Tuesday, May 18, 2010

herb dumplings

Rosie has had a lot to show me lately, and although it's been a big time of "hold on, honey, I'll be there in a minute" (after which she proceeds to count to sixty), her method of request has been making me melt.

"Momma!" she says, and she gestures with her whole hand. If I'm smart enough in that moment to realize that I always have a minute for this, and that I better follow her, she rewards me by turning on her heel and skipping as sure as she is confident that I am following her. Wherever we are going, whether it's across the kitchen or outside, she skips. Sometimes she'll only have enough space to get one skip in, but it happens anyway. She is so happy to show me her rock or her princess with green hair or her mutilated buttercup that she skips! That's been making me happy every single day.

The events of last week are still leaving me a little shaky, but somehow moments have become more vivid. The transience of all this is clearer than usual, and my new age rainbow bus upbringing that usually makes me roll my eyes is coming back to help me out a bit. Don't hold on so tightly. Just enjoy and be here. I have been fixating on the freckles on the bridge of Sadie's nose- with every sunny day there are more of them. I don't know why I love them so much, but those freckles on her unique and wonderful nose- I just want to drink them up!

These moments are helping, and every day I hope I'll kick myself enough to notice them. I list them for myself as I go along, and they form a poem of the day:

I'm remembering how important it is to screw the to-do list and take a night off, or an hour off, or even a few minutes with tea in the garden.

The other night, I had the great fortune to spend a night out with two friends. We all stepped out of our lives, got into a car, and went to see a play. We drank wine, and we ate fancy fries with vinegar. It was a night that I didn't have time for, but luckily I went anyway.

The play was about women, and kitchens, and soup. I smiled my way through it, and then I came home happy and a little drunk and thinking mostly about the soup part. Over the course of the play, the women made a pot of soup in this tall shiny stock pot (I covet!), and it smelled phenomenal. After the play, they shared the soup with us, and it tasted just as good. The beauty of this soup was that it was totally non-specific. It was really just kitchen soup- I'd guess it was chicken broth with a whole lot of leeks, maybe a bit of garlic and onion, definitely a few zucchinis, and a few chili peppers for bite. It was salty and warm, and in so many ways it tasted like the words of the play that had been said over it. Is that crazy? You know what I mean, right?

Because soup- really that kind of soup, just absorbs the room around it- it uses what's left in the fridge or what's growing in the garden. I love a good soup.

I went home and made a kitchen soup of my own- a bit of chicken, some shallots and garlic, thickened with handful of semolina flour and chopped spinach that's fighting it's way into the garden through the weeds. But my kitchen soup had herb-green dumplings, because that's the kind of day it was.

Someday perhaps we'll gather together that recipe for kitchen soup- the shifting and changing formula that works every time. But I'm guessing you've got one of you own. As for the dumplings, those are Deborah Madison's, and I'm sure she'd be happy to share.

Herb Dumplings
adapted from Deborah Madison, Local Flavors

1 potato (about 1/2 pound, or more potatoes to make up that weight), peeled and cut into chunks
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped fresh herbs- whatever you have, but I used a combination of chives, oregano, and tarragon
1 cup all purpose flour

Cover the potato with cold water, add 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil. Cook until tender- then drain. Gently mash with a masher.
Stir in the beaten eggs, then the herbs, 1 teaspoon salt, and a bit of pepper. Gently stir in the flour, being careful not to overwork. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead a few times. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Gently roll the dough into a rectangle, approx. 10x4 inches. Cut lengthwise into thirds, then cut each third into 10 or 12 little rectangles.
Bring a wide skillet of water to boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, and add a third of the dumplings. Let them cook until they float, about five minutes, then transfer to a buttered dish. Repeat with the rest of the dumplings.
Add to your soup about five minutes before you are ready to serve, just to rewarm them.

Makes 30-36 dumplings.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, yes, yes. These sound wonderful. So simple, and perfect for these chilly, clammy days we've been having.