Thursday, April 7, 2016

Long days, and long noodles.

This winter seems to never end. I woke up this morning and the sky looked gray but a gray that is foreboding. The tall trees are in constant movement, wiggling silently all their branches all at once. The neighborhood has a thin coat of snow, only on the lawns, the streets are clear. I see the tiny foot prints of my neighbors’ cat coming and going to my garage to check for his second breakfast that I leave out for him.

Yesterday was a bright and sunny day, and, with a warm coat, it felt warm. There was not a single cloud from one end of the horizon to the other. When I grabbed my mail from the mailbox, I heard birds chirping. It was probably the birds chirping that made me think “it is really here, finally, spring!”

My days are so full these days that they seem an exercise in survival rather than in living. Like Michael Phelps I seem to crawl through each day with mega strokes, getting things done, one after the other, only to feel bamboozled in the evening and wanting to tune out with some show on netflix or hulu. The next day I only remember glimpses of the last, and I am immersed again in the needs of the new day.

At the beginning of the year, when life was less hectic, I made different forms, shapes and sizes with the Phillips pasta maker. They came in handy over the last months when I just needed a quick meal, often some pasta and tomato sauce or a ramen vegetable soup with home-made ramen. Two weeks ago, the pasta was finally all consumed, and I resorted to regular Barilla pasta again. But, it is just not the same. I put ‘making pasta’ on the schedule-fun list. Yes, I learnt to put myself on the schedule, and fun, too.

Yesterday, after work with some hours of day light left I carried up the pasta machine from the basement. This time my plan was to make whole wheat pasta for the first time. Heaven knows I can use all the extra healthy food I can get these days, so instead of the typically “OO” white flour I mixed it with Wholefoods wholeweat pastry flour, which is also very finely ground. Half and half. I made a double batch, because who knows when I would have time again to make it.

I put the flour in the pasta machine, poured in 2 eggs mixed with water, and then the machine kept mixing and grinding, and grunting, ready to push out the noodles. Then, it beeped and stopped. That had never happened before. I opened up the machine to check that all the parts were aligned correctly. A whole mess of egg-flour crumbles fell out. But things seemed to be alright. So, I started again.  2 inches of noodles emerged, but the machine looked like it was pushing so hard it would burst apart at any moment. So, note to self (and everyone who is still reading): no wholewheat pastry flour. It must have a different texture, absorb the liquid differently and get too dense to be pushed out.

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So, I threw it all out, cleaned up the machine, and started again, with regular flour. This time it worked, and I grabbed the noodles, handful by handful, cut them with the pastry cutter, and slid them right into the freezer container.  The last bundle went into a pot of boiling, salted water, and I whipped up a quick tomato sauce with an onion, a can of fire-roasted tomatoes from Wholefoods, a can of tomato paste, a can of Hunts tomato sauce, a dash of anchovy paste, a bay leaf, a swirl of agave nectar, and some crushed hot peppers.

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Quick dinner, again. Netflix was waiting.

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