24 September 2011

some thoughts about some things

  • Our move this year puts us in a high traffic area for Halloweeners seeking candy. This is exciting because I've never given out Halloween candy. Growing up, we lived way too far out for anyone to visit, and until now, I've lived in an apartment or moderately unsafe part of town. But this year is our year! I was advised by a few people to purchase candy NOW. Waiting until the week of Halloween limits the candy options.I firmly feel that cheap candy is no way to treat small children--or adults, for that matter. As a trick-or-treater, I resented the houses that gave out pieces of bubble gum or fake chocolate candy. Although I prefer most (real) chocolate candy to non-chocolate candy, I decided that it's unwise to keep 250 bite sized Snickers and 3 Musketeers in our house for over a month. Instead, we have a basket full of Nerds, Laffy Taffy, Sweet Tarts and Pixy Sticks. For years, I thought I only liked banana Laffy Taffy. Well, it turns out that I was wrong. I also like cherry Laffy Taffy. I have a feeling that the option for cherry Laffy Taffy will greatly diminish through the month of October.
  • Glory be! After almost two years, I found the cable that connects my camera to my computer. It was in a place that I checked approximately five times because it made sense that I would have put it there. At one point, I pulled everything out of the drawer. Somehow I missed it. My memory card doesn't fit into my computer, so it's just a hassle to download pictures. I hope this makes me better at downloading!
  • Husby and I don't have cable. We decided that we could watch our shows via internet connection on the network web sites. So far, we've watched the premier of The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family. We loved Big Bang (if you don't watch it, you should), and Modern Family was hilarious, BUT I don't love the new Lilly. She's a brat! And my brain doesn't get that she went from younger than two and not talking to a talking, mean little girl. I also think the first girl who played Lilly was much cuter.
  • I'm really curious to make this pie. I'll let you know how it turns out.
  • The East Texas State Fair is in town. We're planning to go this week. Of course, we go for the food. My typical meal includes a corny dog, homemade root beer, and coconut cream pie (made by the Lutheran church). I'm also up for sharing pretty much anything else that's battered and fried, including: pickles, jalapenos, funnel cakes, and Oreos. I draw the line at fried butter and chicken fried bacon, though.

13 September 2011

Chicken & Dumplings

A couple of weeks ago when it cooled off to 94 degrees, I decided it was time for a nice, fall meal. You know... something cozy to celebrate the donning of sweaters and boots. Since I was somewhat sickly that day, I decided that chicken and dumplings would make me feel better. Last week, Boo Mama posted her  recipe and also shared the correct pronunciation for said dish. Although our recipes differ, we agree that it is pronounced CHICKEN AND DUMPLINS. The G is silent. Trust me. It is.

I think that my grandmother made the best chicken and dumplings. I also think I make the second best chicken and dumplings. (Mom, don't worry, yours are good, too! You win third place!) Here are qualities that I like in my chicken and dumplings:
  1. Creamy, not brothy. This adds to the cozy factor.
  2. Slick dumplings, not fluffy dumplings. I guess these technically aren't dumplings, but more like thick, wide noodles.
  3. A high ratio of dumplings to chicken. I actually use chicken for the flavor, but I just love the dumplings part of this dish.
  4. Lots of fresh black pepper.
  5. The option to use frozen dumplings. There are some good ones, y'all. Don't be ashamed. I make them from scratch less than half the time. Here's what I buy in the frozen bread section:

Chicken & Dumplings

4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I usually boil an entire bag at once, shred it, and then freeze the meat.)
5 quarts chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 packages Mary B's Open Kettle Dumplings or homemade dumplings*
1 can evaporated milk
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
Salt and pepper, to taste (I use about 1 teaspoon of each, I think)

Bring chicken broth to a boil with thyme, salt and pepper. Break frozen dumplings into fourths and cook according to package directions. (The important part is to keep stirring so that they don't stick!) Once dumplings are tender, add chicken. Add evaporated milk and soup. Add additional salt and pepper. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

*Homemade Dumplings (I double the recipe. These cook for about 15 minutes before adding chicken.)
Mix 2 cups of flour with 1 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl. Begin pouring ice-cold water and mixing with your fingers. (You'll use a little over 3/4 cup water.) Knead the dough into a ball. Sprinkle flour over you work area and roll the dough to about 1/8 inch. Cut dough into 1" x 2" pieces.

Considering that I usually pick the chicken out of my bowl and give it to Husby, my carbohydrates for the day are usually met in one serving of Chicken and Dumplings. But I love making Red Lobster cheddar biscuits to go with them. I don't particularly like Red Lobster. In fact, I got food poisoning from scallops at RL when I was 4, so I have a general aversion to the restaurant and scallops. But the two times I've been since, I've eaten as many cheddar biscuits as possible. Lucky for me, someone figured out the recipe, and it's super easy. I usually get them in the oven while stirring the pot o' dumplings. Also, I love garlic, so I add it to the biscuits, not just the butter to brush on top. I also dislike parsley, so I leave it out.

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

2 C Bisquick
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 C milk
1/4 C butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix Bisquick with garlic powder. Mix in cheese. Pour in milk and mix until well incorporated, for 30 seconds. Using an ice cream scoop, place onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Mix butter and garlic powder; brush over biscuits before removing from cookie sheet. Serve warm.

02 September 2011

A Little Hope

For you, this picture might mean nothing. Except that it's the beginning of September, and I'm one of those crazies who is ready to decorate for fall on September 1.

(I actually have an unwritten rule that I can decorate that early. And I have new fall decor, so I'm aching to put it out. This weekend friends, this weekend. I have to decorate that early so that I can fully enjoy it since Christmas goes up the Monday before Thanksgiving.)

I digress. For me, this picture is hope. Hope that it will eventually stop soaring into triple digit temperatures. And although it's forecast to cool over the next week, I have my doubts. After all, the meteorologists in our area have predicted rain almost every week since June. That hasn't really happened, except on the days when they claim that there is ZERO CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION.

Since I love summer (and I love summer in Texas), I've tried not to complain at length about the heat, but it's been rough! Even worse is the lack of rain. As I'm sure you know, we're in extreme drought conditions. Now that we live outside of the city limits, we have private water. Our water company sent a notice a couple of weeks ago that we can only water our lawns twice a week. Honestly, that was difficult. Although new to home ownership, we want to be proud of our lawn. A certain amount of vanity comes with wanting a green lawn, and when a water shortage prevents that, it sort of stinks.

Even more than wanting a green lawn is wanting a non-dry, non-crispy yard for safety reasons. Because everything is so dry, fires pop up quickly. A few nights we've walked outside to smell acreage burning. Where our house is located is pretty wooded. To be honest, there've been times that I've had to come to terms with the fact that we have a house, filled with stuff. As long as we're okay (and our pets are okay), then we can make it if something happens. That's a tough reality for me. Of course, we've gathered all of our legal documents; if only we could remember to buy a fireproof safe to store them!

Even though this weekend won't show signs of fall, other than the acorns dotting the front yard, I expect that it will be wonderful, restful and productive.