Unsweet Ramen Salad . . . and a Summer Picnic

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I haven’t posted a recipe in at least half an eon. Yesterday evening my daughter and I attended a summer potluck picnic at Bittersweet at Betty’s Farm here in Lima, Ohio. Bittersweet offers a range of services for people with autism. My daughter has been participating in their periodic social living programs for a couple years now.

Three times a year (weather permitting) there are gatherings for all of the families served by Lima’s Bittersweet. Yesterday’s picnic offered the full array of Ohio picnic fair, from ambitious dips served in Crock Pots to cream pies.

Pictured above are my indulgences from the picnic. Yes, I rested a chocolate chip cookie on top of a slice of gouda cheese, and all was good. I was so delighted to spot a ramen salad on the buffet tables that I filled a bowl with it.

I hadn’t thought to make a ramen salad myself until today. I decided that I’d rather not add sugar to my version. I’m finicky about sweetening an otherwise savory salad because it’s so easy to overdo it.

Here’s my super simple version of ramen salad:

Unsweet Ramen Salad

(good for a picnic potluck or a dinner inspired by such cuisine)

  • 2 – 3 oz bags ramen noodles, your favorite of the simple flavors; I chose chicken
  • 1 16 oz bag coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
  • 1/2 cup additional carrots, sliced (optional)
  • 2/3 cup Italian dressing (use more or less to taste as long as the salad is saturated)
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the Italian dressing and ramen noodle seasoning packets. Break up the ramen noodles and add to bowl. Add the coleslaw mix, carrots, and peanuts to the bowl. Stir all together gently, lest the noodles and cabbage scatter about your kitchen. Cover and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

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Now that I’ve shared that recipe, I will offer a few of the highlights of the picnic aside from the food. There was a spirited bubble battle. I so wish I’d brought a camera aside from my cell phone. My daughter is just emerging from depression, and I was thrilled to see her so happy and engaged in the presence of others:

The picnic’s music was great as well. I heard Ike and Tina Turner’s cover of “Proud Mary” for the first time in over a decade. I mustn’t forget to buy a copy of it. How did I go so long without having it in my sonic arsenal?

It’s one of those songs that’s bound to grab people’s attention. I could tell that about a third of the people at the picnic had not heard it before. I was so delightful to see another generation won over by this song’s impossible, arresting charm. One after another just froze in place long enough to “tune” into the song and begin the toe tapping and hand clapping.

Garden, May 20: First Garden Post of 2018

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In this year’s garden, petunias and calibrachoa are very well represented. I need something easy and bountiful this year, so I have chosen plants that prosper easily if given enough water and fertilizer.

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He Is Risen

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Happy Easter!

All is quiet at the Cole house, aside from the rumble of my husband’s snoring in his recliner. He worked most of the night on a water line break, unwilling to resist a chance for overtime now that he’s emerged from his post-shoulder-surgery convalescence. My daughter slept through most of the morning. She had been up late into the night alternating between typing on her Chromebook and reading Ray Bradbury.

Today is a low-key day. We aren’t having a traditional holiday meal, aside from my small ambition to replicate my mom’s baked beans. We will consume “fun” food like hot dogs and chicken strips. I bought a hot dog toaster for the occasion. Have you ever tried this oddball small appliance? You can toast two hot dogs and buns at a time, and they turn out about as well as a freshly roll-cooked carnival hot dog.

Although I attended Catholic school for eight years of my youth due to my mom’s conversion to that faith halfway through my childhood, I seldom attend church. I pray every day and reflect on God, but I don’t feel like I belong when I walk into a church. I just can’t process the intersection between worship and social class. I don’t want to¬†dress up for church¬†(I rarely do so for any occasion). God has seen and loved me when I looked my worst, even when I weighed 260 pounds and grocery shopped in Stewie lounge pants. My faith is strong, but I haven’t encountered a congregation that feels like home.

On Easter, I reflect on God’s infinite mercy. There is no better proof of human imperfection than our failures of mercy. Think of the most odious person you’ve ever encountered in real life or through the media. Christ died for that person’s sins, too. He died for your chance at salvation and Nikolas Cruz’s as well. Forgiveness and redemption are available for everyone you love and anyone you may hate in the past, present, or future.

On Easter, I try to see people through God’s eyes, even though I, like all people, see through a glass darkly in this life.

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Fall Photo Walk, October 22

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As I mentioned in my preview for this post, I took more than 300 photos during this morning’s photo walk. Lots of these shots were second takes of favorable scenes. I’m in the habit of taking multiple shots of the same things in the event the first shot is blurry, underexposed, etc. With that aside, I still had a hard time choosing which shots to post today because I like so many of them. This is certainly a better scenario than coming home to discover that very few of the images prove to be pleasing to the eye. Does anyone else suffer from the occasional “bad hair day” of photography? In all honesty, sometimes this happens to me more often than not.

We’ve had plenty of direct sunlight today, and this bumped up the saturation of fall color a bit compared to yesterday when the light was a bit more elusive.

I can only hope we have a couple more sunny weekends favorable for fall photo walks.

Car Show and First Vlog

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My various body parts that are in revolt were subdued during today’s odyssey that included a car show and making my very first video clip that features yours truly actually speaking:

This evening I discovered that creating video is a far more labor-intensive process than I anticipated. I applaud the folks who can produce cooking segments and action clips. I fear my computer would explode from the effort of editing such huge chunks of data.

Creating this clip was a comedy of technical errors. The first time I shot it, I spoke impeccably but forgot that I’d turned off the video sound on my camera. The second time, I noticed in reviewing the clip that the combo of backlighting and low angle conspired to make me look like a bloated version of Nigel Tufnel from Spinal Tap.

It’s not an easy thing to see yourself on video for the first time. All sorts of magic can be done with selfies to create an ideal image of yourself. I don’t think this is possible with video unless you are an editing whiz and have a tripod on stilts to shoot at a flattering angle.

Earlier in the day, my husband and I meandered about town and finished our journey with the Rebel Run Car Show at the Allen County Fairgrounds. There were over a hundred classic cars clear-coated and waxed to a shine that begs for sunglasses.

I wish I’d taken a picture of the man who had a bowl cut mullet. He mastered this tricky fusion of bygone hairstyles. He looked like the kind of guy who worked enough hours in high school to buy himself a Camaro before he graduated.

Magic of the Moment

This week I’ve been trying to build my video skills. Hearkening to the title of this blog, there’s been plenty of intensity without mastery along the way. My interest in video is to capture more of the magic of the sort of moments I’m drawn to photograph.

I love watching the flowers in my garden flutter in the breeze. Here’s a little YouTube clip of my fuschia basket holding its own against this blustery September day:


I am excited at the prospect of filming clips of the fall leaves. I need to find a way to steady my camera for a walk through my favorite forest trail while the sugar maples are ablaze.

Pizza Buffet

Last year I endured a minor tragedy in electronics that lead to my owning a smart phone with an awful camera. My Samsung S5 tanked just days after the manufacturer’s warranty expired, and my cell phone insurance did not cover loss in the event of failure due to a restart cycle so relentless the phone could eventually reach a blacksmith range temperature. Since I am batty, I am imagining a cell phone glowing with enough heat to fashion horse shoes.

Back to the phone topic, I bought a cheap replacement phone, the LG V8, which retailed for just $144 when it was still available. This phone is adequate in every way except for its camera. In low light, the pictures have so much noise that the raw pictures look like time travelling back to the dawn of digital photography.

This evening we enjoyed a pizza buffet at a local bowling alley. We stopped in the parking lot because it hosted a donation drive for Hurricane Harvey relief, and we ventured into the bowling alley for the buffet.

I tried taking some shots of dinner, but this is the best I could do:

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Why the frame? It distracts from the noise in the picture, and it so happens that we had such a good time at dinner that the moment seemed worthy of such polish.

Our dinner conversations are typically full of tangents. My daughter is taking German this year in school, and she let me know that she found four different words in translation for the word dewlap, which is the double chin found on some female rabbits and male guinea pigs. She also reminded me that people get dewlaps as well . . . and my early turkey neck qualifies as a starter dewlap.

Before we left the subject of dewlaps, she informed us that she found a German Men’s Health article about a double-chin-slimming workout (Gesichtsgymnastick: Das Anti-Doppelkinn-Training).

Some horse race from Saratoga was playing on the TV in the bowling alley, so my husband and I mused about the average size of the horse jockeys. What could their maximum height and weight be? 5’3″ and 100 pounds was my guess. I also remembered how my mom told me in the midst of the Monkees resurgence of the 80’s that Davy Jones had been a horse jockey before his stint in the Pre-Fab Four. My husband recalled this bit of trivia from his youth, too (btw, he was in grade school when “Daydream Believer” was a hit).

The pizza itself was unremarkable aside from its abundance and price. The sauce had bright flavor and well carmelized cheese, but the crust was average. Given the cost of this dinner, I can’t expect anything approaching perfection. All three of us dined to the border of gluttony for a little less than $20.

This was yet another pit stop in my attempt to lose my post-surgery weight, but the family bonding we had at this dinner made this falling-off-the-wagon totally worth it.

Adding on 9/2/17:

I forgot to mention that our dinner conversation included the topic of Manifest Destiny because my daughter noticed that one of the horses on the Saratoga race on TV had that name. Of course I had to mention that glorious scene in Family Guy wherein Stewie proclaims “Manifest Destiny!” in reference to their road trip from Rhode Island to San Francisco . . . which brings me to one of my favorite moments from that series. Stewie has stolen a camper during part of that transcontinental trip, and he insists that he can keep on driving straight to San Francisco because he’d taken some pills that a trucker had nicknamed West Coast Turnaround. There are so many transgressive things about that scene, and it all collides in a delightful way.