When we quit our jobs and moved to Astoria, I made a list of things that I want to do this summer that would make me happy. I call it my “Goddamned Happy List.” I want to do some painting. I want to grow some herbs. I want to camp on the coast. I want to go swimming at the pool in Astoria. I want to take some classes on geology or some other interesting thing. I’d like to think I don’t need much to be happy, but I recognize I’m a bit of a whackaloon.
I also wanted to make homemade pasta. We got some semolina flour from Bob’s Red Mill. We often get some sort of unconventional flour when we go to Bob’s. A couple scoops out of the bulk bins. We don’t always know what we are going to do with it, but we look up recipes later. We have unmarked bags with various powders in our cabinet and we forget what’s what. It makes cooking at our house interesting.
I don’t have a real “flat surface” in our kitchen. I think our counters were made with giant floor tiles. To roll out the dough, I used this awesome place mat that Dave’s mom gave us for Christmas.
We also didn’t have a rolling pin, so I used a 22 oz bottle that used to contain Stumptown Tart. Because I’m classy.
I looked up a bunch of recipes for homemade pasta. Some had semolina flour, some didn’t. Some had eggs, some didn’t. The standard advice was that semolina flour has a lot of gluten and makes a tougher dough. I like my pasta al dente, so I used a blend. One cup unbleached white flour, one cup semolina, a bit of salt, two eggs, a table spoon of olive oil, and a few splashes of water. Super easy. I kept Pioneer Woman’s recipe open though I wasn’t following it, because she has photos of every stage, and shows you what the dough is supposed to look like. Which is super helpful when you are making something for the first time and don’t know what the hell you are doing.
I started mixing all but the water in a bowl with a fork until it was a sticky ball. I added water as needed to soften it up. Then I used the place mat to wrestle with it for ten minutes.
By the time I was done, it was super elastic and stretchy. I put it in a plastic bag for an hour while I made rustic pesto, which my favorite thing in the whole world. Five ingredients: Basil, walnuts, garlic, parmesan, olive oil. Roast the nuts and garlic cloves (still in the paper) until they make your house smell good. Then chop everything up by hand. All of it: the nuts, the garlic, the basil. Shred the cheese. Soak it all in oil. Add salt if you need to. It takes forever. But it’s so worth it. I like it better than any pesto made with a food processor.
When the pesto was done, the dough was done with its nap. I rolled it out with the beer bottle. I wasn’t as fond of the Stumptown Tart this year. It’s usually one of my favorites. But I didn’t feel like it was tart enough this year.
Then I cut the dough with a big kitchen knife. We don’t have any mixers or tools. As much as I would like to have a kitchen full of gadgets, I know how much we move around. We just go with what we have.
I used about half the dough to make a meal for the two of us. I know I could have easily used the whole thing, and we could have easily ate the whole thing. But we’re trying not to be walruses.
Lookit them noodles.
I know this may not look appetizing, but this is when shit usually falls apart. Boiling is the moment of truth. Like most fresh noodles, these rose to the top when they were close to being done. They cook really fast, but I kept checking for just the right springiness. I worked the hell out of the dough, and the semolina makes the pasta firmer. But I was already excited at how the pasta was coming out.
With the rustic pesto. Holy crap. This might look like a healthy portion, but at this point, I was pissed at myself for not using the whole ball of dough.
It was so good. So good. It was light and springy, but still felt substantial. I liked the thick noodles. I cut them pretty thin, but they plump up when you cook them. So good.
This was a raging, wild success. I was ready to throw my bra and panties at myself.
I even shared them with my favorite person. Because I like him.
Homemade pasta makes me fricken happy.