Monthly Archives: August 2011

Real Southern Chicken & Dumplings

Okay, y’all, I’m about to share one of my signature dishes with you guys, which is pretty good news because it is delicious!! This is a take on my Aunt Frances’s dumpling recipe, it’s her basic one, but I do it just a little differently. I have been making these things for YEARS (like since I was a teenager), and they are one of my little family’s favorites. I also tend to make these for friends when they have babies or need a special meal.

Because wouldn’t this make you happy?? It makes me happy every time!

dumplings

This is not a 30-minute meal, let’s just make that clear from the get-go. This is a hardcore, made-from-scratch Southern woman recipe! And it is worth every flipping second you spend on it! Trust me. Here we go:

Ingredient Line-up
-1 medium-sized whole chicken (3-4 pounds)
-1 onion, quartered
-4 carrots, peeled and chopped in large pieces
-3 stalks of celery, chopped in large pieces
-3 cups of all-purpose flour
-2 eggs
-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
-cold water
– 1 or 2 whole bay leaves (I use dried)
-salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika

1) Start off by putting your raw, whole chicken in a large pot. A Dutch oven works great (I use my favorite Le Creuset for dumplings!), or whatever you would use to make soup or spaghetti sauce in. Make sure you remove the giblets, if there are any. Toss the giblets, except for the neck, which you can put in for more flavor, if you aren’t grossed out by a neck floating in your pot, which I am not.

2) Add all of your onion, carrot and celery, then fill your pot until your chicken is just covered with water. Drop in your bay leaf (I only use one, but some people like two) and season, season, season! You’re going to need a few teaspoons of salt for this much water, and make sure you do 10 grinds or so of pepper and a hefty shake of garlic powder. I just do a couple shakes of paprika over the top.

3) Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium low for about 30 to 40 minutes or until chicken is done. You can tell if the chicken is done if you lift out the chicken a bit and slice the skin between the leg and thigh- if the juices are clear, it’s done, if they’re bloody, give it another few minutes. If it’s a little underdone, that’s okay because it’s going to go back into the pot to simmer again. Remove chicken from pot. Let cool.

4) You can keep your stock simmering on the stove until you’re ready for it.

5) For the dumplings, you will take your flour, eggs, oil and water and mix them together. Also season with salt and pepper. You will notice I did not give an amount for the water. That’s because it varies. Start by adding about a half a cup of water. Mix it all together, and if your batter is still crumbly, add more. You want everything to come together but look like a ball of dough. You are going to be rolling this out with a rolling pin, so you don’t want it runny. If you add too much water, add a little flour. It won’t hurt it.

6) Once you feel your dough is “right,” sprinkle a large clean surface with a TON of flour. I like to line my island with parchment paper, then flour it so I don’t have to scrape dough off my countertops, afterwards. It’s a smart plan. Lay down your dough, dust it heavily with flour and pat it down into a rough circle. You may want to check the bottom to make sure it’s not sticking and add more flour if it is.

7) Roll out your dough to about 1/8″ thickness with a rolling pin, continually dusting sticky spots with flour. Once it’s rolled out (probably about 2′ x 2′) let it SIT THERE for about 15 minutes. If you don’t, your dough will shrink up and really make you mad.

8) While your dough sits, remove the celery, onion and carrot from your stock with a strainer or slotted spoon. Save the carrots, but toss the rest.

9) Go ahead and take the skin off your cooled chicken and peel the meat off the bone. You’ll want bite-size pieces of chicken. Once you do that, chop your carrots into small pieces, as well. Set aside.

10) Cut your dumplings. Take my advice and use a pizza cutter for this, as it saves about an eternity of time. Cut your dumplings into about 1 1/2″ squares (you can go bigger or smaller as you prefer- it’s not science).

11) Turn up the heat on your stock to high until it boils, then turn it down to medium high. You’re ready to drop your dumplings!

12) Pick up your dumplings a handful at a time (you can stack them atop one another) and drop them one-at-a-time into the stock so they don’t stick to each other. After each handful, give them a loose stir. Keep going until all of your dumplings are in.

** If some of your dumpling stick, that’s okay. You don’t have to get each one into the pot at the risk of losing your mind. I generally lose 5 or 6 to stickage.**

13) Once all of your dumplings are in the pot, stir then every few minutes so they don’t stick, but let them simmer for a good 15 minutes. Then, drop in your chicken and carrots and stir it all together.

14) Taste your broth. Re-season. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water or canned broth. If it’s too thin, don’t worry, it will thicken up in a few minutes. If it doesn’t, just mix together a few spoonfulls of flour with some water in a cup to make a runny paste, then whisk it into your sauce- it will thicken right up. You want some juice, though, because you can soak it up with crusty bread!

15) Let all of your ingredients simmer together for five minutes or so over medium heat. Keep stirring so they don’t stick, but don’t chop at them.

16) Eat them. They’re good.

Let me know if you attempt this dish (I promise it’s not as complicated as I made it sound!)- I hope you enjoy it!!

Looking Up!

I had a follow-up appointment with my OB yesterday to check on the subchorionic hemorrhage. She was present for the ultrasound and the great news is that they had a hard time even seeing where it was. Meaning, it’s not there any more! Dr. L was thrilled that the bleed seemed to have bled itself out, especially considering it was “sizable” in the ER at around 4 cm. She asked if I had a lot of bleeding after the ER, and I told her I had way more than I did beforehand. So, it seems like my body was able to expel most of it, which is excellent news. She said that as long as I just have this brown or light pink spotting, she is happy. I am to call immediately if I start to bleed bright red again, though, so they can check things out.

As long as this hemorrhage does not reaccumulate, things are headed the right way for a healthy duration of pregnancy. If it comes back, I’d be at higher risk of placental abruption, which is terrifying, so I am not going to think about that. My doc is not at all worried about the previa at this point because it is so early on. I am still on pelvic rest, though, and she actually increased the duration of that until my 20 week visit. I am still a little bit crampy, but hopefully that will ease up soon.

In other news, Trevor passed his test yesterday! Woo hoo! Guys, I cannot even tell you the relief we both felt last night! He has his physical test today, which is not a concern considering he blew through it in practice, and they are running simulations for the rest of the week before graduation. He came home with all of his gear last night and was so excited! He had all of his dress uniforms, which he tried on for me, and his bunker gear, which I also got to see. I took some pictures, but I’m not allowed to show them to you until he graduates, or so he says. Knox was hilarious with that, he looked at Trevor like “what the heck are you?” Then, once he figured out it was Trevor, he laughed and sat even closer to me- I don’t think he understood exactly what was going on, but it was very comical.

We’re all ready for graduation on Friday, and wait until you see Knox’s shirt! An awesome and generous blog reader helped me out with it (thanks, Emily!), and I can’t wait to show it to you guys!

Just because, here are some pictures of us with our buddy this weekend (excuse my non-make-upped face, I was forbidden to do anything all weekend by a couple of bossy mothers (hi Mom and Iris!))

Almost…

Trevor is taking his last test of his fire academy training right now. Once he passes (I have faith in him!), he is official and the pressure will be off, hence our anxiety/ excitement over this day! He has studied and studied for this test, which is on pump operations. It’s got all kinds of math involved, and I have to say, I wouldn’t want to be taking it. I’ve been praying for him all morning long, and I am very anxious for his phone call at lunch!

By the way, thought I’d share this gem with you- one of his classmates took this picture of Trevor operating some kind of hose- he is making a terrible face because he just got sprayed in the face with siphoned pond water, but STILL… look at my sexy fireman!! Yowza!

He gets to bring home his fireman’s gear after graduation, likely the only time it will be in our house. I know what you’re thinking. I hate to disappoint you all, but sadly,  I will still be on pelvic rest, then. Just saying.

I have another doctor’s appointment this afternoon and will have another ultrasound to check on the baby and this hemorrhage. I seriously hope it has shrunk! I have only had some brown spotting since yesterday morning, so hopefully all of my resting and doing nothing has helped. Both of our moms and Trevor’s dad have been a tremendous help looking after Knox so that I could take it easy over the weekend. My sweet boy doesn’t understand what’s going on and keeps crawling up on the couch with me to cuddle. He wants to play with his mom! Hopefully all will look good at today’s appointment, we are praying hard and know that God is watching out for us. Thank you so much for all of the prayers and kind words you have sent our way! I am so thankful for each and every one of you.

Baby update

Yesterday was a rough day. After we got back from the ER, the bleeding slowed and I thought it was all finished. Then, a couple hours later, I felt about four subsequent rushes of blood. That was more than I bled yesterday morning. I was pretty sure the OB told me to call back if it started up again, but I couldn’t remember, so I just called. She said I would need to come back if I soaked through a pad an hour, started cramping really badly or if I just got really scared and needed some reassurance. You better believe I got my money’s worth out of my doppler last night! I bled intermittently through the evening, but my last big episode came at around 8 p.m. I felt something around 4 a.m., but when I checked it wasn’t really anything. I think it has slowed as of now, but I’m not going to get my hopes up. I am very ready to get into my doctor’s office this week so they can give me some more answers. I’m so grateful the baby looked so good yesterday and still sounds great, but I have to say, this has been a terrifying experience! I have determined that this baby didn’t want to be one-upped by Knox’s pre-term labor issues, so he decided to scare the crap out of me, as well. Why do I feel like this is only the beginning of my kids scaring me and stressing me out?

We’re still praying hard that everything calms down and this baby continues to develop healthily. It’s amazing how hard you can love a little baby you haven’t even met, yet, but this baby is already an integral part of our family. Also? I am feeling much more certain that this baby is another boy. I guess we’ll find out soon enough, but in the mean time, I am just thankful for a healthy baby amidst all of this chaos!

Scary morning

This morning, I was laying in bed with Trevor and a squirmy Knox, when I felt a gush of something. I jumped up and discovered bright red blood. I told Trevor to get Knox dressed while I called the doctor’s office, knowing we were about to head to the ER. The on-call doctor called me right back and told me to head to the emergency room. I do have a doppler at home, so I obviously took that out and listened for the baby- I heard the heart beating at about 165 bpm, which eased my mind a bit. On the way to the hospital, I tried to pray out loud with Trevor, but I started crying, so I barely mumbled out “please let this baby be okay, amen.”

Previously, when I had to go to the hospital for pre-term issues with Knox, I got taken immediately up to the OB floor, but since I’m still before 18 weeks, I had to stay in the ER. They checked me in, drew blood and we had to wait a few minutes for the ultrasound. Trevor’s parents got there and waited with Knox. In the ultrasound, the baby looked great. Our ultrasound tech was wonderful and so nice. I didn’t expect this to be how Trevor first saw this baby, but I’m so glad he was there with me. The baby was jumping and spinning like crazy during the ultrasound- I don’t think he or she sat still for a minute. I asked the tech if she saw anything that indicated why I was bleeding, and she pointed out an area around the sac that was blood.

The ER doctor reviewed the images and said something about “looks like the placenta is around the cervix.” Not very informative! I knew that probably meant a partial previa, but that’s all he said. I asked to speak with the OB on-call, so he paged her. Dr. J came in and was so great. She told me that I had a subchorionic hemorrhage where the bond between the placenta and the uterine wall is damaged- she said this could be caused by rapid uterine growth or some crazy baby movement. I also have a partial placental previa where my placenta sits low and close to the cervix. So, basically there are two factors here causing the bleed. The doctor said the pregnancy looks great, baby is fantastic, I just need to take it very easy with no vigorous exercising or anything, and I’m also on pelvic rest for four weeks.

She said these issues should resolve on their own, but they will do another ultrasound next week and keep a close eye on things. I guess I have been too calm this pregnancy- we needed a little something to make me panic over! Today, Trevor’s parents and my mom are both here helping with Knox, so I am being allowed to do nothing at all. :) I’m so thankful this baby looks okay. We would really appreciate any prayers you could send our way for this bleeding to subside and for a healthy rest of the pregnancy!

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