Over the weekend, we had the future step-kids and bad weather — a bad combination! Now that I’m in debt-reduction mode, we’re trying to plan more frugal activities. We had originally planned to go hiking, but with the weather, we needed a Plan B. Our default option would have been the mall, but not this weekend! Instead, we made pasta from scratch. If you’re looking for a rainy-day activity for the kids, let me recommend making your own pasta.
Start with a good, basic pasta recipe
I used the Makaruni recipe from this month’s Cooking Light. You can link to it here: “Makaruni Pasta with Morel Mushroom Sauce.” It’s easy to make and you end up with a nice, sturdy dough that really holds up well. The future stepdaughter is nine years old and made the dough with my supervision. She loved separating the egg yolks and running the food processor. Once you let the dough set up, you shape it into a rectangle, divide it into eighths, and cut each strip into pieces. You’ll end up with over 100 little pieces that need to be shaped into pasta.
Make Crazy Shapes
The original recipe has you roll each piece between your hands into a two-inch strand, which the future stepdaughter instantly decided looked like a worm. That led to several nice jokes about worm pasta. The future husband stopped doing laundry to help us (isn’t he great!). He got inspired and made one piece into a stick figure. From there, we had a blast creating everything from letters to flowers to giraffes to suns to snails. The future stepdaughter ended up with a few blobs; she christened the first one “William.” Then, as she coaxed each piece into a shape, she’d encourage it, “Come on! You don’t want to end up like William, do you?” When we were done, we had about 50% worms and 50% fun shapes. I was a little nervous about how all the shapes would cook, but figured we had enough edible pieces to work with.
Boil Rapidly and Top with Your Favorite Sauce
We made the pasta in the afternoon, then played some video games and went to the library. When it was time to make dinner, I boiled the water and threw it all in. The original recipie says you only need to boil it for a minute and half. However, probably because some of our shapes were bulkier, I found it took more like six or seven minutes. I drained them and topped them with our favorite tomato and shrimp sauce, some cheese, and fresh parsley. Dinner was served!
Treasure Hunt for All the Shapes
The best part of this activity was finding all the shapes. As we ate, we’d ask who had the giraffe, who had the letter “A.” From time to time, someone would hold up a piece and ask: “What on earth is this?” Then, someone else would happily identify it,”Oh, that’s my bottle!” Our other stepdaughter had to miss the pasta making for a soccer game, and she definitely wants us to make it again the next time she’s at our house.
No Special Equipment Needed
I loved this activity because we didn’t need any fancy pasta-making tools, just a food processor and our imaginations. The dough was easy to make and fun to eat. I love spending time in the kitchen with the girls, but sometimes have trouble finding kid-friendly food. This one worked out really well. Next time you’re looking for something fun to do, grab your flour and eggs and make some delicious pasta.