As I write this, it’s raining outside and melting the snow we got earlier this week. Raining. In February. I don’t know what’s worse, the gloomy slop outside or the people in my Facebook feed who cheer every time it does actually snow. And while I know there are those out there who do a little jig at the thought of pristine white landscapes and inches of fresh powder, especially given we have had so little of it this year, do you know what I think? Blaaah. I’m so over it, kids. Give me a hot rock to lay on like a lizard and I’ll leave winter to all the rest of the self-respecting Canadians out there who won’t wait for a warmer day. Last I heard they’re all over in Crazy Town, ice fishing, and commenting on how brisk the horizontal snow is.
Actually, I am being a little dramatic. This winter has been a remarkably mild one, and I suppose I should be thankful, but as you can tell you might as well stick a fork in me ’cause, baby I’m done. I am not a fan of winter, and as always happens at this time of year I am stuck smack in the middle of the winter blahs. It’s a predictable cycle which probably has to do with lack of sunshine and green growing things, and I know that sometime during February my last nerve is going to start humming like an over-taught piano wire and it’s time to take a break. Last week I spent wallowing in the comforts of home, and I needed it. I baked. I napped. I baked, took stuff to friends, then napped. I flipped though seed catalogues and old pictures, hatched new plans and came out the other side feeling like something resembling a human being.
Part of my sloth-like wallows and plan-hatching involved some serious consideration about when and how I can get my butt back to Germany. As some of my regular readers know, my very best bestie Frau Sperrmüllmöbelstück (seriously? You realize what happens if I short form that, right? :)) lives there, along with her husband Heppy and daughter Rosebud. Rosebud also happens to be my god-daughter, and in my completely objective and unbiased opinion is the smartest baby in the history of baby-making and will be Prime Minister of the world some day. Just so you know.
All this Germanic day dreaming got me in the mood for some good German food, and what does a cooped-up Canadian gal on a (really) tight budget do? Why, she makes spätzle, of course. Spätzle is one of those things that, if you’re into it, people tend to have some very definite opinions about. When I was looking around for some video for this post I came across post after post of people arguing about every teeny tiny aspect of the stuff. How to make the spätzle. How to eat the spätzle. How to pronounce “the spätzle” with accompanying indignant videos. I don’t know why anyone would get so uptight about a bunch of egg noodles, but it was pretty funny all the same. And, no, I am not going to tell you how to pronounce it. The last thing I need is a bunch of angry spätzlemeisters flaming me.
Anyway, take away all the mystique around it and spätzle is just a type of egg noodle, nothing more. I thought it deserved a mention here on the blog for a number of reasons:
1. It’s fairly economical to make, with simple, handy ingredients. It is just a basic noodle that, as long as you have the eggs, can make a big meal out of very little.
2. It’s really simple to make if you ignore all the hype. Like I said, it’s just a basic egg noodle, but one you don’t have to roll out and all that jazz. Spätzle is made with more of a batter than a dough and as such is a little more goof-proof and a lot less work. I personally find making spätzle to be a lot faster and a lot less annoying than anything I have to roll out.
3. It changes things up. I don’t know about you, but I get food fatigue fairly easily. I can only imagine what mid February would be like if we were living solely off our stores like Great Grandma did. One can only eat so many potatoes after all.
So here is my spätzle recipe, given to me by Herr Heppy himself. Forgive me if I’m giving out the secret family recipe here, Heppy, but the world needs more of this stuff.
500 g flour (about 3 1/3 cups)
pinch of salt
4 – 5 eggs (depending on size, I use 4 large)
1/8 – 1/4 L water or milk (1/2 – 1 cup)
a bit of oil (couple of tablespoons, tops)
Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer. Make sure the batter is a bit runny so that it will pass though the holes of the spätzle maker smoothly.
Don’t have a spätzle maker? Never fear, people have been making spätzle for hundreds of years and you don’t need specialized equipment. Remember, you’re just making noodles not rocket boosters for deep space flight, so don’t sweat it. All you need is something with holes in it to smoosh the batter through, so a grater with large holes will work or even a ricer would do. Or you could do it the traditional way using only a board with a knife. Check out this video showing how, it’s pretty cool. Anyway, back to the recipe.
Fill a big pot full of water and bring it to a boil. Fill the spätzle maker basket with the batter (mine in the picture is a bit lumpy), and holding it over the water pull the basket back and forth so the batter falls through the holes and into the boiling water. (Or smash it through your grater, or use your board – whatever works for you.)
The spätzle noodles are finished when they rise to the surface – it only takes a few seconds. Fish them out and set them aside in a bowl while you finish up with the rest of the batter.
That’s it! Now you’ve got yourself a big bowl of hot, homemade egg noodles for next to nothing. Use them the same as you would for any other egg noodle. Fry them in a pan with some butter and eat ’em just like that. Add a whole bunch of cheese and some onion and make käsespätzle. Add them to your stew. I personally like them fried with lots of onion, bacon, mushrooms and a slug of sour cream. Oh, heaven.
So there you have it, kids, easy-peasy spätzle deliciousness. Give it a shot and see what you think. And if you make spätzle, tell me about it! Strangely, I like hearing spätzle stories – they usually end up being more about Grandmas and memories, and I like that sort of thing.
Oh, and Frau Sperrmüllmöbelstück? Better tell the spätzlemeister to get his game face on – I’ve been looking at flights.