Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pastanxiety, or how I learned to stop worrying and make homemade noodles.

Thanks to the miracle that is instant social networking, all of Twitter now knows that making my own pasta was quite possibly one of the most stressful experiences of the year. I thought I'd share the melodramatic pre-pasta breakdown, the
live tweeting of the main event, and the (almost) edible results. Consider it confessional pastanxiety therapy, so I can move on from tonight and never have to think about it again.

allisonejones: We're attempting to make our own pasta tonight, and I'm really nervous. Like, really nervous. #pastanxiety
RadioConelrad: Unless you're making the pasta with nitroglycerin, what's the worst that could happen? (fettuccine al qaeda?)

pdxlilly: When I have made pasta, I used regular flour, one egg, and some water! Really simple. Can even roll it out with a rolling pin.
allisonejones: I don't have any semolina! Help! Do I need semolina? I don't even really know what semolina IS! #pastanxiety
billgalusha: wait, what.. a food question from @allisonejones ?!!? it's a kind of flour, and yes, I believe it's pretty crucial.

hedinthecloudz: When Jen makes pasta the way her Italian boyfriend's Italian mama taught her, she just mixes regular flour and an egg.

hedinthecloudz Also, Jen and I (when I help) always mess up and have to add water because we didn't mix the egg+flour quite right. Also fine
allisonejones: Recipe says mix pasta ingredients as if mixing cement. Who do they think I am? Maybe we should just give up + go to @pastaworks
amigadehelado: are you making pasta by hand or by machine? Don't be afraid. You don't need semolina. I like egg and flour best anyway
allisonejones: Making it by hand, worried that I've got people coming over and it'll take too long and/or be a total gummy disaster...
amigadehelado I use the Babbo basic recipe. Once you get going, pasta rolling goes fast. Stuffed pastas harder. + you have panna cotta
allisonejones: I was just informed that pasta has been found to reduce stress and anxiety. Nice try, internets. I've still got the #pastanxiety real bad.
amigadehelado: I say go for it. Effort means more to me than perfection when someone is actually cooking for ME
allisonejones: Stay tuned for live tweeting of Pasta Fiasco 2k10, starting @ 6! Keyboard will be covered w/ flour+eggs, but I'll need support. #pastanxiety

allisonejones I've heard of using guitar strings to cut pasta. I wonder if Sam Cooper would mind me using the guitar he left in my apartment. #pastanxiety
foxtotally: this #pastanxiety endeavor of yours sounds like a Haruki Murakami nightmare. Are you the only participant?
allisonejones: @foxtotally Nope, I've got a fellow pasta neophyte tackling the endeavor conmigo. It was her dammed idea. Luckily she's not on Twitter. [after-the-fact edit: Alix, don't buy all my twitternonsense. It was fun! I don't think it was a bad idea, and we had a great night. But my fears were TOTALLY warranted, admit it...]
foxtotally: Throw a couple wet ones against the wall and Twitpic what it spells! #pastanxiety

foxtotally: My guess is that it forms the likeness of a minotaur #pastanxiety
allisonejones: I don't even know if homemade pasta sticks to walls! How do I know when it's done!?! It cooks too quickly to have time to check!

allisonejones: If the homemade pasta fails tonight, I've a free delivery coupon from @pdxpedpow as Plan B. Man the phones dudes, who knows what'll happen.

allisonejones: My horoscope says to take "reasonable risks" today. "If you can consult with an expert you should do well." Help! I need a pasta expert!

allisonejones: I'm so ready. Homemade pasta, here we come. Checkout my bowl, BOWL:

allisonejones: OK guys, here we go. Dumping cups of flour on my dining room table, which is making my OCD itch uncomfortably. #pastanxiety

allisonejones: Cracking eggs into said flour and preparing to "mix as if mixing cement" whatever that means. Bright yolks make me a lil less anxious.

allisonejones: Mixmixmixmixmix... hey it's kind of working and isn't chasing me like a raptor. But the eggs are spilling everywhereohgodtheeggsareEVERYWHEREohgod...

allisonejones: Doesn't seem very elastic... adding more water... more oil? Ugh. Don't want a #pastafail
amigadehelado: After you mix/knead it's gonna need to rest before it becomes elastic.
allisonejones: Letting it rest... do I knead more afterwards? #pastanxiety
amigadehelado: Nah, you don't want to work the gluten too much esp. since you still need to roll it.
allisonejones: Ok, rolling it out... it's not getting very thin. Not worrying too much about it as I'm frying up bacon, onions, mushrooms and fresh peas.

allisonejones: Ok, water's boiling, here we go! 2 minutes... oh wait, it stopped boiling. BLAH. #pastanxiety

allisonejones: So, it's totally, ridiculously, chewy. Think it was too thick but it TASTES like pasta...

allisonejones: OK: Pasta is pretty chewy, but the sauce is phenomenal (because it's cream and bacon and peas, duh.) so it's not a total #pastafail

So that happened and now I never ever have to do it again. It's like canning and real gardening - I'll leave that stuff to people who really love it, and I'll keep eating my salads and waxing poetic about vegetables and how much I love to cook when the fact is, when it comes down to it, I really just love chopping and mixing flavors and eating good, simple foods. Homemade pasta still totally scares me. Maybe if I had one of those attachments for my KitchenAid that rolls and flattens the pasta, but, honestly, I can get such good, fresh pasta at the farmers' market and not have days like today where I stress about kneading flour and eggs for hours before I actually do it. I just don't get the appeal.

Actually, I think the real answer is going to Italy and having some Nonna teach me how to do it correctly. Yep, that's a good plan. Until then, I'm gonna let my jaw rest and get over the chewy semi-disaster that was Pastagate 2010. Thanks for not unfollowing me, everyone. You're real troopers.

Also, let the record state that, once again, bacon makes everything better and good friends make culinary failures kind of fun. Plus, there's always dessert.


  1. Oddly enough, this makes me want to make some pasta. I've only ever used a pasta hand-crank thingy, but I like your uneven noodles quite a bit. I've even got some semolina in the fridge... Hmm. :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I attempted to make pasta just a few weeks ago-it was a serious case of "pastanxiety" for me as well!! I was crazy and was told by all of the pasta experts that making homemade pasta was SO much eaiser and simpler than people think it is. So I figured, well if it's SO easy, why not try to make raviolis? FAIL! Yes, the raviolis came out edible and not disgusting. They tasted good. But they were ugly and a nightmare to make!! Ahh-if I ever attempt to make pasta again, it will be just REGULAR pasta. I was told that orecchiette is a good route to go for newbies :)

  4. I had faith that what ever you were able to make would be better than Gnocchifail 2008. Maria and I tried to make gnocchi out of bread crumbs (I had a lot of old bread and found a recipe online). We made up the "dough" and tried about 10 different ways to cook them after the boiling method that the recipe suggested was gross. They were all pretty terrible. Because misery loves company, we saved one of each of the experimental cooking methods for Mike to taste later. Mike and I had only been dating for a few weeks so he was still trying to impress me, and like a trooper, he tried every one!

  5. Hilarious! Your live-tweeting of the process is epic, and good for you for tackling homemade pasta in the first place.

    But I'm of a similar mind: leave it to the experts. I made pasta twice, in high school, and it was a day-long project. The first time, the pasta was too thick, but even when I got it right the second time, I was too tired to enjoy the results afterwards! Awesome effort, though.

  6. Lindsay: I'm convinced it was the lack of semolina and pasta machine that kicked our butts. Should have listened to the pasta experts!

    Amanda Lynne: I've actually tried to make butternut squash ravioli from fresh sheet pasta, and that was a big ol pastafail too - the edges didn't seal so all of my yummy ravioli stuffing fell out into the boiling water. Not cool. I can see how little pastas would cook more evenly, but they seem like a lot more work than cutting things into strips...

    Casey: This is why Mike is a keeper. You don't give up a man that stands by your side through a gnocchifail. I'm curious - what were all the different ways your tried to cook them??? Are there 10 ways to cook a gnocchi? What's the singular of gnocchi? Gnoccho?

    Maddie: Amen, sister. I can just cross it off my list and never deal with it again. I'm not even that much of a pasta fan! At least it made someone laugh - that's good enough for me :)

  7. Wikipedia says Gnocco is the singular (no h).
    So the ways we tried to cook our gnocchi:
    1-4. The recipe said boil. We tried several different boiling times. All were bad.
    5. Boil and then saute.
    6. Just saute.
    7. Microwave.
    8. Boil then bake.
    9. Bake.
    10. Which was the best, but still far from good: Bake after a spray with Pam.

  8. I'm so sorry that it came out too thick. It looks beautiful. I would love to know the recipe for the sauce!

  9. Memória: I sauteed about three slices of bacon (chopped up) with a diced red onion, added about two cups of sliced shitake mushrooms and a splash of red wine (from my own glass, because it was getting dry) to this I added a sprinkle of flour, about a cup and a half of fresh shelled peas, about a cup of heavy cream, and some grated Redmondo cheese (you could use a pecorino or Parmesan)

    It would really be delicious on anything!

  10. I've always wanted to make fresh pasta but I don't have the fancy machine. I love how you rolled out it by hand. I heard that you have to let the pasta dry when cut? Don't know what difference it will make though.
    Would you mind checking out my blog? :D http://ajscookingsecrets.blogspot.com/

  11. Homemade pasta is my favourite thing in the world. I actually enjoy kneading the dough and most of the time the taste is rather bland is the kneading isn't done long enough/well enough... It's good to see that others are trying it out, I'd say that you should give it a few more tries!