September 7, 2014
Chicken and Dumplings & Ma and Pa Kettle
Living overseas, far from familiar surroundings, makes one appreciate those “little things” from home. Comfort food, a food which elicits “nostalgic or sentimental feelings”* is one of those things. According to Southern Living Magazine**, chicken and dumplings qualifies as one such food, falling into the comfort food category, and besides that, it’s just plain delicious! One bite of these fluffy dumplings, slathered in its chicken and gravy goodness, and this is sure to become one of your favorite comfort foods, as well. You will find my recipe for this home-cooked treat at the bottom of this blog post, along with another comfort food recipe that tickles the taste buds, Aunt Liz’s Glossy Chocolate Frosting. Enjoy!
Ma and Pa Kettle
Another “little thing” brought from back home, which evokes warm, fuzzy, cozy feelings, are my old friends. Old friends, that is, in the form of classic television and movies. My nifty portable DVD player gets quite a work out here, playing television classics daily. It, along with my DVD’s of The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, and more, were carefully packed into my suitcase, along with other necessary items needed for our contentment and comfort here. Also in the DVD mix, are numerous favorite old movies, including the homey Ma and Pa Kettle.
The humorously unpretentious Ma and Pa Kettle are a simple, folksy couple, and parents to 15 rambunctious offspring. In a total of nine Ma and Pa films, which were made between 1949 and 1957, audiences are invited into their unassuming world of fun and chaos. This, after the Kettle’s were first introduced to, and embraced by, the public in the 1947 film The Egg and I. This film resulted in an Academy Award nomination as best supporting actress for Marjorie Main, who starred as Ma Kettle. Percy Kilbride played her husband, the unflappable Pa Kettle. There is a comfortable and sweet chemistry between the two stars who play Ma and Pa, which carries over into all of the films they starred in together. (Percy Kilbride did not appear in the final two Ma and Pa films.) This series of successful films are unsophisticatedly entertaining, easy to watch, and are always sure to conclude in a “happy ever after” ending. (The Ma and Pa movie series, along with the seven films in the Francis the Talking Mule series (1950-1956), are said to have saved Universal Studios from impending bankruptcy. Francis, another favorite of mine, also joined me on our trip abroad.)
Ma and Pa Kettle
An interesting aside; I believe that the painting in the background is by abstract artist Fernand Leger.
Two Ma and Pa Kettle films are happily in public domain, and are available to watch for free online, thanks to https://archive.org. Click on the links below to enjoy. Note- it may take a minute to initiate play.
The whole world could be a better place to live in if everybody would do like I do. Every morning when I wake up I say “ Thank you God, for letting me live to see another day.” and at night when I go to sleep I say “Dear God, please let me live to see another tomorrow, so I can prove to You that I can be a better man than I have been today.”
Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair, 1952
To read more about Ma and Pa Kettle, check out these links below.
Isn’t this scarf pretty? I received this as a gift from my Brazilian friend, Fernanda. I love the vibrant colors and bold patterns. While online the other day, I was excited to stumble upon a brief instructional YouTube video on how to, with just two quick knots, transform a large scarf into a vest. The happy result is pictured in the top photo at the beginning of this blog post. Would you like to try this “slight of hand”? Click on the video link below.
Annette’s Chicken and Dumplings
When my friend, Barb, knowing my love of cookbooks, gave me an Amish cookbook several years ago, I found this delicious recipe inside. I altered it a bit to my liking, and it has become a family favorite. True comfort food!
For the “Gravy”
(This recipe is for 2-4 people, but can be increased for more people.)
1-2 cups cut up Chicken-
Cook boneless chicken breasts by, (a stewing hen may be used instead),
covering with water, add
Onion, whole, peeled
A couple of prepared celery stalks (optional),
and 1 teaspoon salt
and cut up into cubes, (if using stewing hen, remove from bone)
keep broth from cooking the chicken, reserving to prepare gravy.
(Note-a rotisserie chicken, taken off the bone and cut up, or
canned chicken, may be used instead of cooking the chicken.)
2-3 15 oz. cans chicken broth
1-2 Chicken bouillon cubes
whole onion, peeled
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
- Place reserved broth, if cooking chicken, in pan/Dutch oven with 2-3 cans of chicken broth,and place on medium heat on the stove.
- Crumble bouillon into broth.
- Add pepper to taste
- Whisk flour into milk until smooth, and slowly stir into the hot broth.
- Cook stirring constantly, 5 minutes.
- Add chicken
- Add prepared dumplings (See below)
For the Dumplings
(This is for a two people batch. Double if making a bigger batch)
2 cups of sifted all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½-1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter
1-cup milk (I use skim)
- Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
- Cut in butter
- Add milk to make soft dough. Do not over mix.
- Spoon mixture into simmering gravy
(I use a PAM sprayed meatball/cookie scoop.)
- Gently simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, gently stirring occasionally
- Cover and simmer 5-10 minutes, making sure that dumplings are done.
- Serve immediately in serving bowls
Aunt Liz’s Glossy Chocolate Frosting (Especially good on brownies!)
My Aunt Liz, thus this recipe’s name, gave me this recipe.
¾-1 cup (Scant) of packed brown sugar
(I prefer the lesser amount)
5 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup milk
6 oz./1 cup chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli, dark, 60% cocoa)
Boil together, all but chocolate chips, for one minute.
This can be done in the microwave, or if doing on stovetop, stir to prevent sticking.
Add 6 oz. / 1 cup chocolate chips
Frost brownies while still warm.
I often cut cooled, frosted, brownies into squares, freezing them in an airtight container for later use. Remove from freezer about an hour before eating, or heat in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.
Gilding the Lilly– Reserve a little of the frosting, prior to pouring over the brownies. Serve warmed brownie with a scoop of ice cream. Garnish ice cream with a little of the warmed, reserved frosting mixture, using like a chocolate sauce.
Thanks for reading! :o)
I attempt to post my blog bi-monthly. I will talk to you again around September 18.
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