- charlotte fletcher@roma land woodcrafts
- I LOVE to design and to paint whimsical items that will put a smile on your face. Each day I share my simple life with you as I try to encourage, to inspire and sometimes JUST to make you smile as I recount my life growing up on a dairy farm! I've never had many material items in my life, BUT I have been blessed beyond words with love and encouragement from WONDERFUL Parents who instilled in me WHAT was important. I have had EVERYTHING that I needed and WAY too much of what I wanted. I am slowly learning to be a better person each day through my interactions with my friends on Facebook. Some day I hope to be as good as people seem to THINK I am! I am BLESSED! Welcome to my little corner of the world...Please stop by and visit often!
Sunday, June 26, 2016
Lately, I have had this almost aching desire to reconnect with past memories through food.
I don’t know why, but I have had the desire to cook the favorite foods of my family.
There is some great comfort in holding that black iron skillet in my hand again. It holds memories from years of meals provided for our health, so that our health could be used for HIS service, and eat we did, and yes, serve, we did, also.
I loved hearing that line that Daddy said in his prayer each time he prayed, “bless this food to nourish our bodies, and our health to Your service.”
I think that about sums up the motto of my family.
So, once again, I was reminded this week of yet another family memory.
My cousin asked for the family recipe of Chicken and Dumplings like Mother and Aunt Becky made. I told her that I really didn’t think there was a recipe, but I would look and let her know.
Mother made so many things from memory, and that is how she taught me to cook. I have shared that often she would remember a recipe with how many ingredients it had in it~~Eggplant casserole was 5: crackers, butter, egg, flour, onion (salt and pepper was always a given). Oddly enough, this was one of Daddy’s favorite things to eat, yet he would not eat cooked squash! SERIOUSLY??!! Ah, but fry those suckers and he couldn’t get enough, but in all fairness, it is hard to fathom someone not liking that. LOL
Sooooooooo, into the old file I went, and that is where the serendipity moment happened.
I didn’t look so much at the recipes, as I did at whose recipes they belonged to. Memories flooded my soul as I remembered Miss Bertha (and Mr. Henry), Miss Jeannette (and Mr. Horace), Avis (and Holcolm), recipe after recipe from her best friend and classmate, Shirley, my cousin, Trish, and on and on…
My mind recalled moments spent with each as we visited on a Sunday Afternoon, back when people took time to visit their neighbors and to go for a Sunday drive. I laughed as I recalled visiting the Jones’ and she asked if we wanted a piece of pie. I asked, “what kind” KNOWING if it were coconut, I would not eat it…I KNEW that asking was wrong, and as soon as it came from my mouth, those Blue laser-beam eyes drilled two holes in my skin. What is a small child to do~~get in trouble for asking or get in trouble for wasting food!! Mother tried her best to teach me good manners…she tried… =(
I laughed as I saw “never fail” on a recipe from Miss Jeannette, because Mother had shared the story of Jeannette making some “never fail cookies” that failed all over the cookie sheet! It became a challenge to find those recipes and exchange them at Christmas. Miss Jeannette taught Mother, Miss Mildred, and another Miss Mildred, how to knit, and the joke was that Miss Mildred Matthews had to rip her project out so many times, it became mohair! Priceless…
I giggled as I saw a recipe from Miss Betty B, because when she married Mr. Bill, Miss Jessie (Bill’s mother) was so concerned about Miss Betty B’s lack of cooking skills, because she was, after all, a city girl and she could not have her city girl starving her big old hunk of a strong star football player!! Miss Betty B “allegedly” made a tuna casserole and a pot of chili every week~~spring, summer, fall, winter!! (yes, I have shared HOW WRONG that is on so many levels.) BUT, Mr. Bill was a big man, and I think he did just fine and never seemed to starve to death. Oh, to have one of Miss Betty B’s forgotten cookies right now…That was love in a cookie.
Miss Bertha and Mr. Henry were our special friends. They lived up the road, around the big curve…YES, there are a lot of big curves around where I live, and you had to know WHICH BIG CURVE someone was talking about! LOL Daddy farmed Mr. Henry’s land for many years, and when we had the ice storm of 1970, Daddy went and brought them to our house to stay because we had gas heat and a generator, for use after the milking. They always had a parakeet, which to a child, is extremely fascinating…even though they have been gone for many years, the tomb markers for their birds still remain in their yard. I wonder if the owners even know what they are!!
Oh, I could go for days sharing about the olde folks, but I DID find a recipe for Chicken and Dumplings. It came from Miss Martha Johnson, and mother got the recipe on 2/22/95. While it isn’t the recipe that Mother used when I was young, I do remember her making this. I remember coming home to seeing cookie sheets all over the kitchen as they dried so she could freeze some of them! YIKES, I did not want that many!! LOL
Miss Ma’tha, was the sister of Avis. We went to church together and Mr. Foster (her husband) and Daddy always called each other “Lum and Abner”, an old Radio show from the dark dark ages. Oh, how I loved them. Miss Martha had such bad arthritis that her fingers were crossed over each other, but she never complained and she never stopped doing ANYTHING. She cooked, canned, entertained and loved on people better than a person who had no obstacles. While I truly believe in the goodness of people and that there are so many wonderful, Godly people walking this earth, I am convinced that the mold was broken after Miss Martha was created. She was a one-of-a-kind treasure! The same is true of her sister, Miss Avis.
So, I will share the recipe and stop walking down that crowded street called: Memory Lane. I am so thankful that road is crowded with folks that I love…I know that street is paved with gold, and I can’t wait when it is my turn to visit them again!! WOW…But until then, there are recipes and memories to share.
I will tell you that the BEST broth comes from cooking a small WHOLE chicken. While this is totally gross to discuss, the bones and the skin are what gives the broth its great flavor. I always cook at least two whole chickens, so that I can freeze the broth and the chicken for later meals.
Chicken and Dumplins
Boil chicken in water (in pressure cooker)…Take out chicken after it is cooked…Let cool to debone…
Use 2 cups warm liquid (broth). Add enough PLAIN flour to make a stiff dough. ROLL VERY THIN. Do not roll all the dough out at once…Place the dumplings onto a baking sheet until they’re all cut out and drop into boiling liquid one-at-a-time. Stir GENTLLY…Cook 15-20 minute until done, and add chicken pieces back in with dumplings…IF you need more moisture, just add water until you are satisfied with consistency.
Ok, so I didn’t want to eat Chicken and Dumplins until the second coming of Christ, so I used 2 large thighs (bone and skin) and boiled in a pan of water (about ½ gallon) for one hour. I removed the chicken and ½ cup of broth. I added plain flour (I lost count, but it was at least 1 ¼ cup) until it was not so sticky. I then moved this to a floured piece of freezer paper and worked more flour into the dough until it was stiff and no longer sticky. I, again, was too lazy to find the rolling pin, so I just spread it out with my fingers and got it pretty thin. I cooked the dumplins for at least 20 minutes. Then I added the chicken~~always add your chicken after, or it will become stringy~~yuck! It was plenty for me and Charcoal to have a big bowl. Yes, Charcoal ALWAYS wants more.
Yep, it tasted like I remembered, and I laughed as I recounted how Daddy hated dumplins. He also hated biscuits, which Mother could make perfectly, with one hand tied behind her back. She was often called the most “wasted” biscuit maker, because Daddy didn’t like them, but let me tell you, my brother, Brian, could eat his share, Daddy’s share, and anyone else who didn’t want theirs. Yes, there was the night of a LONG walk because Brian ate too many “Riz Biscuits” and was miserable…LOL
Yep, we laughed about that for years…
It really is the simple things that are the BIG THINGS in the end...Find those blessings in your life and hold them in your heart for memories during tough times...~~charlotte