz serving has 1 gram fat, 310 mg sodium, and 41 grams of carbohydrate. I think they are still available at Giant in their Oriental section.

I know ramen noodle aren't the healthiest food but they are almost like tofu in their adaptability factor. you can really make so many different dishes out the things. Stir fry, curries, "mac" and cheese, salads, "spaghetti", "stroganoff", etc! And, at 10 pkgs for one dollar - who can resist? My partner thinks I'm a little over the top in may ramen adoration but so cheap and so versitile!

I feel like my love of ramen is okay now that you posted about it. I always throw out the seasoning and make it "fancy". I like to think the worst part of it is in that little packet and that eating noodles are no worse than eating a plate of spaghetti. Thats what I tell myself anyway.

Ohhhh.... I know where your white death picture is taken. A clue!

I will admit to a weakness for ramen. If I buy the cases from Aldi's, I eat too much of them. So, I get the good, hot Korean ramen at H Mart or somewhere like that. They are more expensive, so I don't eat 2 packages for breakfast every day ('tis the weather for hot breakfast, after all).

Bucky, my mom used to send those care packages as well, often packed with Ramen. I never understood why she'd send that of all things. I paid most of my way through school and often had to eat Ramen on my meager budget and absolutely hated that she'd send me the ONE THING I could afford! I'd always wish for something of more value... cashews, chocolate, fresh fruit, steaks... but no, never. Just Ramen and sometimes a toothbrush and a bag of cookies, and I don't even like cookies either. My mother always gives me the things I hate most as food gifts, I wonder if she is trying to tell me something. Another topic for the therapist! Sorry, drifted a bit there.

montag - I was lucky, I guess, because my mom generally sent baked goods.

I don't believe I've ever eaten a ramen noodle. And I'm not a kid anymore. I wonder how that happened? (In college, I worked in the student center grill, so I always ate. Food came with the job.)

I have never eaten ramen noodles either.
In the Navy, my mom would send homemade cookies in care packages now and then, especially at Christmas. She'd have to send a lot because a good bit would get pulverized in the transit from the States to Bahrain and Scotland. Didn't matter, I ate the crumbs too.

Bucky, I remember chatting with a coworker some years ago who mentioned in passing that she had never eaten at a McDonald's. I'm sure my jaw dropped. As for the ramen noodles, you haven't missed anything.

I'm with Retired in Elkridge. I love the real thing, but will normally get the Ka-Me brand (or one of the others available at one of the west side Korean grocers). BJ's was sampling Kimchee ramen last weekend and it was terrific.

A number of years ago when my son was in high school I came home one afternoon to discover the leftovers from an after school snack: a ramen wrapper, an empty bowl and chopsticks! Made me feel like I was doing a pretty good job with the dad thing.

If you want to go healthy (er), boil the noodles in water, then drain and rinse. then add to your 'fancy' stock/seasoning, and you'll have a more healthy version of ramen.

I'll usually still use the seasoning packets, and not use stock. But I'll have water boiling in my electric kettle as I heat up the noodles, so that in the end, I just use one pot.

All this talk of ramen makes me want to watch Tampopo again. The ramen in that movie bears little resemblance to the ramen sold at (most) local grocery stores.

I thought this was a foodie blog.

White death is refined sugar.

Are you kidding? Refined sugar is the only thing that will get us through tomorrow morning. EL

Out here, snow is called "White Gold".

We aren't all foodies. Some of us are just foodie groupies.

maryland needs a momofuku in this area. talk about insane noodles done right...

I didn't have a lot of money in college, but with a nearby Super Wal-Mart my food dollar went far enough to keep me from eating dried noodles and bouilon seasoning.

RoCK, when I was in grad school my roomie used to save grocery money when things were tight by buying scallops, which were incredibly cheap then. Sigh ... We also ate a lot of tuna noodle casserole and the like.

Do you get much freezing rain out there? That stuff is the worst type of weather, since it makes traveling treacherous at best, if at all.

I think that is what is happening in Baltimore this morning.

Yeah, we got some ice. Not a lot, really, but enough that people should stay home if at all possible. My front walk looks like some airliner dumped a load of "blue ice" due to the color of the ice melt we use.

Fl Rob, just got in from chopping and shoveling that frozen rain. Although nice to have slept in this morning, I had 2 hours of clean up between the walk and the car and car surrounds (I'm in a lot, so I want to be able to walk to the car without falling on ice). I saw the strangest thing! A pair of cardinals were in my pear tree eating some of the few remaining berries that the savage squirrels haven't gotten to yet. Sign of spring???

BTW, hot ramen noodles all fixed up sans flavor packet but with some soy, chopped spring onions, cilantro, fish sauce and a drop of hoisen - just the thing for warming up the insides (probably followed by a shot of brandy but I'm going to hold on that - too early!)

We braved the not-really-so-scary white death last night and went to Michael's Steak and Lobster House, as my wife was craving the Tuesday night lobster special (1 1/2 lb steamed maine lobster for $13.99).

It's been a number of years since I've been there, and I'd partially forgotten just how old-fashioned it is. While there is a wine list, it's not easy to come by (they had to print a new copy of it for us), and there are only about five or six wines available by the bottle (no Lancer's, though). On the other hand, there was never any doubt that they'd have Drambuie for my wife's Rusty Nail.

Note to Bucky: they still have the 40 ounce ribeye for $17.99, or a 40 ounce porterhouse for $18.99. With two vegetables.

I couldn't bring myself to order 40 ounces of meat in public, so I had the filet mignon stuffed* with crab imperial.

*one of my pet peeves is "stuffed" being used when the "stuffing" is put on top, rather than inside. Yes, I know it's a very common usage. I still hate it.

Ice is far worse than snow. Walking my elderly dog this morning was scary. I think he's ok, but watching him fall repeatedly was worse than waiting for election results.

Still, back in Detroit, this wouldn't have been enough to postpone school. A good boss may have cut you some slack if you were up to a half hour late, but only maybe.

I don't believe in the Christian type of hell, but weather like this makes me wish I did, and that I could count on there being a special place there for people who don't clear their walks.

Hal - how was the meal? You know I worry about a 40 oz. steak for under $20. But Michael's is a restaurant I don't ever think I've heard a bad thing about here. That--plus the price--is why I've made it my favorite.

Joyce W., do cardinals fly south for the winter? Ours have been around all season, I believe. We have seen great flocks of robins for the past couple of weeks--stripping my hollies of berries. I think this global warming thing must have messed up their seasonal time clocks, as this is the earliest I've ever seen them back here.

I feel for you all up there enduring that frozen stuff. I remember many a time winding up on my rear because someone didn't clear their walk or use those melting pellets.

Oh, but no! As a native of the South, where we get a lot of experience with freezing rain, I know that when you're lucky enough to get snow before the freezing rain, you don't clear the walks until after the last of the rain has fallen. The snow provides some traction, when the ice gives way under the body weight and you can sink in a little bit. The ice just sitting on top of bare (post-shovel) concrete is the real hazard because there's no way to get any traction.

I was forcibly reminded of that again this morning, when my dog and I went from passing with relative ease over a stretch of unshoveled ice to sliding (falling in his case, desperately grabbing at walls, stair rails, light posts to keep from falling in mine) over areas that were shoveled last night before the rain came. My co-workers who have lived in the South and I were grumbling about this very issue this morning.

Now that said, everyone needs to suck it up and shovel up good tonight once the last of the wet stuff has fallen! (hot chocolate, anyone?)

Joyce, I've always had cardinals during the winter. The males turn the same greenish color that the females are all year long, so they're not as noticeable.

Dahlink, I'm quite sure that at least some robins never went south. I dragged my Christmas tree into the backyard and when I went to dispose of it, found that robins were using it for cover. I really thought they tended toward higher perches but that would explain my cat's near-hysteria about getting outside.

Cardinals stay.

KristinB, you don't shovel if the rain is still freezing. You do shovel if the rain isn't freezing.

This morning, I could get down walks that had been shoveled and I could get down the main streets (usually only the working girls walk down the middle of Baltimore St., but I was out there this morning). The walks that hadn't been shoveled, the ice had compacted the snow into ice, and they were unpassable.

On my block, the only three walks shoveled where where the people without cars lived.

Dahlink and Eve - I've never seen a cardinal in the winter before (maybe cause they turn greenish) but the male in this pair was bright red. I'm taking it as an omen that spring will start tomorrow. LOL!

BTW, Eve - speaking of cat's near hysteria to get outside, they say that cat's are color blind but although my cat watches wild life from the window all day long he went berserk when he spotted the cardinal!

Mmm, Eve, our male cardinals are still bright red. I wonder if yours are perhaps juveniles?

All I know about the robins is that suddenly they were having a raucous party in my hollies, after being absent for some time.

Bucky, the lobster was good, the filet mignon was good (and cooked medium rare as requested), the crab imperial on top of the filet was good, the fries were good, and the green beans were cooked to death (kind of what you'd expect in an old-fashioned Baltimore joint...I should have gotten applesauce, coleslaw, or pickled beets). One of these days I'll get up the nerve to order the 40 ounce steak (and take most it home for steak sandwiches). When I do, I'll report back.

Lissa and KristinB, you guys need Yak Trax.

Exactly, Lissa. I got home at 10 p.m. last night with a well-scraped car and had so much thick ice over it this morning that it snapped the head right off of my scraper (luckily I had two). So the people who shoveled the snow last night before all that ice had just made a nice, smooth surface for the ice to sit on, with no give, and it was nasty. But I could stomp and crunch through the ice into the snow and walk in those areas. There was nothing shoveled post-ice this morning in my area, though I saw someone starting to work on it as I headed out.

It was still freezing when I left for work this morning, so I'll have my chore cut out for me tonight. Speaking of which, time to head home and pay the piper!

Hal, they don't make Yak Trax for dogs. I'm fine. I rely on my excellent falling skills, learned studying Aikido. Probably the most useful skill I've learned.

I've got to make it out to Michael's one of these days. But, not for the 40 oz. steak.

When we do have ice or frost on car windows in the morning (why don't they turn off the damn lawn sprinklers?) I seem to be the only one who uses an ice scraper to clear my car windows.

The other folk start their car and retreat back inside for like 20 minutes while the defrosters do the work. I'd rather not waste the gas and pollute the air. Then again, they don't sell ice scrapers down here.

they don't make Yak Trax for dogs

Sounds like an opportunity for some crazy entrepeneur. :-)

PCB Rob, the best use for credit cards is as emergency ice scrapers.

Don't use your ATM card, though. It tends to mess up the magnetic strip.

Hal, there are snow booties for dogs, although I don't know if they include traction control. I doubt I could get them on him, and if I did, I doubt even more they'd last 30 seconds.

Fortunately, here at Cross Keys, the sidewalks were shoveled and roads were plowed before I got up. Of course my car was ice free in my covered parking spot. Even with all that, I still decided not to leave the house today.

I know my neighborhood has many detractors in the sandbox to begin with, but with my gloating I've probably managed to turn those who were on the fence against Cross Keys as well.

Cardinals stay, and Joyce is probably right that the brownish ones are juveniles.

I've been enjoying flights of several dozen geese over my house every day, at least once and sometimes twice. Their flightpath is southwest, so I wonder if they're heading to Lake Montebello (maybe from White Marsh?). What wonderful raucous conversations they have! That's my favorite Fall and Winter sound.

Dottie - I love the sounds of the huge flocks of geese flying overhead too. We have them doing flyovers all year as the property behind us is protected swamp land. Sometimes in the summer if you are sitting outside, they will make "shade" suddenly appear over you and you can feel a change in the temperature for a few seconds (cooler) as they go by.

Joyce & Dottie--I'm with you on the geese, as long as I am not flying as well.

PCB Rob, you will be amused that when our son moved to California, one of his coworkers saw his ice scraper in the truck of his car and said "What is THAT?"

The geese are wonderful as long as you're not directly under them. They can make a horrible mess.

Lissa - cd boxes (jewel cases) also make wonderful emergency scrapers. Except never use one that is from your partner's band (painful experience).

Dahlink - never would have thought of that til that "landing" on the Hudson! Whew - who knew birds could be such air hazards!

bra1nchild - I was always told that if a bird poops on your head it's good luck...

My old dog couldn't keep his feet under him when he made his trip to the backyard last night. When he finally found the perfect spot to ummmm...squat, his rear legs went out from under him. It would have broken my heart except that I was laughing my butt off.

He's currently on my * list since he has not aged out on jumping the fence the way he had lead me to believe!

Its only good luck if you don't get mad. At least that's what I have always heard.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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