Using My Noodle

Pasta will forever be linked in my mind with poverty because it’s what we lived on in our poorest moments of grad school. By the time my husband graduated, we were all sick and tired of spaghetti. We now eat pasta maybe once a month or less often, and we always need homemade bread sticks to help us muscle through the noodles.

Since pasta is so inexpensive and unappealing to our family, you may wonder why I decided to try making it. I wondered the same thing but I thought it couldn’t hurt to see if maybe going homemade would help us change our minds.

I invited my friend Itzel to help me and borrowed a pasta press from some helpful neighbors. It was a snowy day, perfect for staying inside with a project. My son was home sick from school and was thrilled to hear what we were doing. He watches a lot of Master Chef Junior and has always wanted to make pasta. I was thrilled that he was there to help me put the machinery together.

I decided to use this simple recipe because it looked less daunting than the others and only called for flour, salt and eggs.

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Itzel and I each made our own batch of dough and as you can see, went about it differently. Itzel’s method looked messier but her dough looked a lot less dry and achieved the suggested “satiny texture” much better than mine.

The recipe said the dough would be more stiff than other doughs, but that was an understatement. We had to knead it for 8-10 minutes and apparently my bowl was not up to the task. Now that’s some serious kneading.

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We let our dough rest for 45 minutes, then returned to flatten and cut it. This was my son’s favorite part. We liked that he liked it because that meant he did all the hard work. After all that kneading, we were happy for a break. (I just wish he didn’t keep dropping the handle on my foot. I got pretty good at jumping out of the way after a few times.)

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Because my dough was more dry than Itzel’s, we had to fold it over and run it through the press a few extra times, but they turned out fine.

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My sad, dry dough

I have to say, this machine is pretty cool. Itzel pointed out that it would be good for fondant as well. (She’s good at cake decorating, unlike me.)

We had so much fun, in fact, my son decided he wants a pasta press for his birthday next week. I left my noodles out to dry and Itzel stored hers to use later.

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The question still remained – would the homemade noodles taste better? Could they win us over to pasta? To test it out, I didn’t make any special sauce or bread sticks. Instead, I served up my pasta with a store bought pesto Alfredo sauce.

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They weren’t bad. I just think we didn’t adequately heed the recipe’s warning to make them really thin because they plump when cooking. We pressed the dough to about as thin as we would expect cooked noodles to be so they turned out to be more the thickness of homemade chicken noodle soup noodles instead of linguine. Lesson learned.

I also wasn’t very careful about not letting the noodles clump together when they sat out to dry because I assumed they would separate when cooking. They didn’t. Another lesson learned – I ordered a pasta drying rack when I ordered my son’s birthday pasta press.

I’m sure after a few more tries, we’ll have it down. If I’m really lucky, my master chef son will make all our pasta for us and I’ll get to sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labors. Hey, it worked with chocolate chip cookies and gummy Legos. I love it when my children turn out to be useful humans.

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