Thursday, January 6, 2011

Don't Try This At Home

Or why I don't do recipes on my blog.

I used to cook more homemade food than I do now. I had a small but tasty repertoire of giant pots of stuff my mother taught me to make for an army. I used to make homemade spaghetti. I still do a great stew or pot roast and I used to know how to make chicken and dumplings. Lovingly known as golf balls.
I used to know how to make my Grandmothers chicken and drop dumplings from scratch. Or, my mother knew and I never bothered to write it down because when I felt like making it I could call mom and she would tell me how to do it...again. Now, though I found them delicious, my husband and Biggest used to laugh at my dumplings. They tasted fine. They were just kind of...big...and chewy. They didn't like it that much but I loved it and continued to make it. Of course, as some as you know my mother developed Alzheimer's...and there went my recipe. Until one day when I was in the store. I saw a package. It said Mueller's Old Fashioned Dumplings. Hmm. I think I'll try them. And low and behold they were darn good. And nothing like golf balls, so the family was pleased too. I admit it was nice for me too because I'm a messy cook and these required no mess.

I've been happily pouring my Mueller's Dumplings into my homemade soup for years and still declaring it "homemade" because I boiled the chicken and close enough. This winter, when the first really cold days hit, my mind turned to big pots of stuff to cook for an army. My first thoughts were, chili-(Carrol Shelby's, it's Delicious and even my father who loved to cook, dumped his homemade chili in favor of it years ago)- and Yay! Chicken and Dumplings. So I go to the store and put a nice big chicken in my cart, and some celery, which I don't buy for anything else, and carrots and spices and wheel my cart to the pasta section because,,,I'm Gonna Make Some Chicken and Dumplings, oh yeah, I'm practically dancing down the aisle in happiness, gonna feed my family some real wholesome food, cause I'm such an awesome mom, and the pot is big enough to use for "eat what you find night" for at least 2 extra days...Oh Boy!...


They are out of Mueller's Dumplings. The whole area is a noodle wasteland. Someone obviously had a desperate need for dumplings. But they could have left behind one bag...gosh. Could Everyone else really have had the same idea as me...well maybe...but darn. Maybe they took them to make a big meal for the homeless or something...All they had left was NoYolks dumplings and I can't trust those! I think that when they take the bad stuff out it it's not worth eating.  I'm not gonna waste money on something that may be yucky. No thank you, I will wait on my cholesterol till later.  I sadly shuffled back to the meat department and dropped the chicken back off because I didn't want it taking up space in my freezer. It's a sad fact that once something hits my freezer it's likely to be there for eternity. It was too far to walk back to produce so I kept the celery. It would last till next week when the dumplings came in again.

Except the dumplings never came in again. Week after week I would march with purpose to the pasta department only to find a gaping hole in the Mueller's Dumpling section. I started to take it a little personally. What is up with this store? Why are they withholding the dumplings. I know they see me on camera checking each week. I stand in front of the shelf for long moments scanning the products for alternatives. I read every box in the pasta section in case I missed something. I huff and puff and look pissed off. I know they can see it! I consider leaving a Post It reminding them, HEY, You Need More Mueller's Dumplings! Finally, one day as I'm checking out, when my favorite check out lady asked if I found everything alright, I sullenly replied, "No, they are out of Dumplings," and looked pitiful. "Oh really", she replied, and kept on ringing up. "Yes, I replied. All they have are NoYolks". "Oh, we wouldn't want that," she answered in a sympathetic tone. "No, we don't",  I told her, "they're yucky."  But I was hopeful. I had an inside contact now. Maybe she would pass on the dumpling debacle and they would straighten up. The next week as I hit the pasta aisle my spirit soared! The empty spaces were filled. The whole shelf was packed to the top. Stacked row upon row without a niche to be seen with......Egg Noodles.
Not only that. They were now out of Carroll Shelby's chili mix too. That's it. I was fed up.

I made a life altering decision. I would go to the Other Grocery Store. This took planning. I don't like change. I don't like the other store. It's "popular". It's brightly lit. It's bigger and carries more variety. It's packed with tons of options that make my head spin. It's crowded. I equate it to grocery shopping at Disney World. I don't know where anything is. But this called for Drastic Measures. I got in my car and I Drove Around The Block. I scouted for cars I recognized. Yep, there was one of my neighbors vans. I would have to be on the look out to avoid a social situation as well as find my way around. Nothing is more traumatizing to me than making small talk in a bright cheerful environment. Anyway... I entered keeping my eyes peeled in case I had to duck down an aisle suddenly and looked thru 2 aisles of ethnic foods until I found the chili. I was confused for a moment because my regular store keeps it in the baking aisle, next to gravy. Then I was off to pasta. As I turned the corner I heard  a choir of angels and saw rays of light falling on the blue and white bags. Along with the gourmet brands,  I found rows and rows and rows of Mueller's spaghetti, fancy pasta's, macaroni and .....and...

Egg Noodles.

Apparently dumplings are out of favor in my area. There was not a Mueller's dumpling to be found. The celery in the veggie drawer of the fridge was limp and wilting. I tried to pass it off on the girls, "don't you want some celery with peanut butter? You used to like that." "No, we had enough of that mom. 8 years of lukewarm celery and smeared peanut butter smooshed in our lunch box kind of got us over it." Oh yeah, that's right. I used the carrots for stew.

I started to worry about the Dumplings. Was there a recall? I googled it. Nothing. I began to panic. Oh My God, has Mueller's stopped making Dumplings?! I looked up their site. The Dumplings were there. What a relief! I searched the site for stores in my area. My stores came up. Um, no, sorry Mueller's...those stores do not have Dumplings. I thought about emailing them and letting them know that my local stores were ditching the dumplings and that it was a disaster but came to my senses.

I googled "homemade chicken and dumplings".

TA DA! It was a windfall. Of dumplings. But then I noticed another problem. There seemed to be two schools of dumpling making. Which one was right?

Recipe 1
■1 teaspoon salt
■1/2 cup oil
■3/4 cup water
■2 small eggs
■3 unsifted cups flour

Recipe 2
•1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt
•2 sifted cups flour
•2 teaspoons baking powder
•1 teaspoon salt
•1/3 cup shortening
•1/2 cup milk

I wracked my brain trying to remember what I used to do. The problem is that I seem to recall sifting, for something I made. But I vaguely remember having shortening around that I used for only one thing all those years ago. Was it this?
And I also seem to recall using eggs, but maybe milk too? I don't know.

So, I bit the bullet and I made the 1st recipe.

It looked beautiful. It smelled incredible.

We were all starving and we sat down excited to try it. The younger girls do not remember my homemade dumplings at all and were interested to see how it was. One at a time we each ate a dumpling.

Mid:  "um mom, these are really bad"
SeaMonkey:  Ha ha, I told you that the homemade ones weren't very good." Then he ate one.
Lit:  Yeah mom, I'm sorry but these really are bad.
Me: I refused to believe it. They were just being jerks. I lifted my spoon and took a big bite out of a big old

PlayDough Dumpling.

Yes, I had successfully made Chicken and Playdough.

The Seamonkey and Middlest got up and made themselves salad.
Littlest and I love the soup the most and we each persevered in taking a bite out of each dumpling in our bowl hoping for a good one before we gave up and drank the broth.

I'm not sure if it's the recipe or something I did wrong. I thought maybe it hadn't cooked long enough and simmered it longer. But no it just became chewier playdough. I didn't want to waste all of that soup and I wasn't sure what to do. Then I remembered something the next day. Whenever I had made it before there were always just a a few too many Dumplings, about 3/4 of a cup, in the Mueller's bag and I would save it in a Tupperware container and then forget about it. I climbed up on a chair and looked at the back of the top shelf in my pantry and Sure Enough, there they were! 5 almost empty bags of Mueller's Dumplings sealed inside. And how lucky! 3 of them had only expired in November!
I asked the family for general opinions on food poisoning and no one had one so I scooped the playdough balls out of the soup and threw in my old dumplings. And they were delicious. And now they are gone.

So, I need some opinions.

I'm afraid to try the other recipe because I don't want to take a chance on wasting 6 bucks on another chicken, plus shortening I never use and more baking powder because I found that was expired too since I never use it either.

Does anyone know a Truly Good Drop Dumpling recipe or tip on what may have gone wrong?

Otherwise I will be forced to bulk buy Muellers Dumplings for $38.00 from the only other place I could find them, here  This seems a little excessive for something I make about 4 or 5 times a year.
However if anyone else is missing their dumplings this place has 997 in stock.
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  1. I feel so badly for you because clearly you have serious love for those particular dumplings! Can you request the store order them back in? If you call Mueller, will they take pity on you and send you some? If you send this blog post to them, how could they not? You might possibly be the world's greatest fan!

    As for a recipe, I don't know anything about it at all seeing as how my dumplings are out of Bisquick. LOL!

  2. How is it that I'm now craving something I've never even seen: I know, right? Whose never seen a dumpling before? I haven't. I'm off to 'google' it.

  3. WOW! You've been on a mission. I've never made chicken and dumplings. my grandma has but I've never been a fan. I'm like you I don't like to buy something in bulk like that unless I'm eating it often. I can't beleive no on is selling it. What's up with that?

  4. Haha!

    That was wonderful!

    All the planning, all the circumventing, all the eye on the future, to avoid shopping and people at Brightlylit's.

    I cannot stand brightlylits, but what can you do?

    And, I use this Dumpling mix: it is all that:

    Streit's matzo ball mix. It's easy and delicious. Tastes just like a dumpling.

    And, sorry about the chicken and play go, but it made me laugh out loud.

  5. oh, will you please stop making me pee my pants? i don't know what's wrong with you people. i mean, who wouldn't gobble up chicken and playdoh?

    my grandma used to make chicken a dumplings and her dumplings were almost like little doughballs. i have never been able to duplicate it and i LOVED them.

    and i thought i was the only one who wanted to avoid social situations in brightly lit places. ack! there is no WAY my skin and hair look lovely in supermarket lighting... especially the way i tend to go looking at the supermarket.

    i am totally checking my supermarket for mueller's dumplings.

  6. I am not much of a dumpling fan so I can't think of any recipe off hand, but if you do want to take the plunge and try a recipe again, you can't usually go wrong with a Better Homes and Gardens recipe. Otherwise a little begging to the store manager might just do the trick!

  7. blueviolet: I LOve My Dumplings, they have more taste than noodles!
    Sandra: You haven't lived until you have tasted some really good chicken and dumplings!

    Mrs Tuna: My MIL and blueviolet suggested the bisquick too so we will have to try that one some time: )

    Empress: I prefer a quiet unaccosted speed shop!
    I aven't heard of the matzo version before, I will have to try that too!

    Elissa; You gandma's dumplings sound like the right kind! I think my kids ate enough Playdoh wen they were younger to satisfy that craving: )

    Susan: I don't know why I don't just ask! I think about it but when I get to the front I always think, "oh forget it."

  8. You went to the other grocery store? Brave you are! I've moved but still go to grocery store closest to my old house because I am just not ready to make the jump to the other grocery store!

  9. We simply check out the most popular recipe on If it has 4000 reviews and its still in the 4 and a half range. We figure its a no fail. Good luck. I can't remember the last time i ate dumplings but guess what I'm going to have on my mind now until I try making them...

  10. mombshell: The store was traumatizing but I made it out alive!

    Dana: I will have to check that out! Once you get that craving nothing else will do.

  11. I'm so not your girl for recipes - I go to three different grocery stores a week to get all the best pre-made stuff. Imagine what I could do if I used the time to actually cook from scratch ;).

  12. Oh, I know your frustration. Seems like every time I go to the store there is another item I am looking for that they no longer carry. As for the dumplings, I never make them because of the whole shortening dilemma. That said, we have been on the same plain lately, because I was going to make some chicken n' dumplins this week, but attempt to just substitute butter fro the shortening. They will be heavier than those made with shortening, but the flavor will be good.

  13. Peryl: You should try it, if anything I know it would be creative! Bad things happen when I get near loose flour. Not just the cooking, You could leave footprints in the kitchen when I'm finished!

    The Sweetest: I did see a recipe that substituted butter and thought about trying it. Honestly anything with butter is usually delicious to me!

  14. I seem to recall seeing bags of dumplings in the frozen food section of my local grocery store. I don't remember the brand.

    When I went to the store last week, black eyed peas were on my list. Food Lion brand canned black eyed peas to be specific. I don't know what it is about that particular brand, but they taste so good to me and are the only ones I buy. Only the store I usually go to was completely out. Probably not only because they were on sale, but because eating black eyed peas on New Year's is a southern tradition, so I thought maybe that had something to do with it as well. I had to go to another Food Lion yesterday to find some so that I could make Hoppin' John, which we ate last night with corn muffins. Yum!

    Good luck on your search for dumplings or a good dumpling recipe!

  15. Nocturnal Queen: I had a tiny miracle in the form of 1 solitary bag of dumplings appearing on the shelf at the store this week. It was ODD. Corn muffins are all kinds of yum! My family and I have been on a cornbread binge for about 2 months and we can't get enough for some reason!

  16. I got confused before I realized that the dumplings you're talking about is different to what we call dumplings here. :)

  17. Thank You so much! It may not be the same thing but your recipe will be a hit with my daughters!


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