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.
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?