As I sit here, I can close my eyes, take in a deep breath and smell the scent of chicken, carrots, celery and onions. In fact- the scent has combined over the hours to pervade my entire home. If I rid myself of the electronics going all around me I can hear the bubble, bubble, bubble of the broth as it it thickens courtesy of the dumplings. From finding the recipe in the very cherished cookbook that my mother made for me to putting the whole chicken and spices in to start it cooking this morning, to deboning the chicken, to hand rolling, cutting and dropping the dumplings into the stock through the time I sit down with the bowl- the process of making these Chicken and Dumplings is a pure pleasure. It doesn't matter that it takes many hours from start to finish. What matters is that I know that with every step and every delicious bite I am tied to a past generation. This recipe came from my mother's grandmother, to my grandmother to my mom, to me and I have shared it with my son. We have each added a different touch and we have all added our love to that pot. When I eat it, and when I share it with friends and family- there is a warmth that floods me and makes me feel as if all of my worries are long gone if only for a few minutes.
My husband has his own comfort food- the chili that his mom taught him to make. Though he is both a good- and creative- cook in his own right, the only modification he makes to his mother's recipe is how much heat he adds in the form of various hot sauces in "his" batch (he makes the original for me and spices his up). Other than that- the recipe has stayed the same as the way she always made it. When he makes it, indeed when he thinks about making it, it brings a gleem to his eye that lasts till his last bowl.
There are other comfort foods in my life. Just the other day I was having a high stress day and I would have literally hurt someone for some mashed potatos. In fact-I can't think of anything done to a potato that doesn't bring comfort. Oatmeal- especially with brown sugar and fruit is just the perfect start to a day. It reminds me of being a child and getting ready for school. You know- the days when the biggest worry was if your best friend was still your best friend? Sitting down with a bowl makes life just seem simpler.
Comfort foods make us smile when we don't feel like it. They make us feel better when we are sick or down. They make good days even better. Chicken noodle soup is the universal comfort food but each of us has our own personal thing that makes everything better for our own reasons. Thank you Mom, Grandma and Great-Grandma Clara for handing down and sharing your love and your chicken and dumpling recipe. I think of each of you when I make and eat it and I hope that Josh does the same and passes it on when he has children.