Thursday, January 3, 2008

What Did You Have for Dinner Tonight?

I made chicken and dumplings for dinner tonight. This is a much loved meal from my childhood, and I guess it betrays my deeply southern roots. For years, I didn't make chicken and dumplings but would request it of my mom whenever I was at her house or she was at mine. She would always happily oblige and no matter how adept I get at the recipe, hers are always better than mine.

Around the time The Kid was born I started making them myself, once a year, around or on my birthday. Only once a year because while my beloved husband will patiently watch me cook green beans to death and does not cringe at my little container of bacon grease in the fridge, he just couldn't get very excited about chicken and dumplings. He ate it, often enthusiastically, but it was far from his favorite meal. I figured once a year I could indulge myself with this odd southern dish.

A few years ago, we were living in Ohio and Lefty and The Kid had taken me out to lunch for my birthday. It was snowing pretty hard but we were cash-strapped and the birthday lunch was the only real celebration of the day and Lefty insisted. We would be fine. We had a four wheel drive truck. On the way home from my lunch, a car passing us hit a patch of ice, spun out of control and hit us head on. We were all thankfully okay. The truck was totaled and when we finally got back home, battered and bruised and probably deeply in shock, I made chicken and dumplings - because it was my birthday.

A year ago, though, the chicken and dumplings factor shifted in our little house when The Kid suddenly expressed great enthusiasm for the dish and begged me to make it more often. So when my mom visited in October, I had her watch me and walk me through the entire process. I was making some serious miscalculations with the chicken and was cheating a bit in the dough by adding more milk. I was definitely not rolling my dumplings out thin enough. The batch that was a result of her master class was by far the best I ever made. I was so proud.

So I made chicken and dumplings tonight because my birthday is this month and The Kid's just passed and I had plenty of time to lavish on the process. Along the way I thought of my mom and her seemingly infinite patience with me, even now that I'm a parent myself. I though of that pot of Ohio dumplings made squarely in the face of adversity and fear. Today, when it was time to put the dumplings in, The Kid helped me throw them in, laughing as he tossed some in the pot, some on the stove, a few on the counter, one on the floor and one into the coffeemaker. I can't wait to teach him the recipe.


  1. I would love your recipe. Want to host a Slow Cook Thursday? I haven't had these in almost thiry years.

  2. I'd be honored to share my recipe with you (and your readers)on any given Thursday!!

  3. One of my biggest food regrets involves chicken and dumplings. My father's family is southern (both he and his mother were born in Tennessee), and this was one his favorite meals. My German mother also grew to love them, but never learned how to make the dish (she and my grandmother didn't get along). Even my brother was enthusiastic about them. Me? I turned up my nose at them. Every time my grandmother would invite us over for chicken and dumplings, I'd refuse to taste even one bite. Instead, I'd eat the homemade mac-and-cheese my grandmother prepared especially for me.

    When I became interested in cooking, and interested in my southern roots, my grandmother had stopped cooking much at all. She eventually developed dementia, and died having never shared any of her recipes, let alone the one for chicken and dumplings.

    Now it just makes me sad, to think about what I missed all those years. I'd give anything for a plate of her chicken and dumplings.

  4. Karen, I'm so sorry. Perhaps you should make yourself a batch of chicken and dumplings - it might be healing.

  5. I think the obvious solution would be for you to post your chicken and dumplings recipe on your blog. I, for one, would love to make it!