Noodling around

Susan Manzke
Using her friend's pasta machine, Susan Manzke cranks out her first batch of homemade noodles.

My dad loved gadgets. He had a Super-8 movie camera with a projector, and a Polaroid camera, too. Dad would love having modern digital gadgets. Film and processing often ate up his meager budget.

I got my love for gadgets from Dad. Mom used the cameras, but too often she left the lens cap on, or pushed the record button and took a movie of the ground.

Today I’m not writing about cameras. My gadget of the moment is a pasta machine. I don’t know when the urge to make homemade noodles came to me. Maybe it had something to do with a Facebook posting from a friend. She made it look so easy.

I remembered Bob’s mom making noodles. She didn’t use any modern gadgets. Charlotte just mixed the dough and rolled it out on the table. Her noodles dried over the handle of a broomstick. Nothing fancy, just good noodles.

Since I have a stand mixer I thought about investing in a pasta attachment for it — I never did get around looking for one.

Noodle mania really hit me when I was visiting my girlfriend, Joyce. I discovered she had a pasta machine sitting in her cabinet. “I think we only used it once,” said Joyce. Her mom loved kitchen gadgets.

We took it out, dusted it off, and cranked the handle. We laughed when bits of dried dough trickled out. When I left for home, I had that machine and a noodle drying tree with me.

In a couple days, I was ready to try my hand at making pasta. First, I checked the Internet for suggestions. One said I could make my dough in my food processor. Wow, I got to use two gadgets for this one.

The recipe was simple: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, and a couple tablespoons of water as needed. That fit the processor just right.

Whirrrl, I mixed the dough. Afterward, I kneaded it on the floured counter. The recipe said to cover dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

I wrapped the lump of dough in plastic. Now the hardest part—waiting the 30 minutes!

After 5 minutes had lapsed, I took a portion of the dough, flattened it with my hands, and put it in the sheet roller, I even remembered to have the roller set on the thickest setting.

Cranking, I put the first dough through. It didn’t come out as I had expected. In all the photos I’d seen the dough looked like it had been ironed. Mine didn’t look like that. It broke and holes showed through. I tossed that and waited for the resting dough to wake up from its nap.

The first thing I learned is to not put too much dough through the rollers — I was just too anxious to get to the noodle cutting part.

With a smaller portion, I tried again. Better, but not perfect. Still, I pressed on.

I folded the flattened dough and put it through again as directed in the instructions. After doing that a couple times I tried a narrower setting. That didn’t work too well.

Instantly I knew I was making Fettuccini (fat noodles). At least when I put the dough through the cutter, those came out resembling noodles. The finished strands of pasta went on the drying tree.

Roll. Cut. Hang. Repeat. It seemed to be taking forever. By the time I had all my noodles hanging, I was pooped and I had saved time and energy using my gadgets.

Seasoned with olive oil and green pesto, Susan Manzke's first foray into noodle-making is a success.

Water was boiling and soon Bob and I had noodles. Instead of a tomato sauce, I used olive oil and green pesto to top our meal.

Bob tasted his helping while I was dishing up my own. “Well?” I wanted to know his opinion. Bob didn’t answer. He was too busy eating. Success!

It took a while to clean up the kitchen as I had flour all over. The whole process took most of my afternoon. Speedy I’m not.

I’ll make noodles again . . . eventually, right after I use up the store-bought noodles I have in our pantry.

Stop by and say hello to Bob and I at the Wisconsin State Farmer booth (North tent 0128) at the WPS Farm show on the EAA Grounds in Oshkosh March 28-30.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;