How to Pasta Time on Those Cold Winter Days

Let me set the scene:

1) It was beautiful and sunny outside, but….the thermometer read -38 C and the wind chill made it feel like -44 C. OK, so sun tanning was out.

2) I went out to shovel the nuisance snow that had fallen overnight and came back in for my long johns. It was cold. This was to be the extent of my outdoor exercise that day.

3) My signature dish, since my bachelor days has been lasagne. At that time, some 44 years ago, my recipe came from the side of a Catelli box. Over the ensuing 44 years, I have been augmenting that simple recipe, adding veggies, mushrooms, a layer of spinach and ricotta, hot Italian sausage slices in addition to the ground beef as well as creating some vegetarian versions.

4) Our son and daughter gave us a pasta machine for Christmas.

Given we were trapped in the house, my better half and I decided it was lasagne making time. We created the sauce on the day one and ended up with a Dutch oven almost full to the top. Hmmmm. We were going to have left over sauce. More on this later.

One small portion of the secret sauce

Never having made fresh pasts before, we decided to do a test lasagne on day 2. We opted for a whole wheat egg noodle recipe to fit in with current dietary requirements and set out to find that perfect recipe…1 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 3 large eggs. Seemed simple enough. We opted to make 2 batches of dough, as you had to run one some dough through the machine a few times to remove any oil from the works and then throw that dough away.

The mixing and lasagne sheet creation went pretty well. We used setting 4 (middle of the road) which seemed fine until the pasta was cooked (2 minutes for fresh pasta). OK, looks like the cooked pasta was thicker than we would of liked. We had plenty of dough left over, so set that aside to dry for 15 hours.

Nonetheless, we continued assembling the test batch of lasagne in an 8 x 8, baked and dined on it that evening. No side salad is required, given all the veggies in my lasagne. It was good, but the pasta thickness overwhelmed the dish.

Did I mention that we managed to squeeze in a one hour exercise regime, a trip to a nearby mall for 2.5 k of mall walking (not good to exert yourself outdoors at -38) and I had a 1 hour break for a dental appointment. How do we fill our days, you ask?

For the final day of assembly, we opted to go to the regular egg noodle recipe using either durum or all purpose flour. We could find no durum locally.

Again, the pasta creation went relatively flawlessly. The white dough was wetter, so more flour was added during the kneading and rolling process and we opted for setting #3 on the pasts machine, which gave copious quantities of dough. We substituted zucchini slices in one 8 x 8, paying homage to the diet again.

Again, the day was broken up with grocery shopping, a 70 minute exercise regime and an afternoon trip to the eye doctor. On our return, we set about prebaking (1 hour) the (2) 9 x 13 and (2) 8 x 8 pans of lasagne, cooling each in our giant outdoor deep freeze for an hour before placing in the fridge.

In addition, I was able to make a small batch of linguine noodles, which I dried ready for use and we had enough sauce left over for a cookie sheet sized pizza, plus two 2 person pasta meals.

Today is packaging day. For our entire effort, we will get enough finished lasagne for (11) 2 person meals. That works out to roughly 22 pounds of lasagne, which will be frozen in our freezer, ready to consume as we wish.

Sorry, if the mess comes through in some of my photos. This was entirely my fault. My beloved had nothing to do with it. She was a very welcome partner during this whole process, which I used to handle on my own.

And that is how to pasta time during cold winter weather.

How do you pass the time during the worst winter weather in your area?

Ciao Bella!

25 thoughts on “How to Pasta Time on Those Cold Winter Days

  1. wow Allan – that is a lot of lasagne. I make a fair amount of freezer meals too – like lasagne – soup – chili – butter chicken etc. But I give you and Pat props to make it from scratch. You have a lot of patience my friend

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    1. I used to do this lasagne all by myself, when Patty was away so she could not see me trash her kitchen. The home made pasta adds a lot of time to the process and I was sure glad to have the extra help this time. Thanks for reading and commenting Ann. Allan

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    1. Hope your commutes go smoothly. Many in Edmonton did not have great luck with their commutes this past week. Many frozen cars on the side of the road and my son who takes transit to work had his commute go from the usual 45 minutes to 1 hour 50 minutes one day. I don not miss those days. Thanks for replying Lynette. Stay warm. Allan

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  2. Wow that is cold outside. I laughed when I read the part about how you went for a mall walk. Totally understandable given the temperature outside. I got a pasta machine for my birthday a few years ago and am ashamed to say that I’ve only used it a handful of times. After reading your post I’m inspired to pull it out of the cupboard and have another go with it. I think you had the right approach to make meals in bulk.

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    1. Yup. They were warning everyone not to do strenuous activity in the cold air to avoid risk of damaging your lungs. Can’t wait to get back outside for a real walk. I am surprised to see that I used my pasta machine this quickly. Likely has to do with being retired. I can’t wait to try some other options, perhaps including filled pasta. Bulk meals are the bomb. If you have something you like, make a lot of it, if it freezes well. Thanks for reading and commenting. Allan

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  3. The pasta looks great! I’ve been making pasta since I was a little girl with my Mom. We used to do have a group of women and a few of us kids get together and do tons of it. Our basement was off limits while all the pasta would hang on makeshift pasta hangers (saw horses and broom handles). The kids jobs included helping to run the pasta through the machine (we were the catchers) and running it down the stairs to pass it on to the next couple who were the hangers). I have my mom’s old machine now and my kids enjoy helping me as much as I enjoyed helping my mom. Thanks for bringing those fond memories back for me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your Mom sounds like a lovely lady and you sound just like her. I was my Mom’s favourite helper, as well, but we never did pasta, just pickles, bread, buns, cinnamon buns, cookies, home preserves and frozen veggies. Great growing up on the far. Thanks for reading and commenting. Allan

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      1. Ahhh. Thanks. The zucchini does make a wetter lasagne, but it is good for a low glycemic diet. The good thing about the large batch is that it seems to meld and the taste improves after freezing and reheating. A

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    1. Thank you. Hopefully, we will gain some experience and our pasta will improve. Good luck on the lasagna noodles. We found they really soak up the sauce, so may have to adjust the ration of sauce to noodle next time. Thanks for reading.

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