Filling the time with noodles

This summer I chose to enroll my son in his first organized team sport, and I had high hopes for him. I imagined he would enjoy it, and although I didn’t have any expectations for his performance, I truly believed he would have a good experience.

We outfitted him with new gear and spent time talking about the game to increase his excitement in anticipation of his first practice. We went out for his first event all together as a family, and he was bursting with happiness.

However, by the end of the first session, he was less than enthusiastic, and with every event we took him to, his frustration grew. He left the field for comfort many times each game, he had to be repeatedly encouraged to participate and reminded that his teammates needed him to return to the game, and he was reduced to tears on more than one occasion.

We left every game angry and frustrated and deeply upset.

The morning of his next game, I asked him how he felt about it. He told me it makes him sad because his friends are all bigger and faster than him, so he never gets to kick the ball, and with tears forming in his big blue eyes he told me he wished he didn’t have to do it anymore.

That was more than enough for me to declare his season over. I will not be that parent who forces their child to do something they hate just for the sake of it. He didn’t ask to be enrolled, I chose that for him, and although I wish he had enjoyed it, I feel no shame in walking away from something that causes us all so much grief.

When I told him that we were done and he wouldn’t have to go ever again, he jumped up and down and thanked me a hundred times. He’ll get much more out of kicking the ball in the yard with his parents — away from the crowd and the pressure of competition, and we’ll try something different next year.

With those evenings freed up, I again have the time to make more time-consuming dishes instead of the often mediocre crockpot meals I had been preparing for game nights.

My little one loves noodles of all shapes and sizes, but he particularly enjoys thick and chewy udon noodles with tofu, so I made some from scratch.

These noodles are made with only three ingredients, but they require a bit of time, patience and a lot of elbow grease.

Udon Noodles


¾ cup all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons hot water

2 teaspoon salt


Sift the flour into a large bowl.

Dissolve the salt in the hot water.

Drizzle the water into the flour very slowly while using your fingers to mix the dough. After all the water has been incorporated, the dough may still be quite dry. Keep kneading for a few minutes and if the dough is still ragged or if there is still a lot of dry flour in the bowl, add just a few drops of water at a time until the dough comes together. It will be very tough and dense.

Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and begin kneading. Use your body weight to help you while you knead for at least 15 minutes. This is necessary to make tender but chewy noodles.

When the dough is as soft as your earlobe, wrap it tightly in plastic and rest for 2 hours.

Roll the dough out to a square shape about ¼ inch thick.

Fold the dough a couple times and cut into ¼ inch strips.

Carefully separate the noodles and toss in a little cornstarch or potato starch to keep them from sticking.

To cook, boil for 3-5 minutes or until they float and are cooked through. Strain and rinse in cold water to remove the excess starch. Serve cold, reheated in broth, or stir-fried.