Oh, the freedom you feel when you have your own kitchen.
I have gone through several phases of culinary residence before I got here, and the freedom is well earned…
Phase 1: Everything Before College
Dish of Choice: Microwaved nachos. Now when I say nachos, don’t picture delicious tortilla chips with cheese and chicken and salsa. Don’t. Young Meredith was a kitchen gremlin who for some reason loved cheese melted over saltines with soy sauce on top. I don’t understand it either, but I distinctly remember thinking, “this is a good idea.” Should we just call this phase, “I was a monster”?
Phase 2: College
Dish of choice: Bag of Doritos and a diet Dr. Pepper. Yes. I technically had a kitchen, but it was a hall kitchen. It was where everyone kept their random appliance they weren’t allowed to keep in their room. It wasn’t where people cooked. What are you, crazy?
Phase 3: Grad School
Dish of choice: noodle soup from NOT MY KITCHEN. It was a new york city apartment. That means it had enough counter space to chop one food item. Cutting board, knife. Congratulations, you are out of counter space.
Phase 4: Job-having!
This is where we find ourselves, folks. Suddenly, I have counter space. I have pots and pans. I have a dishwasher, guys. This kitchen lets me try things, which is why when the weekend finally gets here I start down thought processes that lead me to pickling anything in arm’s reach, roasting all the chickens, and almost setting my kitchen on fire. The world is my oyster! (I SHOULD TRY COOKING OYSTERS!)
Lately I’ve been on a major fish kick. Why? Because it’s good for you. Really, why? Chicken gets boring. I was riding this kick yesterday at the lazy man’s library, also known as the bookstore, sitting on the floor of the cookbook section. Armed with my mission statement (“I’m going to do something weird with a fish!”- Of all my mission statements, my culinary ones need the most work.), I started leafing through the nearest cookbooks with the best covers (because I judge books by their covers), and I realize, “All the best fish recipes require the most expensive fish. I can’t afford the most expensive fish. I have to do something weird with something else.” Definitely not a good culinary mission statement.
After cycling through all my adventuresome options (Ceviche? Carpaccio? Steak? Toast? Bowl of pretzels?), I was still struggling because I would not yet call myself, “good at cooking.” I’m fine at cooking, but I still have some major disasters. I don’t want to spend lots of money on a dish I might mess up. But you know what’s NOT an expensive dish to try? Pasta. Flour and eggs. BOOM. You’ve been pasta’d.
I was going to make my own pasta. Otherwise known as “the time I was attacked by eggs.”
So the concept for pasta dough is straightforward. You make yourself a little flour volcano, and put the eggs inside of it, and slowly incorporate the flour into the eggs in the middle and all of the sudden, you have delicious, delicious pasta
I made my volcano (four cups of flour). I made my lava (four eggs). I poured the lava in the volcano.
It looked innocent enough. Until it wasn’t. Until the yolks united as one, powered by their anger and their stolen shell-homes, and stormed the
Bastille kitchen. The yolks broke through the flour and headed straight for the counter’s edge. In hindsight, the worst part was not trying to clean up raw egg off the floor, but the fact I tried to catch it. I tried to catch the glob of raw egg. As you can imagine, that didn’t work. And the flour left on the counter clung to the remnants of egg and transformed it into these tiny, dense globs which I couldn’t seem to totally get rid of. I made a volcano. Now, I can make rocks.
So, I’m out of flour. I’m out of eggs. My floor is sticky. And I’m officially indignant. And when I’m indignant,
my voice keeps leap-frogging to the next register until I get my way I try harder! Awesome!
So after marching to the grocery store, I returned home with a new bag of flour and carton of eggs. Volcano? Built. I’m basically a god to my kitchen counter. Egg-lava? Assembled and blended so the yolks wouldn’t get any ideas of revolution. This was going to be awesome.
Except that time it wasn’t awesome. About 30 seconds into stirring the flour into the eggs, I officially make cement. I can almost watch the dough drying out. And most of the flour was still left to be stirred in. I start splash by splash dripping water into the concoction every few seconds. This seemed to bring life back to the dough in a way a finger-waggle and a yelled, “STOP IT!” did not.
I eventually finished the dough. It was still pretty malleable. Sweet? Time to roll this sucker out.
Fact! This is not easy! They made pasta makers for a reason! Yeah, pasta predates the use of pasta makers. Yeah, you really only need a rolling pin. What they don’t tell you is 1) you also need arms that have lifted something more than your spirits, and 2) a sriracha bottle is really not a substitute for a rolling pin. I know. I was surprised, too.
Simplicity of Recipe: So simple
Time estimate: Your wasted youth
Taste: worth it
**But kind of.