The Kickstarter Countdown

The Kickstarter Campaign for CAKE&WHISKEY magazine is in its final hours. Lots of great incentives for contributing to the cause...head over and see what perks your interest ~ every little bit helps get this amazing project off the ground. xo


Appalachian Chicken and Dumplings

On any given Sunday in Appalachia a pot of Chicken and Dumplings will likely be simmering on the stove after church. And without a doubt, this mountain staple will be at every church gathering, family reunion, post-funeral meal and most likely a wedding reception in the hollers and hills.
Today, when the boys came in from a long day at school, they walked came home to the smell of Chicken and Dumplings on the stove. This is ultimate comfort food for my boys.
And on a day when I sent a magazine to print, made 100 biscuits, 4 pans of brownies and 100 Chocolate Chip cookies (no exaggeration), this meal was about the easiest thing I could conjure up on a whim.
The components of Chicken and Dumplings are basic. Chicken stock, biscuit dough and...that's it. You could fancy it up with chunks of chicken, vegetables and herbs but at its most basic form you need nothing more than stock and biscuits. In Mongolia we had something similar made with a flour and water dumpling dough and a clear broth. Actually, I imagine every culture probably has their own version.

I love to make homemade chicken stock. I've talked about it plenty of times here on the blog. Its a easy as saving your leftover rotisserie chicken bones, some vegetables like onion, carrot and celery and water. Simmer on the stove top or in a crock pot till golden in color and voila. Chicken stock.

I have tried my hand at many-a-dumpling recipes over the years. Some call for cornmeal. That's not really a favorite of ours. Some recipes simply call for Bisquick. Again, we're not huge fans. I use this recipe and instead of forming shaped biscuits I cut the dough into small, ping pong ball sized chunks. You could even do this step ahead of time, rolling each dough piece in flour and putting them in a bowl in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Chicken and Dumplings:
Once the stock is ready (you can always use store bought, of course) bring it to a rolling boil. The amount of stock you'll need just depends on the amount you think you'll eat. In the mountains you'll typically find a really, really, really big pot of chicken and dumplings boiling on the stove because inevitably, there will be company. Here at The Smith Homestead I keep it to around 6-8 cups of stock and 1/2 a batch of biscuit dough. That seems to feed 5 mouths just perfectly.

Once the stock is boiling, start dropping the small dough balls into the boiling liquid. Trust me, you may be tempted to cut corners and just start dropping heaping spoonfuls of dough into the stock. I wouldn't recommend. They grow exponentially in size as they cook and before you know it there will be no liquid remaining because these enormous baseballs have taken over the pot.
Almost immediately they will begin puffing up and rising to the top. This is a good thing. Just keep dropping the dough balls in. They'll sink to the bottom and then rise when they're ready.
Go ahead and crowd the dough balls in there. Its not like searing a piece of meat. No need to do this in batches. Once its all in the pot, cover it with a lid and continue to slowly boil (not rapid boil) the dumplings for 10 minutes. Taste. If they seem overly gluey, they probably aren't done. Keep cooking. The end texture of the dumpling should be soft. Not too chewy, not too gummy. Just perfectly dumpling like. The broth will have thickened naturally, making the end result a really hearty liquid for the dumplings to swim in. Season with salt and pepper and ladle into bowls.
Again, you could add shredded chicken, vegetables (it has a similar flavor to chicken pot pie filling so it makes sense) or fresh herbs like chopped parsley.
Give it a go and tell me what you think~ I'm pretty sure it might become a staple in your fall comfort food repertoire too.

The Blur Photos

FYI...this post will not win "Best Photography Post of the Year" Just sayin'.

Last week was a complete blur. Exhilarating, inspiring, exhausting, beautiful, emotional and both incredibly fast and incredibly of those weeks.
Some wonderful friends came to visit from Florida which did my soul good. Canaan spoke at a Philanthropy Summit which made this mama proud. And I met a ton of new people at a gorgeous Bourbon Review event and a Cake and Whiskey gathering that made my bucket overflow with gratitude for living in such a great town. Add in the weekly soccer game, cross country meet, a friends art show, horse sales at Keeneland, late night coffee and dessert, writing deadlines and long car rides through the country (just because), it was one for the record books.
Here's a glimpse in pictures...I told you it was a blur...I couldn't even keep the camera phone steady long enough to snap a still shot most of the week!
(**note to self. Put nothing on the calendar for the next 2-3 weeks.)


Sunday Morning at The Midway School Bakery

The weather has been beyond perfect this week. Cool mornings, warm days, chilly evenings. Leaves are still green but hues of yellow and orange are starting to peak through. AC is off for the season, windows are flung open wide and long pajamas are starting to come out of storage. In short, its pretty close to perfect here in the Bluegrass right now.
This morning we took a drive 20 minutes away to the small, charming town of Midway. A new bakery has opened there in the ground floor of an old school house. It was, in our full belly opinion, the best Sunday morning stop we've had in a long time.


A Shout Out to Goetta

I have a love of charcuterie. I've talked a bit about it here on the blog and undoubtedly if I pass by a German restaurant, better believe we'll be going inside for a meal. A couple of months ago my favorite editor suggested we tackle the subject of Goetta for an upcoming to my ears.

I won't give you whole low down~ head over here to read all about it~ but let me just say, as big of a fan as I was of Goetta before the project, I became even more so after eating the homemade version. It was a fantastic day of Goetta goodness.
Homemade Goetta (lots of great recipes using Goetta here)

• 2-3 pounds country-style pork ribs
• 8 cups water
• 2 1/2 cups steel-cut oatmeal
• 20-plus bay leaves
• 1 1/2 large onions, quartered
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2. In a 4-quart Dutch oven (or heavy pot with a tight fitting lid), gently boil the pork in 8 cups water with 10 of the bay leaves for about 15 minutes, until pork is cooked through.
3. Cool and remove pork, discard bay leaves. You want to keep the liquid, but strain it for any pork or bay leaves left.
4. Add salt and pepper, 10 new bay leaves, and the oatmeal to the liquid. Bring to a rolling boil on the stove and boil for 10 minutes.
5. Finely grind 1 onion in a food processor (or finely chop by hand) and add to oats. Cover and place in oven. It will bake there for an hour, until oats are fully cooked.
6. In a food processor or mill, grind the cooked pork (with all the fat) and reserve.
7. After 1 hour, the oatmeal will be thick and glistening from the fat. Stir in all the ground pork and the remaining chopped onions.
8. Cool and pack into loaf pans (rap the loaf pans on the counter a few times to make sure the goetta is firmly packed into the loaf pan with no air or space.) Chill for at least 1 hour (or overnight) and slice into 1/4-inch pieces; fry slices on a hot griddle or cast iron skillet with oil or bacon grease until golden brown. Makes 2 loaves.


Kickstarting Something Great

**Take a moment to head over here when you finish reading the post.
** And then here
** And finally, here

A few months ago, CAKE&WHISKEY was born. At the time, it was an idea for a quarterly business women's get together here in our city. I shared a bit about it over on this post. Around that same time, that idea served as a springboard for something much larger....much, much larger.

As an advocate and hit-you-over-the-head preacher of setting goals and going for them~ when this larger idea started nudging me, I knew it was something I needed to reach for.
Next week, the first issue of CAKE&WHISKEY; the Sweet & Spirited World of Business, will go to print. Oh my....see, I told you it was something big!

From the onset of this project I have been surrounded by such willing and capable talent~ none more so than an amazing photo editor, Sarah Jane. There have been so many people over the past months that have lent time, resources, knowledge, guidance and the gentle (and sometimes downright know who you are) towards the first issue finish line.
I thought I knew what it meant to face fears but striving for this goal has been the biggest fear facing showdown to date. To reach deep down and know...really know, without a doubt that this magazine~this concept~ this opportunity to inspire women is something worth doing, takes some grit and courage. To put those words of self doubt that either I have spoken about myself or others have spoken into my life at some time or put those behind me and keep pressing forward...its a really stretching (sometimes painfully so) but rewarding experience to see to completion.

A few days ago, we launched a Kickstarter Campaign. Are you familiar with Kickstarter? There is a ton of info out there right now about Crowd Sourcing projects. I love the idea...its perfect for start-ups like CAKE&WHISKEY too. We are raising funds for the launch, using crowd funding as a platform to draw interest and awareness to the project as well as start our subscription base and launch in a debt-free, economically smart way.
This allows anyone who donates any amount from $4 to $10,000 to feel they are a part from the ground up. Its been so remarkable to have buzz generated from coast to coast already...although not surprising. There has been, up until this point, a need in both digital and print media for such a publication.

What I would love is if you could help spread the word through your chains of influence and social media. Of course, if you feel led to join the crowd and help fund CAKE&WHISKEY, that would be amazing. Please take a few minutes to read more about CAKE&WHISKEY on the links up top and again, we’d love any shout outs on your social media outlets or any other form of support you’d feel good about doing.

Thank you friends & readers far and wide....and please drop me a line~ I'd love to know your thoughts!



An Entertaining Journal

8 years ago I started a journal. Its a journal I keep to this day, add to quite frequently and reference often. Reading through the pages of this leather bound journal is a walk down memory lane~ this journal is the menu record I keep from the dinners we host, the parties we throw and the times we have, centered around food, with friends.
I love reading and remembering those we've entertained over the years~ like Bob and Noby Kennell, who now live in Papua New Guinea and who came to dinner in our tiny 3 room apartment in Sanford, Florida when we were new parents.
 And I love seeing those back to back meals with our dear friends Peter and Crystal. They are those friends that show up at 6 for dinner and at 2am you finally look at a clock and wonder how 8 hours could have flown by so fast. Those friends are so precious and rare.

In a fire, this would be one keepsake I'd try to grab on the way out the door. Years of amazing memories that is added to often~ one dinner with friends at a time.

Happy Weekend~ ... maybe even a meal with friends is on the docket for you?

**and, if you get a moment ~ click that pretty blue ribbon up there on the right hand side of the page and vote for Art of Homemaking... A complete honor because I have some amazing blogs in my category, don't you think?


Weekend Road Trip

On Saturday afternoon, Mike and I quietly packed the car while the kids were pre-occupied with wrestling maneuvers and paper airplanes. Canaan and I were going on a road trip. I didn't tell him until we were cruising on 75 North. He was beyond excited.

A road trip with Canaan is always properly enjoyed when it centers around food. Looking back through the archives of this blog, there is a running theme of "foodie-ness" in this child....after all he does own a gourmet food company. I also agreed to some usually-out-of-the-question items like Mt. Dew Freezes and late night Skyline Chili drive thru, which made my nearly 10 year old feel like king of the world for a weekend.
his mothers son. Sunny day photos...

It was a road food trip, a shopping trip, a sleeping in trip, an Angry Birds-while-driving-on-the-interstate trip and a music trip. Introductions to Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Donald Fagan and Rod Stewart were made this weekend and brain circuits were fried when I told him that the person singing "Billy Jean" was not a 12 year old tan girl with braids like he thought.

We had some great conversations...a few that totally cracked me up. I kept a running journal of sorts on a spiral notebook in the backseat~ writing a few down as the miles, hours and days rolled by. 

C: What does fromage to eternity mean?
M: Canaan, its from here to eternity. Fromage means cheese in French.
C: Oh. Fromage to eternity must be a European saying then.

M: Is there any drama in 4th grade?
C: Girls. But they're just born that way.

C: Laughing gas is no laughing matter. What's so funny about people dying?
M: I think you're talking about mustard gas.

C: I have a big bug bite in the corner of my eye.
M: Canaan, that's your tear duct.
C: No. I'm pretty sure I have a bug bite in the corner of each eye.