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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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January 22, 2010

Pasta - Trying Again and So Far, So Good!

Today (Friday) is the day I normally volunteer at the library, but the lady I worked with called me this morning to tell me she is scheduled to work tomorrow instead of today and after spending the morning taking care of little bits of this and that, I finally had to face up to the fact that this was the perfect day to try my hand at pasta again.  I ended up fairly intimidated after my first solo venture at Thanksgiving!

So I just now finished making two small batches of dough.  The first one I ended up going with the recipe from my cooking class in Florence which was 1 cup semolina flour to 1 large egg (although after my pasta disasta, I'm using jumbo eggs).  I also used the traditional method - dumping the flour on the countertop, making a well and dropping an egg into the well (I broke with tradition - I beat the egg before I put it in the well), then started mixing the flour in.  It went somewhat better than the first attempt - I actually got most of it made up into a dough that I could knead.  But it never did get that smooth, elastic feel to it.  But I kept at it and if I can, just for experimentation, I will put it through the machine and see what comes out.

Encouraged by that avoidance of utter failure, I decided to try the method from my beautiful Emilia-Romagna cookbook which is 3-1/2 ounces flour to 1 jumbo egg.  And I totally broke with tradition here and put the flour in a bowl, beat the egg separately again, added that to the flour and stirred and stirred with a fork.  Got pretty much all the flour incorporated and dumped it out on the counter and started kneading.  The difference was immediately apparent.  It was very kneadable, kind of sticky so I had to keep dusting with flour, got more and more dough-like and elastic.  I am hoping this means "Eureka!"

I have now wrapped them both in plastic wrap to "rest" which I'm going to do too by getting myself a cup of tea at Starbucks.  Wish I could have taken pictures of the process, but I was way too intent on trying to end up with some useable dough.  Instead here is a picture of the two bits of dough.

They look fairly the same in the photo although the one on the right is obviously not as pliable as the one on the left which is why it has so many "cracks" on it - it tended to break apart rather than stretch as I kneaded it.  But, I'll go ahead and put it through the machine I think, although as I say that, I wonder why I would...

And yesterday, I gave my kitchen a more thorough cleaning than usual and tried to get my counters a little bit cleared up (knowing that some time I was going to have to take the plunge and try the pasta).  I had been collecting cookbooks and recipes and such at such a mad pace that my counter space was rapidly dwindling.  So when I was done, I was so pleased with the results I took some pictures of that too to record where all these experiments are taking place.

These two are looking from the living room into the kitchen - one just a close-up cause I like my cheese plates. :)  The cookbooks (just the tip of the iceberg, believe me!) are a white notebook with my recipe collection - clippings, old standbys (like my spaghetti and meatballs, cheesecake, cookies, etc.), recipes I haven't tried and probably never will, but...  Then since I've currently been using the "Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant" and the Emilia Romagna book, they're there too, along with some Donna Hay cooking magazines and a couple of other cooking magazines.

And this is looking the other direction towards the living room.  I used this counter for the traditional method.  With my first stiff batch of dough, it just slid across the counter when I tried to knead it.  But even that was a better result than my first attempt!

I do love my red, black and white kitchen.  It may be tiny (and I mean tiny!), but I enjoy cooking in it - that is, aside from my electric stove...sigh...

So, off to get a cup of tea. I'm going to be cooking tagliatelle noodles tonight, she said confidently. And I'm going to try another new recipe as a topper. It's a lentil recipe that uses the little French green lentils I brought home from January's only to discover I had a whole jar of them sitting on my counter! And I thought I had everything that I needed for that recipe but discovered that I have no tomato paste which really ticks me off, but is not insurmountable. I will report soon on the final outcome of this riveting adventure.


Christopher said...

SO glad to hear the pasta dough was encouraging this time...! I'll be awaiting the next posting, with the results. And your kitchen looks great in these photos; I love the trio of cheeseplates on that narrow wall. And is it accidental, subliminal, or intentional, that you don't show your stove in these shots ;)

vrmichie said...

Are the cheese plates new? I don't remember them but they look great -- actually, the whole kitchen looks great. And since your whole apartment looks great, maybe someday you should share some more pictures with all your fans. Good luck with the pasta. Do those machines slice it for you? And do you have to hang it up to dry? Will be looking forward to the next chapter. xoxo

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