I’ve always had a very strong bond with my grandmother. Since my parents always worked when I was a child, it became my grandparents’ responsibility to take care of me and my siblings. I’ve spent countless hours at my grandparents’ house, even to this day. While my grandmother mainly speaks Italian (and I cannot), we still have fun together and keep each other company. One thing my grandmother is famous for (at least in our family) is her pasta. I think she has cooked pasta almost every day for dinner for the past few months. She usually uses store-bought pasta for dinner, which is quick, easy and tastes fine, but she sometimes makes pasta from scratch, which tastes so much better. It was for this reason that I got excited when my grandmother invited me to help her make pasta today. I would like to recount my experience to you guys as well as give you some instructions to follow so you too can make some pasta at home.
Before starting, you will need:
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1/3 cup of water
Around 2 cups of flour
A pasta maker, pot, bowl, spoon, and measuring cup
Okay, so I will now explain what I did (with the help of my grandmother) to make some homemade linguini. First, I put 1/3 cup of water, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 2 cups of flour into a mixing bowl. I then mixed it all together so it became a sticky homogenous mixture (see photo). Once the ingredients were mixed, I then began to knead the dough in the bowl, which basically means I gave the dough lots of punches and squashed it a bunch. I also slowly added more flour during this process. Going forward, the dough shouldn’t be sticky. Instead, I added flour until the dough was smooth and firm. I am not exactly sure how much flour I added at this step, but I guess it was around ½ a cup. Once I was done kneading, I took the ball of dough and cut it in half. This recipe makes 2 large plates of pasta, but as I was the only one that was hungry, we only used one half of the dough I made for the rest of the recipe. Anyway, next we took the cut ball of dough and flattened it a bit with our hands, and then flattened it further using the pasta maker.
Our machine has a hand crank that turns the rollers and flattens the dough. My grandmother showed me how this step was done. First, she pressed one side of the flattened piece of dough onto the roller and then rotated the crank. What resulted was a longer and thinner piece. After the piece was flattened, she proceeded to fold the dough onto itself, and then repeated the processes of flattening it. Once I was familiar with the technique, I took over. My grandmother and I continuously flattened and folded the dough until it became as long and thin as seen in the picture. Once the dough was sufficiently rolled, my grandmother cut the dough into 3 different segments. We then put these segments through the linguini part of the pasta maker. This cut the dough into long strands of pasta. Finally, I put the strands of pasta into boiling water for 10-15mins. Once the linguini was cooked, I strained it and put some of my grandmother’s homemade tomato sauce, cheese and basil on top. And there we go, a great plate of pasta!!
My grandmother, brothers and I tasted it and we all really enjoyed it. It was so yummy! My brother proclaimed that the flavour and texture of my pasta were much more superior than store-bought ones. He could even taste the eggs we added and said that it greatly improved the flavour. I personally have store-bought pasta almost every day, and I agreed that my pasta tasted much better than usual. I am quite proud of myself. It was also pretty quick and easy to make.
However, I will say that cooking with my grandmother was a bit difficult. She is quite the perfectionist and never wanted me to make any mistakes. Especially at the beginning of the day, she wanted to control my actions and maybe even do most of it herself. It was a bit stressful honestly. Yet, by the end, my grandmother saw that I was capable enough and performed well, so she relaxed a bit. We ended up making a pretty good team. I am very glad that I had this opportunity to cook with my grandmother. It was nice to spend some quality time with her while making a dish so tied with the Italian tradition.
In the aftermath of Christmas in one of the rougher years that I have been alive for, I wanted to share with readers a recipe that was absolutely on my to-do list in the holiday season. It is not exactly made up of “sugar and spice, and everything nice.” Actually, its ingredients are all psychological and negative emotions I have felt this year, and/or carried throughout the years. The fear, the pain, the anxiety, uncertainty, and for much too many, the grief that has mainly summed up the year 2020. Let’s all try something we’ve never done before. A make-believe recipe, filled with all the toxicity of 2020 that will rid our lives of those ingredients.
We’ll start with ingredients made up of the biggest items of trash we can find in our individual, mental closets. The most hurtful slurs, insults, and/or disappointments that we have lying around in there will be the main course of this meal. The individual size of these items will depend on how profoundly each wounded us. And, since it all needs to fit in our psychological pots or ovens, we will use whatever theoretical tool we need to, to cut them down to size. May it be make-believe chainsaws, large chef knives, etc., until we have them chopped down to bite-size pieces.
Next, we’ll add a healthy dose of fear, anxiety, pain, and grief (for those of us who have lost loved ones or had to watch them suffer from a distance in 2020). Any other noxious seasoning in our mental cupboards, that may have been there for years, can be mixed in too. This will be the primary spice mix for the main dish that we have already prepared. It’s important to make sure to shake out every last bit of these selected herbs, from any nook they may be hiding in, as there will be no need for any of them in 2021.
As we mix in the herbs with the prepared elements, we need to remind ourselves that none of these items which have been with us is needed for our lives anymore. We need to remember our strength, our worthiness, resilience, and ability to stand strong in the face of whatever might be thrown at us in the coming year. Once we’ve done so, we will light the fire of our mental barbecue, spit roast, smoker, traditional oven, or stovetop, to start making this seasoned fare.
While our main dish is cooking, we’ll create a gravy made up of microaggressions, petty grievances, disagreements, white lies, and other minor transgressions. How thick this sauce becomes will be based on how fully we empty this category of articles from our personal storage. Let’s pretend it’s a going-out-of-business sale, and make sure not even one interpersonal kerfuffle is held on to.
Once your dish is ready, and your sauce as well, set the table, and get ready to feast on this scrumptious meal meant to help set you free emotionally, mentally, and psychologically. With every theoretical bite, you’ll be letting go of all kinds of negative feelings, and events, past and present. This is in order to make way for all the positive there might not have been room for, in your emotional closets until now.
As the meal comes to an end you will check your mental, emotional, and psychological wardrobes once more, and find them blissfully empty of any toxicity. With a clean slate, you will now determine what you want to receive and store from here on. All that space will invite you to fully exorcise the ghosts of old and new, and embrace, peace, love, hope, faith, and prosperity. All while, not taking responsibility for whatever precariousness may occur in the world, outside of your personal control, in 2021.
I hope you enjoyed reading this recipe, and that you try it for yourself, with roaring success. At a time when we are so isolated from one another, for pandemic reasons, it is especially important to take care of our mental health.
As Halloween fast approaches, I thought it would be nice to bake some pumpkin spice Halloween cookies. Unfortunately, baking has never been my forte. It never seems to go right for me, which has discouraged me from the whole endeavor. Honestly, I once broke my stove from trying to boil water (believe me this is 100% true). However, during the past months, and especially during quarantine, my mother and I have decided to improve our cooking skills. I personally value growth and improvement, and I think this time to myself has given me the opportunity to do just that. Grow! Throughout the next few paragraphs, I will take you through my baking journey, specifically making spooky Halloween cookies. Please follow along!
Firstly, here is a list of ingredients and utensils you will need for this recipe. Feel free to change up the recipe if you so choose. In my opinion, I found that this recipe made too many cookies, much more than I could handle, so you might want to halve all the ingredients.
Fondant (color of your choice, I used white) 2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ½ cup fancy molasses
1 cup (227g) of unsalted butter 1¾ cups granulated sugar
Icing (colors of your choice, I used red, green and black) Chocolate Chips (optional)
Electric mixer Plastic Wrap Mixing bowls Measuring Cup Rolling pin Baking Tray Cookie cutter (I used a gingerbread man shaped one)
Okay, now we begin. The first step of this recipe is to mix all your dry ingredients into a bowl. This includes 4¾ cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, ¾ of a teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, 1½ teaspoons of ground ginger, and 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Once all your dry ingredients are together, you may whisk them into a homogenous mixture.
Next comes the wet ingredients. Firstly, place 1 cup of butter (at room temperature) and 1¾ cups granulated sugar into another bowl. Then, using an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugar until it becomes fluffy. Then, add 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and ½ cup fancy molasses and mix it once more until the ingredients become a brown vicious soup. The smell of the molasses may be overpowering at this point, but do not be discouraged.
Once the wet ingredients are fully mixed, add the dry ingredients to this bowl, and use the electric mixture to fully mix all ingredients together. At this point, you should have finally made your dough. You should be proud of yourself! I sure was. Once the dough is created, place it onto a sheet of plastic wrap, completely cover it with the plastic, and then place your dough into the freezer for 30mins. If you want thick short cookies, this step is key. Cooling the dough allows for most of the fat to remain in the cookies while baking.
While waiting 30 minutes, take this time to preheat your oven to 375°F. I also took this time to clean up the gigantic mess I made of my kitchen. One thing I learned about baking is that maintaining a clean kitchen is key. However, this is something I did not do. At this point, there was flour, sugar, butter, cooking utensils, and spices all over my kitchen, which made for a much more arduous journey. An organized space leads to a less hectic baking experience.
Now once the dough is cool, it is time to roll it into a sheet 0.5cm thick. Make sure to generously flour your table as well as the rolling pin itself. Or else the dough will stick to the table or the pin and break apart. Once the dough is rolled into a sheet, you may now cut the cookies. I used a cup to make the circles, as well as a gingerbread man cookie cutter. At first, I neglected to flour my rolling surface, so the gingerbread men lost an arm or a leg. However, this gave me the great idea of making zombie men instead. Muhahaha. You can get creative at this point, and make whatever cookie shapes you would like.
Now place your cookies onto a baking tray and place them in the oven for 10 minutes. This should turn your cookies golden brown. After my cookies were baked, I decorated them. I used green and red icing to make zombies. I used black icing, 2 small pieces of white fondant and 2 pieces of chocolate chips to make a little spider creature. I rolled some fondant into a circle shape and placed it on one of the cookies to make a pumpkin. I wrapped one gingerbread man with fondant to make a mummy. It was so much fun! I loved being creative and coming up with new ideas for each cookie. I think my cookies came out perfectly!
Taste review: When I first took a bite of my cookie, the taste was overpowering. I was hit by the taste of molasses, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Since I wasn’t used to the flavor, I didn’t like them at first. But after I had a few more bites, I became accustomed to the strong flavor, and very much enjoyed them.
All in all, I found this experience to be worthwhile, although it did take me over 2 hours to complete. I felt like I learnt a lot about baking and about myself. I also got some yummy cookies in the end! I hope this blog post was helpful, and that you guys enjoy this experience as much as I did. Happy Halloween!!