My brother Jimmy recently moved back in to my mom’s house and has been trying his hand at cooking dinner. He made fettuccine alfredo for dinner one night. Dried noodles, jarred alfredo sauce, and sautéed asparagus. He loved, Mom loved, Ray loved it, but of course I couldn’t let that slide! A few years ago we were having something similar for family dinner. He called it “bootleg alfredo” because the sauce came from a jar. It wasn’t homemade so it was bootleg. Yeah, your guess is as good as mine! Even though none of us fully understood his use of this term, we started called everything “bootleg” if it wasn’t completely homemade. Since he has become more interested in cooking I have been getting him to help me in the kitchen on Sundays for family dinner. A few weeks ago we made Pappardelle Bolognese from scratch and Jimmy made the noodles. Once I learned of his Fettuccine Alfredo adventure I told him that I could teach him a very simple recipe for the sauce. He said that for our Fettuccine Alfredo to not be bootleg everything had to be from scratch so we also made the fettuccine noodles. Really, once you start eating freshly made noodles you can’t really go back. Don’t get me wrong, dried pasta is perfectly acceptable. I always have several boxes in my cupboard. There is just something so much better about homemade pasta, and it only has four ingredients. I have a different pasta recipe that only uses two ingredients. Maybe I’ll share that one soon.
Jimmy and I got started on dinner. I had him mix the pasta dough. It taakes some time and some muscle, but as you can see in the photo above, there is no shortage of muscle on my brother. Right, ladies? When we were making dinner we joked that we would set up a Facebook Page for Jimmy’s muscles. So we took several photos that didn’t include his face! Although, we took plenty of his face because look how precious! I was instructing Jimmy on the pasta making, but he really did it all himself. He measure out the flours, mixed in the egg and water and then got to kneading. As he was kneading he asked how long it would take. I told him about 10 minutes of kneading. I know this sounds like a long time, but it. is. worth. the. effort. Besides, it’s therapeutic. For me anyway. I love the mindless, repetitive motion of kneading and rolling out dough. It’s soothing in a way. I told him, “The dough should be very smooth. Come here and wash your hands. Okay now take your thumb and index fingers and rub your earlobe.” He gave me the strangest look! You’re probably giving your computer the same look, but trust me, it isn’t a joke. He thought I was just trying to make him look funny. Really, feel your earlobe. The smoothness. Now press it between your fingers. That amount of give is what your pasta dough should feel like. “Now wash your hands again and keep kneading!” Being in the kitchen is always a joy, but teaching people in the kitchen is a different sort of joy. I get so excited when people start taking an interest in cooking. I’m not always the best teacher. Sometimes my instruction is, “Just pour it in there until I tell you to stop”. Working in the kitchen with Jimmy was a lot of fun and I’m glad we have a new set of memories to share.