Growing up, Grandma Dodds made Ferden once a year -- for Thanksgiving. And I still remember the smell, and the taste -- and I'm happy to report that my sister Ronda carries on the Ferden tradition.
After I die -- the people I loved will remember two things I cooked with great fondness. First of all -- my homemade pesto. It is perfection -- and I make it every year as soon as the basil is big enough.
The second thing will be my dumplings. After years of hit and miss -- I GOT THOSE SUCKERS DOWN PAT...and it's my #1 winter comfort food...
In both cases -- the food is simple, simple, simple. The TECHNIQUE is way more important than the RECIPE.
Dumplings recipe: (I always make a double batch)
1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tbl oil
Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl with a fork. Make a well in the center and add the milk and oil all at once. Mix it up with the fork until the wet is incorporated. (it will be thick -- don't overmix it).
COVER WITH A TOWEL AND LET IT STAND FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES. This makes a HUGE difference in your dumplings. They will start to rise in the bowl and get very tender. You cannot skip this step...trust me...
I often start with homemade chicken soup...and recently made three big bags out of the Thanksgiving turkey. I put the soup in the freezer -- a bag of soup is a wonderful go-to meal to have. Ten minutes to thaw in the micro -- and you're in business.
The pan you use is very important. It should have a heavy bottom (you will not be able to stir the stew for at least 15 minutes) and a tight fitting lid. A glass lid is best -- because you can WATCH the dumplings steam up...
Your soup should be just simmering -- not a rolling boil. If you accidentally get it too hot -- add a few ice cubes. Drop the dumplings into the soup, one spoon at a time (walnut-sized). DO NOT CROWD the dumplings.
Cover the pot and SIMMER FOR 15 minutes. DO NOT LIFT THE LID during that time...
Here's the most important point. After your dumplings are cooked -- IMMEDIATELY REMOVE THEM FROM THE STEW. I use a large meat fork to lift them out of the pan -- on to a separate platter. If you leave them sit in the stew -- as they start to cool they will absorb the liquid and get very dense and heavy. You want the inside to stay dry and fluffy...
Grandchild-cooking-tip for Bonne: Lillian loves to help cook-- and she can do most of the actual mixing of the dumplings. But, of course, the hot soup is dangerous. So at the point where I would drop them into the soup -- instead, Lilly makes the walnut-size dumpling balls at the table, and puts them on a platter. Then, we move over to the stove, and she proudly puts each dumpling on a long-handled spoon to deliver to me. I safely dropped them into the soup...and hand the spoon back to her.
I INTENDED to take a picture of the dumplings -- but we're always so hungry -- I can't find my camera at the right moment -- sorry...
Instad -- I grabbed these pics off the internet. THIS IS WHAT YOU'RE GOING FOR... GOOD LUCK!!