Chicken and Dumplings – Comfort Food Recipe

Chicken and dumplings, comfort food for the soul and body.

The weather has drastically changed from last week’s sunny and balmy temperatures in the 60s, to this week’s freezing rain, drizzle and even a few flakes.  Time for some comfort food.

When I have asked my sons, both now grown, what their favorite childhood food was, they both say that it was my chicken and dumplings.  My brother and I both agreed that it was the most requested meal we would request of our grandmother, too.  Some things never change.

So I made a big pot of chicken and dumplings this week.  Now if you even have one toe in the South, you know that by dumplings, I do not mean those fluffy dumplings.  Those are for beef stew.  The kind of dumplings I’m talking about are “slick” dumplings, or flat dumplings. These are akin to a homemade noodles.

So what follows is my grandmother’s recipe as taught to me; nothing is written down.

In a large pot, at least eight quarts, place:

  • Three chicken thigh and leg quarters (or equivalent). Dark meat is more flavorful.
  • A whole, unpeeled yellow onion (the skin adds a nice color to the broth)
  • Water about half way (no exact measurement)

Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour and a half until the meat is falling off the bone.

Drain through a colander into another pot and place pot of broth back onto the stove.  Add about two teaspoons of salt, a few shakes of garlic powder, some coarse ground black pepper, a pinch or two of parsley flakes.  I usually add a couple of chicken bouillon cubes for more chickeny flavor but that is a personal choice.  Bring pot of broth back to simmer.

While the cooked chicken is in the colander, you’ll want to move it around with a large spoon to let it cool.  Then debone the chicken.  You’ll end up with a large plateful of chicken.  Cut up some of the larger chunks but don’t shred it too much.

Meanwhile, as the chicken is cooking, you’ll want to make the dumplings.  Frankly, this is about the same recipe as homemade pie dough.  Ingredient measurements are not exact but you’ll get the feel of it.

  • In a medium-sized bowl, add 1 ½ to 2 cups of flour
  • Add 1 tsp of salt and mix with the flour
  • Add shortening, about the size of a hen egg, and cut in with pastry cutter or your fingers. My grandmother would sometimes use melted chicken fat.  (She never worried about cholesterol or her weight but remained thin and fit and lived into her nineties.)
  • When the shortening is cut into the flour and it looks kind of granulated or like crumbs, then you add ice water. You drizzle it in little by little and fluff it with a fork.  This will be about ¼ to 1/3 cup. It is not an exact measurement but don’t add too much or your dough will get sticky which will make heavy dumplings.  Bring it into a ball but don’t handle it too much.
  • Put it in the refrigerator to rest. Cool dough is easier to roll out.
  • About 15 minutes before your chicken is done, take the dough out of the fridge and roll it very thin, about 1/8 inch. Then cut the dumplings into squares about 1 to 1 ½ inch in size.  You can use a sharp knife but I find a pizza cutter works much faster.

After you have brought the seasoned broth back to a boil, add the cut dumplings into the simmering broth, a handful at a time.  Stir a bit to keep them from clumping together but they’ll rise to the top when cooked.  Then add the deboned and cut up chicken back to the pot and again simmer.  The dumplings will usually thicken the broth but you can always use a little cornstarch and water to thicken it.  Or if you need to thin it, add some more chicken broth or water.

I know this sounds like a lot of work but it’s definitely worth it and perfect for a cold, winter day.  Let’s just see if your family adds this to the favorites list.  Enjoy!

 

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Fall Scene with Bridge

Fall Scene with Bridge, acrylic on canvas board, 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

I love to drive around on the roads in this part of the country.  Especially this time of year, the trees are golden and a multitude of other colors.  Just looking at the scenery makes my heart sing.

This is a little one lane bridge in my county.  My son commented the other day that it’s amazing that up close, impressionistic painting looks just like a bunch of fuzzy blobs, but step back a few feet, and the whole scene looks realistic and inviting.

I couldn’t agree more.  It’s all an optical illusion.

Trees at Alton, Indiana, on the Ohio River

Trees at Alton, Indiana, on the Ohio River. Plein air, 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

Yesterday I drove up to Indianapolis to drop off a couple of paintings at the Indiana Plein Art Painters Association annual member exhibit.  I haven’t entered this before, mostly because of the three hour drive.  But the day was a beautiful fall day, starting off with some fog in low-lying areas. The fall colors were breathtaking.  For those of you who think Indiana is represented by flat cornfields, nothing could be further from the truth.  The southern part consists of beautiful hills, rivers, and streams covered mostly by deciduous forests.  This time of year, the landscape is a panorama of golds and reds.  It was just a glorious day for a drive.

One of the two paintings I entered is Trees at Alton, Indiana, on the Ohio River.  I just painted this back in late September.  As you can see, the tall trees on the left are just beginning to show some color.  Alton is a tiny little collection of houses and has been flooded many times over the years. But the people who live here are passionate about living on the Ohio River so they always come back.  There is something mesmerizing about the big river with its barges and other river traffic.  I can just sit and watch the river for hours.

This scene is pretty classic.  Just some trees, a path leading into the picture, a river and some hills.  A very peaceful vista.

If you’re interested in seeing the whole exhibit, it is at the Hoosier Salon Gallery in Carmel, just north of Indianapolis.  The exhibit runs from November 10th  through  December 14th.  The reception is Saturday,, November 10th 5-9 pm.  There are many beautiful paintings of all parts of Indiana and most of the work is for sale. Take a gander at this exhibit and visit lovely downtown Carmel with its many arty and eclectic shops and eateries.  A great time for some holiday shopping.

Gratitude – Say Thank You

It’s that time of year.  Well, every day is that time of year but especially the next few months.  Parties and celebrations.  Gift giving and family dinners. All the begging letters which have already started to arrive in my mailbox.  So much.  So much. So much. What to do?

This is not my normal art and gardening and books and country living blog post, but a revelation of some of the other things that occupy my thoughts.

We are often on the receiving end of gifts from the universe.  Family who invite us to holiday dinners.  A friend who gives us that special scarf we’ve been eyeing. Maybe the book on your wish list shows up in your mailbox.

But just how do we express our thanks and gratitude? Do people still send those bread and butter notes?  A heart-felt thank you and hug as you depart your host?  Even the smallest note or gesture is appreciated.

Just how do you recognize the thoughtfulness of others?  Dinners, gifts, donations?

And what do we expect when we are on the giving end? Yes, I realize that we should do kind things for others without thought of recognition or thanks.  That is the ideal but, frankly, most of us feel put out if no one says anything, especially thank you.  Why?  Because it’s the right thing to do. Because we have put effort into some action and feel disappointed  if no one recognizes it.

I was brought up that if I said even the least ungrateful thing to a gift of an ugly sweater from old Aunt Alice, my mother would have smacked me upside the head.  Well, not really. But there would have been some serious squinting across the table and a “meaningful” look.  You know what I mean.

So, maybe you can’t afford to buy that new wing for your college library but there are many other things you can do.  Volunteer your time at your local food bank or animal shelter.  Kind words for the workers at the library.  Invite friends for dinner….OR….take dinner to your friends, especially the elderly and shut-ins.

And, when you are on the receiving end, remember to say Thank You!  Be grateful.  Sit outside and soak in the sun with gratitude for being alive. Tell Aunt Mary how delicious that soup was that she brought you when you  broke your ankle.  Write a check to your favorite charity. Or even order a bouquet of flowers anonymously for those wonderful people at the library.  Encourage a child who has mastered a new talent or drawn you a picture of their favorite animal.

It’s all about giving and receiving. Be grateful and say thank you for what you have or receive. And maybe lower your expectations for those who forget to show appreciation for something you have done for them.  The kindness you send out into the universe always comes back to you, eventually.

 

The Studio Sale

The front of my blue door studio. This is an old summer kitchen and my commute is only 30 feet from my back door.

It was a beautiful weekend for my studio sale.  The weather was sunny and temperatures were in the 60s.  Fall colors are starting to appear on the trees.  Saturday was a bit breezy but Sunday was perfect.

I love to introduce people to my place of work and creativity.  It’s just my escape, a place to play and contemplate.

Initial set up in the front room during my studio sale. This lineup changed over the weekend as paintings were sold.

Initial set up in the back room.

Although setting up for the sale is a major endeavor, it looked really great by the time I was done.  Mostly from clearing out all the boxes which were moved to the greenhouse.

The wider view. Paintings on nearly every surface, bins of unframed paintings, more and more and more.

As I was pulling work from storage, bins and flat files, I came across many pieces that I’d totally forgotten about.

Good food and drink are always attractions. Homemade minestrone soup, herbed bread, cookies and biscotti, and plenty of other goodies. No one went home hungry.

And my many friends and supporters got some great deals, too.  All in all, I think everyone had a good time.

The fire pit. A perfect place to congregate on a beautiful fall day.

I’m still even getting some inquiries from the photos I posted on social media.  But, it will all be put away by the end of the week.

Time to make more paintings!  Until next year!

Look for the pink signs, I kept touting on social media.

Busy busy busy – part 2

Fall decorations on the farm. My husband’s old 1952 Allis-Chalmers tractor all gussied up for the studio sale this weekend. He even washed it! And this was his idea entirely.

I recently posted about all the arts activities I have going on lately so this is just a quick update.

My solo show at Oakland City University closed last Friday.  It was extended two more weeks which was fine with me.  We picked it up on Saturday.

Will Read and Sing for Food event. I expected about 15 people to show up on a Thursday night but they had about 60 people there!

Last week I was asked to exhibit some of my work at a Will Read and Sing for Food event.  This is a local group of volunteers who raise money for worthy causes and organizations.  This time they raised $650 for Mentors For Youth.  Singers, musicians, poets, and writers all donate their time and talent to the community.  How neat is that?!

Flower painting class. Students practicing making shades of green. Much more difficult than they thought.

Then I wrapped up my flower painting class on Monday this week.  I think everyone enjoyed it.  I haven’t taught a class for a long time so it was good to try that again.

And now I’m working hard to prepare for my Open Studio Sale this weekend.  This consists of inviting people out to my studio for a couple of fun days of art, food and friends.  I haven’t had a sale for four years and, boy, do I have a lot of work!.  Some of the paintings are at fire-sale prices.  In addition to cleaning out the studio and setting up the displays and artwork, my husband and I feed everyone.  Homemade minestrone soup, homemade herbed breadsticks, biscotti and other refreshments, including some adult beverages.

So, next week I’ll need a rest, for sure.  And to get back to painting.  The 90 degree temps are gone, the fall colors are out, and it’s a beautiful time of year to get outside.

God’s Light

God’s Light, beautiful cumulus nimbus clouds with rays of sun streaming down.

I went to Louisville yesterday to visit the St. James Art Fair.  I exhibited in the fair for many years but haven’t been back since I quit exhibiting. It was exciting to meet up with old friends and to see the new trends in art.  Quality art is always popular no matter the materials or subject.

The day was beautiful with temps near the 90s.  Unseasonably warm for October.  This heat can make some very unstable air and weather conditions.

On the trip home, I was admiring the beautiful cumulus nimbus cloud formations.  Gigantic fortresses of white against a brilliant blue sky.  Some of the clouds were dropping rain which was evaporating before it could hit the ground.

This is a photo of one of the clouds which I took out my window.  (Don’t try this at home, folks.)  Artists often call the rays of sunlight streaming through the clouds God’s Light. Easy to visualize but difficult to paint. I just love clouds and have painted many, so I guess this one will be on my to-do list of painting subjects in the future.

Busy, busy, busy. An artist’s work is never done! And that’s a good thing!

This month and next month promise to be VERY busy.

The Jasper Arts annual juried show wrapped up on Friday.  I had my painting Homage to a Dead Bird in it. Have to pick it up this week.

Solo exhibit at Oakland City University, Kit Miracle

And my solo exhibit at Oakland City University was supposed to end last Friday, too.  However, I’ve been asked to extend it for a few more weeks so if you didn’t catch it, you still can through October 12th.  The fifty works in the show are a good example of what I’ve been creating the past few years and are pretty colorful.

Goldenrod – wildflower, watercolor pen and ink, Kit Miracle

My class on Flower Painting with Watercolor and Pen and Ink begins tomorrow.  I’m a little nervous since I haven’t taught a class in years.  But I’ve been painting watercolor for 35 years now and have painted hundreds of flowers so I’m sure I’ll relax.  I hope the students have a good time and learn something.

 

Then on October 11th, I’ve been asked to exhibit some of my work at one of the final Will Read and Sing for Food events.  I’m so flattered to be asked.  This is a very worthy group of volunteers who have been raising money for worthy causes for the past several years.  Music, singing, comedy, humor, editorials.  All in good fun.  I’ll be sad to see them end their rein but understand exactly how much work is involved behind the scenes for a two hour show.  Thanks, friends!

Invitation to Open Studio Sale

Example of previous open studio paintings for sale. Up to 50% off, many of them framed. Get extra 10% off if you bring the invitation card.

Good food and drink. Homemade soup, bread, and desserts.

Finally, I’m hosting an Open Studio Sale on October 20 and 21.  I haven’t had an open studio sale for four years and have a LOT of paintings for sale at some really great prices just in time for the holidays.  Two fun-filled days with art, music, food (homemade minestrone soup and homemade bread), and good friends.  Plus it’s a great time to drive out in the country to see the fall colors.

In between all these activities, there’s company coming, fall gardening activities, a wedding and other events to attend, and so much more.  Whew! I thought I retired!

If you’d like any more information about any or all of these events, please contact me.  I sent out a bunch of invitations to the Open Studio Sale but if you didn’t receive one, just ask.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Art newsletter for Southern Indiana

New e-newsletter for regional artists

I was recently contacted by Keith Hampton, an artist new to the area. He has taken on the monumental task of starting a newsletter for regional artists.  In this case, not just visual artists, but writers and others, too.  Local arts organizations are a great way to connect with other artists, especially if you’re new to the area.  I particularly admire Mr. Hampton for taking the time and trouble to get his newsletter off the ground.

If you’re in the Southern Indiana area, sign up for his free newsletter at: http://www.itsallart.com/artistscreating.html

And contact him if you have some work which you would like him to feature in an upcoming edition.

If you’re not from this area, an online search or contacting some local galleries or arts organizations will help you to reach out and make connections with other artists in your region.