Amish homemade noodles. Test 1.
“Grandmother … did not even dream that the day would come when one could go to a store and buy noodles.”
I’m on a hunt, and for a reason.
Last fall after a book signing at Das Essen Haus Restaurant in Middlebury, Indiana (where they have fantastic Amish noodles, by the way, a special love in the family I grew up in), the director of the Road Scholar program (used to be Elder Hostel, wonder why they changed the name ha ha) at Camp Amigo (Sturgis, Mich.) contacted me about coming to Camp Amigo’s Road Scholar week September 2013 dealing with Mennonite and Amish history, beliefs and customs. (I’ll share specific details here when info on this year’s program is posted.)
Mandy Yoder, adult program director, wanted me to talk about Mennonite cooking, traditions, cookbooks etc. (see my Sept. 2012 column series on Mennonite Cookbooks here). She also invited me to talk about my book, Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections on Keeping Family Dinner and to help the participants make homemade noodles, thinking it would be a cooking project the participants could take home with them and not worry about spoilage etc.
That sounded great and exciting and fun, except for one biggish problem. I had never made noodles. I never even especially had a desire to make noodles when they’re so cheap and easy from a bag. So I ‘fessed up and Mandy offered to have a real Amish cook come and make noodles for the group. Which sounds great!
Yet I want to learn to make them ahead of time; I love the idea of knowing how to make more and more things from a few simple ingredients—not having to run to town if you are out of something.
So over Christmas vacation with my youngest daughter at home, we made a small batch using this recipe (Ready Nutrition website) from The Best of Amish Cooking by Phyllis Pellman Good. I cut the recipe in half since I wanted to experiment:
3 egg yolks
3 TB water
1 ½ c. flour
¼ t. salt
Beat egg yolks and water thoroughly. Stir in salt and flour. Knead together. Form 2 balls, Roll out. Dough will be very stiff.
It is kind of like mixing up bread or pie dough, until you get to the rolling out part.
It was very very hard to roll out.
Oh, and don’t plan to make these and use them for a quick lunch or something. Of course they have to dry. At least a day, maybe more, depending on how thick or thin they are.
I did finally use them for a homemade lunch about a week later, using the things I had on hand, and That felt good: some cooked turkey and a little broth frozen after Thanksgiving, some water (since I didn’t have any other broth in the pantry or freezer, yikes); a stalk or two of celery, chopped; 2 Tablespoons chopped onion, and these spices (oops, the cumin name doesn’t show up on the maroon bottle):
And it tasted good. Maybe a pinch too much salt, but tasty. The noodles were plenty thick and took a longer time to cook through, about a half hour. My daughter (who had went back home) asked “Did the noodles fall apart?” I had wondered too if flour, eggs, water, and salt wouldn’t just go all gooey and mushy, but they hung together fine. So they felt very substantial and warming on a cold January day.
When I told my mother I made homemade noodles she surprised me by saying with a gush of pleasure: “I can see my mother now stringing out noodles to dry over her ironing board!” The thought filled her with memories and I encouraged her to write them down for me … which I hope to share here. I didn’t know my grandmother made noodles. But I guess pretty much everyone did if they wanted them. Mary Emma Showalter said in Mennonite Community Cookbook, (the grandmother of most modern Mennonite cookbooks), “Grandmother … did not even dream that the day would come when one could go to a store and buy noodles.”
Next time I will add about 1 teaspoon of shortening as in the recipe in Mennonite Community Cookbook, to add a little richness (Grandma would have used lard, but I’ll probably use Crisco).
Making some homemade noodle soup soon (use whatever noodles you have in your pantry: linguine, spaghetti, etc.) might feel good for those suffering from the creeping crud & flu that is so widespread. Be well!