Monday, May 16, 2011

Projects - Pasta Making

I'm a huge fan of old-world crafts, which have become a dying skill set, of late. It's been a passion of mine for a long time, as I'm drawn to the idea of creating something wonderful using basic tools and materials. Such crafts are also important in creating a healthier, eco-friendly, and more self-sufficient household.

About a year ago, I began looking at the smaller aspects of my household's spending and realized a huge portion of our costs go to groceries. Many prepackaged items are relatively easy to produce at home, given the technology available. I also realized, looking more closely at certain items, how many non-food ingredients go in to their production. Pasta, for example can contain oil and metal residue from the machines used to manufacture it. Though this occurs in relatively small amounts, it's still concerning to me when feeding it to my 2 young children.

To follow up on this winter's bread making project, I decided to try my hand at making pasta. Being Italian, pasta is something I always have to have on hand, and I normally buy about 3-4 boxes, per week. After a failed attempt at making it by hand, I decided to purchase a pasta machine. I read the reviews and invested in a sturdy Atlas brand machine and 18" drying rack. I also purchased "The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles," which I found to be an invaluable reference, best read, prior to any pasta making attempts.

Though I am only 1 week and 2 batches of egg pasta in to this project, I'm pleased with the results and ease of it all. Since the pasta is made with whole wheat flour and egg, it's much heartier and healthier than it's store bought counterpart. Plus, the process became a family project, as the kids were intrigued and begged to get in on the fun. They each took a turn cranking out the pasta and were given the role of "pasta hangers" for the project. They watched patiently as I rolled the dough several times to get the right thickness and put it through the cutters. Once done, they took turns gently pulling the pasta strands, one-by-one from the pile under the machine and hanging them on the drying rack. Surprisingly, the whole process took only about 1 hour to complete, which left plenty of time to make some rolls to go with the night's pasta dinner.

Items Purchased for Project:

Total Investment for Project = Approx. $100 for all 3 items. A large portion of my investment went in to the pasta machine ($86), since I went with a high-quality machine known for sturdiness. I plan to use it quite a bit, so I believe this was a worthwhile decision. Machines, however, run as low as $25, so depending on how much use it will get, the investment could be lowered quite a bit.

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