For the love of dumplings n’ such

By EMILY JACKSON,

I decided Sunday evening I would satisfy my hankering for a home cooked meal by making chicken n’ dumplings, spicy cornbread, and butterbeans enough to feed the small herd that lives on my hill. This meal is one of my favorites, but the reason is far more sentimental than just for the taste.

 From the time I was old enough to walk I could be found glued to my MawMaw. We cooked a variety of different meals together, but my favorite was always chicken n’ dumplings. I would pull and push one of her old wood chairs up to the counter beside the stove and we would mix and roll out our dumplings cutting them in strips, dropping them one by one into the fresh, hot broth.

I can still hear her saying “now don’t you stir those dumplings they will clump up” as she showed me the proper way to push them down into the broth. She never really cared about the extra mess I would make. She just patiently watched and guided my hands as need be. That mess would be fine waiting just a few more minutes to be cleaned.

Now I find myself often questioned about my recipe for dumplings. That is one question I can never answer.  I can tell you a general idea on how to make them, but there are no exact measurements. Like many things in life dumplings are just one of those things that when they are right you know. Many times, I tell people dumplings require love, because that is what taught me how to get them just right.

My childhood was simple to say the least. The majority of it was spent playing outside or cooking in that old wood chair.

 Our generation lost a lot of tradition mainly due to the rise in technology and kids feeling too busy to take the time to learn from our elders. Many never worked in a garden, helped put up vegetables for the winter, or even learned how to cook something more than the necessities. 

I worry about the generation that follows us. I see kids using tablets and computers at such a young age and outside seems more of a punishment for them than the exciting freedom we once considered it. With a busy world and so much to “keep up with” a lot of the time technology is used to entertain kids or just keep them occupied.

While there are educational programs to teach ABCs and just about anything else you could dream up, there is no app to replace the quality time teaching a small child how to make dumplings, biscuits, or to put up vegetables. There is no app to portray that kind of patience we all need to learn.

Without kids of my own, I try to take the time to teach my (honorary) nieces and nephews things that I want passed down. My niece Brooklyn reminds me a lot of myself. The last time I made chicken n’ dumplings at their house those big brown eyes looked up at me and she said “can I help?” 

Of course, it will make a little bigger mess and might take a little longer, but I agreed ready to pass down my love of making home cooked meals to someone who might one day pass it on to her children. Someone who when I get older and pass away will stand in her own kitchen mixing dough and humming or singing a tune of her own while thinking of how I used to show her to roll the dough and drop the dumplings without stirring them so they won’t clump. She will remember the patience she was shown and the love that it takes to get those dumplings just right.

When little eyes fall upon you don’t push them off with a “no” or “maybe next time” embrace the mess, pass down the traditions, and make the memories because one day that will be all they have.