Homemade Pasta — a series of tubes!

Large Macaroni in process

In our continuing quest to make more food ourselves where feasible (and fun!), I bought a(nother) pasta making attachment for our KitchenAid mixer on eBay earlier this month. This one extrudes dough into tube shapes![audio:http://cdn.regensblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Series_of_Tubes_-_Senator_Ted_Stevens.mp3] Continue reading Homemade Pasta — a series of tubes!

More anthropomorphic body fluids

A few years ago we reported on these welcoming guys appearing in Regensburg in mobile facilities. Turns out that wasn’t the end of the anthropomorphic depictions of bodily fluids. Fun!

MucosolvanIt’s the pharmacist’s favorite time of year: everyone knows someone who’s sick, and constant temperature differentials between indoors and outdoors make all your facial membranes feel extra gooey. So maybe everyone wants to retard their runniness with these capsules? Or at least maybe has kids with Monsters, Inc. on DVD at home?

Just one question: was Ghostbusters not a thing here?

Selfies with the new old lens

I bought an adaptor some time ago for using old Canon FD-series lenses with my Olympus PEN E-PL2 Micro Four Thirds. Then a few days ago, I bought an f/1.4 50mm (prime, from back when that was standard) lens potentially older than I am to put it all together.

It arrived today. Here are the requisite selfies.

I love the analog focus (no autofocus possible anyways). I love seeing the focus distances on the ring, and setting the aperture there, too. I really love how much light this puppy sucks in. All these were with no flash — just mild incandescent lighting in our dark-as-a-cave living room at ISO 800 and 1/40th of a second. Probably f1.4, but who nose knows?

Italian Grocery Roadtrip Price Comparison

Superfino Carnaroli Risotto RiceWe did a road trip down to Northern Italy in December 2012 primarily to visit the grocery store(s) there. We ate like royalty in a fantastic agriturismo and spent the day with the best weather of the weekend exploring cute towns in the area…but to be honest, those are just perks. The whole point was to stock up on wine from Castello di Roncade and supplies — hopefully cheaper or of better quality or variety — for the coming year. Along the way down, as we approached our destination, we made note of signs for hypermarkets and followed up on them using the WiFi in our room. We settled on the Iper in Castelfranco as the closest in the area.

Hmm. How’d we do?

Item Castelfranco Regensburg
Risotto rice (kg):
flour for pasta-making (kg):
Tipo 00
dried pasta (500g):
Olive oil (L):
Various medium-grade local and house brands €3,45
€4,83 (in a 3-l jug)
Cheeses (kg):
Grana Padano (10 months)
Bella Lodi
€9,99-11,99 €19,00

Okay, so we can see that olive oil was not such a big win, price-wise. But we loved perusing the selection and choosing between cold-pressed cloudy unfiltered and extra frooty fancy foil-wrapped varieties. And the freshly-baked wood-fired oven pizzas and arancini at the in-house rosticceria and pizzeria were motivation enough to stop in, even without the bulk staple purchases. Can’t wait to see how those stack up against supplì later this week.

Homemade Lasagna

Lasagna Finished ProductThis was a labor of love. I’ve learned to make a bolognese sauce that is pretty outstanding, but takes a few hours to make and at least one overnight to develop. We’ve had a pasta roller for about a year now and Cliff is getting pretty skilled at its use. If I was really a go-getter, I would have made my own ricotta and mozzarella, but I’m not happy with the texture of my homemade stuff (yet), so I just bought those. This is not a saucy lasagna, and the ultra-thin noodles combined with a conservative hand filling the layers yields a surprisingly light-textured product. Just FYI, we boil the lasagna noodles prior to assembly. I know that lots of people don’t, but I prefer it this way.

1/2 recipe fresh pasta, rolled into sheets on setting 7 (second to last – very thin)
8 oz/225 g frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed very dry
1 egg
1 c/250 g ricotta cheese
2 T cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 recipe bolognese sauce
2 small balls fresh mozzarella (preferably buffalo), drained and roughly chopped
1/2 c grana padano or parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 375° F/190° C.

Take your sheets of pasta and cut them into lasagna sheets, roughly 6in x 4in/15cm x 10 cm. Don’t be too exacting – it helps to have a few small or odd-shaped ones to get complete coverage. If you have a rolling pizza cutter, it’s great for this task. In a large pot of rapidly boiling water, boil 3-4 noodles at a time for no more than one minute. Then remove to colander, run cold water over the cooked noodles and lay noodles flat on damp paper towels until it’s time to assemble. We ended up with about 20 noodles and used them all.

Put the spinach in a large bowl and add the egg, whisking until well-combined. Whisk in the ricotta and cream until mixture is smooth and even. Add salt and pepper and stir.

Lasagna -- halfway thereIn a 9×13 pan, spoon a little of the bolognese on the bottom and spread it into an even layer.
1) Place the first layer of noodles on the bolognese, making sure they completely cover the bottom of the pan, overlapping to seal the seams (noodles will stick to each other). Next, spread bolognese on the first layer of noodles, starting with 1/2 c/125 ml and adding more if needed to cover the noodles completely.
2) Add another layer of noodles, then top with half of the ricotta mixture, spreading it evenly to the edges of the noodles.
3) Another layer of noodles, then another layer of bolognese, this time with half of the mozzarella sprinkled over it.
4) Another layer of noodles, then the other half of the ricotta.
5) Another layer of noodles, then the bolognese and the other half of the mozzarella.
6) The last layer of noodles, with more bolognese spread on top and the grated cheese sprinkled on.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 40 minutes, then uncover and keep baking for 15-20. After removing it from the oven, let it sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.

Pseudo-Random Observations

I’ve been building a password generator the past few days. It takes words from the dictionary at random* and then combines them with punctuation and numeric characters.

I have elaborated on a few methods of personal information security before (here and here). I still prefer to

  • never use a password for more than one site/service/login, and
  • not even know most of my passwords, and
  • let software generate them for me

But I guess I can see a need for passwords that are memorable, or at least easy to visually read and type in on another screen (perhaps a miniature one, or a computer you don’t own). Continue reading Pseudo-Random Observations