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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Good Ol' Homemade Chicken And Noodles

Chuck Hinman: Good Ol' Homemade Chicken And Noodles Chuck remembers his mom's expertise in making home-made noodles.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - Baby Chicks Time On The Farm

By Chuck Hinman

Good Ol' Homemade Chicken And Noodles

Both my mom and my wife shared one expertise; both were experts at making home-made noodles but in very different ways. In all my years of living, I never saw a store-bought package of egg-noodles in a Hinman pantry. Skinners or American Beauty would have gone bankrupt if they depended on the Hinmans keeping them in the noodle business.

I woke up last night and didn't go back to sleep immediately thinking, about food (of course). Two long-ago things came to mind; picturing Mom making and rolling out her noodles on our enamel porcelain-top kitchen utility table and then drying this round sheet of noodles over the back of a chair placed next to the hot furnace in the living-dining room. To complete the picture, you have to know this sheet of noodles was lying on top of the day's newspaper. That newspaper was unfolded over the back of the chair pulled up to the very edge of the hot furnace.

Chicken and noodles was a staple in my early days growing up on a Nebraska farm during the depression -- the early 1930's. The Hinmans weren't plush with money. Mom learned the art of "making do" with what we had in abundance. We ate well!

Chickens from young fryers to eggs to final days

We always had a large flock of Leghorn and/or Rhode Island Red chickens. Besides supplying a young fryer for many summertime delicious meals, as the chickens aged and laid eggs, they provided the cash-flow for most everything in the household. That ranged from the store-bought food items to an occasional piece of new clothing or music lessons for the Hinman kids.

When "setting hens" had reached the final days of their egg-making capabilities, they didn't fool my savvy Mom. She could gently lift an old mother-hen off the nest, and feel between her legs up next to where the eggs exited her body. She could tell if her egg-laying equipment was worn out. If so, she was on the endangered list and a candidate for Mom's next chicken and noodle dinner. Sad? Yes, but a fact of life.

For the noodle part of this delicacy, Mom would have dropped dead before she would waste her hard to come by money on store-bought noodles. To tell you the truth, I don't know if packaged noodles were available as they are now.

Kitchen utility table was mom's right hand man

Even though we were poor, Mom had a state-of-the-art kitchen; however kitchens in those days (the early 1930's) were not equipped with endless counter space on which to prepare foods items.

In one corner of our large square kitchen was a white enamel porcelain top kitchen utility table -- now a pricey antique. Mom used that table for everything from rolling out noodles, baking an apple pie, cutting up a young fryer, attaching a grinder to the edge of the table and grinding up a bunch of fresh horseradish, or grinding up the leftovers of the roast beef for some yummy sandwich spread. That utility table was her "right hand man" and she made good use of it in preparing meals. I've seen her use the table to sprinkle down the clean laundry on Monday afternoon for the next day's ironing party with the kitchen stove heated irons. Precious memories -- how they linger!

On frigid winter days, a blazing fire was usually going on in the furnace between the colonnades in the living-dining room. Mom would pull up a dining room chair next to the hot furnace and unfold the current issue of the Beatrice Daily Sun over the back of the chair. Then she would unfold her noodle pastry on the newspaper to dry a little faster for supper.

No one died from homemade noodles with a smudge of printers ink

When I questioned some lady at breakfast here at Tallgrass Estates this morning about the efficacy of putting a food item on top of a newspaper with all its ink, she added that every house wife did it in those days and never looked back. No one is known to have died from consuming printers ink off homemade noodles!

In a couple of hours, the drying process was finished and Mom took the dried sheet of noodle pastry back to the porcelain table in the kitchen. There she completed the process by cutting the pastry in bite size pieces with her well used paring knife.

In the meantime, the setting hen du jour was boiling off the bone on the nearby wood-burning kitchen stove. After all the bones and skin were removed, the chicken was cut up in bite size pieces and placed back in the large pan of broth. The broth was brought to a slow boil. The homemade noodles were added slowly and left to stew until the noodles were fully cooked.

Adding a bit of flour and a smidgen of food coloring

I have seen Mom add some flour to lightly thicken the broth but not too much. I have also seen my wife Connie add just a smidgen of yellow food coloring at this stage of the preparation so the finished chicken and noodles didn't have a watered down or anemic look. Oh, you culinary experts! How did you get so smart? Probably from lots of experience!

Both Mom and Connie presented a finished product that not only tasted fantastic but was appealing to your eyes, a secret of cooking known only by a few. Connie and Mom Hinman were in that elite group when it came to Homemade Chicken and Noodles. Pass the ......... please!

Written by Chuck Hinman, 23 December 2006.

This story was posted on 2013-03-10 00:03:20
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