Southern Comfort Food Mexican Style – Chicken & Dumplings

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Whether we hail from the great frozen north or were raised in the Deep South, we all have warm feelings for chicken and dumplings. People disagree about the dumplings, but it’s just ‘cause each one of us loves our mama and we think her chicken and dumplings are the best. It’s ok; we’re allowed to like it all, but for this blog post, let’s just say that pastry is flat and dumplings are fat. If you add peas and carrots to chicken and dumplings, you are straying into pot pie territory, but that’s just me.

But it’s all good. Your mama’s can be the best and you can still enjoy all your friends’ mamas’ recipes too.

Here in Mexico, the ingredients for chicken and dumplings are readily available. Traditional Mexican dishes feature corn flour rather than wheat flour, so this was hubby’s first taste of chicken and dumplings. (To my Southern sisters, yes I know, smh.) He did what a lot of us do after eating chicken and dumplings on a Sunday afternoon. He had a good long nap. He says he understands now why we call it comfort food.

If you’re a non-Southerner looking to sample some Southern dishes, websites like Southern Living magazine, have wonderful recipes ranging from simple to gourmet. There are lots of Southern cookbooks available online from shopping sites like Amazon. And although a lot of born and bred Southerners don’t consider Florida “Southern”, which is a topic for a different day, if you‘re looking for Floridian recipes, try here

If you grew up in the rural south like I did, your knowledge of southern country cooking came from the women around you, the great cooks in your family, in your church, in your community, and you learned by doing because most of that knowledge was not written down anywhere. I remember Ms. Louise, a beloved family matriarch in my mama’s church who made Sunday dinner for her family every week until the last days of her life. And if you were within hollerin’ distance, you got invited to come along as a guest and be treated to real country cooking. My favorite was her chicken and pastry. I don’t know if anyone in her family has her recipe, or even if she used a recipe, but I’m sure it won’t be half as good if you don’t sing “Love Lifted Me” while you’re cooking it like she did. [This sounds more like home to me when I play it at 3/4 speed!]

But, like I said in the beginning, everybody’s mama’s recipe is the best, and while I loved Ms. Louise’s chicken and pastry, my mama made fluffy biscuit-like dumplings, and that’s my favorite, and that’s what I’m doing today. It’s not her recipe per se, just her way of doing it, mostly. We didn’t really use recipes.

***This dish must be served IMMEDIATELY!! If you want the dumplings to stay fluffy, wait until time to serve before making them. Leftovers taste great, but the dumplings will be firm, not fluffy.

You can use rotisserie chicken if you like, canned broth, caldo de pollo (bouillon), canned biscuits, Bisquick, more or less onion and garlic, other veggies, whole milk, evaporated milk and water or broth. whatever. Make it yours. If you’re doing Paleo or Keto or Atkins or South Beach or any other carb restrictive eating plan, I’m so sorry you can’t partake in this carb-fest, but you might try alternate flours for the dumplings or pastry like nut flours or breadfruit flour. I love breadfruit, but I can’t get breadfruit flour here.

Prep time: 20 minutes (or an hour if you have to remove a lot of pinfeathers like I did!)

Cooking time: three hours or longer

Serves six large portions

INGREDIENTS:

  • One whole chicken or your favorite parts (~2 pounds)
  • One large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 6-8 large cloves of garlic, or more if you like
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4-6 quarts of water

 

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup lard, shortening, or butter
  • 3/4 to one cup whole milk

DIRECTIONS:

You can buy a whole chicken and cut it up like I did, or just breasts for a white meat dish, or legs and thighs for a less expensive but incredibly flavorful dish. If you don’t know how to cut up a chicken, here’s a video from Gordon Ramsey.

He can cut up a chicken in less than two minutes. Thanks for teaching me how to do this, Mama! It usually takes me about five minutes, but this time I was working with a freshly butchered hen from our local meat shop, so I spent a good thirty minutes cleaning pinfeathers.  

I saved the thighs and legs for another meal because there are only two of us, and put everything else in a large stockpot with the onion and garlic. You can add chunks of celery and carrot to the stock for extra flavor if you like. Add enough water so that the level is twice as deep as your chicken and veggies. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook at a steady, gentle boil until the chicken is falling off the bone, about two hours. Some recipes use only the breast and call for adding canned broth. If you include the giblets, the back, and the neck, you don’t need it.

When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, strain the broth and return to the stockpot. You can cook down the broth to intensify the flavors if you like, but I chose to set aside two quarts of broth in mason jars to use later in the week. If you added carrots and celery, you can set those aside to add back later or toss them in the compost pail.

Remove the meat from the carcass and set aside. Now comes another personal choice.  Take the garlic and onion pieces, the giblets, skin, and cartilage (gasp! but only if you want to), and blend together with two cups of broth until completely smooth. Pour this mixture back into the remaining broth, return to a full rolling boil, add back the chicken, and reduce the heat. The idea is to have the heat just below the boiling point so that you have the hottest temp for cooking the dumplings and a gentle, barely there boil so that the dumplings aren’t destroyed.  

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Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. I use my fingers for the next part, but you can use a fork or spoon or spatula if you want. Cut in the shortening, butter, or lard, whichever suits your budget and taste. Make a mountain, and then make a well and pour in about a third of the milk. Gently and gradually, sweep the dry ingredients into the liquid, adding more liquid as needed, until you have incorporated all the flour into a dough stiff enough not to fall off an upside down spoon.

Drop the dough by spoonfuls into the simmering broth, waiting a few seconds in between so they don’t stick together. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve immediately!

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Neva Online

 

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Prepper Me

Revolucionaria

So awhile ago, I came across a website looking for writers.  I clicked the link to investigate.  It turned out to be a Prepper site.  You know… the end is nigh, prepare now to survive and so on.  I thought to myself, well, maybe I could write stuff like that.  After all, I did complete the A to Z Why La Yacata is the best place to survive whatever disaster series.  So I asked my blogging group.  Did they think I could write Prepper stuff?  And yep, the ladies convinced me that I definitely could.  So I applied.

Several days later, I received a response.  I was super excited.  After several emails back and forth, my trial topic posts were Cooking with Cast Iron Cookware and The Medicinal Use of Garlic which I was subsequently paid for and were published on the site.  Go ahead and check them out!  I’m pretty proud of them!

Bare OrganicsMe- I got accepted to write for that Preppersite. Son- Does that mean we have to move to a military compound- Me- No, but we need to get those zombie deterrents up.

Then I submitted several other topic ideas, including Lessons Learned from Mexico’s Recent Earthquakes, and received positive replies from the post coordinator, but no dockets to write any articles on the topics I submitted.

Well, I guess I’m not a Prepper after all.

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Sewing and sewing

So now that I had a little more time with my new, improved non-school dependant schedule, I thought I’d finally get around to doing something with all those scraps I made from cutting up our school uniforms in July.  (See Transition Year)

I decided on a pattern for the latest patchwork pillow creation, sat down to sew at my treadle sewing machine (See Seamstress) and BING…BONG.  The teeth that move the fabric no longer moved the fabric.  Well, this was something beyond my abilities to repair, so I asked my husband to look at it.  He did, after a few weeks of nagging.  It took him 20 minutes to fix.

So then I sit back down ready to roll, and CRUNCH.  The wheel that turns the band that makes the whole rigmarole go was bent. Frustrated, I piled up my patchwork pieces and started in about getting a new sewing machine base.

My husband knew a guy whose mother had an old machine.  But the mom didn’t want to sell. She had another older base she’d be willing to part with but it was crooked.  One of the legs had been damaged over the years.  And she wanted $500 pesos for it.  

Then I remembered when we went to get a piano in Morelia (See Piano shopping) we had stopped at a roadside flea market and they had the most beautiful Singer sewing machine and base I had ever seen. After having bought our lovely piano earlier that day, I didn’t have any money on me for the sewing machine besides which it was a bit pricey. The guy wanted $2,000 pesos for the set (machine and base). Now that my own sewing machine was kaput, maybe we could see if he’d lower the price any. Consequently, my husband and I spent 3 weeks trying different random days and times to see if the place was open.  No luck.

On the way back from one of these fruitless trips, we drove past another junk shop in Moroleon.  The owner was just setting out a wrought iron sewing machine base.  We immediately stopped and asked the price.  $250 pesos and he’d throw in the curvy part that covered the wheel so that the ladies skirts didn’t get tangled in it.  I whipped out my wallet.

It was quite a trip home with this HEAVY iron between us on the motorcycle, but I was determined and hung on off the back of the motorcycle rack hoping that I wouldn’t fall off at every tope (speed bump). Me, the iron, the motorcycle and my husband arrived home safely.  My husband spent the afternoon fiddling with it.  The bolts were stripped and needed to be replaced. $20 pesos for a bag of bolts.  Then it was rather rusty, so we picked up a can of paint ($50 pesos). It ended up that my husband didn’t put that wheel guard on.  I mean I typically don’t sew with a full skirt on, so no worries about getting tangled.  All in all, I’m delighted with the new improved sewing machine.  It runs as smooth as a baby’s bottom (whatever that’s supposed to mean).

So then the question was what to do with the old base.  As the wheel was bent, it really wasn’t going to be good to anyone as a serviceable item.  Well, waste not, want not.  My son varnished a piece of scrap wood and my husband mounted it to the base and voila, a new, vintage table.  Everybody around here has at least one of these sewing machine base tables. And now I do too.

So now that the pillows are piling up, it’s time to head to the tianguis (flea market) and see if we can convert those old uniforms into a few pesos.  My next project will be curtains for the upstairs windows.  Stay tuned for details on that remodeling project.

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Lessons Learned from Mexico’s Recent Earthquakes

Although I have repeatedly stated I’m not a bonafide Prepper, every now and then I go into Prepper mode.  Recent events activated that dormant Prepper switch and out pops posts like this.

In any given day there are several hundred earthquakes around the world.  Earthquakes with a magnitude of 7 or greater occur on average once a month. (How Often Do Earthquakes Occur?)

Not all earthquakes are related to plate tectonics.  Research has proven that fracking, wastewater disposal, and fluid injection can also cause earthquakes. According to the Official website of the Department of Homeland Security, all 50 U.S. state, and 5 U.S. territories are at some risk for earthquakes.  Earthquakes can happen any day of the year and can not be predicted. Thus, it’s in your best interest to learn a little bit about earthquake survival.

In September, Mexico experienced a series of devastating earthquakes.  Being close enough to know people affected made me realize that there are a few things you and I can do to be better prepared in the event of an earthquake.

Find out about the structural integrity of your home and buildings you frequent.

After the deadly earthquake in Mexico City in 1985, the city began to require that all buildings be earthquake proof, holding builders to a high quality of material and construction. (MEXICO CITY’S CODE OF BUILDING REGULATIONS) There is no doubt that these higher standards saved thousands of lives last month. (In Mexico Quake, Geography and Building Codes Played Important Roles) However, 3,000 buildings in the city collapsed or were severely damaged.  People were trapped in those buildings and not everyone was rescued.  Investigators have since discovered that corners were cut and documents falsified for some of these buildings.  The substandard material that was used in many of those newer buildings was not able to withstand the earthquake and aftershocks. (His Mexico City Apartment Block Was Built Only Months Ago. So Why Did It Collapse So Easily?, Mexico City Probes Corruption Allegations Arising From Earthquake Building Damage, Collapsed School in Mexico Earthquake Is Checked for ‘Hidden Defects’)

Therefore, it’s in your best interest to have your own home assessed by a professional. It wouldn’t exactly be a good thing for all your carefully amassed survival supplies to be buried beneath a ton of rubble after an earthquake. (Earthquake Publications: Building Codes and Seismic Rehabilitation).  It’s also a good idea to check Public Records and find out some basic building information about your office building, workplace, your children’s schools, and even your grocery store.

Learn what to do in the event of an earthquake.

Since the 1985 earthquake, Mexico City requires a city-wide earthquake drill every year on September 19, the anniversary of the 1985 quake and ironically the same day as the latest earthquake. (Hours after an earthquake drill in Mexico City, the real thing struck) During this drill, alarms sound over loudspeakers, alerts are broadcasted over the radio and TV stations, and messages are even sent to cellphones. The residents of Mexico City are encouraged to leave stores, workplaces and schools and head to designated safe areas. 

I’ve seen a lot of conflicting advice about what the best thing to do during an earthquake. The Official website of the Department of Homeland Security suggests getting under a desk or table and remaining in the building. The Mexico City drills reinforce getting out of the building as quickly as possible while the Victoria State Emergency Service tells you to stay inside until the shaking stops. Undoubtedly the best thing to do is be in an area that does not have buildings, bridges, light posts, electric wires, or trees that may fall on you. Barring that, may I suggest hightailing it to an area without buildings, bridges, light posts, electric wires or trees as soon as possible?

Learn basic first aid.

In Mexico, governmental organizations were slow or ineffectual in dealing with the thousands of people injured or trapped after the earthquake.  (Mexico earthquake: Victims complain of slow response, Aftershock: Mexicans frustrated by slow government response to earthquake disaster) The same can be true in the area in which you live. It may take some time for official organizations to gather information and arrive on scene after an earthquake.

Thus, it’s a mighty fine idea for you to learn basic first aid in the likelihood that you, your family or the people near you are injured during an earthquake. In the chaos after an earthquake, you might be the only person in a position to provide care to injured individuals or yourself. The Red Cross offers a variety of first aid courses. Take one. Remember, the life that you save may be your own.

Do what you can to help as soon as you can.

The first 48 hours after an earthquake is crucial for search and rescue efforts. Having experienced a major earthquake in living memory, Mexican City residents wasted no time in creating bucket brigades to remove debris and search for survivors. (Civilian volunteers rise to the challenge of deadly Mexico earthquake, Army Of Volunteers Helps In Mexico Search And Rescue, Mexico City Volunteers Venture Out in Force to Aid Quake Victims) Ordinary citizens brought water and food to those continuing the search and recovery efforts and opened their homes to the displaced victims. Nearly all of the rescue workers that dug through the rubble at a collapsed factory and saved 14 lives were volunteers.  (Volunteers Dig Through Rubble of Collapsed Factory After Mexico Earthquake)

Now that the focus has turned from rescue to recovery, with little or no help from large organizations especially in outlying areas, the Mexican people have come together to do what must be done to aid earthquake survivors. (Mexicans show the world how to work together when an earthquake hitsTime stands still for town in Xochimilco)

I’m sure you’ve encountered the “Lone Wolf” survivalist mentality from time to time. But, did you know that humans are biologically wired for compassion? (The Compassionate Instinct) And that we are cooperative rather than competitive beings? (Are People Naturally Inclined to Cooperate or Be Selfish?)  You can be sure that the community around you will remember your actions (or lack of activity) in a crisis situation like an earthquake.Therefore, the best chance you have for survival in the next SHTF situation is making yourself an essential part of a cooperative assistance group in the current one, not hoarding your supplies and brandishing your shotgun.  With that in mind, after you have checked that you and yours are fine, go out and do what you can to help.

At the moment, Mexico needs rebuilding assistance. Here’s how you can help.

Architects and structural engineers are needed to help inspect homes damaged during the earthquakes in Mexico last month. Salva Tu Casa, Mancera Miguel MX, YonoFui

Therapists are needed to provide counseling to affected survivors. APM Online,  TerrapiMX  and Terapify

Habitat for Humanity in Mexico. Volunteer to rebuild homes!

Not able to volunteer at the moment?  Donations are appreciated.

Global Giving  

Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal, Ambulante and Omaze are joining forces to help the victims of the earthquake in Mexico.

Reconstruyamos México: Viviendas en Oaxaca

Zapatistas (EZLN) Solidarity bank deposits for indigenous reconstruction

Donate with Google

Donation matching at Kichink

Relief 4 Marginalized Zones in MX

Studio de Baile International is accepting donations for the town of Atzala, Puebla.

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Or contact me and I can send you contact information for individuals who could use help rebuilding or repairing their homes.

 

 

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