Great Grandma’s Chicken and Dumplings, a French, country recipe

My mother’s family were 100% French (Canadian French) when they came to settle in the tiny little country town of Old Mines Missouri. Nobody spoke English even up until their death, when my mother was young.  The thing she remembers most about her grandmother, my great grandmother, is that she was a very “cold” woman and that she didn’t show affection.  I’d have to guess it was because she had SO many children and they had to work VERY hard just to survive.  She didn’t have TIME to show affection.  Every Sunday, my grandpa would load up all 10 of his children and they’d visit his parents in Old Mines, for Sunday dinner after church.

My great grandmother would spend the day cooking the most delicious meals.  They weren’t elaborate, or sophisticated, but they were the most delicious dishes my mom remembers tasting.  In particular, there was the bouillon.  Bouillon had to be served before every meal no matter how hot it was outside.  It’s a French thing.  Most of the time, they’d eat outside because there wasn’t enough room for everyone inside the tiny house.  The kitchen that my great grandmother cooked in was not like any kitchen that I’ve ever had to prepare a meal in.  Food was prepared usually over an open fire.  It was too tiny for anyone to offer help, but they still tried to help.  She didn’t have much patience with anyone getting in her way, from what I understand.  The other thing I find interesting about their family “get togethers” is that the children were made to eat last.  Here’s how it went:  The men ate first, then the women and THEN the little children ate what was left.  WTH????  Totally not acceptable to me because I’ve ALWAYS made sure that the kids get enough to eat FIRST, before anyone else gets to eat.  However, Mom tells me that it really made sense for the old timers to do things this way because they were a “farming” people.  It was important to feed the men first so that they can get back out into the field and work.  The other reason that the men needed to eat first is that it was necessary that the men have the most food because they needed the food to fuel their hard physical labor.  Ok…  I’m struggling with the part of my constitution, the STRONG woman part, that says this way of thinking isn’t right!  Then there’s the logical part of my brain that tells me “Ok Michelle, you weren’t raised on a farm and don’t know what it was like to work as physically hard as the men did back then”.  Here’s my OTHER logical thought:  On a Sunday, after church, the men WEREN’T working on the farm!  Why couldn’t the rules change for  a Sunday?  I mean the women’s work was NEVER done but the men got to relax AND eat more food leaving whatever was left behind for the women and the children.  Good thing my big mouth didn’t live back then (1940’s and 1950’s)!  lol  This actually wasn’t the point of my story….  it never ceases to amaze me how easily I get off subject 😉  I was originally just going to post my great grandmother’s recipe for Chicken and dumplings!  lol

Now that I’ve come off my “rant”, I want to share with you my great grandmother’s recipe for chicken and dumplings.  I actually think it’s SO cool that my family still has her recipes and that they were translated to English for future generations!

Ingredients for chicken:

1 whole roasting chicken (1 used an 8 lb chicken today but any size will do)

3 stalks celery with their tops

3 carrots, washed but not peeled

2 med onions, peeled but whole

3 TBSP salt

3 TBSP pepper

2 tsp dried oregano

2 TBSP garlic powder

2 TBSP dried thyme

Directions for chicken

Place chicken in a very large dutch oven and cover with water.  Place all seasonings and vegetables in dutch oven and bring to boil.  Cover and simmer on low until chicken starts coming apart.  Once chicken is done, let cool so you can start taking the chicken off the bones.  Remove vegetables from stock pot and discard.  Skim fat from broth and replace chicken back into the pan.  Heat broth back up with chicken.

At this point you will want to thicken the soup by:

  • Heat the desired amount of chicken stock in an appropriately sized saucepan until it reaches a simmering boil.

  • Measure 1/4 cup of cold water and pour it into a bowl. Add two tablespoons of flour.

  • Mix the flour and cold water until it dissolves completely into a smooth, even paste.

  • Add the flour mixture a little at a time until the stock reaches the desired consistency.

    This is a little complicated if you’re not a seasoned cook but if I can do it so can you!  lol

    I also add a stick of butter to the broth because my family (who, btw, believe it or not DON’T have weight issues… lol) tells me the broth needs to be rich and all French recipes call for butter.  I’m TOTALLY ok with that!

    Grandma Boyer’s Rolled Dumplings

    Ingredients

    3 cups of flour

    2 eggs beaten

    3/4 cup chicken broth

    2/3 cups lard (yeah, I use shortening)

    1 tsp salt

    Directions

    Beat eggs, add COOLED broth to beaten eggs.  Mix flour, salt and lard together until crumbles form (I use a pastry blender for this).  Add egg mixture and mix well.  Roll thin onto floured board.  Drop dumplings into boiling, thickened broth.

    Note:  For an 8 lb chicken, I will double or even triple the dumpling recipe.  It just depends on how many people I’m feeding.  PLUS, I like leftovers especially if I’m going through the trouble of making dumplings!  lol

    Hope you all enjoy!  We’re having this tonight and LAWDY does my house EVER smell delicious right now!  lol

Still Not Asking For It! Reblogged

This is just really too good not to share!  I came across this last night and there was absolutely nothing I could add to this because Lindsey wrote so eloquently and with so much wisdom.  She’s absolutely right!

My husband had this reaction when I read Lindsey’s post to him.  He was insulted that women think all males feel this way.  That’s not what Lindsey was saying.  It’s a shame that ALL men aren’t offended and insulted when someone claims that a woman is “asking for it” because it implies that a mans true state is a rapist.  I need to add here that I’ve known more women to make this statement than I’ve heard coming from a man’s mouth.  It’s not just men.  But yes, I was encouraged that my husband WAS offended.  That means I’m not married to a neanderthal!  Yay ME!  lol

Here’s Lindsey’s post:

RAPE SHOULD BE BLAMED ON THE RAPIST.

So a few days ago, a friend of mine linked to an interesting picture on Facebook.  It was of a topless woman who had written “STILL NOT ASKING FOR IT” on her breasts and abdomen.  I won’t post it here, because I know some of my readers find nudity distasteful*, but it sparked a very interesting debate.  I’ve seen it shared a few other places since, and every time the comments are just breathtaking.

You wouldn’t wear a chum suit to swim with sharks.

There is this idea, beneath the surface of almost all of the comments, that women’s bodies are a dangerous weapon that once unleashed turn normal respectable men into mindless automatons of desire with undeniable destructive force.  There are two issues to be addressed there:

  1. Men are not savages, and society should not give them permission to behave like such.  Showing men a pair of perky breasts should not turn them into raping machines.  If they cannot control themselves in the face of a flash of skin here or a lowcut top there or a pretty lady in high heels and a skirt walking through the park in twilight, this really isn’t the lady’s problem.  It’s the man’s.  If the men in our society cannot bear the sight of a little boobs or butt without losing their minds, I think that we should either blame society or men, not women.  That’s sort of like saying, “I know I promised not to eat any more sugar but then there were chocolate bars in the checkout lane and I completely lost my mind and woke up the next morning with a Hershey’s mustache surrounded by shredded wrappers.  I blame Safeway.”  Uh, no.
  2. Women’s bodies aren’t chum.  They aren’t a shredded bucket of viscera whose only purpose is to attract sharks.  Imagine for a moment that a man was painting the side of his house in only a pair of tight shorts and the woman who lived there invited him in for a cup of lemonade, roofied him and raped him.  Do you think society as a whole would say, “man, you really shouldn’t work with your shirt off.  You KNOW what those rock hard abs do to women.”  No.  Because there is a double standard, and women’s bodies are the only ones treated like a weapon.  Women are told to be demure, to be “good”, to keep their breasts and buttocks covered, to not wear too high of heels, etc, etc, etc, to “protect themselves” or to “protect men from temptation”.  Then, women are told that they should be sexy to keep their husband and they must dress attractively to be respected and on and on and on, because apparently our bodies aren’t our bodies, they are a tool.  A tool that must know when to be used and when not to.  A tool that is constantly meant to be in the service of others.

I don’t normally cuss on this blog, but I can only think of one word to sum up my feelings on this subject:

bullshit.

Let’s make one thing clear; the only time a woman is “asking for it” is when she says, “give it to me, I want it.”  Simply having a pair of breasts isn’t asking for it.  Even showing you her breasts isn’t asking for it.  Her body isn’t consent, period.  I know people who think the act of sexual intercourse is in and of itself consent, which is such an utter crock of insanity I hate to even write about it because it makes my heart bleed.  It really does.  Women have a right to decide when they want to have sex and when they don’t.  I once jokingly told someone that it’s a little different when you’re married, because there’s this assumption that your bodies are there for each other.  I was talking to a guy, as a matter of fact, and his response was that while some guys might think it’s cool for their girl to just stick her hand down their pants and say “give it to me” it really doesn’t work that way.

And you know what?  It doesn’t.

We live in a world where privacy is something that you can have or give away with the click of a button, it’s a commodity that is bought and sold without so much as our knowledge.  Our bodies may be our last line of defense.  Our bodies may be the last place where we can truly feel ownership of ourselves, the last thing that isn’t being bought and sold and grasped at for profit.  And for women, that feeling of ownership and peace has never really truly fully been there.  We’ve always understood that our bodies belong to our children, to our husbands, to our world as a whole.  Our beauty has always been something we’ve been told to use to our advantage, if we’ve got it, or if we haven’t that’s always been something that has set us apart.

But violence.

Violence.

To tell us that our bodies deserve violence because they are appealing, that it is our duty to avoid violence by hiding our bodies…

NO.

Let’s make everything very, very clear:  No one’s body belongs to anyone else, even if you are married.  You give access to your body, but it must be a gift and it must be given freely.  If a woman is less than dressed, that’s not consent.  If she’s passed out on the couch, that’s not consent.  If you have some control over her, as her boss, as her lover, as coercion, that’s not consent.  If you didn’t ask and she didn’t say please, one of those two things has to happen.  And the reverse is true, ladies: men don’t want it by default.  Don’t go around sticking your hands down their pants.

We don’t have a right to each other’s bodies.  Nothing but permission gets that for us.

I know in the romance novels he always gets that look in his eye and she just knows and they fall on each other like wolves in heat and it’s so whatever, but that’s not life.  I know in the movies they never talk about it either.  It’s ridiculous.  We’re adults, and we’re responsible, and this is the real world where consent is necessary.  If you’ve got someone willing to communicate with you about sex, by all means communicate.  And if you don’t, you should very seriously think about whether or not your sexual life is really what you imagine it is, because there are plenty of people out there afraid to say no, afraid to say slow down, afraid to say I don’t want this.  They are afraid because society has taught them that if someone goes after their body it must be their fault for taking the lid off the chum.

So don’t treat each other like chum.  Honor and love and respect each other.  Treat the gift of a lover’s body like the miracle and art that it is.

I guess that’s all I’ve got to say.

* Side note:  I see nothing shameful in nudity.  God created Adam and Eve naked, and they only felt ashamed after experiencing sin.  I, personally, believe that our bodies are a good creation, and in their purest (nude) form are not an embarrassment but a testimony to the art and pleasure of our Creator.

So?  What do you think?  I like a good debate 🙂

Book Review: The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory, published by Simon and Schuster.

I LOVE historical fiction!  I love historical fiction ESPECIALLY when it has to do with the Tudor legacy.  I thought I knew everything that I cared to know about the Tudors.  However, I had no real understanding of Queen Katherine and the influence she had over England and King Henry VIII.  I had never really had the right amount of sympathy for her.  The single thing that stood out to me is that she trained a troop of soldiers herself while King Henry VIII was fighting a war with France.  She rode out, fought and won a war that Scotland waged on England ALL while secretly being pregnant with the only living child she would ever bring to the throne or thought she would bring to the throne.  I’d never read a book or seen a movie, documentary or cable show that gave her the credit that I feel she deserves.

Here’s the letter Queen Katherine wrote to her husband, King Henry, announcing the victory in the battle with Scotland.

Letter from Queen Katherine of Aragon as Regent, to her husband, King Henry VIII in France, announcing the English victory over the Scottish army at Flodden and the death of King James IV of Scotland, 16 September, 1513 (pen & ink on paper)

Credit: Letter from Queen Katherine of Aragon as Regent, to her husband, King Henry VIII in France, announcing the English victory over the Scottish army at Flodden and the death of King James IV of Scotland, 16 September, 1513 (pen & ink on paper), . / Private Collection / The Bridgeman Art Library

I’m a sucker for stories about how strong women influenced history.  I can identify with strong women.  I was BLOWN away at the amount of adversity and grief that this woman endured!  It inspired me in the way that I had to sit back and think to myself “And I thought I had it bad?”  I don’t think I could have survived what she survived and kept my mind!  Okay, I know that this is “historical fiction” but the amount of research that Philappa Gregory puts into every book is kind of amazing and impressive in itself.  Yes I DO read the Author’s Notes!  lol  I’m a geek like that!

If you’re interested in the Tudor legacy at all, or even Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain and their legacy, I highly recommend reading this one.  It’s inspiring if only for the strength of this Constant Princess!  Oh and do yourself a favor and read Philippa Gregory’s books in order, this one first!  I didn’t read them in order and I wish I would have had this story before reading “The Other Boleyn Girl” and the others.  I totally didn’t have an understand of Queen Katherine until I read this one 🙂

Porcini Risotto

I meant to  post the recipe for my porcini risotto yesterday when I told you about this, alas, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing and I just ran out of time.  This is a CRAZY good side dish and goes especially with a main dish of beef or could even be a meal on it’s own.

Risotto is easy but a lot of people shy away from it because it really IS time consuming due to the fact that you have to add little amounts of broth at a time until the rice absorbs it.  If you add the liquid all at once, the rice will never absorb it all.  The end result will be a creamy, cheesy, gooey goodness!

Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup Arborio rice (it has to be Arborio)

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

2 medium leeks, only the white parts, sliced (you could use 1 medium onion sliced or diced)

4 or 5 dried porcini mushrooms

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 1/2 cups hot beef broth

1/2 cup cream

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese

pepper to taste

Directions

To re hydrate dried porcini mushrooms, place in a cup of hot water for a few minutes.  take hydrated mushrooms out of water and set aside.  In a skillet, heat up olive oil on medium high heat.  Add leeks and saute until soft.  Add rice to softened leeks, add garlic powder and salt.  Toast rice until lightly browned (about 2 minutes).  Add wine to rice mixture and saute until wine is mostly absorbed.  Add 1 cup of the hot beef broth, stirring frequently.  As the liquid cooks down add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time until all broth is used.  At the end, add 1/2 cup of cream and stir until rice is very creamy and most of the fluid is absorbed.  Add Parmesan cheese and pepper, stir until cheese is mixed into the rice.