Sunday, 26 September 2010

Haus Week: Part 4

So Haus Week is going to end today.

I'm not going to show you my bathroom because are bathrooms really that interesting? I mean Haus Week isn't really that interesting, but I think viewership would drastically drop if I subjected you to my bathroom and all its glorious 1970s brown tile with the charming blue dolphin shower curtain accent.

Bathroom. Bathroom. Bathroom. That's a weird word.

Did you know that in some Swiss apartments there is a toilet room, and a bathroom? It's true. The toilet has its own room. I have been in quite a few apartments that have this layout. Dan's uncle's place in Zurich is like this. I was really confused the first time I had to use the toilet and walked into the bathroom and discovered one could only bathe there. I was nervous because I thought I was going to have to look under the bed for a bedpan. WHERE WAS THE TOILET? Then Dan led me to the toilet room and all was right with the world.

So I'm not going to show you my bathroom (which is also a toilet room), but I will kind of show you my kitchen.

Kind of. As in not really, but you'll catch glimpses of it.

So anyhow, when I received the Canada shipment I opened a box and discovered that one item that was not especially wanted had made the journey. Ripping open my kitchen supplies, I was stopped short when I pulled out my old pasta machine and gave a heavy 'What are you doing here?' groan when I saw it. That sneaky pasta machine had snuck on the boat and stowed away to Switzerland without my knowledge. Darn movers.
So I got the pasta machine for a Christmas present from my parents many moons ago; like, when I was still in high school. So scratch that. I didn't get this pasta machine many moons ago, I like, totally, like, just, like, got, like, this, like, pasta machine, like, yesterday, like.

When my family moved to Kamloops, I discovered the Food Network and instantly became obsessed. An entire television channel just devoted to cooking is/was the most genius idea in the world. And through the rotation of cooking shows I became infatuated with three programs: The Naked Chef, Nigella's Big Bite, and 30 Minute Meals.

These were my favourites.

And Jamie Oliver's show is the one I caught the most. Everything he cooked seemed so effortless and rad, and it seemed like he could throw together homemade pasta in a jiffy. So if he could do it, by god I sure could!

So that Christmas, when my peers were probably requesting items like cars, stereos, televisions, money, and trips to Mexico, I asked my parents for a pasta machine (and a Bernese Mountain Dog)Seriously, I was such a lame teen.

Overjoyed to have such a lame teenager, my parents indulged my request for a pasta machine. And after Christmas, and with all the arrogant confidence of any seventeen year old, I planned my first big Italian feast and invited all my family over to eat a meal I had never made before. I must have thought I was Chef Boyardee or something, because the menu I planned was intense and not at all nutritionally balanced: I made mushroom ravioli, linguine in lemon sauce, risotto, and chicken.

Hello carbohydrates! Thanks for tasting so delicious that I planned an entire menu around you!

I distinctly remember my first batch of pasta dough turning out to be shit. The recipe called for semolina flour, and the liquid ingredients were not adequate because the dough was as dry as a popcorn fart. Also, at this point in my culinary explorations, I had yet to learn about a little thing called 'time management' and 'advanced preparation'; about ten people were coming for dinner at six o'clock, and I didn't start cooking until around noon. So when that first batch of dough blew away in the wind (the recipe sucked, yo) I had my first breakdown of regularly scheduled breakdowns that were to happen every half hour, on the half hour, that day.

The second batch of dough went better and I had the linguine noodles processed no problem, and the ravioli squares cut.  But then I had to fill those ravioli with mushroom filling I still hadn't cooked, I still had to make a lemon cream sauce, get the risotto on, marinate the chicken, put the chicken in the oven, and cook all the pasta! Oh it was a comedy of errors. I started the risotto way too early and it was finished long before the chicken had finished cooking. I had a breakdown over this, and as I lost my cool Nigella's posh voice echoed in my head as I dumped bottle after bottle of white wine and chicken broth into the pot, to keep those thirsty grains soupy: Only start your risotto right before you are immediately going to serve it.

"I've failed Nigella! I've failed!"

The whole meal got on the table eventually though parts of the meal were dry, sticky, overcooked, and the ravioli actually resembled dumplings. But heh, I did it and it was edible. But I was so completely drained from the whole experience that I've never used the pasta machine since. Everytime I thought about that hunk of metal I would get the shakes and remember crumbling semolina pasta and mushroom ravioli that broke apart in the boiling water.

So when I opened up the pasta machine here in Switzerland, my first instinct was to cram it in a cupboard and forget about it for another decade.

(A decade! A decade! How is it possible it's been a decade since I was a teenager?!)

But then I did some pretend mathematics in my head and calculated how much it probably cost me to ship that darn machine over here, and figured I better use least once.

So I made butternut squash ravioli. Because obviously the thing to do when you are dreading using a piece of kitchen equipment is to then make the most labour intensive dish you can think of. No simple homemade spaghetti noodles in a tomato and basil sauce for me. No thanks. Now excuse me Sanity, if you could please just go jump off this cliff and then hit every rock on the way down, I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

So I said a little prayer to my kitchen mascot, and got busy. Here's a photo collage of the ravioli I made.

Kitchen mascot.
My sister bought me this when she was in grade two.
His name is Alfredo.

Making dough. Look at how little the ball is. Keep this in mind.

We're rollin', rollin', rollin', rollin'.

We're still rollin', rollin', rollin', rollin'.

Look at how far that little ball of dough stretched!

We're stuffin' and foldin', foldin', foldin', foldin'.

We're eatin', eatin', eatin', eatin'.

This collage is really for my benefit. Its purpose is to serve as a reminder that in years to come when I open my cupboard and resolutely stare past the dusty machine, I won't feel so bad about it jamming up my cupboard space because I have evidence that it was used; so it's no problem when I just reach around it to grab for that box of Barilla penne.


T said...

That pasta looks good Caitie! How did it turn out? I cannot imagine ever even trying to attempt such a thing as making pasta! I groan at the thought of rolling my own pie crust even.

Habebi said...

Wow girl!! That's awesome you did that!! The pasta looks uber yummy. Good job! And congrats for using the pasta maker.

Ais said...

What is your pasta filling?

Caitie said...

T-They turned out pretty tasty! Of course near the end of all the stuffin' and foldin', I got sick of it all and so a lot of the ravioli resembled dumplings. But hey, I'm not a visual eater anyways.

Ais-It as butternut squash, with some sauted onion, garlic, parmesan cheese.