twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

A girl can dream, can’t she? November 17, 2013

IMG_1272It’s no secret to my dear friends who know me best that I’d do nearly anything to live on a farm with a handful of sheep, a few alpacas, a llama or two, and a lovely big garden filled with heirloom veggies. Oh yes, and a lovely studio for all my creative pursuits would be tucked into a corner of the property, too. This little farm would be somewhere preferably flat, with a rolling hill or two, and all four seasons (that includes winter, by-the-way).

Instead, here I sit in our very cool, midcentury modern Eichler, closets full of lovely wool, and instead of knitting Christmas gifts I’m spending my lazy Sunday reading  this amazing new book by Barbara Parry, “Adventures in Yarn Farming.”  I love our house, still…if you love wool and the sheepies that grow it, you must read this book.

It’s my chance to live vicariously through a shepherdess who writes beautifully and honestly about what it take to raise a flock. She shows you how she dyes her flock’s yarn and fleece–Foxfire Fiber (you can buy it on her  website). The vistas of her farm are breathtaking! Beautiful photography that takes you into the thick of it all.

Oh yes, and there are lambs! I love lambs. Sigh.

 

Make It Work Wednesdays November 4, 2013

Filed under: life — kathy @ 4:37 pm
Tags: , , , ,

DSCN0030Yeah, I know today’s Monday, but I’m posting this today so you can get the stuff you need to make this easy peasy yummy dinner and make it work for you this Wednesday.

So, hump day dinner. That pesky middle of the week meal that comes after I’ve already tapped my weekend leftovers to make a casserole on Monday, and used up my Tuesday night standby of pasta. At this point in the week I’m usually too busy to even think about dinner; this is when I need an idea to make dinner work with as little stress, time, and effort as possible. And sure, we could order out, but I’m trying to save some bucks here.

First of all, let me say upfront that I am no (choose any one) “Pioneer Woman,” Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart, or one of my foodie blogging pals, “Stop her she’s knitting,” or “Somewhere in Between.” My photography stinks, and I nearly always forget to shoot a step.

But I’ve had a few friends ask me what I cook during a busy week, and because I know most of us do not have a live-in chef, and most of us haven’t a clue what dinner will be, even as we drive home from work or picking kiddos up from school/activities, I thought I’d share some of my ace-in-the hole meals.

If you’re still with me, first recipe up is that old time favorite (which I personally just discovered because my mother never made it), Chicken and Dumplings.

Do you know how many different recipes for Chicken and Dumplings live out there on the internet? Scads. I got 13 million choices, according to Google. Here’s my tried and true interpretation of a simple, satisfying, and economical dish that takes a little less than one hour from pot to plate (you’ll actually want a nice deep dish/bowl to eat this from).

Middle of the Week Chicken and Dumplings

Part One (the chicken)

6 to 8 bone-in thighs with skin

1 onion, quartered

3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks

2 large stalks celery cut into 2 inch chunks

1/4 cup dry white wine or sherry

1 bay leaf

3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme (or about 1 tsp dry, but fresh is better) tied up in a bunch

1/2 tsp sweet paprika

6 cups chicken broth (you can also use water and your favorite bouillion)

1 heaping cup frozen peas

Salt and Pepper

Oval or Round Dutch Oven

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Brown your thighs!

Brown your thighs!

Salt and pepper your chicken thighs well, and place them skin side down in the hot dutch oven to brown.

While the thighs are browning, wash and peel your carrots, cut them into chunks as well as your onion and celery and set aside.DSCN0004

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When your thighs are good and golden (dear, that sounds naughty…oh well), turn them, let them sizzle a couple of minutes, and pour on the wine.

When the alcohol has burned off (about a minute), scatter your veggies on top, herbs and spice, tuck the bay leaf in among the thighs, and pour on the 6 cups of broth. Cover the pot and bring to lively simmer. Simmer 25 minutes.

Be sure your chicken is  well covered by broth

Be sure your chicken is well covered by broth

Meanwhile, mix up your dumplings…

Part Two (the dumplings)

Canned evaporated milk works really well for this recipe.

Canned evaporated milk works really well for this recipe.

1 cup milk

2 eggs

2 cups flour (I use whole wheat, but all purpose works great, though you might need a little more to get the correct consistency)

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs baking powder

In a mixing bowl beat 2 eggs well, add the milk and salt and beat until well combined. Add the flour and the baking powder and mix them in until completely combined but don’t over mix the dough (like muffins). Dumpling dough should be sticky and thick.

Dough should be thick and sticky---you'll need 2 tablespoons to drop them into the simmering broth.

Dough should be thick and sticky—you’ll need 2 tablespoons to drop them into the simmering broth.

After the chicken has simmered 25 minutes and your dumpling dough is ready, remove the lid and add the frozen peas into the hot broth. Then plop rounded tablespoons of the dumpling dough across the top of the chicken and veggies, one beside the other, but not touching, covering the surface. Bring the broth back to a simmer, then close the lid over it all and let the dumplings steam 10 to 15 minutes before you finally lift the lid to serve. The dumplings will have puffed up into big fluffy pillows over the top of the stew.

Serve as shown above, sprinkling a bit of chopped fresh parsley atop it as a garnish, if you like. Be sure to add a good bit of broth to each serving for the dumplings to soak up.

Hope you like it and it gets you over the weekly “what to make for dinner” hump. I also highly recommend it for a blustery day, or a day you need a little extra comfort. 2 cups flour

 

 
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