The Big Chicken Knows Dumplings!

Whelp, Thanksgiving is right around the corner and you may as well start thinkin’ about that menu! Dumplings…..yep, those awesome little bits of broth-laden dough just like Grandma makes. Well, guess what….you can make them too. And I can show you how. So come along with The Big Chicken Blog. The dumpling recipe courtesy of my late Mother In Law, Helen Jones.

Mrs Jones’ Dumplings

1 glass of water (8oz)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon soda

Flour

Measure salt and soda into a bowl. Add water and stir. Then add enough flour to make a dough similar to biscuit dough. Taking about a fourth of this mixture at a time, work in enough flour until the dough is not too sticky, and then roll out on a generously floured surface (I use the waxy side of freezer paper). The thickness should be about like piecrust and maybe a little thinner. Cut into 2-inch strips, then cut in whatever lengths you like maybe 3 inches. When you drop them into the boiling broth they will puff up so you don’t want to end up with too thick of a dumpling, at least I don’t like them so thick.

Now you are ready to cook the dumplings. Heat the chicken broth to a low boil and begin dropping the dumplings into the broth. Take a large spoon and gently immerse them into the broth. Add black pepper to taste. Continue adding strips until all dumplings are in the broth and the mixture is bubbling. You can stir to be sure they are not sticking on the bottom but stir very gently. I suggest you use a heavy gauge pot so the dumplings will not stick or scorch too easily. Then reduce the heat and cover and cook about 45 minutes or until done. When dumplings are almost done add some boiled chicken and stir carefully. This will give the dumplings a great taste. I don’t add until the end since I don’t like the chicken to get stringy. If the mixture is becoming too thick you can thin out by adding a little water, more broth or milk. The dumplings are best served right when they get done. After you turn off the heat and let them sit they will begin to thicken up. Again you can thin the juice by using the above method. Very important, you don’t want to let them sit out too long after turning them off. As soon as they have cooled get them in the fridge if you intend to keep them. They can actually spoil very quickly if the day is extremely warm.

Cooking the ole sister Hen for the broth………………..

Purchase a chicken, which is now probably called a roasting chicken. They can be found frozen or sometimes fresh. Wash thoroughly and check for any pin feathers……. little black spots mostly found on the back in the skin. Get these out however you can, cutting or forcing with the round tip of a knife. I cut off the wing tips and the tail, last part over the fence. Look inside to see what needs to be cleaned out and then give another wash all over. Place in a very large pot and cover with water. Add salt and pepper, 2 onions, several stalks of celery, a couple of carrots and a few bay leaves if you have them. Boil until the meat is tender. Turn off heat and carefully remove the chicken to a large cookie sheet to cool. Strain the broth and discard all the veggies. After chicken is cooled enough to handle debone and discard all the bones and skin.

A chicken fryer can be used, as well as boneless skinless chicken breast or chicken tenderloins. The only downside to all this convenience is taste. The best taste for dumplings in my opinion is the use of a hen/chicken roaster. The absolute best is if you can find someone who raises his or her own hens out in the yard. Incredible taste. Or you may spring for an organic roaster chicken, again if it can be found. The taste is unmatched!! Some people strain off the fat. I don’t. I just let all that good chicken fat stay right where it belongs!! Just keep in mind if you use a roaster/hen it may take 3-5 hours to boil until tender.

When there’s flour all over your kitchen just laugh and wonder how I made my dumplings in a black apron and managed to stay clean. Miracles happen!

 

Dallas Tales….National Dog Day

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Well, I might have qualified for the poster child for National Dog Day except for the fact that my Mama posted a most horrible picture of me last night! I mean my coat was a mess. Looked like rats had set up shop looking for rat cheese. Seriously woman, before you post these pictures you need to at least let me proof the photo. I was so embarrassed when I spoke with the Doberman next door. He came to the fence laughing his head off. Yeah, Mama thought it was cute and everything. I mean I am about to be a year old! I have my image to uphold. So please accept my sincere apologies for my unkempt coat! So to all my doggie friends and doggie cousins out there, I hope you had a great National Dog Day.

Dallas Tales….Bear!

 

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Bear, did someone say bear? Mercy me, I’m outta here. Run for your lives, curl into a ball, isn’t that what they say when a bear is chasing you? Ok, so where am I gonna hide? No cover anywhere. What’s a pup to do? Wait a minute, what? Bear is a dog? Well you could’ve fooled me! Mama told me I had a new cousin and she did say he was kinda big, but this dude is huge and he’s only 4 months old. Just one of his feet are larger than all four of mine combined. He is sort of cute. I’ll go outside and meet him, let him get used to me cause we are cousins after all. Oh, my, here he comes galloping towards me. Whew, he only brushes beside me, thank goodness. Thought he was gonna knock me in the pool. So this is Bear. Well, he actually looks like a little bear, beautiful brown and black coat. He is an amazing german shepherd. I need to get in his good graces somehow. I decided to tell Mama to buy him a big ole box of large milk bones. I gave him one, tossed it in his kennel really quick. Mmmmmmmm……he’s just playing with it. Wait, he doesn’t have enough big teeth yet to chew it up. Oh well, at least now he thinks I’m swell! I think I’ve made a friend forever. So, I’ll see ya around Bear!  So my cousin count is growing quickly. Lacy the cat, Max the schnauzer, his brother Luke, also a schnauzer with new pup Bear in one house. Jack, a big golden retriever and his brother Felix, a big Irish Cream retriever who live in Dallas, not to be confused with little ole me.

They need to come visit me and help run these crazy birds outta my yard. I found a dead turtledove yesterday and wanted really bad to eat it, had it in my mouth when Mama caught me. Mercy that woman drives me crazy. I’m a yard dog woman! I mean I’m from the country! See ya round.

One Little Dandelion

Date of Birth March 31, 2008

Little Dandelion, what a brief life you have. You are open early to watch the sun rise and spend part of your day looking upward. You willow about on your delicate stem blowing where the wind sends your little face. How did you get here, where did you come from, who sent you to cheer me so?

Once in a while your seeds blow into the crack of the dry desolate concrete. And if just the right amount of dirt happens to be in place you find a home for that short life of yours. Today is the day for one such life to take root. A miracle. Arriving at work today you were there to greet all those who would observe your beauty in the crack of the hot desolate concrete. Bright and cheery yellow, you beckon me to look at you. Too busy to notice, too much on my mind, I don’t ever see flowers anywhere, I am not in a good mood today, I, I, I. Is this God’s way of saying HELLO????????? Here I am. I want to talk to you. Do you see my world exploding around you with wonder and beauty! I have provided this miracle for you just for today. Will you look and wonder how it happened or will you step on this little wild flower and never look back.

We’re all here only for a short moment in time, just like the dandelion. Most of us will thankfully have more than one day. We can choose to be planted in shallow dirt or deep rich soil. The shallow dirt will only provide a brief moment with God, just like the brief life of the dandelion in that hard concrete. If we allow ourselves to enjoy the deep rich soil that God provides it will allow for our development to know God more and more.

As a gardener I always expect everything I plant to grow and flourish. I rarely consider that one of my plants could die when I plant it in the ground. I know from experience it takes good soil for this to happen. The richer the soil, the more beautiful the flower or plant. It’s just like that walking with God. He can do more that you can ever dream possible in your life if you just let him. All you can ask or imagine…Ephesians 3:20

Consider this parable from Jesus in Matthew Chapter 13. 

The Meaning of the Harvest Story – Matthew 13:18-23

 18-19 “Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road.  

20-21 “The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.

 22 “The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it.

 23 “The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.”  

The Dandelion will only live for one day or a few at most, but you can live forever.   1 John 5:11 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.  

I have an acronym for one little dandelion…OLD. Just remember you’re never too old to begin something new. You have more than one day unlike the dandelion. Another day to do something you’ve always wanted to do. A second chance to make amends. So get out there and dream some dreams, have some fun. And remember keep smiling.

 

 

Two-A-Days

IMG_0426     This is the time of year when football teams spend the time allowed by each state before school starts to begin their football drills. Usually the kids will be required to attend a morning drill and an afternoon drill. Those practice sessions can produce an appetite of a bear after hibernation. It is also very exhausting for a young man. Summers in Southeast Texas can be very grueling. August football practice at 8:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM the same day can be almost unbearable. Only the strong survive. And you better have enough carbs stored in your system to withstand the unbelievable drain of energy during these sessions. Hydration is another key element to survival. Those boys arrive back home after the morning session starving. Some days they will visit a local restaurant that features “all you can eat buffets.” I am sure the managers just about faint when they see those kids entering their doors. At least my two and the gang they hung out with! You know who you are…

Snack Menus for Two-a-Days – Notice this is just a snack

Malts

4 cups Blue Bell Ice Cream

2 cups milk

2-3 tablespoons malted milk powder

1 raw egg – optional

1 envelope Carnation Instant Breakfast Powder

In a 64-oz. blender jar start with 3 cups Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream; add one envelope Carnation Instant Breakfast(flavor of choice); one raw egg (optional); and enough whole (4%) milk to fill the blender jar almost to the top.

Peanut Butter on Vanilla Wafers (be prepared for a whole box to vanish)

A great breakfast normally consisted of toasted bread spread with peanut butter and served with orange juice instead of milk.

If you’ve never had the privilege of feeding two high school football players at the same time, you’ve missed the opportunity to understand institutional cooking. I exaggerate but at times it seemed that way. I remember buying trays of meat 14 to 16 inches long and dividing them into packets to have on hand. It was less expensive to buy in bulk. Just trying to keep them fed, clothed and driving kept me on a tight budget. Feeding those boys during two-a-days was a pretty monumental task. In between the daily drills those boys will eat you out of house and home. My youngest son’s coach once told him that he was the only kid they ever saw gain weight during two-a-days!

   Left over Lasagna

Freeze in 4” squares for snacks after practice.I always cooked pans and pans of lasagna for after the games on Friday nights. Several members of the front line (offensive and some defensive) along with their girl friends usually came to my house for lasagna after the home games. I would hurry home after the home games to put those large pans of lasagna in my oven. My family room was filled with bodies, tired and hungry after those Friday night games. Then the feast would begin.

Lasagna (American Style)

2 lbs. ground beef (ground round or ground sirloin)

2 large jars Prego Spaghetti Sauce (original)

Mozzarella cheese, grated & lots of it (3 to 4 cups or more)

Parmesan or Romano cheese (canned is fine; fresh is better)

Salt and pepper

Lasagna Noodles (boiled till just tender)

Brown the beef ground round in a large skillet with salt and pepper until you think it is done. Add the Prego Sauce, thinned with about one cup of water and turn the heat off. Remove the lasagna noodles from the boiling water and lay out on the wax side of freezer paper or wax paper. Place a paper towel under the wax paper to prevent wax from bleeding onto your countertop. This is a mess to clean up. Place one layer of lasagna noodles in the bottom of a 9×13 Pyrex dish. Next, place a layer of meat sauce and Mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of noodles and another layer of meat sauce and Mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the entire top with Parmesan or Romano cheese. Place in a 350-degree oven until heated through and bubbly. Everything is already done so you are really just heating and melting all the cheeses. This will take about 30 to 45 minutes at least.

Serve with some great French bread and salad. Any leftovers can be placed in the fridge overnight, then cut into 4 inch squares the next day and placed in a ziplock bag for freezing. This makes a great lunch or snack for hungry kids.

I just cooked what I call American lasagna and thought it was pretty good. One of the girls was so cordial and really bragged about how good my lasagna was. Later on, I found out she is from one of the really old Italian families here in town. Embarrassing! Oh well, it disappeared so I suppose it was good.

So…….are you ready for some football! Let’s go!

Dallas Tales – How I Found My Home

On a beautiful Sunday morning in November I decided it was time for a little adventure! I had covered every inch of the yard I was living in and well, the grass looked a little greener on the other side. I found a nice small bend at the bottom of the fence and I just slipped right under. The folks I was living with had tried to secure all the noticeable places I might escape but they didn’t know they had a little Houdini on their hands. The next-door neighbors had a big space under their gate so it was real easy for me to slip right through. I was just having a big ole time jumping up and down, running all around in this big back yard next-door. Then the owner came out to leave for Church and spotted me. He called for his wife to come see. He said, “I think we’ve got us a dog.” His wife comes outside to see what all the commotion was about. Well, I was busted cause I had just met the wife a few days before. She tells her husband, “oh, that’s just Dallas, she lives next door.” The wife brings a nice fluffy towel and swoops me up into her arms. They drive me around the block and take me home. Nice folks. Monday comes round and the rambling fever is just gettin’ the best of me. Where’s that hole in the fence. All right, there it is, just as I remembered. I slipped right through and was gone for a few hours having a big ole time. Well, the lady who rescued me the day before saw me in her front yard. She comes running out calling my name. She sounds so excited, I’ll bet she has a treat for me. I ran right into her arms. She takes me home again. The folks that owned me before told the nice lady that they didn’t think they would be able to keep me as they had an older dog that was a little cranky. Plus they wanted a cat! Mercy sakes alive, I heard that cat talk and knew I had to do something. That’s when I started planning my escape.

Story is my new Mama (human Mama) wasn’t looking to have a dog just now. Now my new Dad was looking for a dog every day. God knew Mama wasn’t gonna go out and find Dad a dog so he just caused me to run right over next door to my new home. I looked up into Mama’s eyes the day she took me home and she just melted. Yep, I’m going home with this lady today.

Dallas Tales

The Big Chicken meets Dallas. The ‘Dallas’ of Dallas Tales. Dallas is a Jack Russell mix who just happens to be a girl! Well, I’ll be! You’re just gonna fall in love with Miss Dallas and all her adventures. She’s a real social butterfly. Her day didn’t start well this morning. She upchucked before breakfast. Tell you what, I’m just gonna let Dallas take over from here……….Mama (that would be my human Mama) just about freaked out this morning. I was just a little under the weather. I barfed right on her good rug in the den. She immediately decided I needed to visit the vet’s office. She told Dad to hurry cause she was takin’ me to the vet. We arrive and the look on that lady’s face. I don’t think she was too happy Mama didn’t call to let them know we were coming in. They put us in a room to wait. Did you know there’s a real bird in that waiting room? He was squawking at me something awful. Story is he can talk. Mmmmm…..I wonder if he knows I eat birds! Yep, I caught two baby turtledoves in my back yard a few weeks back and I sure have a taste for feathers now. Oh, a nice lady just came in with her cat. Lady, lady, over here. I love to meet people. Oh, yeah, I’m supposed to be sick. But lady could you just please pet me a little before the Doctor comes in to check me over. I think I’m feeling all better already.

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Dallas

The Big Chicken Blog

13620333_1181624628541455_7823585465932746821_nI’m Gayle Jones and I’ve been a big chicken all my life! What I mean by that is… I have dreamed of at least a thousand options for a business but always decided I wasn’t sure I should put that dream into action. Then there’s the blog I intended to start for several years. I never got around to that action plan either. But today is the day! I finally, if all goes well when I push the publish button, will be posting my very first blog. My first love is God and His son Jesus Christ. My hope and goal for this blog is to help people find joy in their lives. I want people to be happy! Simple as that. Life has become far too complicated and busy. My desire is for the reader to recapture the simplicity that life can be. Whether that be cooking a meal, planting flowers, sharing a cup of coffee with friends. I want you to have those great big belly laughs that restores the soul. So come along with me on this journey. And remember to smile!