Soup: Chicken & Dumplings



This is not a cooking blog. I do like to write about food though. Not in a “Look at me and how amazing I am at this” kind of way. More like you’re a dear friend and I want to talk dirty about something that I tried and loved. I could talk about food and cooking endlessly. In fact, when I sit to write and nothing is happening, I start by writing about food, making lists of food, writing out how-to’s.

One of my favorite pieces of writing I’ve done over the years (non-blog) is an Ode to making soup, inspired by Jane Hirshfield’s poem “Da Capo”. It’s a scene where I’m making soup with my first child. He’s three or so. I’m pregnant with his brother. Part recipe, part memoir, it’s about the abundance of everything in that moment. So much love, so much tiredness, tenderness. It makes me ache to even think about it. My tiny kitchen, six floors up, with West End Avenue humming below. Cold and dark outside, but my kitchen balmy, the window blurred with steam. Stirring soup with a wooden spoon. It’s so simple, really. Nourishing, gracious, one dish. Using what you have on hand to make something satisfying. Food may not be love, but a warm bowl of soup comes close.

This is a new one I tried this fall and it’s been a regular ever since.

Adapted from “Mad Hungry” by Lucinda Scala Quinn 



  • 1 3-4 lb chicken
  • a few swirls of olive oil (I’ve also used grapeseed and canola)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 8-10 cups low sodium chicken broth (or enough to barely cover chicken, you can use some water)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Fresh pepper


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk (you may need more)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (or parsley) Please use fresh dill if you can get it as it really makes the dish!


  1. Sauté onions in oil until translucent (8-10 minutes)
  2. Add garlic and cook for a minute or two.
  3. Add carrots and celery and cook for 5 minutes (it should be sizzling, but don’t burn).
  4. Place chicken on top, add broth to almost cover.
  5. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover, and simmer for 50 minutes.
  6. Lift out the chicken and let cool.
  7. Add the salt and pepper to broth to taste.
  8. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and shred into large pieces (You may not need all of it for soup).
  9. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  10. Stir in the milk and dill or parsley to combine.  (Batter should be thicker than pancake batter, but thinner than biscuit batter)
  11. Drop the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time onto the simmering broth. (Very low simmer)
  12. Cover and cook until the dumplings have cooked through 3 to 4 minutes.
  13. Return the shredded chicken to the pot.
  14. Add fresh chopped parsley
  15. Reheat on low heat for 1 minute.
  16. Serve in wide bowls with big spoons.

Image here

Notes to Self for 2015

Dear Self,

We’ve known each other a long time. Can you handle it if I just point out one teeny thing? Not a criticism. An observation. Don’t look so worried.

You know how some people make things more complicated than they need to be? Well, you’re like that with some things. Like dinner. You know how every year, Christmas sneaks up on you even though it’s always December 25th? Dinner’s like that. And you know how you ask your son why he stopped using his planner to write down all his assignments when that was clearly working for him? It’s bewildering, right? Why would someone just stop doing something when it works?! You see where I’m going with this?  I’m writing to remind you of the strategies that worked for you this past year. I’m asking you to consider using them regularly.  Consistently.  They make your life better and easier.

1.  Planning ahead really does work. In life and in family dinner. Winging it on occasion is fine, but really, you don’t have time to be running to the store the day of the meal at hand. With one little baby you were able to shop like a European. With three growing kids ages 7-15 and two busy, overextended adults you must enter the week prepared. Believe me when I tell you this: When you know what you’re having for dinner, you’re more than halfway there. Plot out your dinners Monday through Friday. Look at the calendar and see what’s going on that week. If you’re working Wednesday evening, well then, that’s a night for a one-dish dinner made ahead. If it’s an afternoon you’ll be home, then you have time to cook/assemble dinner while everyone does homework.

2.  Get real food in them whenever the opportunity presents itself. Instead of them filling up on pretzels, have real food and fixings for hearty snacks. Dinner, even. Dinner at 4pm is ok. Feeding older kids is a very different beast than feeding young children. They go to bed later and require more than one meal between 3pm-10pm. Quantity is the key word. You don’t have to make everything. Stock the refrigerator with things they can put together easily. Be flexible about your definition of dinnertime. The first thing my kids say when they walk through the door, while flinging their backpacks on the floor, is “I’m starving!” Though I aim for (and succeed most nights) in getting everyone sitting at the table, eating something together, at a time generally considered dinnertime, for at least fifteen (five?) minutes, I’ve lowered my expectations significantly. Often they’re so hungry when they come home that they eat everything in sight and don’t need much by dinner. That’s okay. By dinnertime, my teenager has often eaten his “main course” because he was so hungry. He’ll sit with us and eat his salad.

Some things you’ve had on hand so there’s always “real food” for them to eat when they walk through the door:

  • Hummus with carrots and pretzels/pita crisps
  • Greek yogurt, berries, granola with honey
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Guacamole and Chips
  • Avocado, halved, sprinkled with Maldon salt, eaten with a spoon
  • Apples and peanut butter/almond butter
  • Turkey meatballs for sandwiches
  • Chicken cutlets for sandwiches
  • Leftover black bean soup used as a dip with chips (kids melt cheese on top in microwave)
  • Leftover frittata
  • Quiche
  • Soups
  • “Ingredients” for BLT’s
  • “Ingredients” for Grilled Cheese and Avocado
  • Frozen Amy’s low sodium Spinach Pizza
  • Beef Empanadas (I used to make and freeze, but now Whole Foods does just as well)

3.  When you’re cooking, keep cooking. Cluster your cooking efforts when you can. Tamar Adler’s book was about cooking ahead ALL AT ONCE.  I knew a woman who cooked for the entire week on Sunday. I’m not that kind of a rock star, but there’s something to the time/effort/clean up economics of this that makes sense. Examples: When making turkey meatballs and sauce, make extra meatball mixture. While your meatballs are simmering in the sauce, chop up some onions, garlic, celery, and carrots, fry them up, add broth, simmer. Then add mini-meatballs, baby spinach, and ditalini pasta, and voila you have Italian wedding soup for another night.  While you’re at it with the chopping, pull out another pot, sizzle up the extra mirepoix from the Wedding Soup (if you’re chopping, why not keep chopping?).  Toss in that lone slice of bacon leftover from the weekend. Clean out your vegetable drawers. Let’s say you find two zucchini and a potato; clean, peel and cube. With some broth, a can of crushed tomatoes, some frozen corn or peas and a can of beans you’ve stretched it to a nice smoky vegetable bean soup. With a drizzle of olive oil, grated parmesan and some crusty bread you’ve got dinner or a hearty snack for tomorrow.  When roasting chicken breasts Tuesday, cook a few extra for the Burrito bowls you’ll have Thursday. Bake extra potatoes tonight to use for a frittata the next day. In other words, see where you can use parts of something you’re making to bridge into another meal.  And another.  Also, always make extra of something and freeze when you can.  If you’re making lentil soup, is it that much harder to double it?  What a gift to yourself on a snowy Sunday a month from now.

Are you doing these things already?  What else are you doing that I should know about?

Image here

The Year in Cooking 2014


I measure my life in meals. When the kids are off from school, it seems the kitchen is in constant state of use, clean-up never quite complete. The dishwasher just beeped in the next room. It’s time. Again.

To be honest, I haven’t made a proper dinner this week, and yet it seems like we’re eating constantly.  We’re on vacation time: staying up late, sleeping late, eating with family and friends. Fortunately you can’t see me or my house right now. There may (or may not) be stuff all over the place. My real estate broker texted me about showing our house next week. I looked around and sighed.

Most of the time, I’m a veritable cooking machine. Sometimes I think that I could (should) spend less time in the feeding of my family. The planning, the procurement, the preparation. That is not, by the way, a humble brag. I’m not saying that I’m whipping up gourmet meals on the daily without breaking a sweat. I’m not the prettiest cook. Or the fanciest. Or the nicest. Generally I prefer that my kids stay out of my way.  Our generation of parents is supposed to cook cheerfully while supervising one child chopping, another child stirring.

I’m more the flushed cook moving too quickly, cooking many things at once, shooing my children out of my way.  I may even have (gently) swatted a hand trying to taste something before it’s ready.  Cooking together is for weekends.  Everyday weekday cooking is more of a kick-ass warrior solo event.  It has become my most cherished chore, though like everyone, I get burned out.  My own love of food and my always-hungry, mostly-appreciative eaters keep me going.  Individuals can and ought to pitch in.  But there has to be a point person.

There has been much spirited discussion online and off this year about what some see as the glorifying of the home cooked meal and what this may or may not say about our current state of gender roles and expectations. (click here to catch up on your reading). Though I’ve enjoyed the debate, I’m going to bow out and say this: I’m a person and a mother who does many different things. Cooking is one of them. It can be tedious and boring and unsatisfying. But mostly it’s not. Mostly it’s my favorite thing.

It’s been a good year in cooking and I’m going to tell you about it, mostly so I can remember it myself. Going into January, I’d like to remember what worked, what didn’t work, what got rave reviews, and record some new “keepers”.

See you soon with the first in the series!

Love for Momma Love


Nearly two years ago, I posted this, about discovering Ali Smith, being smitten, and my quest to get my hands on her seemingly elusive book.  The mystery was solved when she responded directly to me, letting me know that I couldn’t find it because it hadn’t yet been published.  She was close, very close, to finding a publisher.  Her photographs were so stunning, felt so important, that I just assumed the publication was in progress, the details of which can be drawn-out over years, and I’ve been here, twiddling my thumbs, waiting.

Turns out her publisher folded, along with the funds she had put towards the book.  Today I made my first foray onto Kickstarter to contribute to get this book, (now twelve years in the making), published at last.  I knew about Kickstarter, mostly via swissmiss, and found it both mystifying and heartening that people were helping other people get projects off the ground, strangers, simply because they believed in the work or product.  It is, in reality, not an investment, but a gift.  The “return” on your “investment”, in this case, is that something you believe in, that has meaning to you, will exist in the world.  There was an interesting article about this in the New York Times (click here to read).

I am so not into trying to separate people and their money. You will never find me on any fund-raising committees. Can’t do it.  So consider this a Public Service Announcement.  Her Kickstarter campaign ends tonight.

Do or Do Not

When I said I’d be back when my kids were settled in school, you didn’t think I meant March?  Huh.  Guess I should’ve been more specific.  It’s nearly spring and we’re as settled as we’re ever going to be.  I’ve been engulfed by non-blogging concerns, in my chrysalis, quiet, molting, gestating. This required silence.  Silence and lots of sweating at SoulCycle.  (Who knew?  Turns out 45 minutes of spinning in place can get you very far).  That and saying no to almost everything.


My theory on the explosion of female-centric, often mom-centric blogging is there are many women out there who feel isolated or marginalized or maybe just inconsequential.  Blogging offers a way of trying out one’s voice, staking a claim on a little piece of the world, saying “I am here”.  It can be good writing, it can be bad, mostly it is unedited.  Everyone’s writing can benefit from someone else’s red pen, but personal blogging is not that.  It isn’t literature and it can be the worst form of self-publishing.  There are the pitfalls of over-sharing and feeling vulnerable afterwards. But for many of us, it’s a way of existing outside our noisy minds, putting our flag in the ground, saying: this here, this is mine.

I keep getting notices that my domain registration is going to expire Thursday. As has been my way, I’ve been agonizing about what to do.  This is a wonderful form of mental masturbation.  Wracking my brain trying to figure it out, to come up with the “right” answer can be a mind-consuming exercise of deciding nothing.

Yoda’s words came to mind: “Do or do not”.

All while I’m wrestling with whether to do or do not, the gall of a nobody like me writing a blog, an email dings in my inbox Sunday afternoon.  There is an opportunity for me to teach a writing class for a small group of at-risk teens.  Writing. Social Work. Teenagers. The belief that writing can save your life.

I’m following the signs.

(image found here)



Southhampton Beach, August 24, 9pm

Surf, sand, sunset, s’mores.

Thirteen years old. My teenager.

Everyone says it, and that’s because it’s true: Wasn’t it just yesterday?

That I lumbered through New York City in August, walking, eating, nesting, waiting for him. The labor that went almost too fast, like a train off the rails. The surprise of him: a real, live baby, a stranger, whose life depended on mine.

And then I didn’t get dressed for a couple days. Those days that run into night and back to daylight again. Nurse, rock, change, repeat.

Going out the first time felt momentous. Leaving behind wrinkled sheets smelling of milk and Dreft, time standing still, the sun felt blazing on my bare shoulders. I carried him into Riverside Park, trussed his dangling limbs, our shirts wet where he pressed into me. My stitches were still raw and sore.

Crossing the busy city street with my arms wrapped around him, taking my son into the bright world, I have never felt so brave.

August Break: Rain


Rainy day on the ferry.

Not to get all, like, *deep* on you, but doesn’t this picture just feel like the end of summer?

Endings and beginnings, always. I could just ride the energy of this time in between forever. So much to do, so much to look forward to. New and unknown.

My husband tells me I like “new” things. He’s wrong.

I love them.

August Break: Beehive


This picture isn’t even from August, so I’m kind of cheating. In July, I took my family to Family Nature Camp in Bar Harbor, Maine, a stone’s throw from Acadia National Park.

Besides all that we learned about tide pools, lobster ecology, beaver dams, the magnetized granite unique to this region, we took some great hikes.

Our guide told us about the Beehive trail–a very challenging rock scrambler with man-made metal handles fused into vertical rock to pull yourself up. . . and up. . . and up. The ledges are narrow, the drops, steep.

I led my ten-year-old, Ben, advising him just don’t look down, keep going forward, reminding him to take his time. Once I decided that we would be doing this, the work was in quieting the persistent hum that runs through my days, of keep them safe keep them safe. For just this one afternoon, I tried out this one: trust trust trust.

We passed people on their way down, shaking their heads, telling us that mentally, they just couldn’t do it. Physically, of course they could, but the fear, of heights, of falling, made them turn back.

All along, in my mind, batting around the question of whether this was one of my worst parenting moments, (putting my child in a risky situation), or one of my best (giving him an opportunity to accomplish something very difficult). Still not sure. We never really know for certain, do we?

This picture is of Ben making it to the top.