Friends hi and welcome to a new series on Joy the Baker called Here’s What I’m Eating. A series in which we cut the recipe and all the formalities and talk about what’s really going down in the kitchen. As a certified Food Person, I think we should talk what we really fill our bowls with on the day to day. For me right now? I’m staring down a bowl of cottage cheese, pretzels, and celery sticks and calling it lunch. For dinner? There’s a whole sack of sweet potatoes that need roasting and figuring out. I have sugar cookies to make *content* so the rest of the day’s food will be simple and eaten on the couch.
First up in our series, Karlee Flores, creator of @oliveandartisan on Instagram and, as of late, photographer here at Joy the Baker. Karlee is incredible in the kitchen but what I love most is how down to earth her everyday food is. Here’s Karlee on the rich humility of ramen.
My love to you.
Every afternoon my stomach pangs and I’m forced to stop what I’m doing to eat some mandatory food. And lately, there’s been only one food on my mind. I find my hand automatically reaches for the crunchy orange package. Today, like yesterday and tomorrow, it’s instant ramen lunch.
I grab the classics from the fridge; chili crisp, sesame oil, chili oil, a boiled egg if I have it and a severed cluster of scallions. Some days I sauté the noodles in hoisin sauce and a pat of butter, or I add a glossy egg yolk if I have it left over from a recipe I was working on that morning. Today I’m keeping it basic: Brothy ramen, a large spoon, and chopsticks.
I add the sesame and chili oil to the water as it boils with the chicken flavor™. Cook the noodles to just underdone. Top with loads of pepper – the kind that’s pulverized into oblivion. A glob of chili crisp and my favorite seat at my dining room table – I’m ready to fog up my glasses.
Instant ramen seems inflation proof. And when a paper bag of groceries now costs me $68 dollars, it makes me start looking for ways to stretch the grocery budget a little further. I’m no stranger to hard times, and I can tighten my belt with the best of them.
My family didn’t have much when I was growing up, and most months were hard, but necessity is indeed the mother of invention. In fact, instant ramen was re-invented many times into its many iterations. It was crunched up in summer salads, sautéed with lunch meat on my dorm room hot plate, and stuffed into backpacks when we would go camping.
Nowadays it seems like all the food will kill you. Meals our great grandparents ate are now on the naughty list. We’re to eat bone broth and wash our mouths out with coconut oil. Kale is good for you but not as good as we once thought. We now need to avoid peanuts (5.99) but treat our hypothyroidism with brasil nuts (17.99).
I don’t want to stick up my nose anymore to the meals that get us to the next paycheck. The ones that warm our bellies and feed kids. I want to embrace eating. For nostalgia. For hunger. For pleasure. And yes, for our health but also for our bottom lines.
So, here’s to a steaming bowl of instant ramen. Let’s slurp the last of its broth down to the fallen bits. We’re thankful for each meal no matter how humble. They’ve gotten us this far.