Mama's Losing It: 3.) Share a family favorite childhood recipe.
I remember, when I was younger, one of the meals my mom liked to make for us was Chicken and Dumplings- and she was good at it.
And I remember there was a moment during my childhood that my mom made Chicken and Dumplings EVERY day for about a week. We- my siblings and I- recounted this memory many years later and my mom denied it, but we remembered.
The thing about the Chicken and Dumplings, though, is out of all the meals I had growing up, that's the meal that sticks out- and not because we nearly demanded a new dish after repeated servings of it. Its not flashy; its not exotic; but if you were to ask me to define my childhood in a meal, that would be it:
- seemingly ordinary, yet profoundly extraordinary
- and, at times, repetitive
The amazing thing about the "simple" dishes, though, is the fewer the ingredients, the bigger the chance of screwing it up. Remembering my tasty childhood memories, I wanted so badly to share this meal with my in-laws once I was married and -let's just say- while it wasn't a "crash and burn", it WAS a lesson learned.
I'm proud to say that the years have been good to my cooking chops, so the recipe that follows is now only in my recipe book purely for the memories. The real recipe I hold in my heart.
Chicken and Dumplings
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups diced onion
2 cloves garlic
1 3-4lb roaster chicken
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 cup milk+2 tbsp cornstarch (for thickening power)
Put chicken in a large pot. Cover COMPLETELY with water. Add bay leaves and allow it to come to a boil. Add a couple of LARGE dashes of salt (remember- the chicken and veggies don't come packed with their own flavoring, so salt now and then re-taste later to see if it needs more!), pepper (to YOUR taste preference), thyme and rosemary. Set to med. heat for 45-60 minutes or until the chicken is falling off the bone.
Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. Remove any pieces of skin that might be floating in the pot by itself- boiled skin isn't really tasty. If you're particularly "choosy" (such a better word than picky, don'tcha think?), you can strain all the stock to get out any "floaties". If you want thicker soup, now is the time to add the milk/cornstarch slurry. If I were you, I'd add a little at a time. You won't see the full thickening power until the soup comes to a boil, so do this part SLOWLY.
Add diced veggies to the pot. While veggies are cooking, shred the chicken (it should be cool enough to touch without burning yourself). Once the veggies are tender, add the chicken and remove the bay leaves. Taste it now, because it becomes MUCHO difficult once the dumplings are crowding the pot.
And NOW- its time to make the dumplings.
2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cups milk
Stir until a soft dough forms. Drop spoonfuls into the boiling stew; reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes; cook covered for 10 minutes.