Homemade Ravioli

Success, success! I finally got around to making ravioli with the pasta roller I borrowed from Papa Amherst! So the last time I did, I kind of got… lazy. And only made noodles and ricotta. But this time, I freaking made ravioli from scratch! Homemade ravioli! Totally worth it.

Dough: 2 C AP flour, 3 whole eggs, some salt, ¼ C olive oil, touch of water.

Actually, that’s the ideal. I added about 1/3 – ½ C of water just because I was spacing out and not paying attention. So I added lots more flour while I was kneading to make it a stiffer dough. It turned out quite well, actually. The dough was very tender, but still tasted a bit eggy/not just like flour and water (a good thing to me).
This picture is of the dough after it had rested for about an hour or two, covered, at room temp. It only needs 30 minutes, but I had some plans in between and it turned out just fine.

I was very excited to make ravioli since one of our friends was up from NYC for just a few hours at our place before having to head back. We haven’t seen him in over a year. He is one of Albany John’s very best friends. When he couldn’t make it to our wedding last year, Albany John was really sad. He used to come over all of the time when he lived in Albany, and would have meals in the freezer for him for when he’d pop over. Having him over was a treat. I’ve missed him too. Albany John’s friend does some awesome light performances, so I’ll call him Light Show.

So Light Show and Albany John had been hanging out for the day, and Slick and Benny were hanging out together as well. We went to go do our stuff and came back and I started my ravioli making in earnest.

Benny must’ve heard me already start cursing when he was walking through the hallway, because he asked if I wanted any help.

Oh cheezewhiz, yes.

2 sets of hands made rolling the pasta out SO much easier. Any newbies out there, I really recommend doing this with a friend, or at the very least enlisting some forced labor. I’m not that great at rolling/having the rolling crank not fall out/feeding the dough through the top/pulling the dough out of the bottom/flouring every surface inch of the rolled dough/repeating. At least not all at once.

Here is the dough rolled to its thinnest, at level 7. This was really paper thin, and if I were doing this solo, I would have torn it. I almost tore it as it was.

This dough was so thin, and my kitchen so hot, though, that after this first batch was made, the painstakingly rolled out long sheet o’pasta stuck to itself and I may or may not have thrown a few profanities out there while shaking the sticky sheets of pasta.

I like ricotta, so I made a ricotta filling. ~2 cups of ricotta cheese, some salt about 6 minced garlic cloves, and Albany John threw in some basil he had left over from a tasty tomato dish he’d made earlier.
This was a nice filling, and I was worried the raw garlic would be too harsh, but it mellowed a bit while still retaining a garlicky bite. Just not the kind of bite that gives you garlic breath for hours afterwards, or makes you want to graze on a field of parsley.

Here are some filled plops of pasta, in the middle of being cut to be ravioli! They may have been a bit on the large side, but I think that’s okay when you are trying something new out. Better to be a bit oversized and tasty than crap, right?

Success! Almost done! Benny and I give this project a thumbs up!

The filling went like this: Have one sheet of pasta on the cutting board. Mentally portion out squares of ravioli and plop ricotta in the center of those squares. Put your finger in water and trace out borders along the pasta. The water thing wasn’t really necessary, but it really helped seal the sheets to one another. Push air out around ravioli and then press dough together.

This was actually pretty easy to do, and while you had to be delicate, we didn’t break any of them! This dough (and all others) was on level 6, the 2nd thinnest setting, was easier to handle than on level 7, and still seemed really thin to me.

Here I am holding 2 wax paper covered cookie sheets of ravioli. Made quite a lot of them, no? The thin ones we originally made I cooked up for Light Show, since he had to leave before dinner was ready. Albany John drove him to the station and told me he couldn’t wait to get home and try them because they smelled so good.

In between making sheets of ravioli we’d place them on these cookie sheets and pop them in the freezer to become easier to handle. Once they’d become firmer you could stack them on each other to make room for more to freeze flat. The freezing/firming time was very quick when using 2 sheets (so you can alternate sheets).

Oh jah, before we left I also marinated some veggies in miso + dry vermouth + sugar (so consistency was a thick liquid).
I just added some oil to a pan and tossed in these baby bok choys and broccoli florets. (Broccoli first, since it was thicker).

I added corn starch to thicken the sauce up at the end. I should have made more of these, as they were very tasty. Salty and sweet from the miso, but definitely savory. I think sweetened miso is one of the only sweet flavors I like in savory dishes. Miso’s just so good!

I simmered/boiled the ravioli in a large pot of salted water for about 3 minutes. They don’t need much time until they start floating and changing from “opaque flat things” to “More solid looking flat, cooked noodles”

After that, I strained them (I broke one or two in the strainer being a little rough with the water) and tossed them in a pan with some brown butter and fresh basil. I broke another couple by trying to turn them in the pan (I found flipping works marginally better, but I was afraid I was going to flip them out of the pan every time I did it. Or burn myself on the burner)

These tasted delicious! The noodles were soft and tender, but not the least bit mushy. I’m not sure if I’ve ever eaten thinner noodles, either. Most ravioli I am used to eating is much thicker than this. Such a treat. The garlic mellowed out nicely and lightly cooked in brown butter, these ravioli were comforting little treats. Like soft pillows really, with the pasta sheets barely containing generous amounts of ricotta filling. Next time I will fill them with a little less.
I was super classy and served them in this cute plastic easter basket for all of us to eat out of. With disposable forks. “Dinner time, come eat your ravioli slop!” I should probably work on presentation, but it was just me and the guys. (I probably wouldn’t have changed it for anyone else, but this at least makes me seem like I might put the effort in at some point)
I didn’t derive from my slow-as-molasses cooking methods, and we ate dinner at exactly 11:30 pm.
I ate a little more than I should have, but they were so delicate and easy to eat. I think they’d go very well with a marinara sauce, or bolognese sauce to counter and punch up the flavor of the creamy ricotta filling and simple pasta noodles. I’d love to try to make them again. All I know is I’m out of ricotta, and already several hundred dollars over budget for the month. Le sigh – pantry livin’ it is. Wish me luck that I can stay away from the grocery stores.
Estimated Cost:
2.5 # flour = $1.75
3 eggs = $0.25
Ricotta = $2.50
Everything else is pretty negligible since they are pantry basics (and I didn’t use much of anything else any way), but let’s say maybe $0.50.
So in raw ingredients, ravioli to feed 5 people cost $5. Not too shabbby. If I go lighter on the ricotta filling I can probably bring that number down a bit, but overall I am quite pleased that such a delightful (and impressive) dish can be made for about $5.

My Savings Have Gone Up in Smoke(d Salmon)

Well, sugar… looks like I went on a bit of a spending bender last month… ah but what a way to go! This month will have to be much more frugal, but what with the CSA coming in, hopefully that’ll provide me with enough variety.

The smoked salmon is really good. I guess I really do love food if I’ll totally decimate my savings on seafood. Like, um, close to $730 on food and beverage this month. Whoopsie doo! Talk about over budget, hee hee!

P.S. Totally worth it.

How to Dilute a Beverage to a Desired Percentage

Hey fellow math & science geeks! Want to do some double-checking? Get your lush-ous thinking caps on!

I’m trying to figure out how much liquid mixer I’d need to mix with one shot of 80 proof liquor to make the ending beverage equivalent to a girly malt beverage or a beer.

As someone who prefers cocktails to wine or beer, a strong drink is great, but sometimes it knocks me off my ass a little too quickly. I’ve also got a pretty low alcohol tolerance, so even when drinking beers with buddies, I tend to be the first one catching a buzz. Off of the first beer. Heh, lightweight. (And it makes drinking that boot of bier on my birthday all the more impressive!)
I also tend to drink whatever’s in front of me at a pretty quick clip, even when sipping. One of my girlfriends is the complete opposite and can take a long time to finish any beverage in front of her, be it beer or soda.
Combine a strong drink and a quick drinker, and that’s a recipe for getting drunk pretty quickly! And believe it or not, there are times I don’t feel like getting completely snookered in the blink of an eye. (I mean it’s rare, but still… it happens)

Essentially: How many ounces of mixer do I need for 1.5 oz of liquor at 40% to get the entire solution down to 5% alcohol by volume?

One shot = 1.5 oz
80 proof = 40% alcohol by volume

Since I have a small but strong solution, I can dilute it to a weaker, larger solution using the Dilution Calculation:


C = Concentration V = Volume

My initial concentration is .40 alcohol (or 40%), so C1 = .4

My initial volume is 1.5 oz, so V1 = 1.5 oz

My desired concentration is .05 (or 5%), so C2 = .05.

My desired volume is what we are trying to figure out, so V2 =?

I’ll switch the dilution formula around to meet my needs:

V2 = (C1*V1)/C2

V2 = (.40 * 1.5 oz)/.05

V2 = 12 oz

Now math lovers, if I’m thinking correctly, V2 is going to be my TOTAL ending volume, so my mixer will actually be 12 oz – 1.5 oz = 10.5 oz of mixer since I’ll want to account for the initial 1.5 oz shot in the drink.

Through the glorious power of math and science, it looks like I will need 10.5 oz of non-alcoholic mixer added to my 1.5 oz of rum, vodka, gin, or what have you to make an easy-to-drink 5% solution.

Ah, my high school chem teacher Doc would be proud. Maybe. Well, he’d at least hit your desk really hard with his yard stick, and oh how I wish that were a euphemism for something more risqué.

Recent Food Shopping Patterns

This is long and rambling, but whatevs. Here are some things I’ve been doing lately to try and save even more money at the grocery store:

I’ve found the Co-Op usually has good prices on the basics, like potatoes $4.99 for 10 lb bag, onions $1.29 for 3 lb bag, herbs (bring your own little Ziplocs), beans, hard to find flours. Have coupons and sale combinations that can be quite good (last one was a big container of Brown Cow yogurt for $2 after sale and coupon. Just as cheap as grocery store brand, but tastes much better)

Lee’s Market on Central Ave sometimes has discount produce in bags. The last 2 times I went, there were bruised Japanese eggplants, but inside they were fine (and who can tell after you cook them any way?) The Asian Food Market’s discount produce always looks half rotten, and not worth purchasing.
Lee’s Market for: Napa Cabbage @ $0.49 /lb, possible bags of discount veggies, consistent supply of bean sprouts. Quality for vegetable produce can be iffy at times.

Asian Food Market for: Silken tofu $0.99/box, scallions $0.40/bunch, condiments, seafood (can be iffy, so look carefully), shallots $1.49/lb, frozen squid with tentacles for $3.99. Better overall quality and selection (high turnover) for produce, but more expensive (napa cabbage @ $0.69/lb). Excellent selection on a variety of tasty, inexpensive noodles. My top choice for condiments and most other Asian goods.

Save-A-Lot for: $0.50 per large bunch of cilantro, 5 lb bag masa harina for $2.69, Hunt’s sugar-free tomato sauce for $0.99/can, frozen shrimp $6.99 / 1.5 lb bag, Mexican goods, dried fish.

BJ’s for: King Arthur Flour $6.99/ 10 lb bag, 5 lb can diced tomatoes for $2.49, bulk nuts, sunscreen, peanut oil. I only have this membership because I got it for supplies for when Albany John and I got married last year. I will probably not continue it since I don’t buy much to warrant the $45/year membership fee.

I peruse Hannaford’s flyer for sales, but on the whole I don’t buy as much from there as I used to. There are just cheaper places to buy similar things. That said: Pasta, tuna in olive oil, butter, large tin buckets of olive oil, cheese, broth. I’ll also buy things there if we do need them but can’t get out to the other stores we normally choose (like canned tomatoes, etc). I don’t buy produce there because it is overpriced, and generally of lesser quality than the other options I have in the area. Still, I got a great deal on cabbage around St Patty’s day.

Stewart’s: Milk & Eggs.
I used to shop at Aldi more, but they are currently very far from my normal travel routes. They also do not accept credit cards (debit ok), which is only a minor hindrance, but I like to track monthly spending on the credit cards.

Ok, so my shopping patterns are done. On the whole, I haven’t really been buying as many fresh veggies as I’d like and we’ve been a bit heavier on starches and carbs. The last time we were on a tight budget I ended up gaining a good bit of weight through eating calorie-dense foods and eating whatever anyone gave me for free. While basics are cheap, processed crap is also relatively affordable to buy too.

Albany John will totally verify my hoarding tendencies, but this time around I am trying to have a different perspective and eating as healthfully as possible. Our eating habits have changed as well. We don’t eat much dairy any more, we have grown accustomed to eating more vegetables and foods with minimal processing (or making food from scratch), and overall I try not to think “OH MY GOSH. WE HAVE NOOOO FOOD. EAT WHATEVER YOU CAN GET” and instead think more “Hey, it might be looking slim, but Albany John can make magic happen in the blink of an eye. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MORE FOOD. NO PIGGY, NO”

Total food enjoyment deprivation is not necessary. On this budget there are few frills, but there is still enough moo-lah to buy the occasional piece of fish, or pound of shrimp. Or those mussels at the top of the page. And for some reason, like I said, I have a crapton of butter in my fridge, so there’s plenty of baked goods, too. For me, I like that. I like being able to bake something up if I feel stressed out. (And then, oh no, if I freak out thinking there’s *no* food to eat, then hey, look – a cookie)

Monthly Food Spending

I decided to try and get a handle on my monthly food spending, so this month / billing cycle I tried to take pictures of just about everything that our household bought, either cash or with the food credit card.

After typing up all of the non-pictures, I realized that, oops, I didn’t do such a great job of picture-taking. I included the prices of those items and brief descriptions to give you an idea.

My goal food budget is $300 per month for two people, for the last few months I have raised it to $350. Rising food prices have become a bit of a pickle for me, and the $300/month budget has been in effect since 2004, so I will admit it might be a bit outdated/unrealistic if I continue the purchasing trends I keep exhibiting. But, like any good number cruncher, I psychotically want to keep that budget as close to $300 per month as possible, so we shall see what we can do to bring this number down in the next few months.

I also purchased 50 lbs of beef, bulk (for $200), at the end of October in the hopes of keeping food costs down. This worked out to $4/lb (cut weight), but I have not yet included this in my calculations. I’ll work on amortizing my beef next month.

Should I tell you how much I spent? Do you want to guess? Ok, here’s the deal. I’ll tell you at the end of the post, so you can look and estimate on your way down. Feel free to judge me for my love of that fake buttery syrup spread too. I snuck it in the cart when Albany John wasn’t looking.

Not pictured – Asian Food Market $27 (sauces, pork, wonton skins, veggies)

Veggie Cart – 11/8 – $15 (strawberries, canteloupe, pears, grapefruit, orange, onions, red onions)

Hannaford – cash – Light Orange drink, $1.47 after tax

BJ’s – 3 gal Peanut Oil, $35.99
Hannaford – $9, turkey, one box pasta, yogurt

Hannaford – $19.51, Land O Lakes Butter, .5 gal milk, eggs, one Fund a Feast box
BJ’s – $17.89, King Arthur Flour and Walnuts
Hoosick St Wine – $29.14 – Rum and Wine
Bed Bath and Beyond – $16.18 – kitchen shelving
Beef – rough estimate, $20-30
Upcoming veggie cart trip – $15
Total Spent: $370-380 (including beef estimate and one more veggie cart purchase)
I am a bit surprised (but maybe not SO very surprised) at the amount I am [over] spending. This was definitely an educational experience for me, and hopefully it will help me curb any impulse spending in the future.
The idea of having set meals planned out for the week makes me kind of depressed, since I like changing things up at the last minute. Albany John had a good idea to make a general guideline of available meals out of items in our pantry, for maybe a week or something like that. This would help all of the last minute trips to the grocery store for a few extra items we don’t have, and also contribute less waste overall (although I think we’ve been pretty good about not wasting as much this month).
So, how does your actual vs. budgeted food spending look like? It looks like I am way over my goal budget of $300 per month. Have you cut back on spending, or increased your spending amounts for groceries?
Over the next few months I am going to see if I can wrangle this budget back down to $300, or see if $350 is going to be my new monthly food budget.