Why Pasta Fails

I’ve been having a lot of fun with cooking and baking lately. It’s the first time in almost a year that I’ve had a real kitchen to work with, and the first time I’ve felt like I was building, instead of caretaking the destruction of a community of friends (long story, not relevant here). I’ve made soup bowl breads, spelt and oat breads, bean dishes, chilis and enough dishes for my first independent Thanksgiving to make me wonder at how much food one can create from less than $100 in ingredients. (That it’s still feeding me is yet more wonder.)

This afternoon and evening I’ve been cooking for a friend who is new to the whole “heat stuff and turn it into food” concept. It’s fun for both of us: a stretch for me to be informative and consistent in my cooking, and fun for her to learn new things. Tonight’s menu: pasta and sauce. Homemade sauce from scratch and homemade pasta. There’s little “scratch” in pasta; it’s only got three ingredients: flour, eggs and salt. Homemade sauce means blanching tomatoes, reducing them, simmering in the flavors while frying up the onions, garlic and shallots. Then jockeying it all together and finally the fine (apparently lost) art of simmering a vat ‘o stuff without burning any of it.

Complex tomato sauce from scratch, with amazing flavor and ingredients: check. Pasta from three ingredients: FAIL!

Okay, maybe I was too optimistic. I mean, with three ingredients, what can go wrong? A lot, apparently.

  • 5 – 1/3C flour — I used organic, unbleached whole flour
  • 4 eggs — I used organic, from a farm eggs instead of the thin watery kind in use
  • “a generous pinch” of salt — I used a tsp. of low-sodium salt analog

Taken one at a time, these are innocent substitutions. But did you note that I substituted 100% of the ingredients? (Well, except for the egg, but it’s the spirit I know I messed with.)

The problem with out microwave, cell phone, ADHD culture (which I am, apparently, a late member thereof) is this insane idea that doing something approximately right is like doing it right.

Note to self: almost right is like almost on target: And that only works, as I’ve been told, with horseshoes, hand grenades, and H-Bombs. None of which were ingredients.

Rubber bands. Entirely flaccid, entirely non-tasty rubber bands. A little dusty something in the middle. Elastic like gummy bears© in the sun.

They said roll it as thin as a dime. Dime thin dough turned into about two Sacajawea’s thickness worth of… well, gummy bears.

The sauce? To die for. It’s a freaking fantastic, from the hip, absolutely head on dish. Which my friend took, after I bagged, home. Sigh.

And I guess I’ll need to work on the whole pasta thing some more.

I’ll post the tomato sauce recipe, as ill-qualified as I am to speak Italian sauce recipes, when I get a chance.