The Dabble

-food with a side of life-

Photography and My Grandma Shaffer’s Chicken and Dumpling Noodles Recipe

It’s pretty spectacular that my camera doesn’t have food all over it with my near daily photo session. There have been some close calls and my mind does wander into thoughts about my trusted Canon Powershot falling right into my stew, throwing sauce all over the chair, carpet, curtains, window, table, supplies and the wall. I’ve also pictured dropping the food on the carpet on its way to the picture-taking destination, which is over by the window in the living room….probably the farthest place from the kitchen that I could take pictures. But that be where the windows and light be so that be where I make the magic (pirate speak).

If it’s a cloudy day, you can tell and I am required, if I want natural light, to make the most of the fresh food and shoot it before the light disappears in late afternoon. I do not own a DSLR, I would love one but right now, I am learning what to do (maybe more what not to do) with what I have. Some food is just ridiculously stupid to photograph-curries, stews, shiny anything, bland colored dishes of noodles and rice and many other things. I don’t avoid these dishes but I certainly dread trying to capture their essence. (A little dabble of a photo enhancing program never hurts, although I use the free software Picasa and that can only do so much-if you don’t have a good shot initially, you aren’t going to magically produce a worthwhile final picture.)

If food doesn’t look good, to us visual creatures, then we won’t be interested in it nor will any number of all those tastespotting/foodgawker-type websites (unless it’s the newest fad or something….or something). Sometimes a dish looks wonderful but the flavor/texture/method/something you can’t pinpoint is terrible. I’ve found these brazen recipes more often than I care to admit. The ones I thought deserved a try, just to end up tossing it (with angry grunting noises), ordering out and adding to my complex about watching the budget. It’s just crazy to me to throw out that much cash in ingredients. I hate waste.

You’ve probably noticed I like the lucid shots. I think beauty is found in simple, rustic things. My food shots are my way of letting people know that this dish will come about in a comfortable manner (hopefully) and that you will enjoy and wind-down your day or weekend with this dish. Sometimes, it’s about popping details that make the food something exciting to experience for a special treat, occasion, or season but I never intend to overwhelm anyone. Displaying the food alone, maybe a simple piece here or there that you would naturally find at a table setting in the distance or on the side but usually, the food is the only thing of interest to me. I don’t like to try to hide poor planning/execution (among other things) with a completely “out there/whackadoo” shot or misleading words.

I’m often asked if I take my own pictures. I do. It’s kind of insulting when people ask and assume I do not. If someone else took the picture, I would be a jerk not to give them credit, for one thing. I also wonder why they don’t think I’m talented and capable of taking decent shots. Then again, it’s also a compliment (backhanded) but I’ll take it.

Overall, I don’t really mind because I don’t believe that I am doing this day in and day out for nothing. I’m amassing an arsenal of recipes, writing skills and photographs that I hope to distribute to the public one day. (If that’s what it takes to get somewhere with this passion/hobby turned dare I say, career-sign me up.) That is, if you’ll have me. Someone wanted to know if I had “representation” and I don’t. I have no idea how any of the business side goes but I would like to know.

There’s another side of me that refuses to believe I have any talent whatsoever and that I am wasting my time and yours. Then, once I let that out, begin to wonder if others think that I am stating this for sympathy, comments or compliments….I am not fishing for compliments. I’m straightforward, blunt and appreciative of criticism, almost as much as praise. I don’t think I am at a place where compliments are necessary but welcome if open and honest. To those that may have or forthright stated/thought that “my little hobby” was just that, this is what I do, this consumes me and I am happy to have found my passion and have plans. I have a “friend” that belittles everything I do (what anyone does really) and I wanted to clear up any confusion. I know he doesn’t understand the amount of planning, research and time I put into my blog but I respect his decisions about his career and am supportive of him in general.

I’m sharing my grandma’s chicken and dumplings recipe today, well it’s similar because I could never make it like she does (maybe it’s the grandmother’s love ingredient missing). The picture was taken a few days after I made them so your fresh batch shouldn’t be this thick, which is why it makes for a great gravy on top of potatoes the day you do make these.

Family dumplings recipe, a few days thicker, on top of mashed potatoes
Family dumplings recipe, a few days thicker, on top of mashed potatoes

Grandma Shaffer’s Chicken and Dumpling Noodles
*These dumpling noodles have been referred to as “pot pie” by my grandma, perhaps even my great grandma and are actually flat, rolled out, square noodles tossed into a broth mix to simmer. They don’t take long to cook and have a dough-like texture when finished. You might want to prepare this a day ahead to allow the sauce to thicken. Add some mashed potatoes and enjoy my grandma’s recipe.

Serves 4 to 6
16 to 24 oz. good quality canned chicken pieces
2 bay leaves
2 tsp parsley or thyme-optional
6 cups chicken broth
½ to 2/3 cup heavy cream
mashed potatoes

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, softened
2/3 cup milk

Mix all the dumpling ingredients together in a large bowl. Knead the dough slightly, with flour on your hands, and roll onto a clean, floured surface. Make the “dumplings” as flat as you desire, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until the broth is boiling. I make these very flat from family tradition.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat broth, bay leaves, thyme and chicken until boiling. Lower the heat to medium/low. Get the dough out of the frig and cut into 2-inch squares and toss all of them into the pot. Allow these to simmer for 10 minutes and stir occasionally, then lower the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes. If you want a thicker sauce, add some of the mashed potatoes. This sauce will thicken after a few hours and I think this tastes best the next day. Serve with mashed potatoes. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves.

If you are attempting to be productive on something this weekend, good luck and if you plan on being extremely lazy, good luck with that as well. Have a good one!

3 thoughts on “Photography and My Grandma Shaffer’s Chicken and Dumpling Noodles Recipe

  1. I must admit that I’m pretty much in awe of your awesome photo today. Taking a daily photo has really expanded your skillset there. It would be pretty interesting for you to do a montage of your photos from start to end, side by side, to see how they have progressed. I think you’d be surprised at your progress.

    As for the backhanded compliments about what you post, yeah, I have received them too. “You really do all your own writing, research and photography?” Yeah, I do. Doesn’t it make you feel stupid that as a paid journalist you don’t?


    1. I will have to do a montage, I was thinking about that actually. I have always been impressed by your work-you put your all into (for anyone in the Twin Cities metro, go there NOW!) and think you deserve to make an enormous amount of money! People need to stop taking your commentary and photos without paying and/or crediting you, that’s BS.

      It’s just a matter of time before something changes and I don’t mean the baby.

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