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Amish Homemade Noodles Test 3: The Real Deal

October 16, 2013

(Parts of this reblogged from my post over on Mennobytes Blog on October 11, 2013.)

For one and a half days in September, I was invited to speak at Amigo Centre near Sturgis, Michigan on Mennonite cooking. I’ve been looking forward to it all year and boning up on how to make homemade noodles which I shared in posts here and here and here.

But at Amigo Centre I would learn from a real Amish cook. More on that below. And I did learn a lot. Such as today’s Amish cooks use noodle cutters and dough flatteners like everyone else, to make the job go much easier than in the experiments I tried above.

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The highlight of my time with these Road Scholars was a session arranged by Mandy Yoder, adult program director at Amigo Centre. She invited a local Amish mother, Maggie, to help the participants learn how to make homemade noodles. So we all got to make our own batch, cut, and dry them—using a beautiful mini-drying rack made for us by an Amish woodworking shop.

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Maggie stirring a big batch of dough.

Maggie is a petite young woman with two toddlers at home—who I think was happy to send them off with her husband for the morning. She seemed to enjoy interacting with us and gave permission for us to photograph the process including herself, as long as she did not pose. She and Mandy made up a huge batch of homemade noodles for us to enjoy at lunch that day, and then helped us make smaller batches to roll out and take home. There was even one batch of gluten-free noodles for a participant with that allergy.

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Maggie, center, helping Road Scholar participants manage their dough.

It was a little like 7th or 8th grade home economics all over again (I know, few schools still offer these basic classes), with overgrown “kids” wandering around with their batches of dough asking questions:

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Did it need more water?

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Does it have enough flour?

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Is my dough too sticky?

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Are mine dry enough to run through the cutters?

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Some chopped up their noodles; some choose finely cut settings, others a wider noodle.

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Will any of us ever make homemade noodles again?

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Yours truly, learning from better cooks.

Without the roller and cutters, it is a little daunting. In preparation for this session. I made two batches including one using lard and I’ll have to say Maggie’s recipe was even better than the one I tried, and she didn’t use any lard. So if economic conditions get really tough, it is nice to know that you can still make food-that-will-stick-to-your-ribs using just flour, water, eggs and a dash of salt!

Here are the basic proportions we used:

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 a small ball or two, Roll out. Dough will be very stiff.

Someone asked what is different about Amish noodles. I can’t find now where this was posted or written (if someone knows, please help me out!), but here is what someone said: “Doing a little research it appears to be a difference of [using] eggs and the type of flour [used] and the part of Italy you are from for pasta. Amish noodles made mostly by descendents of German or Swiss use eggs and all purpose flour. Pasta, depending on where it originates in Italy, will sometimes use olive oil or eggs or Semolina flour with the all purpose flour. Amish noodles are very doughy and tend to be cooked until soft, and not al dente.”

To muddy the waters even further, here is someone going on about the differences between Chinese noodles, Italian pasta, etc.

And a small caution: since there are no preservatives in these, eventually the noodles can get, er, buggy if just kept in your pantry. You might want to try freezing the dry noodles if you will be shelving them longer than 2-3 months.

***

The setting was a second part of a week-long “Study in Shared Heritage: The Amish and Mennonites,” with 24 participants in the international Road Scholar program (formerly ElderHostel), which combines learning and tourism. They had lectures, looked at videos, visited an Amish home and woodworking shop, and other Amish businesses, and were treated to an Amish “thresher’s” dinner. None of the participants were Mennonite, but all were interested enough in everything Mennonite that they spent a week learning and absorbing Mennonite and Amish faith and culture. Some of them already owned More with Less Cookbook.

***

Camp Amigo/Amigo Centre is (almost) world-known for its Baked Oatmeal (if the World Wide Web counts.) Seriously, I was surprised to find their famous baked oatmeal at the awesome “Calories Count” website giving a complete nutritional breakdown.

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