A few years ago, I discovered the wonder of fresh, homemade pasta. In the beginning, I was using a rubbish, cheap machine from a homewares store (beware of the 'Avanti' brand - they should stick to bikes!) but I soon traded it up for the mother of all pasta making beasts. Here she is...
Since then, I have purchased but ONE sad packet of dried pasta, and most of it ended up being dyed and used in a failed craft endeavour. It is just so easy and cheap to make, and so much tastier than the other stuff. Try it! You can use a rolling pin if you're keen and don't have a pasta machine.
Some weeks after purchasing My Precious, I received test results that declared that half of our family shouldn't be eating gluten. Since personally, I find the taste of cardboard preferable to gluten free pasta, I choose to ignore this advice when it comes to pasta (and bread, pastry and very often cake. The odd muffin also) and deal with the consequences. We aren't Celiac, but allergic - probably to wheat, rather than the whole gluten family - and though Caleb's diet is strict (I'd be a cruel mother to do otherwise!) I tend to spend more time off the gluten free wagon than on it.
Anyway... Lately I've been doing a bit of oral storytelling with the kids, and encouraging them to do likewise. I've also been asking them to retell favourite stories, and it's amazing how precise their attention to detail can be at 3 years of age! Retelling is a vital skill in reading comprehension, yet one that is easily overlooked.
So tonight, I was whipping up some pasta for the adults' dinner and Sophie was - as usual - sitting up at the bench and ordering my every move. I asked her to give me instructions of how to make pasta, and she spoke as only one who has closely observed something many times can.
Writing or giving instructions is a fun activity you can do with children around any task - making a sandwich, drawing a person, making a puppet, folding laundry, etc. It not only reinforces the skills being used in the task itself, but promotes the use specific language features (such as 'joining' words, like "next", "then", "after that" etc) and teaches them itemise steps within a process. By following a child's instructions exactly, a hilarious (for observers) fit of hysteria strikes as the child realises that they actually have to tell you EVERY detail, or you will not have the information that you require to complete the task.
So here are Sophie's instructions, given with many frustrated sighs and corrections and complete with photos. She didn't do bad for a 3 year old!
1) Make a tall mountain with one scoop of flour. Put a hole in it and put a little spoon of salt in the middle.
2)Break an egg into the hole. ** You can imagine the hysterics when I followed her poor instructions for this one! **
3) Mix it, mix it, mix it! With a spoon. No, I mean a fork. ** Additional info: Try and keep a wall of flour around the egg, or it will zip out of bounds and slide all over the bench! **
4) Squash it with your hands **Some would say knead, but lets not be picky **
5) Put it in a bag in the fridge ** Just for 20 minutes or so - gives it a bit more elasticity **
6) Turn the handle and make it go through ** Do this on the widest setting a few times - air bubbles should snap when done. Then progress through the other levels until you are at the skinniest one **
7) Put it through the other bit to make wormies **Mummy notes the dreadful unpainted blue skirting boards in the background and hopes you don't. Now you have. Darn! Who primes skirting boards in BLUE, anyway??? Muppets... **
8) It's finished.
One egg and slightly less than 1 cup of flour makes enough pasta for 2 adults, depending on what you're eating with it. For a family lasagne or canneloni, I double the recipe.
Tonight, we had this with pesto, a squeeze of lemon juice, and fresh basil leaves with shaved parmesan.