Monday, January 18, 2016

Noodling Around

It's been cold all day, a bite in the air that makes me happy to stay inside. I intended to paint furniture today, but Larry had a project that needed my painting space, so I occupied myself in the kitchen.

 Since the house was chilly this morning, I decided to bake a cake. It's been a while since I made yellow cake but that was what I had in mind. And chocolate sour cream frosting because I had some sour cream that needed to be used up. The cake came out well, the only problem being to be careful to eat only a little of it each day.

I followed that up with jam-making. We put lots of berries in the freezer last summer because my storytelling schedule left little time to make jam and I knew I could do it in winter. Today was another batch of mixed berry; this one is strawberry-blackberry. Yesterday I put up some black beans too, just to have them in stock for Larry who loves beans. Canning them is cost efficient for us because of our free gas and abundance of jars; I don't know if it would be worthwhile if we had to use an electric stove and buy new jars.

About three years ago (or maybe longer) I bought a pasta machine. And put it in a cabinet where it's been ever since, but today I got it out and put it to use. What was I waiting for?

Recipe from a Betty Crocker cookbook
The recipe is simple, the machine easy to use and clean, and now I have a nice stock of noodles for use whenever I need them. I noticed at the store the other day that egg noodles cost almost twice as much as other pastas for some reason so making my own since we have plenty of eggs is a no-brainer.

Now the noodles are drying,

and the jars of newly put-up food are ready to go out to the cellar. It's been a productive day all-around.

Noodle-making has made me think of noodlehead stories. Have you ever heard of them? A noodlehead, to put it politely, is a simpleton. They can be easily fooled into doing things not always for their own good. Sometimes they find complex solutions to a simple problem, solutions that cause them no end of trouble and work.

One of my favorites of this story genre is of the nine men who were working together and had to cross a river. When they got across one suggested they count themselves. He counted only eight, because he forgot to count himself. Each of the others counted too, making the same mistake but no one could figure out who was missing. Finally, to solve the problem, they each stuck their nose into a muddy place and then counted the indentations. Sure enough there were nine, and how relieved they were to know than none of them had drowned.

Another favorite: A man from the city was walking along a country road. He came upon a barn that had apparently just been built. Two farmers were busily cutting notches into the brand new doorframe.

"Pardon me, fellas," the stranger said, "what are those notches for?"

"Well," said one of the farmers, "the door is too short for my mule. His ears hit the top of the door and he won't go in. So I'm cutting these notches for his ears."

The stranger studied the situation for a moment. "But wouldn't it just be easier to dig out the dirt under the door? Then your mule could go in easily and you would not have to ruin that nice doorframe."

The farmers looked at the man and shook their heads slowly. "No, that's all right. We'll just do it this way."

The stranger continued down the road, and when he was out of hearing, one of the farmers said to the other, "Isn't that just like a city boy. He don't know nothin'. Why, it's the mule's ears that are too long, not his legs!"

And one more: A man decided to go on a journey. Each night as he went to bed he would place his shoes in the direction he was going so that he would not be confused and go back where he came from when he woke in the morning.

He told a friend about this ploy, and that night his friend decided to play a joke on the man. He crept into the room where the traveler was sleeping and turned his shoes back toward home. In the morning the traveler woke refreshed and slipping on his shoes, commenced his day's walk--but back to where he had just been. After some time he arrived in a village that looked familiar.

"Why," he said, "this looks just like my own village! And this street is just like my street. How extraordinary! And look! There is a house just like mine! To think that such a long way as I have traveled, there is a place just like my home!"

He walked up to his house and raised his hand to knock at the door, when suddenly the door opened.

"Amazing!" he shouted. "A woman lives here who looks exactly like my own dear wife!"

There are many more of these silly stories, sometimes called numbskull stories. They are different than the "wise fool" stories like the Men of Chelm, the Hodja stories or the Jack Tales because in these tales, unlike the noodlehead stories, the men's seeming stupidity is really disguised cleverness.

There are some days when I feel like a noodlehead myself, but today is not one of them, thank goodness!

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


annie said...

A great post to read on this cold cold night, brrrrr. I'll share the stories with my husband when he comes in, he'll get a kick out of them, I did!

I loved the noodle photos, I'd love to have rack like that, I have a small one, but I'd really like the size of that one. Maybe I'll build one for myself when the wood working tools thaw in the spring; and those photos look great with the green floor, and those jars of beans. That second one would make a pretty greeting card for a homemaker.

I've never canned beans before, I need a pressure caner. I only have a water bath. I wouldn't come out on the electricity costs, sure wish I had free gas here!

That cake made me want some! grin

Susan Anderson said...

Your cake looks yummy, and I am impressed with the homemade noodles! The mule story cracked me up.


Jenny said...

When I read your title I had a completely different definition in mind for noodling. In Oklahoma noodling is an extreme type of fishing, mainly huge flathead catfish. You look for holes in creekbanks, stick your hands in & pull them out...pretty crazy to me. If you've never heard of it here's a website that tells about it.

I seem to have a vague memory of my dad using the word noodlehead. He used to tell a lot of stories. He had a debilitating stroke when I was 15 & couldn't speak after that, then died when I was 17. Sadly, I've forgotten many of his stories.

Granny Sue said...

I have heard of that, Jenny, but had forgotten about it! Thanks for reminding me :) I will have to include that in a post in the future.

Granny Sue said...

Hey annie, that's not the floor, that's my tabletop, lol! It's an old granite top kitchen table. Perfect for rolling out dough, painting stuff, or whatever I want to and not have to worry about the table :)

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