a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Finding comfort with chicken and dumplings

By Candy Diamond Berko

The skin on my grandmother’s hands was papery-thin. They fluttered around the kitchen, stirring this, slicing that, putting one dish after another into the oven. She really held it down. In my own kitchen, I also slice, stir and bake, but without the same skill or zest as my old granny. My hands don’t flutter. I definitely don’t hold it down.

Comfort food was her specialty. Comfort food is satisfying, yet simple; it brings back memories while also making new ones. It tastes familiar and calming. But, dinner has never been very calming for me. It’s always been a bit stressful, dealing with the fears of doing it wrong, making meals that everyone likes, and dealing with the complaints if they don’t. Plus, being a success in the kitchen is always difficult with my two kids running around and demanding constant attention. Then, there is the clean up afterward. Not very comforting! So why is it called comfort food again?

Last week as I was putting together my shopping list and planning my meals, I decided to try making chicken and dumplings. How was I supposed to pull this one off? If I could just find an easier way to make the dumplings…so, of course, I turned to the busy mom’s friend, allrecipes.com.

Wow, this recipe was going to be easy! You place 4-5 raw chicken breasts (cut up) into a crock-pot, along with one small can chicken broth, one can of cream of chicken soup and one can of cream of celery soup. Let that simmer for about 5 hours on high, and then get two cans of Giant Eagle brand buttermilk biscuit dough out of your fridge. This was my kind of recipe; four of the ingredients come from cans. Comfort.

As the kids woke from their naps they noticed me in the kitchen. My son said “I help, mom-mom.” My daughter got two chairs and they stood next to me breaking biscuit dough into little bite-size bits, talking and laughing while they worked. We placed the bits of dough into the crock-pot. Looks of pride painted their faces because they “helped” with dinner. Comfort.

Dinner simmered in the crock-pot for another 3 hours on high and then it was ready. I served the chicken and dumplings in bowls with vegetables on the side. Even my picky four-year old had seconds. The looks on everyone’s faces told me that I had succeeded in making an easy meal that was still delicious. It was then I realized my own definition of the term comfort food.

Here is the recipe if you would like to make this delicious, easy dinner:

4-5 raw cut up chicken breasts
one small can chicken broth
one can cream of celery soup
one can cream of chicken soup
2 cans of Giant Eagle brand buttermilk biscuit dough
season salt to taste
dill to taste
pepper to taste

Place chicken, broth, and the soups into crock-pot. Season to taste. Turn on high and let simmer for 5 hours. Break your biscuit dough into bite size pieces and place in crock pot. Let cook an additional 3 hours. This serves about 8, and costs about $1.25 per serving.

Candy Diamond Berko is a 2002 graduate of Point Park University, stay-it-home mom and former social worker.


Amanda Blu said...

Love, love, love the lede. Nicely written, my friend. Good to see you on TWAB.

Scott Beveridge said...

Good. Now my mouth is watering for chicken and dumplings in a big way.