ramen and cake
A four-month long almost-round-the-world holiday was never gonna be easy on the budget. But then, what holidays are? On our first week back, my mum had to buy our groceries and parents had to lend us money. Suddenly, we were first year uni kids again! Here's two things we made (one each) to lift our spirits; ramen and Nutella cake.
I broke down a whole chicken and after putting the good stuff aside in the freezer, it was ramen time. The crock pot that mumma agnes randomly gave came to good use.
Ingredients for ramen chicken broth, 1 onion (skin on) and a sprinkling of chicken bits, bones included. Fill it up with water until it just covers the bones and mmm mm. After about eight hours of simmering on the stove stop, it was ready. The house smelled like one big chicken bullion. Chester was taking bites out of the air.
With not much money for Japanese ingredients, the noodles came from a 2 min noodle pack. For toppings, there was an egg, boiled exactly for 6.5 minutes
then halved into the bowl and sesame seeds thrown in.
Making Nutella Banana Cake without Much Nutella and no Bananas (by Ana)
I desecrated this perfectly good Nutella Banana Cake recipe from
(recipe for those who don't own the book is
). I had to improvise because I was either out of, or didn't have enough of, the following; bananas, nutella, caster sugar, whole milk, butter. So...pretty much the whole recipe then.
I left out the bananas, dumped the miniscule remains of Nutella that we had, swapped caster sugar for icing, splashed liberal amounts of almond milk and padded out the butter with margarine. The recommended icing is Nutella but of course I didn't have any of
left. So I made up an icing with melted dark chocolate, margarine, and icing sugar. I flung everything in there with abandon, feeling like Nigella, not paying any attention to proportions.
The result was a Nutella cake with a distinct, almost-almond-floury, crumbly texture, topped with a weedy layer of dark chocolate on top. After two days sitting uncovered on our dining room table, it was more
than cake and the chocolate icing was cracked.
It's generally not the done thing to improvise too much when baking. Bakers are like chemists and chemists don't just go around huffing bits of whatever chemicals they like into test tubes unless they're asking for trouble. Bakers are after precision and specific interactions. However, when you don't have enough money for lots of dairy products (
butter, cream, milk
) and when
chucks three-quarters of a block of butter, some creme fraiche, and rosewater into a recipe like we've all got
sitting around in our pantry...well, when all these things combine and you
just desperately want cake
, then this devil-may-care-attitude is spirit lifting. Even if the cake is only, very vaguely, tempting.