Friday, May 28, 2010

Chick'n & Dumpl'ns

Earlier this week, I made chicken & dumplings. This is a dish I have not made since I was a teenager. I used to cook a lot of meals even back then. I was taught to make this dish with Bisquick, but I have not used that since I first went on my organic/whole food/non-preservative kick about 7 years ago. Being pregnant with your first child will do that to you. If you've read this blog, you know I get my free-range organic chicken in whole form, no little packaged parts in plastic wrap with trays for us. No sirriee, Bob, I get mine on the bone in whole form. I either have to cut it up or cook it whole and use the meat in other recipes. So, I'm always on the lookout for recipes using cooked chicken.

I usually start my recipe search these days with And this was no different. But, I always, and I do mean always change things up, or add stuff or take out something I don't like. For instance, I despise the flavor of cilantro. So, any recipe calling for that has either parsley substituted, or I just leave it out all together. So, the recipe is using a couple different versions for ideas, and then making them my own. I find I usually like it better that way in the end.
The broth on this looks gray in this picture. A couple of the recipes I found for this particular dish had yellow food coloring in the ingredient list, which I won't use (please see above for reason why). So, the broth is gray in tone. That's okay with me, that's it's natural state. And none of the boys in the house seemed to mind since it was gobbled right up. I'm not sure how many times Music Man said, "Oh, this is awesome", but I will surely be making it again sooner then later. On the next cool evening, give it a go, it's pretty yummy if I do say so myself. I've even given it my own annoyingly cutsey name.
Chick'n & Dumpl'ns
Cooked meat from one chicken (I used 1/2 breast and 2 thighs), shredded
2-3 ribs of celery, sliced
4 large carrots, peeled if not organic, and sliced
1 med onion, diced
32 oz water or chicken broth
1 tablespoon chicken boullion granuals (I use Better then Boullion paste, organic)
2 tablespoons dried parsley or 1/4 c fresh chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon good poultry season (should contain lots of rosemary, sage and thyme, or use them fresh from your garden if you have them)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper (warning, I LOVE black pepper, so adjust this to your taste if you don't like it as much as I do)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons oil
1. Saute celery, carrot, onion and garlic in deep pot, I used my cast iron dutch oven, worked great. Saute until tender, but not mushy, I like a little crunch left in them.
2. Add broth and boullion, bring to a boil. Add chicken and all remaining ingredients, bring to a gentle boil. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or while you're making dumplings.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and water. Add to chicken mixture. Stir gently until incorporated into broth well. Reduce heat to medium-low.
4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients for dumplings. In separate bowl (or use your pyrex liquid measuring cup like I do), combine milk and oil. Add wet ingredients and stir just until combined. You can also add some spices to the dumpling mixture. I chose a bit more pepper and a couple shakes of poultry seasoning, but you can put in whatever you'd like.
5. Using a large tablespoon, drop dumpling mixture by spoonfuls into the chicken mixture. Dumplings will cover top of chicken mixture. Reduce heat to low, put cover on pot (my dutch oven worked great for this!) and let cook for about 15-20 minutes. The dumplings will steam in the pot, making them light and fluffy in the middle and a little gummy on the yummy!
At any point during this recipe, you may find you like more broth in your's so add more of that, or less chicken, but more veggies, or maybe you'd like to add rice to the chicken mixture. That's fine, you have my permission to make this your own, too. That's the beauty of being the cook, you can customize it to your own tastes. Go ahead, get creative. But whatever you do, just cook.
Wishing you groans of contentment from your family, too, ~Peacemom

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Baseball Mom

So, we've officially become a family of two baseball players. Tuesday nights, Wednesday nights and 4 hours of Saturday morning are now spent at the ball field. Two boys in two different divisions, and we're totally a baseball family now.
I will admit to not loving it. I like to see the boys playing and Little Red has a smile on his face the ENTIRE time. He's just loving being part of something he's only been able to watch his big brother do all this time. And Maestro is improving, with Music Man's help. He's assistant coaching Maestro's team and so far, they are having a good time. But for me, it's hours in the blaring sun, or freezing wind, or being eaten alive by bugs watching my little cherubs enjoying their time out in the field. I miss being the one to play... sideline wasn't really ever my way. And, I really feel for my sister-and brother-in-law...they have 4 kids, all jocks...and many, many of their hours every week and weekend are spent either watching, coaching, or shuttling and coordinating their kids events. I never really wanted that for our lives. We are outdoor loving people who enjoy camping, hiking and kayaking. Baseball definitely conflicts with these non-team activities.
But, as so many things in our lives, we give to the kids what they need and enjoy and put our interests on the back burner. Such is parenthood...and hey, they make darned cute photography subjects in their HUGE helmets and hats!
Don't forget the sunscreen and bugspray, ~Peacemom

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sugar Snap Daddy's!

Here are my snap peas I started about 2 weeks ago. I loved the name of them, they are called Sugar Snap Daddy's! My local health food store, A Market, had a display of seeds from my favorite seed company , High Mowing Seeds. Not only were they cheaper to buy the seeds this way, but I also saved shipping costs as well! I was excited to find them. Shouldn't be long until we are enjoying our very own sugar snaps right off the vine...yummy! I can already taste the almost candy sweetness of those little green pods...oh yes, I can.

I went shopping today. I have been spending an inordinate amount of money on food the last couple of months...the whole organic thing for 4 people is pricey this time of year. I'll be glad when the CSA kicks in next month and we'll have fresh, locally grown veg every day...just can't wait. Plus, the food bill will go down a bit, which is also a welcome relief!

Wishing you pea blossoms of your own, ~Peacemom

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sauce Pots

This is the beginning of my little "Sauce Pot". In it is planted one Roma tomato plant, one Italian oregano, one rosemary and one parsley plant. Everything you need (well, except the garlic!) to make homemade tomato sauce. I thought it was a fun idea...I can't take credit for it, the woman at the garden center made them last year and I loved the idea, so I made two for myself and one for a gift. Kinda fun, huh?

Wishing you sauce ingredients you grew with your own hands, ~Peacemom


I went to the garden center yesterday. This is one of my very favorite places to be in the spring time. Only this year, it was mixed with a whole lot of sadness, too. Normally, I love to roam around the center, planning which veggies I'll get there, what flowers I'll plant and where and just investigating what new items they have this year.

Yesterday as I wandered around, I had only gone for a couple of herbs and 2 single tomato plants, I felt sad. I was excited to see so many beautiful flowers and lovely herbs and veggies coming along. But, I have no where to plant them. I did manage to get a couple of pots set up with a tomato plant each and 3 herbs each. These are called "Sauce Pots" as they have the necessary ingredients to make homemade tomato sauce. Such a fun idea that I made one for my sister in law's very belated birthday gift.

Having no where to plant is living like a nomad. I have to confess something. I dispise living like a nomad. New house/apartment every year was my norm from the time I was 18 until we bought our second house at 37. Even our first house was only a two year endeavor. I counted how many times I have moved in my life...are you sitting down?... 24 times in my life. UGH. To say I am completely S-I-C-K of moving is putting it mildly. And we are now facing another move due to the mold issues in our current rental. And, I also am no longer a good renter. I long to be settled -to know that where I plant those perennials will enhance my future summers and that I am, year after year, adding compost and health to the soil in my garden. When you rent, you don't have that luxury. I have been given permission to put in a garden here, but we'll be leaving again before it comes in. If the next place we want to be works out, I've been given permission for chickens AND a garden, but it's too transient when you rent. What if I need to move again? Can I take the chickens that have become my pets? Have to give them away and chance that heartbreak? or a dog for that matter. The boys would love to have a dog, but, we rent. What if the next place doesn't allow dogs? Give away the boys best friend? No chance. Once I have a dog in my family, it becomes like a furry member of my family. I would no more give away my son then my dog.
So, it's all on hold until we can find Music Man a new job, sell that ball and chain condo and get to a place where we can buy again. We love Chester and want to stay here, but it's so very expensive here. Renting is the only way to go for now.

Being that I felt saddened by my stroll through the garden center, when I got home, I decided to make some adjustments to the front porch on our house, and cheer myself up. I bought 8 pavers that look like slate and put them on the edge of my porch. The surface of the porch is hideously ugly. Broken concrete, crumbling in some places with a lot of dark places from mildew in the places that don't get enough sun. Anyways, I wanted to add some visual interest, so put the pavers on the edge removed some furniture we rarely use there, added all the flower pots and I think it came out kinda homey. We have this magnificent Norwegian Maple that hangs over the porch, keeping it cool in the summer. Though it leaves a whole lot of debris, too, it's a small price to pay for this amazing tree and it's company. The birds love this tree and use it all the time as a way lay to our feeder which we've placed right under it.
Hoping for you a bit of your own serenity, ~Peacemom