Who knew that making your own pasta is so easy? Any fears about this endeavor were put to rest by Amelia Smith of Thames Valley Sustainable Connections when a small group of eager cooks gathered in the kitchen at St. James Episcopal Church in New London on March 17th.
The first of a series of 2018 food and canning workshops, the pasta class was unbelievably simple. Flour. Salt. Eggs. Mixing and kneading. Resting and rolling. Then cutting the pasta into shapes. Smith demonstrated two methods for making the dough, starting with using a food processor. “Be sure not to over-mix the dough,” she said, “or it will be tough.”
After a brief resting period, the dough was ready to roll. Using a rolling pin, she treated the dough just as one would for pie dough. Once the dough was the proper thickness, Smith cut it into thin ribbons. Voila. Homemade pasta.
The second demonstration was how to prepare the dough on the counter by piling the flour into a mound, then mixing the egg and salt into it until the dough forms. Again, a brief resting period, then cutting. Smith demonstrated the use of an Italian hand-crank pasta machine that can both roll the dough very thin, then cut it into either spaghetti or ribbons.
Asked how she happened to follow this career path, she smiled. “My mother introduced me to canning foods, and I worked on a family farm with my father,” she said. “These experiences helped to shape my interest and skills regarding food preservation and homesteading.”
Smith will be offering workshops for several interesting topics over the coming months. The classes are held at St. James Episcopal Church on Saturdays and there is a suggested donation of $20. Students get instruction and hands-on experience, working alongside Smith and producing items to take home with them.
Intro to pressure canning: Tomatoes—Sept. 8, noon-2 p.m.
Intro to pressure canning: Applesauce— Sept. 22 from noon-2 p.m.
Intro to fermentation: Kraut and Kimchi—Oct. 12-2 p.m.
Fire Cider—Dec. 8 12-2 p.m.
Thames Valley Sustainable Connections is all about supporting the community and building resilience through community. These food and canning classes are part of the organization's mission to provide invaluable resources for businesses and individuals to encourage sustainable living. Other projects sponsored by TVSC include three farmers markets—two in New London and one in the City of Groton; a neighborhood revitalization project in Hodges Square Village; and, a symposium on Community Resilience and the “Thinking Local First” campaign to invigorate local businesses.
Smith says she joined TVSC last year by offering workshops dedicated to home preservation and canning. “If you can and preserve your own fruits and vegetables, then when it’s winter you can just reach onto your shelf and it’s like summer,” she says. Many of the workshops are designed around the seasons and the available items growing locally and at farmers markets. The focus will be water bath and pressure canning jams, pickles, tomatoes, and applesauce, as well as preserving foods in other ways like using salt brine for sauerkraut and kimchi.
“I believe that good food can be inexpensive, accessible, and simple to make and store, and I want to share that belief and process so people can feel a direct connection to what they choose to put into their bodies,” says Smith. “I hope to provide a fun learning environment and pass along everything I’ve learned about food preservation to anyone who’s interested.”
Food & Canning Workshops
St. James Episcopal Church
76 Federal Street
New London, CT 06320
Amelia Smith: 860-235-9123