Homemade Cooking - My Picks and Tips for Pasta and other Made-From-Scratch-Meals
There’s just something about a fresh, home-cooked meal. It’s an intangible thing, but spending some time in the kitchen or at the grill preparing (and then enjoying) a home-cooked dish is something special.
I personally love preparing fresh, homemade pasta dishes. There’s nothing out of the box or jar that can compare to whole-grain, hearty pasta noodles with a rich spiced-tomato sauce. Plus, the whole experience (at least for me), has the power to take you back to a simpler time and instill thoughts of how-things-used-to-be.
I typically do not get fancy when making my pasta dough. I generally stick to the old rule of thumb: two eggs per one cup of flour. The real subtlety is in achieving the right texture, and that’s simply something that comes with experience. Kneading, pounding, and rolling flour can really be an art form, I know that for sure.
As far as a pasta machine, I go with the classic and popular Atlas. It’s simple, no-frills, easy-to-use, and it gets the job done. What more could you ask for?
Now, I understand there are plenty of different options out there when it comes to pasta makers or even automatic pasta machines. I’m sure there is plenty of excellent products available. My only bit of advice I would give is, like with anything, really take your time and do your research before you purchase something.
The best pasta maker is 100% metal – preferably stainless steel. If you’re considering the common, hand-crank style maker, make sure the cranking arm that fits into the body fits firmly and snugly. You’ll be able to tell what’s quality and what is not.
I hate to use price as a sole gauge of the quality of a product, but you will be hard-pressed to come across a decent pasta maker for less than about $60 (unless you’re buying used). That being said, simply do your homework and buy from a reputable distributor like Williams Sonoma, and you won’t be disappointed.
General homemade cooking tips
If I could choose two skills one needs in order to enjoy making home-cooked meals, they would be patience and organization.
In this day and age we’ve all gotten so accustomed to the bang-bang-bang lickety-split lifestyle. So, if you plan on getting into real, true, home-style from-scratch cooking, be well aware that you’ll need to add patience to your list of personality traits, if it’s not already one.
Organization is also key. Know what you’re doing before you start doing it. Have a plan. Of course, this means having a full recipe before you start cooking or even preparing your dish.
When you do have the recipe, get all of the ingredients set out, washed, cut and prepared as your first step. You don’t not want to get to a critical timing part in baking a chicken pot pie, and realize you still need to dice up the carrots.
With everything organized, prepared, and ready to go - and with the right amount of patience of course - you’ll be well on your way to discovering the joys and soothing powers of home cooking.
~ Mr. General