Mother’s Day. The day we celebrate our moms, are celebrated as moms and mourn the moms we have lost. I have been blessed in my life to have several bonus moms- friends of my parents, my friends’ moms, and moms of the heart from many of my life paths. These women have blessed me with love, patience, counsel, and loved me like their own. Each of these incredible women have written on my heart, and made a huge impact on my life. I dedicate these posts to this amazing group of women, and thank them from the bottom of my heart for generously blessing my life.
I am going to start with my mom, Kris, since she is the reason I am here to write this blog. She well remembers my 9lb 13oz delivery. I am her middle child in birth weight and birth order. Let me just say she is a great cook! She would tell you right away that her mom was a better cook, but I have a lifetime of meals as evidence. She didn’t teach me to cook, but I learned to cook by watching her. Not exactly a recipe-follower, she would add a bit of this and a bit of that, and make something great. Growing up, friends sometimes said our house smelled like syrup. Well, my mom made us a hot breakfast every day, so pancakes were a very popular morning meal. I just remember that the house always smelled like something good was cooking. Breakfast, dinner, sometimes even late night chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven, delivered to us in our bedrooms on a napkin, as a special treat. She makes 2 things that I detest- sausage stratta and split pea with ham soup. So gross, so very gross. Other than those 2 things I will eat anything she makes.
When she and my dad first got married, she didn’t really know how to cook. For the first 2 weeks of their marriage, they had chef salads for dinner. A little later, when she was in the groove, it is said that she did something blasphemous with peas. My mom likes peas, my dad doesn’t. He does, however like her split pea with ham soup- I realize that doesn’t make sense, but that’s just how it is. Kris ruined a perfectly good tuna noodle casserole with the addition of some peas. The dinner, casserole dish and all, sailed out the door never to be seen on the dinner table again! It is a story, best told by my dad, that brings hysterical laughter as he recounts that infamous day. You would never look at him and think he would ever do such a thing, but I swear it’s a true story.
It was a tradition in my family to have your favorite food and cake on your birthday, and I have passed that on to my own kids. My middle 2 kiddos LOVE chicken and dumplings, so do I. They have asked my mom, Nana, to make them for their birthday dinner a couple times, and she does. See, I cannot make my mom’s chicken and dumplings. Though I try really hard, I never get dumplings, I get dough balls, and that’s gross. The chicken/broth part is the same, (amazing!) but I have never figured out the dumplings. This is why they ask her to make it for their birthdays. I accept their reasoning, agree with them, and forgive them for their treason.
When I was about 14 or 15 my dad was laid off for several months, so my mom worked a few nights a week as a banquet waitress during that time to make up the difference. Feeding 5 kids is very expensive! On nights she worked, she didn’t make dinner before she left. My dad’s solution was to say, “Girls, cook dinner.” In all fairness, I think the only things my dad knew how to cook back then were pancakes and stuff on the grill. Since my 2 older sisters were involved with sports and friends, I cooked dinner. I did not do a great job by any means, but I eventually figured it out and no one died of food poisoning. Sure there were flops- lots of them. An apple pie with waaaaaay too much salt (probably should have been sugar), and some very very well done meat and vegetables reared their ugly heads, but eventually I did alright. I even got brave enough to try my hand at baking, which is when the apple pie of death came to be. Through all of my mistakes and successes, I learned what do, and what not to do. The experiences I had during that time are why I love to cook and bake so much now. None of my siblings enjoy cooking or baking like I do, and I am so grateful that I learned to cook and bake when and how I did.
When I asked my mom for her chicken and dumplings recipe she said, “I don’t have one. Should I make one up?” No, Mom, you don’t have to make one up. But then I asked her to because this recipe is just too good not to share. So here it is, exactly as she sent it to me.
Kris’ Chicken and Dumplings
3 lb stewing or roasting chicken (thawed). Remove as much skin as possible. Using a large kettle, add chicken stock or water, celery, diced onion, salt & pepper. Cook with breast side down. Bring to a boil, then simmer.
When meat is fork-tender, remove from kettle. Allow to cool a bit, then clean meat from the bones, cut into bite size pieces. Remove celery and cut into bite sized pieces, then put back in broth. Add 1 or 2 cans cream of mushroom soup undiluted (depending on how much broth you have) to the broth and stir well. Bring to a slow boil.
Using Bisquick Mix (a little more baking soda flavor than Jiffy Mix) mix 3 Cups mix with 1 Cup milk. Drop by rounded serving spoons into boiling stew. Cover and reduce heat to low. After 10 minutes, remove lid and continue cooking for 5+ minutes. Move dumplings to covered casserole dish. Stir any lumps of dumplings remaining to thicken sauce. Add chicken back to stew and heat through. Serve immediately.
Well, miracle of miracles, I only had 3 dough balls and the rest were absolutely perfect dumplings! The secret is to not crowd the broth and make the dumplings in 2 batches. Well worth the time to end up with delicious perfection. Thanks, Mom, for the incredible recipe. Love you.