Monday, June 11, 2012

Nissin Demae Ramen Five Spices Artificial Beef Flavor

Made By:  Nissin Foods (Hong Kong)
Required to prepare:  Saucepan & Range, 500cc water
460 calories per package

(Available online through

One thing about making the transition from unemployed to self-employed is that there are more demands on time--just because there is a lot of work to do for the business doesn't mean there's suddenly less housework to make up for it.  So where does the Ramen Butterfly turn when she wants a quick and easy lunch?  Instant noodles to the rescue!

Today's rescuer is this Five Spices Artificial Beef Flavor ramen from Nissin of Hong Kong.  For those unfamiliar, the five spices in Chinese five-spice can actually vary a little, but the main flavor note is always a cinnamon-clove-anise blend of some sort.  (It's actually not that far removed from an American pumpkin-pie spice blend.)  It's an interesting flavor, but one that can be overpowering if used irresponsibly, so we'll see how it translates into a ramen flavor.

Inside the package we find a very typical block of ramen, and two seasoning packets--a soup base, and a small amount of seasoning oil (which has kind of a french-onion thing going on).  We boil our 500cc [2-1/4 cups] of water, add the noodles and cook for three minutes, then add the flavorings and serve!

The noodles have a nicer texture than I had remembered Nissin Demae noodles being; they actually have a very pleasant mouthfeel.  The broth is a very nice balance between a beef broth and the five spice flavor; the five-spice is definitely noticeable but it isn't too strong.  Being a Nissin Demae product, there are of course no vegetables or faux-meat bits to review, but those can be a distraction as easily as they can be a feature anyway. I would have to say that out of the three Nissin Demae products I've reviewed so far, this one is probably my favorite!  I certainly wouldn't mind having this one again. :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Paldo Green Tea Chlorella Noodles

Made By:  Korea Yakult Co. Ltd (Korea)
Required to Prepare:  Saucepan & Range, 550cc water
510 calories per package (?)*

(Available online through

It's noodle time again!  This morning I'm going to get adventurous and try these Green Tea Chlorella noodles I picked up at Uwajimaya Bellevue last time I was there.  For the uneducated (like myself before I looked it up on Wikipedia), chlorella is a type of edible algae that was originally discovered as an inexpensive protein source and has more recently gotten a following as a "superfood."  I'm actually not that concerned about the health merits of chlorella--I'm interested to find out how it tastes when you make noodles with it!

Inside the package we find our block of green-tinted noodles, along with two packets--one with dried veggie bits, and the other with a powdered soup base that has an aroma of dashi [fish & seaweed] stock.  We bring our 550cc (around 20 oz.) of water to a boil, add our soup base packets and noodles, and cook for four minutes, and then our soup is ready to serve!

The finished soup does look a bit strange, with the green-tinged noodles in the brownish-colored broth.  Despite the unusual appearance of the noodles, their flavor is fairly unremarkable; it may be that chlorella is a bit like tofu where it doesn't have a significant flavor of its own when you cook with it.  The texture is quite nice though; the noodles are firm, just a shade softer than al dente, and not sticky or slippery.  The veggies seem content to avoid the spotlight; there are bits of kombu seaweed, some green onion, and a couple of chile-pepper rings, none of which stand out either positively or negatively.  The broth is a fairly typical Japanese-style dashi broth, which I happen to love--it's very similar to the flavor of the broth in the Nong Shim Japanese-Style Udon.  If there is a 'green tea' flavor element present, it's very subtle to the point of being totally overpowered by the dashi flavor.

In other words, despite the odd appearance, the flavor of the soup is actually quite tame, though not in a bad way.  If you enjoy Japanese-style ramen soup, I'd recommend this one as a worthy option in the category!  And who knows, that green stuff might end up being good for us. :D

*:  According to the nutrition information, there are 510 calories in half the package.  I'm convinced this is a typo, though, because the entire package is only 120 grams, and 8-1/2 calories per gram of food seems rather implausible.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Shameless Self-Promotion

I'm going to start this entry with a little backstory about me...  Before my current "career" as a homemaker, I had been a computer tech and database designer for twelve years, working at the same employer from 1997 until I was 'let go' unexpectedly just before Christmas of 2009.  A little over a year later, in March of 2011, I finally found work as a personal caregiver for a man with cerebral palsy, which was a big change, but I felt needed in ways I never had in IT and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Unfortunately, after less than a month I suffered a serious back injury on the job and was no longer able to perform my duties.  This left my left leg permanently impaired and left me unemployed again--but now my job search was limited to jobs I would be physically able to do, and employers who would take a chance on an applicant with a physical impairment. 

My "Moon Flower" test pillar
Meanwhile at home, my partner and I love candles--they are one of the things I am most passionate about (aside from food of course).  We had been using PartyLite, but had been finding recently that their quality seemed to be going off--less fragrance, and less consistent burning.  I also tried some from a couple of popular small, independent candlemakers, and while the fragrances were great, some of the candles just didn't burn right at all, and would either smoke incessantly or drown themselves out.  Not to mention that candles get expensive when one of us is chronically unemployed!  Since I had time on my hands, and since we weren't having luck buying candles we were happy with, we decided I should order some supplies and try my hand at making our own.  I did discover that crafting a quality candle is a little more complicated than it sounds--but I also found out that I very much enjoyed it and after a short learning curve, I was able to make lovely candles that we were happy with and that burned beautifully!

We even got pretty boxes for the
candles!  My computer background
came in handy designing the labels. :)
We shared a few of them with family and friends, who all agreed that they were very nice, and that is when we got to thinking that maybe I should make them into a business of my own.  So, after another learning curve for building an e-commerce website, Paradise Lake Candles was born.  The website is a work in progress, but it is very much a labor of love--we're having a great time testing new fragrances for the site.  (As of this writing, one of the ones that is currently in testing called "Moon Flower" might be a new favorite of mine!)  I'm hoping that soon I can start contributing to the household again with my candles.  If I could make a living doing something I enjoy as much as candlemaking, then Paradise Lake would live up to its name for me. ^_^