As a Freshman at Michigan State University in the late 1970s, Ramen was a gift from the Gods for me. I love pasta. I love Cantonese food. I love cheap. I love easy to prepare. Did I mention I love cheap? Ramen was the perfect go-to food for my 18 year old self. I could cook it in an electric skillet, a microwave or a plug-in coffee maker, and I did. It was not uncommon for me to start my academic day with a beer and some Ramen. Hell! Back then not only could I bring a 12-pack of beer to my final exams, I could smoke while taking the exams as well! I miss Liberty and Freedom as it once existed in the USSA.
Now well past the mid-century mark of this incarnation on Earth I still love Ramen, but I’ve gotten good at improving its basic goodness. As someone who loves to cook because I love to eat good food, the Ramen basic ingredients are a mere launch pad for delicious meals and snacks. Just as I use jarred pasta sauces as a base and then improve upon them with fresh additional ingredients, I use the same tactics with Ramen.
Okay… I don’t eat Ramen for breakfast anymore, but when I’m in the wilds I do actually eat breakfast which is something I almost never do when I’m caged by real housing and work that requires my presence. What I do eat for breakfast in the wilds is still remarkable for its deliciousness and nutritional value, though. Behold – Java Maple Oatmeal! What better way to start your day than Maple Oatmeal cooked in fresh camp-coffee, sweetened with maple syrup? I can only think of one thing, but since I’m single at present, I’ll stay focused on Java Maple Oatmeal. How is this hearty delicacy prepared? It’s simple!
Rolled Oats (oatmeal) or single serving packet (for sissies)
Maple Syrup (the real thing if you aren’t broke)
Bowl and Spoon
Crawl out of your tent. Take a leak in the woods. Start a pot of camp-coffee in your stainless steel or enamel percolator. Hint: if you like your coffee sweet, a teaspoon of Stevia herb tossed in with the coffee grounds will sweeten a whole pot. Take your K9 masters for a walk for ten to fifteen minutes. When you get back to camp. Blow the bugs and spiders out of your bowl; add the oatmeal; pour piping hot coffee over the oats; add Maple Syrup; then smoke a cigarette. By the time you’re done with your smoke, breakfast is ready!
But what about the milk?! (some of you are whining) I don’t know about you, but I was weaned as an infant and I don’t buy into the propaganda the Dairy Cartels peddle about the calcium benefits of milk. Especially, denatured, pasteurized milk. Cows make incredible amounts of calcium and the last time I checked they don’t drink milk, they eat weeds. So if you want strong bones, skip the milk and eat the weeds that dairy cows prefer. That’s not to say that I don’t consume any dairy… I love butter on just about everything, including adventurous women. I love sour cream and most real cheeses (American is not cheese). And every once in a while on a hot day nothing quenches my thirst better than a glass of buttermilk with plenty of salt and pepper mixed in for added zest.
If you do decide to add Moo-Juice to your Java Maple Oatmeal, I won’t mind a bit. But before you add that milk, take a taste of it. You might decide to save your white water for other things, like Mac & Sleaze!
Oh yeah… Ramen
Even in the wilds I seldom eat more than two meals a day unless I’ve been real active, so I’ll jump straight to Supper. Unlike urban or suburban environments where people actually pay some gym or club for them to perform the exercises they could do at home for free, when you’re wrapped in the arms of Nature you naturally get a work out. Carrying water, collecting and chopping wood, walking the dogs, hiking to a fishin’ hole, cleaning up after the fuckin’ tourists who blow through and who throw trash and disposable cups, bottles, cans and what-not with every step… You don’t need a gym membership. What you need is calories and real food. As much as I love Ramen, I know it’s not real food. So I add real food to my Ramen so that I get the nutrients this tired old body needs after a day of Wild Life.
Ramen – Chicken, Beef or Shrimp (I don’t know what Pork is supposed to taste like, but it doesn’t taste like pork, smoked or otherwise to me)
Meat – Chicken, Beef, Sausage, Boudin*, eggs, shrimp, Mud-Bugs**, deer, catfish, turkey, squirrel (tastes like pork-chop), Nutra-Rat***
Spinach, Greens, Green Beans (any green veggie)
Chicken, Beef or Ham bullion
Your favorite spices
*Boudin is a Cajun smoked sausage stuffed with rice and smoked pork. Leave it to Cajuns to figure out how to sell rice for $4.00/pound.
**Mud-Bug – Crawdad, Crayfish, Freshwater lobster
***Nutras are an aquatic rodents in the Gulf Coast similar to muskrats.
Slice your chosen meat thinly, no wider than 1/4 inch. Think of how thin many meats in Chinese dishes are. Sear quickly and turn off heat. In a sauce pan beg enough for a brick of dry Ramen add enough water to cover the ramen, add some sliced onion (I prefer sliced rigs that have been cut 1/2 way through so that they can be twirled on a fork with the Ramen noodles). Add the contents of the spice packet and any additional spices – Garlic and Ginger are always good choices.
Once the water boils, add your bullion of choice, the Ramen brick and your greens. If using canned greens, 1/3 of a can is plenty and don’t drain the juices from the can, add them to the broth. You need the nutrients and YES salt is a key nutrient for life. After a minute or so, flip the Ramen brick.
As soon as the Ramen is al dente, cut the heat and add your meat to the pot. Sprinkle some soy sauce on if you’re in the mood and enjoy. You’ve taken less than $2.00 worth of ingredients and created a feast that will feed your body as well as your soul. I usually eat it right from the pan. No need for extra dishes to wash.
Ramen Snacks – Better Than Potato Chips or Popcorn!
I admit. I had a hard time with this one. My campin’ buddy from Lincoln Mississippi tried for months to get me to try raw, dry Ramen as a snack. I just couldn’t get into it. As a kid I often chewed on raw, dry spaghetti. The pasta was hard and tasteless. Why did I eat it? Beats me, I consider it Cribbing for Nekkid Monkeys now. So I was slow to give raw Ramen a chance.
Recipe – Easier than falling down!:
Ramen, any flavor,
Spices, whatever you like,
Garlic Salt and Pepper
WITHOUT opening the package, carefully break up the brick of Ramen. Once you get good at this technique you’ll be able to do it one handed so you don’t have to set your beer down by banging the package against your knee. Gently open the package and remove the flavor packet. Here’s where you get to be creative – I usually empty the flavor packet into the package of crushed Ramen, add garlic salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese, but you can ad whatever lights you up. Then hold the package closed and shake vigorously to distribute the flavors. Like sweet snacks? I don’t unless it’s chocolate, but feel free to add sweet spices, or dip the Ramen bits in the syrup of your choice.
Finally, sit beside the campfire with your dogs at your side, gaze into the beautiful star-filled sky and enjoy your Ramen Snack.
Share your favorite Ramen Hacks in the comments!
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