Saturday, February 18, 2006

Comfort Food at its Best

Chicken and Dumplings. A childhood favorite. A simple indulgence as an adult that always takes me back to childhood. It's nothing fancy, and even has an ingredient that food snobs would scoff at. I'll get to that later.
Chicken and dumplings is one of the first things I remember making when I moved into an apartment by myself during college. Just like mom made. Back then, I'd use a whole chicken. Somewhere over time, I went through a phase where the whole chicken grossed me out so would use skin on chicken breasts. After a couple of years of being the family's chicken & dressing maker at the holidays, (and a tighter budget) I'm back to using the whole chicken.
A stockpot full of water, a whole chicken, celery, onion, and some salt and pepper. I let the chicken stew until it is falling off the bone. I then remove it from the stockpot, debone it, and add the edible parts back to the pot. Now it's time for the dumplings. I've made homemade dumplings before, the most memorable time when Lula's youngest sister and I teamed up. Hers were huge fluffy pillows; mine were more like miniature marshmallows. Teamwork certainly not at its best...we had a huge mess and overflowing stock and dumplings. Thankfully I had a 2nd stockpot because we needed it! No matter what I tried, nothing ever compared to mom's. So, how does mom do her dumplings? Simple. A can of biscuits! You just pinch teaspoon size pieces of the uncooked biscuits and drop them in the stock. Oh, how I remember when I got to help with this as a child. It was such a treat to see the pieces of dough fluff up into soft, flavorful dumplings. Comfort food. Reminders of a more worry free time. Reminders of home.

Today is a perfect day for something to warm up the bones, as we've had a temperature swing of about 50+ degrees over the past 48 hours. It's cold!

Tonight, I began working on decluttering my dining table, which is filled with scrapbook stuff. To do this, I had to go through a pile of stuff in my guest room that has pictures of Dakota. I found many sympathy cards sent to me during the weeks after his death. What to do with these? To throw them away seems to be comparable to forgetting about all the people whose lives he touched, whether they knew him personally or through me. To keep them means to periodically be brought to tears those times when I stop to look through and read the kind words of friends. I'm choosing the latter. I can't bear to part with any memories of him, whether direct or indirect.


Lula said...

Yum! Perfect weather for dumplings. When J and I were first married I tried to make the homemade noodles that my mom makes. I made a huge mistake in the fact that I used self-rising flour. I came into the kitchen to check on them and the lid was about six inches off the pot and all the noodles were stuck together. Huge mess! :)

Robyn1007 said...

Mmmm, sounds yummy! I hear you on the temperature thing, its currently 18 degrees here!

Jennifer said...

Lula, I don't remember ever having your mom's dumplings. Apparantly your littlest sis didn't quite know how to make them either. :)

Robyn, it's warm here compared to there (but it's a dry cold there, right??? :) ). Like that makes a difference when it gets so cold, huh?

Robyn1007 said...

Yes, its a dry cold and it does make a difference as I am noticing compared to Virginia. I have been walking around in a down vest for the duration and its chilly but fine.

Ivonne said...

Chicken and dumplings is not a dish that was made in my household while I was growing up. But the first time I heard of it (from Little House on the Praire no less ... this is an embarrassing admission!) I knew I always wanted to try it.

Sounds and looks delicious!

Mona said...

that looks delicious! i love chicken and dumplings :)