Egg Noodles (or, My History With Cooking)
Growing up, my mother decided I should learn to cook. My father though I should learn how to work on cars. So, I learned both, along with lots of other stuff ranging from construction to sewing. That’s probably why I view gender roles to be fluid. I’m fine with staying home while my wife goes outside of the house to work (though, I still work, too – my office is just in the house.) I do all the cooking, and she does all the laundry – though, there was a time when I was talking the laundry to the laundromat by myself when she lacked the time. To me, I don’t much care what the roles are, just as long as it’s agreed upon.
It also meant growing up I paid a little more attention to what my mother and grandmother did while cooking. I only have one actual written down recipe – everything else is reconstructed from memory. My mother’s lasagna, which is a cheesy, gooey lasagna that you only have one piece of and you’re full, took me at least three tries to get it right over the years. And, it’s a hours and hours process, making the right sauce, the right ricotta blend, all that. So, not getting it right the first time was disheartening, but it was close enough to encourage me to try again.
Memory is triggered more strongly by smell and taste than it is by simple sights. So, I might not remember perfectly what went in something, but I can remember what it’s supposed to smell like, and what it’s supposed to taste like. When trying to recreate something from my mother or my grandmother’s cooking, I depend on those bits to trigger my memory as much as possible, to sort of see into the past what they were doing when they made it. The interesting side effect is that I still don’t have any recipes from back then – it’s locked in my head as a set of “oh, you need enough of this until it smells like that” and “it’s got oregano and brown sugar in it – not sure of the proportions, but, it’s going to taste like…” Below is one of the few times I’ve bothered to write down a recipe for someone. Even trying to tell someone how to make something I cooked ends up being a weird, convoluted process that ends up with a lot of approximations – you know, “keep adding this until it tastes good” type stuff.
Maybe someday I’ll write down some of the stuff I cook. But, I doubt it.
When I left home, it was to move into a house I bought. So, suddenly, I was on my own for cooking. I’ll admit, when I started out, I really loved Hamburger Helper. Not because it was easy, but, because it was a bit of a delicacy – it was incredibly rare to have it when I was growing up. Everything was always cooked from as reasonably close to scratch as possible (my mother may have made noodles, but, didn’t make spaghetti pasta from scratch, for instance.) But, you really can’t have a reasonably healthy meal of Hamburger Helper – you need vegetables.
Jessica once described my cooking as gorp (gorp is something I’ve never seen a recipe for – and no, I don’t mean Granola, Oats, Raisons, and Peanuts trailmix. It’s more like… a goulash of sorts. I’ve only seen it cooked in the Oliver family group, so, it may be a name for something else that has it’s own family name.) Basically, I started doing one pot meals. Hey, easy cleanup, and it was always tasty. And she pointed that out – my food tasted good, it just looked… ehh… yeah. Not so much on the presentation portion of the program.
Then, I got married the first time, and learned how to cook for two people. Then I learned I don’t actually have to make everything I cook the maximum level of unhealthy. I even learned how to cook pretty healthy (“cucumber noodles” with an alfredo sauce is amazing.) But, honestly, my presentation still left a lot to be desired. Unlike now, where I’m the cook of the house, the cooking duties rotated between us (which, I don’t actually view as a situation that’s good for domestic tranquility.)
Eventually, I learned how to cook for Erin, Meredith, Lance, and myself when I was living with them after the Fall Of Gamer Zone (did you know there’s a book on that? Buy a copy. It’s horribly written, but, apparently entertaining.) Cooking for more people adds and extra challenge. Unfortunately, part of the plan here was to help Erin learn to cook, which I think I mostly failed at – she can cook now, but, I don’t know that much of that ability came from me.
Then, I got back out on my own again. For a while, I went back to one-dish cooking, which got pretty boring flavor wise. So, I began experimenting with more spices, sauces, and whatever else I could find to improve my pallet of favors to work from.
Eventually, I met Kat – my wife. Slowly, I sort of changed some of my cooking habits. I spent less time on one-dish meals, and more time learning how to make it all look good (while still being tasty.) Then, I got on a healthy cooking kick, slowly I’ve changed my cooking to reflect better protein levels with lower starches and better overall nutrition. More veggies, things like that. And, finding more ways to cook it all. 🙂
Now, this might sound like a very long rambling blog post about nothing. And, in a way, it was. But, remember that bit about how smells and tastes do and excellent job at triggering memories? This is the stuff that was going through my head while making the noodles. Cooking for Jessica quite a few times, who never once said a bad thing about my cooking. Cooking for Heather, who often had much to say about what I cooked. Cooking for my niece Erin, who often didn’t seem to care so much what I was cooking so much as being able to chat with me. Cooking for Kat, who on a daily basis tells me how wonderful my cooking is. Even when I flub something up with my cooking, it still ends up being something that makes me happy.
It’s no wonder I love to cook. For me, it just has so much positive memories and energies attached.
My Egg Noodle Recipe
Someone asked about my recipe for the egg noodles, so I’m writing them down as part of the blog. You’ll need:
- A flat space
- A rolling pin
- A bowl
- 1 cup of flour
- 2 whole eggs
(Makes enough for two or three people.)
Put two whole eggs and the cup of flour in the bowl, and mix it with your fingers. Kneed it a bit like it’s bread dough, and go for a smooth texture.
Toss a little flour on a flat surface, and spread it out – you won’t need much, just enough to prevent the noodles from sticking to the surface. Toss the noodle dough down in the middle of that, and spread it out a bit. Put some flour on top of the noodles, too, and spread it out. Then, use the rolling pin on it to make it nice and flat, flipping it over from time to time. After you’ve got it worked out a bit, give it 5 – 10 minutes to rest. It’s going to shrink up a bit, and dry a little. Got at it again with the rolling pin, making them even thinner. Work out a little stress here, while you’re at it 😉
Then, grab the sharpest knife you own. You’ll want to cut long strips in the dough first, making really long pieces that end up being about two inches wide at most. Then, go back at it the other direction, cutting them about 1/8 – 1/4 of an inch wide. You’ll want to keep the strips pretty narrow – later, these things are going to almost double in size!
There’s a second process you could use instead of a knife – dental floss. I haven’t personally tried this, but, Kat told me about it and it sounds pretty slick. Throw a little more flour on your rolled out dough, spread the flour thinly across the dough. Then, roll the whole thing up. Take the dental floss, and press it through the dough (making the same 1/8 – 1/4 wide strips.). Apparently this works pretty well – I may try it the next time and report back on how well it works 🙂
Now, spread out all the noodles so they aren’t touching each other, and let them sit for an hour. This lets them dry up a bit. If the noodles are too wet, they’ll end up turning into a giant pile of goo when you try and cook them 🙂
Bring a pot of water to a boil, and, and put the noodles in there. You’ll probably want to cook them for about 10 minutes, but, it’s really a matter of taste – check the noodles from time to time to see how chewy they are. If they aren’t cooked enough, they can be very chewy. If they are cooked too long, they can be very chewy – you’re gonna want to shoot for the middle ground here 🙂
One of the things you’ll notice when cooking them: they swell, a lot. They’ll double in size during the cooking process. Here’s the deal: if you use egg yokes only, they’ll swell a little bit, but not a lot. Leaving the whites in means they swell a lot, and they end up with a different taste and texture than most egg noodles.
Drain ’em, and do what you like with them 🙂 I made up some turkey drippings gravy from the turkey I cooked, and dropped them in there – yum! 🙂