tortellini soup, a well-loved dish in my mom's family.Since I can remember, my mom and her sisters have talked about great-grandma Noni's homemade tortellini. My grandparents would pack the kids in the car and drive from St. Louis to Carlinville, Illinois. My mom tells how she would sit on the countertop while Noni rolled out the pasta dough into paper-thin sheets, cut it into dainty squares, packed them with a pinch of meat and folded it upon itself, forming cute little pockets of stuffed pasta. She would make enough to last for a month of homey
I think to my mom and her sisters (or really anyone who has bought a $1 bushel of spaghetti) making pasta seems as if it belongs to a different era. One of ladies who made an art of stay-at-home-wifehood. They probably stitched clothing for their families, worked out dainty needlepoint, made quilts, baked bread and, for the Italians, made their own stuffed pasta. I am absolutely in awe thinking of what they could do. I can barely feed a thread through a sewing machine.
We were sitting around the breakfast table the day after Thanksgiving, talking about grandmas Ella and Noni. Aunt Jean went on about how Noni would absolutely beat the dough into submission on the countertop. I think it was me who suggested we give pasta-making a try. Jean and Mom said we couldn't do it--rolling the dough would take forever. However, squeezing the dough through a borrowed pasta maker would be a cinch.
It's true, we almost gave up before we started. But pasta maker in hand and Jean on the phone with Aunt Marsha to get a recipe, we were in it with no reason to turn back.
We fiddled with the pasta roller until it bent to our will--or until we bent to it. And it produced, after seven turns through the crank, a sheet of dough so thin you could see through it.
Jean cut the first squares, placed the teeniest dollop of meat in the center, folded the square cross-wise to form a triangle, sealed the meat inside and pinched the acute corners of the triangle together to form the navel. And, elation. The impossible is possible!
We fed extra scraps to the dog, who turned out to the love the process just as much as the rest of us.