By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
McCOMB — Pat Powell is kind of a bigwig when it comes to noodles.
Every year she makes all of the noodles that go into the chicken and noodles that are sold at the McComb Academic Boosters’ booth at the Hancock County Fair. She also makes oodles of noodles for the annual chicken and noodle dinner that helps the McComb eighth-grade class fund its class trip.
Her secret weapon for making all those pounds of noodles? A hand-crank noodle maker machine that attaches to a table top.
“I tried doing it the old way (cutting them with a knife),” said Powell, who recently gave two workshops on making noodles at the McComb Public Library. “Some were too thin. You have to make them uniform or they’re not going to look right.”
Powell now lives in Findlay but grew up in McComb and graduated from high school there in 1970.
“When I was a child growing up, my mother was making noodles, and she’d do them the old-fashioned way, cutting them real thin,” she said. “So I got married in 1980, and my mother-in-law showed me how to make noodles and use the machine.”
Her mother-in-law, Helen Powell, made noodles for church dinners, she said.
Powell got involved supplying noodles for the fair booth 19 years ago when a friend from church asked her to help. She’s been doing them ever since. She started making noodles for the eighth-grade dinner around 2000.
“The first time I made them for the school dinner, there were around 800 tickets sold, so I had to make 172 pounds (of noodles),” she said.
The recipe is easy, according to Powell, who uses Helen’s recipe. It’s just flour and eggs mixed together until you get the right consistency.
“You’ll know by the stickiness,” she said. “You don’t want it too sticky or too dry.”
The recipe, which includes one dozen eggs and eight cups of flour, makes about three pounds of noodles.
Once the dough is mixed, break off pieces of dough about the size of your hand and roll it into a ball. With the rollers of the machine open wide, roll each of the dough balls into a flatter sheet. Once you’ve finished all of the dough, move the rollers closer together and roll each piece through again to make them thinner, she said.
Powell has a wooden clothes drying rack that she hangs the pieces of dough on to dry. The pieces need to dry for at least 30 minutes on each side.
“You have to let them dry before you start cutting them or they’re going to stick together,” she explained. “If they’re not quite dry, then you have to let them sit a little longer. It depends how warm it is in your house.”
Powell said she has one rack dedicated to noodles.
“I do have another one, but that’s for my blue jeans,” she laughed.
(Both her noodle cutter and drying rack came from Ohio’s Amish Country.)
Once the dough is dry, Powell sends it through the machine again, this time using the cutting attachment to create uniform-sized noodles that she lays out on parchment paper. Fans above her tables at home help the noodles dry overnight.
Powell’s husband, Gene, is a fan of noodles, “but he hardly ever gets them,” she said. “I don’t make them at home.”
Instead, she likes to bake pies and make decorated sugar cookies.
She also offered babysitting for 40 years. She fully retired in December.
Powell has three sons who live in the area, and nine grandchildren. When asked if they ever come over and cook with her, she smiled: “They just come and eat.”
Pat Powell’s Noodle Recipe
(Using a noodle cutting machine)
8 cups all-purpose flour
Mix eggs and flour together, adding flour as needed to assure the dough isn’t sticky. Knead the mixture.
Pat into balls of dough and feed into the noodle roller to flatten a bit. Roll all of the balls through the machine, then narrow the rolls and feed the pieces of dough through again.
Hang the dough pieces on a drying rack and let dry for about 30 minutes on each side or longer, depending on how warm your house is.
When dry, put the pieces through the machine again, this time using the cutting attachment. Lay the noodles out on parchment paper overnight.
Store in gallon Zip-lock bags and keep in the freezer until ready to use.
To cook, add the noodles to broth or water and cook for about 10 minutes.
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