It seems I am a security risk. Or my website is under some kind of attack. From me. For the past week, I am only person on the Planet Earth who cannot get into my own damn website.
I have traveled cyperspace from my IT professional in Seattle to my web host in Deer Park, Texas, to the Starbucks in Brentwood, from which I am presently speaking to you. My web host tells me that my computer believes I am a menace to myself at home. I am about to be a menace to my irritating neighbors at Starbucks.
I have come to the Starbucks in an attempt to write. I will get to the chicken and dumplings in a moment.
The Starbucks is unbelievably noisy. Why do people conduct business in a Starbucks where everyone can hear what they’re saying? The man next to me has a retirement account with $250,000 and he is seeking advice from a bald financial advisor. Why would financial advisors meet their clients in a coffee shop? I would back away quickly, but the man is now signing some sort of agreement. The threesome at the next table is talking about tax deductions. I would like to deduct them from my view.
I am here to write. I need quiet. I need a drink.
Chicken and dumplings. Every Southern cook needs a recipe for chicken and dumplings in his or her arsenal. The quintessential comfort food isn’t so pretty on a plate, but it’s a snap to make. Don’t let the homemade dumpling dough get your panties in a wad. It’s just flour, salt and water. If you could make mud pies as a child, you can make dumplings as an adult.
Chicken and dumplings
1 (2 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 cup baby carrots
1 large onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 chicken bouillon cubes
Milk and cornstarch to thicken the broth
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
To start the chicken: Place the chicken, carrots, onion, bay leaves and bouillon in a large pot. Cover the chicken with water and and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer the chicken until it is tender, about two hours. Remove the chicken from the pot and, when it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and separate the meat from the bones. Return the chicken meat to the pot.
To prepare the dumplings: Mix the flour with the salt and make a hole in the center of the mixing bowl. Drizzle a small amount of ice water into the hole and begin incorporating the flour with your fingers. Gradually, mix in about ¾ cup of ice water until a stiff dough forms and all the flour is used up. Knead the dough and form it into a ball.
Sprinkle a generous amount of flour onto a clean work surface. Roll out the dough, working from the center to 1/8-inch thick. Let the dough rest for several minutes.
Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Drop the pieces into the simmering soup. Do not stir the chicken once the dumplings have been added. Gently move the pot in a circular motion so the dumplings become submerged and cook evenly. Cook until the dumplings float and are no longer doughy, 3 to 4 minutes.
Thicken the stock with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of whole milk to form a creamy mixture. Keep adding more of the cornstarch mixture until the stock turns to a gravy.