Lockdown: Canoodling

Slept terribly again Monday night despite my body’s being eager and ready for rest. Got plenty of sleep; it just wasn’t the good sleep. Still felt okay, because at least it was bad sleep in a generous amount.

Caught up on emails, finally had that phone call with the donors, worked on more emails, had a Zoom meeting, played around with the two donor stories I’m working on, and that was my work day. A nice, normal, fairly routine, non-stressful day.

The phone interview was with a prominent former reporter with a local paper whose blog I’ve been a fan of for more than ten years. Also with his wife, a professor emerita at UH Manoa. They were such smart, clear communicators, I really enjoyed my conversation with them. I felt smarter after just a twenty-five-minute phone call.

As soon as I was done with work, I got stuff ready for laundry and refilling my drinking water. Took longer than usual for some reason, and I didn’t get to bed until 9:00. Then I slept terribly again and I overslept. Baffling. I know I set my alarm but I never heard it, and overshot it by two hours. No indication on my phone that I set the alarm at all. Maddening.

I was severely tempted to change my plan for the day, but I was already packed up for laundry and I was mentally in the laundry-washing mindspace. I did a little bit of quick math and realized I could get to the laundry just after five. Most Wednesday or Thursday mornings at that hour, the laundry only has a couple of people, the ladies who come in just as I’m finishing up. I figured I could deal with them, and if people started coming in around six, I’d be nearly done anyway.

So I dragged my sorry, oversleeping carcass out of bed. It’s 5:30 and I’m at the laundry now, with breakfast sandwiches for my late Tuesday dinner instead of my usual Big Mac and fries. It’s a good meal but it’s not what I really wanted. I’ll have to make up for it later in the week.

Breakfast was the noodle soup thing. When I was severely underemployed, right after the engineering firm, I had to stretch my lonely dollars. A huge bowl of hot oatmeal for breakfast was a big part of it, something I came to welcome and enjoy over time. I almost always had it with some brown sugar and natural peanut butter, so we’re not talking destitute here; I just needed to be very careful. Six bucks for a jar of natural peanut better went a long way anyway.

The part of the equation I was uncomfortable with with instant ramen. I was going to have to go the cheap route, which is fine; cheap instant ramen is yummy too, if you modify it the way I like. It was just a lot of fat and salt, and while I don’t exactly shy away from either, we’re talking a lot of fat and salt every day.

So over some weeks, I found something that worked for me and is even more frugal than they way I eat instant ramen.

There’s a noodle factory in Kalihi; I’ve been aware of it for as long as I’ve lived here. You can buy fresh Chinese noodles and saimin (it’s a Hawaii thing) for much, much less money than the same stuff costs in the grocery stores. We’re talking two bucks for a pound of Hong Kong style chow mein, which is possibly three times that in the store.

I usually get six meals out of that.

I had a jar of hon-dashi in my cabinet, so I used that for the soup. I cooked a bunch of veggies in the soup first, whatever was on sale. Always either head cabbage or won bok, plus some onion and some dark, leafy green I got for cheap, although some weeks I went without that. Bean sprouts, otherwise. Oh, and if I could get eggs on sale — yes, I resorted to mainland eggs because they are waaaaaay less expensive — I’d add a fresh egg or two. A few months in, I also added a spoonful of miso.

When you have to eat like a poor person but have a little bit of leeway, you can make yourself feel not quite as poor. A huge bowl of fresh veggies with fresh noodles in miso soup? I could eat that every day, and I did. There was enough variety from week to week that I never got tired of it, and the nightly ritual of preparing the meal (I had nothing but time) was a highlight of my existence.

I tried other nearby noodle factories. It’s Hawaii; of course there are a bunch of noodle factories. Young’s on Liliha Street. That one in Chinatown, downstairs from where the dance studio used to be where I once helped a young Chinese woman find her class. There’s some difference, but Oahu Noodle, in my own hood, is the least expensive and the most convenient.

I’ve tried other types of noodles, but I like how quickly the Hong Kong noodles cook, and I like the texture a lot better. I guess I’m consistent that way, considering my preference for angel hair pasta.

I still prepare it once in a while, for a week at a time (you’re buying a pound of noodles; you have to use them before they get slimey), but it’s been a couple of years. The last time I made it, I’d discovered mushroom dashi at the Japanese market. It’s better than hon-dashi. This week I used shrimp dashi, which Foodland Farms had in the Asian aisle. The Japanese markets in town just aren’t convenient, opening too late in the day for me. The one sort of in my hood is a warehouse store and it’s always full of elderly Japanese people (that’s how you know it’s good), and I don’t want any part of that. Don Qi is open all night. I might have considered that when I was still keeping vampire hours. It’s near the beach; maybe I should stop by one early morning.

So, miso from the Korean market (it’s good, but I’m suspicious of all the ingredients) next to the noodle factory. Veggies from wherever. Dashi from Foodland Farms.

I got this mushroom soup base from Amazon this week. Looking forward to trying it when I’ve used up the shrimp dashi.

I keep thinking I should name this dish. I used to prepare it in my rice cooker, so my brain kind of thinks of it as rice cooker noodles, even though I make it on the stovetop now.

Lunch was a couple of burritos. I have one burrito’s worth of filling left and need to use it very soon. Thinking of scrambling some eggs and making a breakfast burrito for dinner Wednesday.

Suzanne texted me to ask me for a book recommendation. I made a few: a Nora Roberts book I actually enjoyed (the one Nora Roberts book I’ve read), a Neil Gaiman, and a Rainbow Rowell.

Sylvia texted me to talk about gourmet popcorn. I’m not a huge fan; she’s a huuuuge fan.

Stay home. Do something fun. Eat something different. Tackle one of those nagging chores you keep putting off. Leave a comment if you’d like some connection, and I’ll send you my contact info.

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