I was cruising facebook when a noticed a post a friend had made in which he asked the question, “What was your favorite meal that your grandmother made?”
Most responded with fried chicken, chicken & dumplings or beef roast.
I wasn’t surprised. I too was blessed to have tasted the world’s finest fried chicken, dumplings and beef roast, all lovingly prepared from scratch. Above all, my favorite had to be Nanny’s dumplings.
Her flour was kept in a huge canister kept under the kitchen sink. This thing easily held 50-lbs of flour. In the top sat a flour filled white granite pan with an emerald green rim. This was the little pan she used to dredge meat and make her delicious dumplings.
Because it sat under the sink for (probably) 40+ years, the bottom rusted away. However I still have that little granite pan and use it to make dumplings with my grandson.
One of my favorite memories is of me standing in a kitchen chair, next to the table,”helping” her make dumplings.
She would fill sifter with flour and let me turn the little red wooden knob on the side. At some point she would take over and fill the pan with fluffy flour. Nest, she made a well in the center and poured the required amount of salt, from the blue box, into the palm of her cupped hand* and dumped it in.
As she turned to retrieve a cup of water from the sink I would poke my fingers in the pan. She’d pour the icy-cold well water in and stir it around with two fingers. Never just one. Never three. Two fingers carefully stirring the water into the flour, incorporating a little more with each revolution until it formed a spongy ball.
Once she was satisfied with the mixture, she instruct me to sift a bit of flour onto the center of the 100+yo breadboard that once belonged to her husband’s grandmother. Now it was time to knead the dough just enough form it into a soft ball that didn’t stick to the board.
At this point she would turn to check on the chicken stewing in the pot, put the canister and flour pan back under the sink… anything to give me time to poke the soft dough and get a feel for how soft/firm the dough should be before it was rolled out into a huge sheet that completely covered the board. As she’d turn to grab the old butcher knife I knew this was my last chance to poke the dough one last time.
The dough was rolled to about 3/8″ thickness, peppered liberally and sliced into 1-1/2″ ribbons then sliced diagonally into long diamonds. She’d drop these, one at a time, into a big pot of bubbling chicken broth thickened with a flour-water slurry.
(* Nanny placed her index finger in the center of her slightly cupped palm and explained to me this equaled 1 teaspoonful. Her thumb equaled1 tablespoon and 3-fingers was about 1/4 cup)
4+ cups all-purpose flour (+ more for kneading)
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
1 cup cold water
1 gallon boiling chicken stock with or without chicken meat included.
That’s the entire recipe for Nanny’s Dumplings
After I got over the wave of nostalgia, I started wondering what the grandchildren of future grandparent’s to be will say?
“I loved the way grandma ordered pizza, with extra cheese, on her old iphone”.
“No one could pull into a McDonald’s drive-thru like my Nanna”
Maybe they will gush over how she always allowed them to open the blue and yellow box of Mac & (fake) Cheese she served with microwaved hotdogs.