Easy, Waste Free, Wholemeal Dried Pasta

Who knew that pasta was so simple to make?

I have never been a great fan of pasta, but my son absolutely loves it – he would eat pasta and pesto every single day if I’d let him.  But in the UK it is difficult to find pasta without plastic packaging, particularly if you want to buy in large quantities  (there are some options mainly in card but with a small plastic window).  Having heard it was easy I thought I should give it a go – and it really is easy – and it got the taste approval from my fussy child. You can easily buy flour in a paper bag which you can either recycle or put in your home compost.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups wholemeal bread flour
  • 1 cup hot water

Method:

Making the dough:

  • If you are using a food processor fit the dough attachment.
  • Add the flour, pour in the hot water and switch it on.  It will turn to breadcrumbs to start with but stick with it and it will soon come together into a dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface.
  • If you are making the dough by hand place it in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the flour and pour in the hot water a little at a time and mix together  either with your hands or a wooden spoon.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until it comes together in a dough.
  • Press the dough down into a flat round.  Divide into 4 quarters  (this will make it more manageable to roll out later).
  • Cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave for 10-15 minutes.
  • You could freeze all or some of the dough at this point for later use if you wish.

Now you can begin to turn it in into your desired shapes:

  • Working with one piece of dough at a time roll it very thinly.
  • Then you can get creative and cut and shape to your heart’s desire – but be warned, this bit can take a long time.   I like to look on it as something therapeutically undemanding on the brain to do while listening to some muscic but you could get the kids to help or invite a friend round for a natter while you work. Slicing into lasagne sheets or into strips for tagliatelle is probably the quickest.  I tried to make spirals on my first attempt but decided this time that bows might be easier.    For bows I rolled the dough then cut into strips which I then cut across into small rectangles as shown below.  To turn into bows you simply squeeze them together in the middle.

Drying your pasta:

  • If you don’t want to use your pasta straight away you can dry it for storage.  As I have an electric dehydrator I used that but if you don’t you can just spread them out and leave somewhere airy until dry.
  •  The time it takes to dry depends on the size and thickness of the shapes you have made – I dried the small bows for 3-4 hours at 50 degrees C.  The first batch of spirals were larger and took 4-5 hours.  The best thing is to keep an eye on them and remember to swap around the trays from time to time since the different levels may dry at different speeds.
  • Once fully dry you can transfer to a storage jar until needed and cook as you would shop bought dried pasta – around 8-10 mins.    If you skipped the drying part you’ll need to shorten the cooking time.

Now I know how to make basic pasta dough I’m next going to try to sneak some vegetables into the ingredients –  as he’ll happily eat shop bought green pea pasta, and red lentil pasta without realising.  I have seen people making pasta from pumpkin puree and flour as an example – but any recommendations on things to try are welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to opt-out of junk mail

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Are you suffocating under a mountain of unwanted junk mail?  Did you know you can opt out of much of it?

Once again this morning I had to chase the postman down the road to hand him back a bundle of unaddressed marketing leaflets.  Fortunately I don’t have to do this too often as we have opted out of such leaflets with Royal Mail but sometimes he forgets.  The “no junk mail” sign on the door is of little assistance to him as almost everyone has one. Did you know that even if you put a “no junk mail”  sign on your door, Royal Mail is still obliged to deliver it to you unless you have specifically registered with them to opt out?

To reduce the amount of unsolicited mail you receive requires several different approaches but it is relatively simple to reduce it significantly by filling in a few forms.

  1. Opt out with Royal Mail  How do I opt-out?.  They will send you a form to complete which you need to return by post.  It will take a few weeks to come into effect, but should soon make a noticeable difference.
  2. Register with the Direct Marketing Association’s Your Choice Scheme.  Again you will need to complete a form.   Telephone: 020 7291 3300 or email for details: yourchoice@dma.org.uk
  3. Register online with the Mail Preference Service

The above opt-out schemes deal primarily with unaddressed mail. So there are a number of further things you may wish to do.

4. Contact your local electoral registration office to  opt out of the open electoral register

5. Remove yourself from mailing lists.  It’s easy to end up on a mailing list these days when you buy something – particularly if there is a loyalty card involved.  We tend to still get the occasional catalogue from places we have shopped at once and are not likely to visit again.  It’s worth taking the time to phone them up or have a look at their website to remove yourself from these lists because as it is addressed to you, it will still be delivered.

6.  When you sign up for something, look for the box you have to tick or untick relating to marketing and other information – this should minimise you getting on other unwanted email lists.

7.  Letterbox sticker – this is still useful to discourage the leaflets that are delivered directly by local tradespeople and businesses or anyone else not covered by the measures above. You can buy ready made stickers or make your own, but unless your door is sheltered you’ll need to ensure it is weather resistant – the ink kept washing off my first DIY effort so I bought a notice in a local hardware store, but even that has since been moved to inside the glass.

8.  If you still receive unsolicited mail try to either return it or contact the sender to ask that they don’t send it again. If we all did this they might start to get the message.

Simple steps but ones that might save you from a mountain of takeaway menus.  And if you do actually need the menu you can generally find it online.