Feb
06
2010

  Plowing and Pasta

Although I tried to get an early start with the plowing, I didn't actually get going with that until 10am (since I had to wait for Terry to get around to clearing a downed tree blocking the driveway).

I had made some progress by noon, and came back in to warm up and eat lunch. Terry heated up a frozen burrito for me while I threw all my wet clothes in the dryer and tried to warm up under the covers in bed. Terry also made some Kraft macaroni & cheese when I requested that. All that cooking must have inspired him, since he ALSO started baking a blackberry pie while he was in the kitchen.

I went back out around 1:30pm and in addition to clearing more of our own driveway and the main road, I also plowed the driveways of our elderly neighbors. There was too much snow for me to plow down to the ground, but I cleared enough of a path I think 4WD emergency vehicles could get through, which is my main concern.

This time I was back within an hour, and offered to watch William since Terry had been looking after him all day. But Terry declined the offer, so I decided to make pasta so we could eat that for dinner.

So I guess I spent from about 2:30-4pm making pasta. It didn't SEEM like it took that long, perhaps I did something else during that time, too. I don't take my ADD meds on Saturdays, so I don't keep track of time very well.

I never made my own pasta before, although I did make it as part of a group in cooking school. Today I mixed the dough by hand; in cooking school we used a food processor, but doing it by hand wasn't a big deal, I suppose I could go either way on that depending on my mood.

I have a hand-cranked pasta machine that's been in its box on one of my kitchen shelves for several years now. I've been thinking about making my own pasta for quite some time. I took it out and clamped it to my kitchen island, and finally put it to use.

I'm not one of those people who like to cook for fun. I cook because I like to eat, and in our current circumstances we don't make it out to dinner as often as we used to. And good restaurants are much harder to come by in Charlottesville than they were in NYC (although it's comparable to Jersey City). So I cook the food I want to eat, and maintain our standard of living.

But I must admit, I had a pretty good time making the pasta. At first I thought I'd make mushroom ravioli, but fortunately the under-developed executive-function part of my brain came through for me, and decided I should probably start with something simple for my first attempt at this, especially since I didn't have any mushroom filling already prepared and I had to get out and plow again before it got dark. So I made linguine.

You start with little balls of dough, then feed them through the rollers at their widest setting. Then you sprinkle the dough with flour, fold it in half, then run it through again. You have to do this a number of times before you start the process of tightening the rollers and getting your dough thinner and thinner. But it went quickly, and like I mentioned, it was pretty fun. I look forward to when William is old enough to help-- it would actually be helpful to have another person to turn the crank so I could use two hands to maneuver the dough.

I was exhausted by the time I lay the pasta out to dry, so I took a 45 minute nap before heading out for the last plow of the day at 4:45pm. That plow session was not satisfying since the snow was getting harder since the temperatures were dropping, so I only made one pass on the main road (plus the one driveway with the most elderly neighbors) before heading back in.

When I walked in the door I saw William, face and hands covered with blackberry. Terry saw fit to let him feed himself blackberry pie. Hopefully he'll get Terry's metabolism, since we certainly don't deprive him of sweets. He actually eats fewer sweets than we do, so we figure it's fine, and besides it's all homemade stuff, not Twinkies or anything.

I made a mushroom cream sauce for the pasta, and we all enjoyed dinner. William couldn't get enough of it, it seems he might like homemade pasta even more than he likes crepes. It reminded me of the type of dinner we used to get at Tanti Bacci. It was an Italian restaurant that was in the basement of a building around the corner from us when we lived on Waverly in NYC. Their "thing" was that all their pasta was made fresh. Their sauces were nothing particularly fancy, it was totally comfort food like you'd get in Italy. The mushroom sauce I made tonight was very much the same sort of thing. I wonder if they had an old Italian lady cook in the back who just looked in the refrigerator every afternoon and decided on the spot what kind of sauce she'd make that night. We were sad when that place closed down. The next nearest Italian place (I think it's called Grotto) was more about the pizza than the pasta, but the panna cotta was divine.

Next time I make pasta (like the pizza, I'm going to do this more often from now on) I'll try a thinner setting. The machine's dial goes from 1 to 9, 1-3 used to prepare the dough and 4-9 used to finish it to the desired thickness. When I made the pasta it was the thickness I wanted it, but I totally forgot that it gets fatter when cooked. So although I used a "5" setting today, I'll try 6 or 7 next time I make linguine.

I took a few photos today (they're in this album in the Gallery section). I'm tired and my back hurts and I'm pretty out-of-it, so hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow. I'll be back on my meds so my day might be better-organized. If it's sunny we'll try taking William out in the sled again. If it's dreary maybe I'll pick out what clothes I'm going to pack for Florida. They're calling for more snow Tuesday. I will be livid if this prevents us from driving out of here on Wednesday afternoon.

While I'm not necessarily "done" with winter since I am on this baking kick, I AM done with all this snow. If I could go snowboarding I would be psyched, but with Terry and the baby in tow it would be way too much of a production. I miss just popping over to Wintergreen on a snowy weekday. I missed last season due to being pregnant, and now this season due to nursing. Maybe next year. Even if William wanted to play in the snow I'd be fine with it, but so far he hates being out in it (although he likes to watch it fall from the comfort of indoors).

I like to make pasta too and

I like to make pasta too and my interest in cooking is similar to yours. Making pasta is a lot of work, but it's worth it..

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