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Published November 17, 2013, 01:36 PM

Mother and daughter run pasta business from home

McKENZIE, N.D. (AP) — Opening the door to the balmy room, the smells of cumin, onion powder and basil fill the nose. Drying racks half full of noodles line two walls. Barrels of freshly milled flour fill a back room.

By: JESSICA HOLDMAN, The Bismarck Tribune, WDAY

McKENZIE, N.D. (AP) — Opening the door to the balmy room, the smells of cumin, onion powder and basil fill the nose. Drying racks half full of noodles line two walls. Barrels of freshly milled flour fill a back room.

From the smell, people might think they're walking into a pasta factory, but it's really a repurposed bedroom of a McKenzie farmhouse.

Molly Nolan, along with her daughter, Catelin Nolan, has turned her bedroom into a commercial kitchen for an in-home pasta business.

Nolan bought North Woods Pasta from Carla Merrit of Sawyer and started production in August. She teaches nursing classes at the University of Mary but wanted to find a job she could do on the side that would allow her to spend more time at home with her family.

After researching the business, Nolan thought it would be sustainable and would work well with her schedule. She also knew she'd have more time to spend on the business and expand the customer base.

A self-proclaimed foodie, Nolan said she had long hoped to own a deli, a coffee shop or another food service business. That is partially why the pasta business appealed to her.

Nolan and her daughter spend about 40 hours per week on the business and can make 17 pounds of pasta per hour if necessary. Catelin Nolan, 18, said she started by helping out here and there to support her mother's business idea. Sharing a love of cooking, she's now one of her mother's biggest helpers.

The Nolans do not have a storefront for their business. They fill orders received online at www.northwoodspasta.com or over the phone at their home, and either deliver them personally or ship them, The Bismarck Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/HYiTy3 ).

Nolan said she used to make her own noodles, but starting the business was a learning process. She bought an Italian pasta-maker. From the man who sold her the pasta-maker, books and trial and error, she learned noodle recipes and about extruding to create craters in noodles so they soak up the sauce.

"If you're even off 10 grams, things change completely," she said.

Though the family jokes that her grandmother may have had a Mediterranean heritage, Nolan said she is not Italian. She does, however, come from "a long line of really good cooks," she said.

Nolan's grandparents owned a corner cafe in Wisconsin, where she grew up, and her sister is a cook at an upscale Twin Cities restaurant. Nolan grew up cooking a lot, a tradition she has passed on to her daughter. Her father ran a snack company, which has sparked an idea she may eventually incorporate into her own business — fried pasta curls as a snack option.

Nolan has other ideas for the business. Hers is a different style of pasta making, closer to traditional Italian pasta. She is working on perfecting a ravioli recipe for frozen pasta. She has added a whole wheat pasta and is working on a gluten-free recipe. She would like to eventually add pasta sauces to the product line.

Nolan has about 15 different types and flavors of pasta. All are made from wheat milled in Minot and all ingredients are natural.

"As a nurse and where we're headed, we eat such junk," Nolan said, explaining why she uses natural ingredients. "If I wouldn't eat it, I wouldn't ask anyone else to."

Since taking over the business, Nolan said, everything has gone well with things ramping up for the holiday season. She has many new customers since friends and relatives have helped spread the word about her business.

If the business gets large enough, Nolan said, she will move it out of her home. But for right now, it's a good fit.

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