Shoot for Just Right

Archived | April 28, 2014 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. The rain hadn’t started yet, but the skies grew dark through the evening and you could smell the rain comin’, that earthy green scent rising up out of the grass into the faded-yellow-tinted air, clouds burgeoning up over the trees to the west. The rain started up sometime after we all climbed into sleep, and continued all night, and through the day Sunday.
I vacillated between wanting to do every inside thing, and napping a while. Made some cream cheese bars, and a barbecued chicken pizza, and some dip for potato chips, and boiled some eggs for the younger daughter, who ate three of them over a few hours as she worked on a paper for school. While I cooked and baked and folded clothes that had been waiting awhile, and paid a few bills, and organized the pile of lists and papers and schedules on the kitchen counter, our son — who was listening to 800 year-old Icelandic hymns on his computer down in his room — came up and told me his about his date Saturday night while he ate some warm coffeecake. He and his girlfriend, instead of attending the school prom, went to Perkins for breakfast food, took a hike by the falls, got pulled over for a headlight issue (“It was terrifying for a moment and then I was all calm and everything…”) which resulted in a verbal warning (Amen to that). They then went to a party with a bunch of friends who did attend the prom and watched movies into the wee morning hours. Somehow our conversation ended with me telling him about my first kiss, and how it was nothing at all like the first time Mr. S kissed me, and he said, “Really,” and smiled, and went back down to his Icelandic hymns. Our daughter asked me to print her paper as she started another, and I mixed up dough for a batch of sugar cookies, wondering whether it was raining out in Ohio, where Mr. S was for the weekend, giving a talk called “If Nothing’s Perfect, Shoot for ‘Just Right’.” Thought about our oldest, too, away at college, spending the day with a group of high school friends who got together and drove up to spend the day with her. I imagined them kind of piled together, all laughing, pizza boxes and pop cans scattered about.
Sometime in the afternoon, the kids and I sat by the fire and watched “The Shawshank Redemption.” He fell asleep after not too long, and she got up a bit later to do some more school work. I watched the entire movie, something I’ve not done in a long while. And then I watched a good part of “The Green Mile”, another amazing movie, until what would be, on a sunny day, twilight. That’s when I got going on sesame chicken and fried rice, as the wind picked up outside, howling, and the rain came down in sheets.
Without Mr. S and our oldest daughter around, and with the number of frogs I had to contend with in the garage after I found someone had left the door open, and the fact that I ran out of butter, it wasn’t quite the Perfect Day. But it was Just Right, and I felt alive and happy as night fell and the storm stormed on. The kind of day I’ll think of on my last day, and one of the reasons I’ll be smiling.
If you’re not tired of comfort food yet, here’s a dish that’ll warm away the damp in your bones fa stretch of April rain can bring. A meal in itself, though some broiled asparagus or a small salad on the side would add a bit o’ green.
Chicken ‘n Dumplings
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch celery salt
1 pinch salt
2 T butter
1 cup buttermilk, a bit less than a full cup (you can certainly substitute with milk)
2 quarts chicken broth
3 cups cooked chicken
1-2 dashes pepper
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter; cut in with a fork or pastry blender. Add milk, mixing with a fork until the dough forms a ball.
Heavily flour a work surface. Roll the dough out thin with a heavily floured rolling pin. Dip a pizza cutter or butcher knife in flour, and cut the dumplings into squares about 2″x2″. Odd shapes will work just fine. Lift dumplings with a small spatula onto a heavily floured plate, sprinkling flour between the layers you make.
Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot on the stove. Drop the dumplings in one at a time, stirring gently while you add them. The extra flour on them will help thicken the broth. Cook about 15-20 minutes or until they aren’t doughy tasting. Add the cooked chicken to the pot and let simmer a bit and there you have it!