Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Egg noodles and three of the women who shaped my life.

My grandmother, Gladys, was born in 1917 and became a young mother in the height of the depression. She gave birth to 8 children and raised them to adulthood with sometimes very little. She was poor like a majority of Montana's in that era. She was able to do more with very little than most anyone I know, I admired her ethics and to this day I probably can do more with less than most people I know.  I am proud to say I am as cheap as they come, my friends say I am "thrifty", I would say a majority of my talent in that department came from my beloved grandmother.

I remember when I got to spend time with my grandmother her having hung noodles all over the house. She had them hanging from the clothes line, she had in her kitchen, the backs of chairs or any place that they could hang and dry. I do not actually remember her making the dough but I remember her hanging them, so they could dry and she would make wonderful chicken noodle soup for dinner. She had children that stepped down in age to only 5 1/2 years older that me so she was still very much a mother when I was a child. I remember her telling my mother that when my mothers family was bigger than her's she would give her the extra large cast iron skillet she had. I was so excited the day we got the pan, and I am prouder still that it is now mine a loved family heirloom.

My mother could not cook anything but spaghetti and salad, by her own admission, when she married my father. She learned along the way, alot of trial and error. My dad to this day tells stories of when she finally learned how to make gravy. She had just dumped the flour in the grease, rather than mixing it with water first, like you are supposed to do to make a roux. He had been under the house so had not seen her do it, she had called down to him to see if he wanted any, and having eaten alot of lumpy gravy had said "no, go ahead and give it to the hound." She was just going to scrap it to the dog when he crawled out and saw it, he stopped her and truly enjoyed her first good gravy. For a long time after that incident he would ask her to make "dog gravy".. My mother is now a wonderful cook and any one who knows her would not think she had not always been as an adult.

The were living in Corvallis, just having come back to Montana from Arizona, when my Aunt Margarette, came to visit. It was in the afternoon and it was getting on to time when dinner needed to be made, my Mom had some chicken but it wouldn't have fed our nine and her six member families. She said, "lets make noodle and chicken soup", my mom who had only watched my grandma make them but had not made them said, "we don't have time to hang and dry them."  Margarette, who is actually my mom's cousins cousin, and not my real Aunt said, " you don't have to hang them, you can just make them" My mother was amazed and, probably for the first time, was interested in making them. They whipped up a batch, sliced them and kind of let them set in a pile on a lightly floured cutting board. When they cooked them up Margarette dropped eggs in the top to poached them and add one to each soup bowl. The eggs never caught on in our family but the noodles did. My dad loved them and that they were nice and thick in the soup bowl made them better, to him, than his mothers.

I as a young mother had been making noodles, since that day when I was eleven. I had always made them like Margarette had taught my mother, no hanging here. One day I was reading a cookbook, one of my favorite past times, and the recipe stated you had to knead them 15 minutes. I always, as taught, just kneaded them a few minutes and went on to cutting. I decided to time the process thinking I probably kneaded them 15 minutes, well after knead along for what I thought was probably the 15 minutes I checked the clock, I had only been kneading 5 minutes, so I knead to the 15 minutes and low and behold at just the 15 minute mark the dough changed to a very stretchy dough. I rolled them out and they rolled so nice and you could roll them out very thin, you could hang them or do anything you wanted with them. I taught my older children how to make them. I am now teaching my younger ones to make them.

My little girls love spinach lasagna. We start with a big bowl, I know that the tv chefs do it on a cutting board without a bowl, but we use a bowl. We put in the same, 1 1/2 cups of flour into the bowl, my mother and grandmother used in theirs, same recipe just different technique.  3/4 a teaspoon of salt, we mix two eggs, two teaspoons water and two teaspoons oil in a little bowl, then add the little bowl ingredients to the big bowl of flour. We make a dough ball then go to kneading, we time it every time and get that nice stretchy dough. We cut them into sheets and dry them to make lasagna or we make them into noodles. They are nice in any pasta form you can make. The most important thing about them is that they are a fourth generation treat, in our home, passed down with love and tradition to the younger ones. ...... tomorrow.


  1. I love reading about kitchen/entergenerational baton passing. I have similar wonderful memories of my mom and my dad who was a wonderful cook. He was different, he taught me that a roux was half fat, half flour browned in the pan for gravy base he wouldn't have called it roux if it was mixed with water first. He cracked eggs with one hand and tossed things in the air to turn them, rather that use a spatula. Thanks for sparking the pleasant memories. I am sure your girls are being shaped by your mom, Grandmother Gladys and Aunt Margarette too. That is a rich heritage.

  2. The roux is half and half, she accidentally made it right for the first time, before she had always mixed water and flour.


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