I'm smiling right now because I just typed the title to my new blog post above. It almost sounds like an exquisite dish prepared by none other than Gordon Ramsay, but nay my friends, it is not lol. Today I wanted to share my quick recipe of Chicken and Dumplings, but I can't do that without talking a little bit about the woman who introduced me to this homemade dish...my grandmother...Rosemary, better known as Gram, Grammaw, old lady, or La Rosemary...
Everyone has their own personal image of a "grandma". Some envision a grandma to look like one of the Golden Girls, some envision a grandma to look like a nun, some envision a grandma to look like something out of a Norman Rockwell print, and then there are the few who envision (and hope they themselves will look like) Raquel Welch. My Gram was the young proper World War II bride. The heels, perfect skirts, red lipstick, manicured nails, slender in build, educated, and a twin.
Although I mention she was a twin, they were far from identical in appearance and personality. My great aunt never married or ever drove, whereas my grandmother married, had two children (one being my dad), and divorced while they were very young. Both she and her twin were the only children raised in a devout catholic household. Their mom, my great grandmother, was 11 years older than their father and both my father and aunt (who grew up with their grandparents) attested to the fact that they NEVER heard them argue or raise their voices...(unheard of today lol) and his grandmother was ALWAYS IN THE KITCHEN...This was all during a time where divorce was very frowned upon and a single working mother was almost an embarrassment...
Family was the world to my grandmother. Every prayer she ever said was to ensure our health, happiness, and safety. All she ever wanted was for us to be happy and love her. That's it! And honestly, it was impossible NOT to love her. She truly was the vision of the perfect grandmother.
As children, my brother and I spent A LOT of time with her. She either lived with my great aunt or across the hall from her. The weekends were spent at Gram's where we'd sleep in her queen size bed with her or on the "fun" occasion, she would pull out her queen size sofa bed, which for us was awesome, but I'm pretty sure it was the most uncomfortable bed ever! Uncomfortable or not, she didn't care. It was all about us and spending time with us! Saturdays were about going downtown for lunch and to get their hair and nails done...that's when hair was done once a week! Sunday mornings she always cooked us delicious foods like the normal eggs, sausage, bacon, but occasionally we'd get biscuits and homemade bacon gravy or biscuits and blackberries-my absolute favorite! Then off to church we'd go!
When it came to holidays, the fun stuff was always at our house, but Gram would occasionally have "A Dinner". Normally, the 'Dinner' was either Easter Sunday or Christmas Day. And it was ALWAYS Chicken and Dumplings...always! She'd start by going to the 'butcher' shop and ordering a big chicken. It's what you did back in the day when she was growing up and she believed that to be what you did if you wanted a 'good chicken'. The morning of, she would cook that chicken AND make her own broth...wearing her infamous 'house coat'. My aunt (her daughter, not her sister) would arrive a little early and together they would make the dough and roll out and cut the dumplings. I giggle because she WAS NOT a tidy and orderly cook. I swear to you, there was more flour on the floor, the stove, the cabinets, and her face than in the pot! But while that was all boiling, she step away and 'get herself all cleaned up' for company.
I'd watch this process growing up and my favorite part was always cutting the dumplings and putting them in the broth. Of course eating them was truly the best part. But, no lie, as an adult, I was forever afraid to make them! Seriously, if you could see what the kitchen looked like when she made this dish, you would have thought it was a scene from Animal House!
I feared making it! I'm not a chaotic cook. I don't like mess. I don't like complicated! But the more I realized that I didn't cook in the same manner as she did, I trusted that I'd be able to pull this off without all the mess. And I did! And it was so worth doing! It's still reminds me of her, still the delicious and comforting food it always was, but I will say it's sad not being able to share it with her anymore.
Fortunately for our three now adult kids, Gram was a BIG part of their life growing up as well. She may have been up there in years, but the kids have the absolute BEST memories of her. And her cooking skills didn't change over the years. When the kids were little, they'd stay with her for short spurts and the occasional overnight. And when we'd walk in to pick them up, I swear to you all three would be standing on kitchen chairs, draped in makeshift aprons, dough or whatever dripping off their little hands, and shit FLUNG all over the table, the floor, their faces, the wall...and she would just say to me, "it's okay, I'll clean it up; I wanted to keep their clothes nice."🤦🏻♀️ They got to experience bubble baths with every piece of tupperware imaginable to play with in the tub, they'd all make Coca Cola floats while watching Walker Texas Ranger, Perry Mason, Murder She Wrote (all her favorite shows lol), and ovaltine before bedtime and breakfast. She played games non-stop with them, taught them prayers, and even convinced my son she had hydraulics in her car because she stopped go stopped go so much! Everything with her was an adventure in a child's eye...and a nightmare in a parent's sometimes 😂 One specific thing I remember was she NEVER abused her title as a grandmother. She always said to my brother and I, "listen to your mom and dad" or "we have to ask your mom and dad first". She would say the same thing to our kids as well. It was like she was the adult in the picture but she had no authority, if you know what I mean. She, too, was a kid who wanted to have fun, but knew someone else was in charge...❤️
Our youngest decided one day that because we (me and them) have Filipino blood, that Gram needed to have 'foreign' sounding name like us (hence my name Anarita) so she dubbed her La Rosemary lol and it stuck. Gram was funny like Betty White and enjoyed the humor we created around her. She smiled all the time, prayed like it was her day job, which by the way her day job (when I was a kid) was the bookkeeper for Schott Buick, owned by Marge Schott owner of the Cincinnati Reds at one point. And loved us like no other. She was everyone's Gram from the kids in the neighborhood I grew up playing with to the man I married...
Here's a fun yet spiritual fact I'll end with...my oldest child, Jake, was born on April 7th, 1993. My great aunt (Gram's twin) died on April 7, 2003. I was not told until that day that my great grandmother (Gram's mom) also died on April 7, 1959. Then, while my son was on in the Air Force serving a TDY over in Qatar, Gram passed away...on April 7, 2015. Yes, a mom and her twin daughters all passed away on the same day, three different years...and God gifted me a son on that same day, to complete the circle of life❤️
I created a recipe card for the Chicken and Dumplings! It can found by clicking the RECIPES tab above and scroll down. Super easy, super delicious, and if you get flour everywhere, just think of my Gram and have a LaRosemary moment!
The picture above is the chicken my husband smoked on his Traeger grill. When I made the dumplings, I didn't add the chicken, I just served it with the dumplings!