20 March 2016

First Come the Eggs . . .

When you have not only one but two or three bowls and baskets of this:

then it's time for this:

I remember Mom and Grammy making noodles together and drying them on racks like this.  The woodstove sure speeds things up!

After eating quite a few fresh noodles for supper and experimenting with freezing some, not too many made it to the drying rack as you can see.  But there might be another one or two meals out of the deal.  

Thanks to my sister for loaning me the pasta machine (big bonus points with the kids for getting to turn the handle and watch the "cute" noodles come out!).  Um, yes, it was a year ago that you gave it to me.  But see, it was here when I needed it!

Pasta Recipe
(approx. 16 servings--I will weigh it next time)

1 cup bread flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups semolina flour
1 tsp salt
6 eggs (yes!)
2 TBSP oil
water to help bind the dough 

Pile the flours and salt into a mound on your kneading surface.  Make a well in the center and break the eggs into it.  Add the oil.  Begin breaking up the yolks and stirring flour into the mixture until all is incorporated.  Add water as necessary.  Knead until the dough is smooth, 8-10 min.  Cover with plastic and let rest a half hour or more until ready to make noodles!

My dough was rather stiff since I forgot about adding water until it was a little late.  But it still worked out fine.  I divided it into five portions for rolling, but they could have been even smaller.  I flattened each piece with a rolling pin just enough to get it into the largest setting on the machine, then rolled several times through that until it was smooth.  Okay, smooth-ish.  I've got some work to do on my technique.  Then I rolled on smaller and smaller settings until I got the thickness I wanted.  I liked #4 for spaghetti noodles, but thought the wider noodles were a little too thick on that setting.  The ones I'm drying are #6.

Next up (if my sister lets me continue borrowing her machine!) I want to try fresh lasagna noodles.  Keep fairly thick (#3?) and assemble the lasagna right away to bake or freeze.  

Any advice out there?

19 March 2016

Sun Bread

Winter is making its last (well, we can hope!) stand here just two days before Spring arrives, grey-ing the sky and dumping snow over the newly green grass, bright forsythia blooms, and tender daffodil blossoms.  A great day for sun bread.

A few weeks ago a mysterious package arrived at my parents' house.  For me!  An early birthday present.  Really early.  But I'm not one to wait on opening a package that has my own name clearly printed on the front.  It turned out to be the book "Sun Bread" by Elisa Kleven.  I've only read the book once before at my brother's house.  Mere coincidence?  Or a clue as to who the sender was?  Hmmmmm . . .

We used the recipe on the back of the book (also found on Elisa's website activity page here, if you want to try it too) and divided the recipe into 4 pieces so each of us (minus baby) could shape our own small bread.  I used considerably more flour than the recipe calls for (about an additional cup which was probably too much), and wish I had added more salt.   In any case we ended up with a lovely afternoon snack that added a little warmth and brightness to our day.  And everyone loves their own signature bread!

Thanks Philip and Betsy (?) for putting a little sun in our snowy sky!

02 March 2016

Let's Eat Playdough!

My kids love their new little station in the kitchen--"It's so much fun to work on our projects in the kitchen with you, Mom!"  Mostly they've been rolling out playdough cookies and "baking" them in the old refrigerator we have in one corner of our kitchen (when it's not being used as an oven, the old fridge also makes a handy truck to bring all their things home from town in--such as the chocolate pie they had to pick up from Food Lion "on the way home" today). 

This morning, I thought it was time to make them some playdough they could actually make edible cookies out of.  I remember playing with this stuff as a kid, and of course eating most of it.  The original recipe came from Esther Shank's "Mennonite Country-Style Recipes" cookbook (which has an easy salt dough recipe on the same page--653.)  I halved and modified it as seen below. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Playdough

1/4 cup peanut butter
2 TBSP syrup (or honey)
1/4 cup instant dry milk powder
1 TBSP cocoa powder*
1 TBSP powdered sugar
water and all-purpose flour to correct texture as needed

Mix first 5 ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.  Knead and correct texture with small amounts of water and/or flour as needed to get a soft, pliable dough.  Different peanut butters will affect the texture differently.  My dough started out pretty crumbly, but got nice and soft with the addition of about a TBSP of water and a few TBSP of flour.

*The original recipe only calls for powdered sugar, but I used some cocoa powder because it's (a little) more nutritious and we like chocolate!

 See the "oven" in the background?

Making a chocolate pie (the same one that got picked up from Food Lion
later on).  Just overheard:  "Don't touch the pie to the baby's mouth 
because she's too little to have chocolate.  She's only one month old."  

Fresh from the oven.  Do not ask this girl to pose.  Trust me.

Roll, pinch, press, cut, "bake", decorate (we used raisins and nuts), and enjoy!  I gave my kids a little bowl of flour to keep the dough from sticking, and I think they had as much fun sprinkling that around as anything else!  You can see how well-floured their cookies are in the picture above.