Noodles and Japanese Shells

Noodles—quick convenient comfort, ease and pleas-ing, satisfaction certain, and fine when cooking for me. While Mr. Tess was working in New York during the past two weeks, my meals centered on this flour and water paste: a blank canvas each time, with a palette of possibilities.

For the most part, my dinners were very simple. Udon, ramen, soba, or spaghetti with a sauce, soup, or dressing, vegetables, and chicken, tofu, fish, or pork. You see here a selection of options to stimulate your imagination—the small pictures link to recipes which I’ve written about in the last year or so.

While you browse, I’ll continue clearing out the old house and packing things for the new. We have collected so much junk over these twenty-seven years that I’m overwhelmed. I’m finding evidence of all my past hobbies and obsessions: fabric dyes, stained glass, lace, buttons, beads, bubble wrap and wool roving… canes and reeds, handmade paper, washi eggs, rice-starch glue, sail cloth and lamp parts, plexiglass strips and shapes, three almost functional paper cutters…

My resolution to dispose of things not used for years is difficult to keep. Mr. Tess took several large bags of trash out to the curb last night. I saw him studying the contents of one clear bag, and I told him not to look at it; he managed to avert his eyes. But among the many bags of material to be recycled he found a silver-plated tray from my copper phase. Rescued! ahh it will be a pretty dust collector in the new house…

We went out in the snow-storm last night to look at drawer slides, counter tops, flooring, and paint samples. It’s surprising how many people were crazy enough to venture out: running, walking dogs, driving, shopping… After moving some chairs and a number of boxes, we just relaxed and enjoyed the empty house together over a dinner of (from a package) Tuscan bean soup and chicken sandwiches.

Japanese-Style Shells and Tuna Salad
about 2 servings

  • Shell shaped pasta for two cooked al dente
    (plan ahead and make enough for lunch at work)
  • 1 avocado, sliced and covered with lime juice
  • 1 (6 oz) can of tuna in chili olive oil
  • nori, cut into narrow strips, 1-inch long
  • Dressing:
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt-reduced soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin

Drain the tuna, reserving the oil. Mix the dressing ingredients together and add 1 Tablespoon of the spicy oil. Toss the pasta with 1 Tablespoon of the spicy oil. Mix the pasta with the dressing and tuna, reserving some of the tuna for a garnish. Put slices of avocado on one side of a deep plate, add pasta, and garnish with reserved tuna and nori.
For lunch, don’t mix the pasta with the dressing until you are ready to eat. Slice the avocado and garnish the pasta with it and nori.

13 thoughts on “Noodles and Japanese Shells

  1. Ha! I cooked a bowl of noodles and peas last night for a quick meal flavoured, unusually (I normally use Marigold Bouillon Powder), with Knorr concentrated vegetable stock – it was so disgusting even slopping sweet chilli and soy sauces all over it didn’t help much.

    It seems, reading the label, that some fruitcake thinks that hugely dominant aromatics, like dill, mint, and rosemary, are a good idea in stock.

    Er, no, they most definitely are not!

    • Hi Ron,

      Never heard of “marigold bouillion powder” but it brings to mind calendulas: pot marigolds. I grew them one summer (years ago) because I read somewhere that they were edible. Eating petals sounded romantic and exotic. I no longer remember how they tasted.

      It is surprising that the Knorr vegetable stock was disgusting. It always seemed to be a brand of soup mixes that were reliably good. Their U.S. versions were different from what was available in Europe (the European mixes used to taste better…) And I see Knorr soup packets from Mexico and Asia sometimes.

      But fruitcake on pasta does seem a bit over the top. Especially if it includes dill, mint, & rosemary. TG no cilantro in there!!!

      have a sweet holiday season, even if it is a bit chilli…


      • Yep, Knorr soups were always in my backpacking kit, back in the day – can’t find them now. These days they’re part of the multinational Unilever empire – probably explains a lot!

        Marigold, btw, is Swiss – but pretty sure I first heard of it in a US vegetarian book.


        Have a good one . . .

        • When I first moved to Southern Michigan (1975—from the wilds of Northern Upper Michigan [the U.P]), there was one store here that carried exotic Knorr soups from all over the world. They used to be so good. But I was a newly-wed who didn’t know how to cook. And one could get very good food on airplanes then too. And comfortable seats…

          Are you a vegetarian?

  2. Your list of past pursuits missed the boxes of stained glass pieces out in the shed. (Delete this if you want.)

    • No, I did mention the stained glass. It’s not ALL out in the shed. Is that where the really nice soldering iron is, out in the shed? the one with the thing-y you can regulate the temperature.

  3. Tess I love your noodle spread. Tuna and avocado are a favourite of mine – a marriage made in culinary heaven.

    Your baby Brussels and noodles look as though they were served in one of your moon viewing bowls…

    Happy times await in the ginko house.

    Keep warm. (-:

    • Yes, the moon viewing bowl! It makes a complete setting for one these days…

      The snow from Saturday’s storm is cracking cold. It began as rain then the temperature fell so there is ice underneath.

  4. Oooh you have sent a shiver up the spine. Sounds a slippery, somewhat dangerous sort of snow. Is that what you call black ice? Weather report from here is summer storms, then hot still days. We have had a few days on the Mornington Peninsula and a swim in the sea each day, big curly clouds on the horizon and a Wedgewood blue overhead. No dolphins or whales yesterday…but we keep looking. We still have a jigsaw unopened on the table – not enough rainy days – but a good looking one. A frieze of Indian art – little men in bright coloured clothing busy with everyday things and horses. Next time. Now we must pack up the cottage and visit the cherry orchard for our Christmas cherries.

    • Oh my! You have given me a picture:
      A Wedgewood sky with a disarranged image of brightly clothed little men cooking, cleaning, and riding horses, framed in hope for a rainy day. A freeze now in my mind’s gallery of summer pictures.

      Your Christmas cherries: are they sweet or sour? Do you eat them fresh and sweet or (sour) in a sauce with duck or goose or in a pie? Here, dried (Michigan) cherries are tasty in dressings. Like raisins Usually in a stuffing or dressing for turkey.


      Black ice usually occurs when there is a little rain plus a sudden drop in temperature (a bit below freezing). (or snow melting during the day on dark-coloured pavement followed by a cold freeze) It usually happens on bridges where the road surface cools more quickly than on the streets with the earth below. (the solid planet keeping the road/sidewalk a bit warmer)

      The ice looks black because it it thin and clear; the color of the road surface looks normal (think black tarmac). Smooth, essentially invisible, and very slippery. If one does not think about the possibility of sliding, then it is dangerous. It can be a sliding out of control bad surprise, driving or walking.

      Winter in this area is always a mess. This is unusual because it was slow. Rain, then slowly dropping temperatures so the water froze. Smooth where the public facilities didn’t salt or sand. Then snow and wind for hours and hours. That covered the ice on side roads and minor streets, and on bigger routs where it was salted (or treated with other chemicals) the snow slushed into a mess, still melting below. Then the temperatures fell so that the salt was no longer effective on top. So even on main roads, there is a layer of ice. Also there are fewer public resources to plow and sand and salt than in the past.

      I drive a Volkswagen, and one would think that they get enough snow in Germany to design a car for winter, but the doors and trunk keep freezing closed. We have had several Gulfs, and now a Jetta. Nice cars, and I’m looking forward to putting it into a garage…

  5. Brrrr winter sounds like hard work Tess. I will never complain about the cold here again! Wow salting the roads and paths! I had never even thought about that! We get a hard frost only sometimes. Snow is a down tools and rush outside rarity…

    Thank-you for your black ice tutorial. I think I would be too scared to drive in your neck of the woods. Hibernation with hot water bottle and books would be the ideal winter but then of course someone must fetch and carry groceries, chop wood, shovel snow. Actually I could chop and shovel just not drive.

    Our favourite cherries for Christmas are Stellas – dark and juicy enough to dribble down the chin, then there is Merchant and then sweet white cherries. The first box of commercially available cherries is auctioned for charity and can command whopping great prices. I haven’t cooked with cherries much although sours are grown here and dried cherries have only just appeared as gourmet fare in shops in the last few years. We have a very small Stella in our garden and there is a cherry countdown to their harvest…not enough to dry as yet. We saw some ancient cherry trees in Japan – so old and spreading the low branches were supported by props a good 8 feet tall.

    You have VW’s! We have an old 74 mustard coloured combi in the shed. She’s not going at the moment but the kids often sit in her for deep and meaningful conversation – she seems to encourage that – she has that unforgettable vw smell of petrol, dust and decaying vinyl upholstery.. Gabe will be 18 next year and was hankering after a fiat bambini but now he is looking at Volkswagens…hmmmm how could they not have considered snow!!! Great that you will soon be able to garage yours! <3 Cx

  6. Our first Volkswagen was a cute little white Beetle. This was before J and I were married, so long ago. We bought it in winter, at night, from a guy who worked as a security guard at the mall. Our test drive was around the parking lot between snow banks. I’d wanted a Bug since I was a little kid. On the short drive back to my apartment I mentioned to J that the heat didn’t seem to work: my feet were freezing. Looking down at my boots, I noticed that I could see the street through some holes in the floor.

    We parked the car and used it as a freezer all winter.

    J’s mother had several VWs: the Dashers were nice, but her Rabbit was terrible. The Gulfs we’ve owned have been great, but when we bought our current car, they’d discontinued them. VW named their Gulf-equivalent “Rabbit” and we just couldn’t help but think of the junkie problem plagued one P had. So now I drive a Jetta—nice car, peppy and fun to drive.

    Except when the doors are frozen shut.

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