There is nothing more personal than food. A strong statement, yes-- but when you consider it, it's not that controversial. You choose it, see it, smell it, taste it, and it courses through your veins building and maintaining every cell in your body for better or worse. You really are what you eat.
It's not just the physicality of that adage that holds true. What you eat also testifies to everything from your values and upbringing to your geographical origins. As to geographical origins, the lines can be finely drawn, and in some cases, all the way down to which side of the county you're from. Sometimes, you might find yourself straddling that line. Example: Are you a "Joy of Cooking" Northerner type or more of the "Fannie Farmer" Southern persuasion. I straddle the line.
My friend Robyn and I were gazing out of the window of our second story classroom one grey middle school afternoon discussing our preferred dumpling types. She preferred the dense almost noodle variety while I championed the fluffy steamed kind. Now, in most things food related, I am certainly a "Joy of Cooking" kind of girl. Here, though, is a very decided deviation from that path.
In regard to dumplings, I say "Fannie Farmer" all the way. How it is that a delectable little puff of dough can be ladled from a steamy soup pot to reveal a magically dry-like-cake centered dumpling is one of the most magical gems of cooking-- fluffy clouds that have since turned a reliable and humble chicken soup into something else all together. The fact that you can't peek duing the cook time also adds to the fun. Like rice, you have to leave the lid on while it steams or you'll screw it up.
I won't judge you if you choose the other type, but if you're interested, here's how Fannie Farmer says it goes.
So, once you have your favorite chicken soup simmering happily on the stove, prepare the dumplings as follows.
2 C of flour
1 ts of salt
3 tbs of baking powder
2 tbs of minced fresh parsley (I've never once added this to my dumplings, but I'm sure it's delightful.)
4 tbs of shortening (I use cold butter but shortening will be more forgiving)
3/4 to 1 C of milk (the dough should be sticky)
Whisk the dry ingredients.
Cut in the the butter or shortening with a pastry cutter (or your fingers or food processor or two butter knives) until the mixture looks like a coarse-crumbed floury assemblage.
Pour the milk with a swirly flourish over the flour/butter mixture and, with a light touch, stir/combine with a fork until the dough is just brought together. Take large forkfuls of the dough and gently drop into simmering soup.
Cover with soup pot with a tight fitting lid and steam over medium heat for 20 minutes without lifting the lid until it's time for the grand reveal.
What do you think?
Are you converted?