"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One Thing Leads to Another...

You might see Spooky, the cat, in many of our photos, for the most part it's not that I'm trying to include her in the pictures so much as she includes herself. My sister-in-law found her as a small kitten roaming a busy city intersection on Halloween in 1995, and she has been our constant companion ever since.

Formal introductions aside, Spooky and I picked the last of our turnips yesterday. We saved out the best greens for the night's dinner, but as so often happens, instead of a simple salad the greens became the genesis, if you will, of another pretty darn good home grown meal. This is a fairly common occurrence around here. We will be working in the garden and a particular vegetable or part thereof will strike our fancy and even though it might only be the smallest ingredient of a meal the whole regale will be based solely around that one simple component. It's interesting how that tends to happen.

Pasta was made from last year's hard red spring wheat that included a secret ingredient that was the extra chaff. It can be hard to remove all of the chaff when winnowing grains but, once ground, you would never know it was there. We'll just call it fiber...

With this neat little contraption, a pasta maker that my better half picked up last year brand new at a garage sale for $3.00, I was easily able to turn that same wheat, ground and mixed with a few eggs, into thick delicious fettuccine noodles that made my wife laugh. She laughed because she knew, as is usual, that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. It took me a few tries to master the funny little machine but I was soon almost as accomplished as her at it.

Of course, we used leftover sauce from the previous day's canning adventures and into the same pot went diced eggplant, pepper, onion, and garlic. At the last moment I added the turnip greens and a few of the garden's remaining sprigs of broccoli. We had a most wonderful dinner and the best part was that every single ingredient minus the sea salt was from our own little garden. What more could a person possibly ask for in a meal? Thank goodness for turnip greens.


Anonymous said...

Mr. H.,
Well it sounds wonderful -I also picked up one of those pasta makers at a sale this summer-but now you know how to use it and I don't.
It all sounds so interesting -grinding your own grains.

Stefaneener said...

Hey, I got a pasta maker for free from Freecycle. It's okay, but I find that I really need another person to help. I know Patricia swears by her electric one so you don't have that "need a third hand" thing, but so far no go.

I long for a totally homegrown meal, but even with the expanded garden, wheat is a stretch. I'll have to find some locally grown stuff.


Roasted Garlicious said...

ohhh i have one of them too.. and to make us all happy happy... i was in a kitchen shop last week.. that cute little pasta maker 'kit' was 170.00 Canadian... hmm dunno about american, just know we all got great deals!!! YAY.. i made fresh pasta last week... Vicki, the trick to the pasta maker is sprinkling flour into it when rolling the pasta out.. then nothing sticks in the pasta maker...

Heiko said...

The sounds just delicious! Can I come next time? I've been looking for just such a bargain pasta maker. Vicky, if you can't work out how to use yours, you can always send it to me ;-}.

We also can't grow our own wheat with our steep terraces, but we've got a good local source. I shall try and grind some of this year's harvest of chestnuts, once they are dry to make chestnut flour though.

Michelle said...

Those pasta makers are great, I got mine new about 30 years ago and it's still working great. I did find an attachment for it that replaces the hand crank and powers it electrically. No third hand or clamping to table tops necessary anymore, although it is a bit noisy.

Pasta is something of a blank slate, I add just about anything from the garden to it to make a meal. I'm usually lazy though and boil up a pot of the store bought stuff.

Jennifer Jo said...

It's so deeply satisfying (matches the bone weary feel you get at the end of a long summer day spent working in the garden) to COMPLETELY make a meal from scratch.

el said...

Isn't that the way? I do swear I have no idea what's for dinner until I walk around that garden and it tells me. Not a bad way to be, but I guess you need to be really flexible.

I love my pasta maker. Your grandkid will be A#1 pasta maker if you get him going on it; our girl just loves doing it. And what I love is the rolling-out actually does most of the mixing for you.

Silke Powers said...

Mike, please call us next time you and Mrs. H. make such a delicious meal and we'll be right over. This is making me very hungry!

We are doing the opposite tonight and going out, but we'll be sitting right on the beach and it's sunny and 75 degrees - I'm not complaining!

Guten Appetit!! :) Silke

LynnS said...

What you have shared with us is the true celebration of a meal. Your dish is not only chock-full of nutrients, it is beautiful....a work of art. I love the nutty-look of your chaff-style pasta.

You guys have definitely mastered the joy of cooking. Just as it should be!

Gorgeous turnips, btw. Of course they are!

wendy said...

Awesome meal!

When you guys start growing your own clothes you can use that same pasta machine as a coton gin like they show you here:

Mr. H. said...

Vickie - Have the hubby show you how to use the pasta maker like my wife had to show me.:) Our home grown wheat honestly has a different flavor then purchased wheat, I can't describe it other than to say it's just a little more flavorful.

Stefaneener - Free is even better then $3.00...good job. Did your pasta maker come with a clamp, because it really is easier if it is clamped down. We have not found a good place to clamp ours down yet so it does almost take another person to hold it in place.:)

Roasted Garlicious - That is $158 U.S. (I think), so yes what a great deal! Thanks for the flour tip.:

Heiko - Come on over for dinner anytime as long as you're not a picky eater...bring some wine.:) Chestnut flour sounds really interesting, we are looking for a place to gather them but have come up empty handed so far.

Michelle - The one we purchased came in a faded box that looks to be about 30 years old but the unit itself does not appear to have ever been used. A blank slate is about how we do it as well, that keeps in interesting. It is good to occasionally by the grocery store pasta, what better way to remind oneself how good homemade can be.

Mama JJ - You said it! What could be a better symbol of ones gardening accomplishments than to be able to cook a totally homegrown meal.:)

El - What you said is a constant source of fascination for my wife. She will even grab a few ingredients and set them out to test me. Creativity makes the cook. Although, I must admit to not being much of a baker and usually leave that in her more then capable hands.

Silke - Sunny and 75°...lucky you. It is snowing out here today...brr. You can come over with Heiko, bring the German sausage as it will be a perfect addition to any pasta dish I make.

Lynn - The pasta was so good, I love homemade pasta. I'm telling you, the chaff makes the meal. The turnips are the nicest ones we have grown, of course the ugly ones were hidden behind the wheelbarrow.:)

Mr. H. said...


Oh my gosh, if I had known that one could use a pasta maker to make a pair of cotton jeans I would have most certainly grown a bushel of cotton this year. What a versatile product that little machine is.:) Thanks I learned something new.

Stefaneener said...

Yes, Mr. H., I have the clamp and all the attachments, it's just that when the pasta gets thin, it starts to drag over the top, so someone has to hold it up to feed it and someone has to crank and someone has to pull it out so it doesn't fold all over itself below. It's three hands, all told.

I take my ravioli wrapping down to the #6 setting and noodles to #7, if that matters.

Have you tried growing/using durum wheat? Yummmm.

Mr. H. said...


We have not tried making really thin pasta with it yet, just fettuccine and spaghetti. Maybe Roasted Garicious's flour idea would help.

I have considered growing some durum wheat this next spring for the first time. I takes us one 4 x 50' foot row to get a good gallon of wheat. So yes, it does eat up the space pretty quickly. Normally we grow one type of grain each year, this year it was flax which has similar yields as the wheat for us.

el said...

Stef and Mike: you DO have the feed attachment, right, that catches the pasta as it comes out? It acts as a baffle so the long-ish pasta doesn't fold back on itself. It angles out from under the thing.

Two tricks that I find helpful: one is a small child to catch or crank (obvious) but also I just make short pasta, like, crank it through @ #5 then cut it short on a floured counter (flip it over so it gets flour on both sides) and run it through @ #6 or so.

Yours in good eating,

Mr. H. said...


Nope, no feed attachment on mine, I will have to use the small child method going forward.

Thanks for the advice on how you do it, sounds like a good plan to me. We will try it that way the next time for sure.

Naomi said...

*blush* I got a lovely, much wanted, pasta maker for my birthday in May, it has a ravioli attatchment and everything - but I haven't used it yet!!

I also have the small child to help crank - perhaps that can be our cooking session for this week ;)

nice pasta and sauce - the extra "fibre" sounds like something I would do lol!

Mr. H. said...


You will love it! There is nothing better than homemade noodles. The small child helping crank is the very best attachment.:)

inadvertent farmer said...

That looks so delicious! I need to learn to make pasta...you have inspired me! Kim

Mr. H. said...


It is so easy, with or without the machine. The taste is so different than that of the store bought kind. You will love it!

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