January 20th, 2009
The weather in Chicago continues to be garbage, and we’re all doing the best we can. It was Sunny Sunday and as warm as 20 degrees - and people flocked to the outdoor mall in droves to enjoy the warm spell and boost their moods a little in the sunshine. Today, however, it’s snowing again, and not quite as warm as the sun made it Sunday.
So I’ve got that, there are still more hours of darkness than daylight every day, and work is heating up in advance of the Big Meeting my office will host at the local convention center next month. At home, I’m searching for comfort food.
I went to Gooseberry Patch - specifically, the 2009 calendar I received as a holiday gift. Gooseberry Patch has a whole line of cookbooks that I go to when I’m looking to make some kind of tried-and-true dish without putting a whole lot of effort into it. Think: crockpot dishes, baked casseroles that have cream soup bases, and anything that involves ground beef. The good thing is that they’re all good and use a lot of pantry staples. The bad part is that theat sometimes involved “shortening” on the list of ingredients. Just something to be aware of.
The calendar’s recipe for January was for chicken with dumplings - which was, as expected, cheap and easy: 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 4 cans of chicken broth, chicken, 2 cans of vegetables, and two tubes of refrigerated biscuits.
The recipes in Gooseberry Patch are all like that - folksy foods that can be prepared quickly and inexpensively to feed a crowd: Fruit salad dressed with a mixture of honey, lemon juice and pineapple juice; a recipe for cheesy herbed biscuits ingredients that you layer in a canning jar to give as a gift; fudge made with shortening; popcorn balls for Halloween.
Regardless, the chicken and dumplings I made last week was perfect for the modd I was in, and the refrigerated biscuits made great dumplings. I dropped the raw dough in the top of the boiling soup and covered the pot. The dough sort of sat on top of the soup for a combination of boiling/steaming/braising, and absorbed all of the flavors of the soup base.
I made the chicken version of the recipe for myself, and a vegetable version for friends who needed a comforting meal. I thought both were good. I even slipped a few peas in - which I hate! - but I got them down without hesitating.