Chicken and Dumplings

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Last night I made traditional Chicken n Dumplings  ‘thinking’ I was getting back to basics using a frozen package of  prepared dumplings.  This is as close as I am ever going to get to authentic dumplings — unless you come over and make them for me!

These dumplings, while authentic were still not as good as my aunt’s.

I asked myself “why was I feeling the need for this dish anyway? I prefer grilled foods and , have never made chicken and dumplings in my life.”

Then I remembered my aunt – Odean – making dumplings.  She had just discovered the newest, most clever fast food version of homemade dumplings!

Odean Floyd Reynolds was standing at her stove, pot of chicken broth boiling as she looked over to me, eyes twinkling, telling me how happy, proud to make dumplings not from her tried and true recipe, but from cutting up tortillas and adding them to the broth.

I’m smiling and a little teary-eyed,  remembering that precise moment in time.  It’s as real to me, being there, in her kitchen on Ridgecrest in Little Rock as if she was actually standing in that kitchen as I write this.  You’ve had this feeling before, haven’t you? At least I hope you have.  Such warm memories.

10863789_10153484565231487_8376278462805336207_o-2George Marvin Reynolds Jr.  and his wife, Odean Floyd Reynolds.

Am I wishing to go back in time for her Chicken and Dumplins?  No.  I’m wishing to go back in time with her and for the warmth of the moment.  It’s a joy, tho’ bittersweet as I recall Aunt Odean  in her element – cooking for others.  I’m loving this sweet moment with her even tho’ she has no idea now.  Can’t really call her, it just causes her confusion and that’s not fair.   So I capture moments as best I can, significant memories in my life.

I know since my Father, then my Mother’s death,  life has never nor will it ever be the same.

When Parilee Croft, Art on the Green’s Artist-in-Residence showed me her commissioned watercolors of her family recipes, I was immediately in love with this work. These  commissioned watercolors, albeit the size of a postcard, are a really sweet way to remember another, and a specific moment in one’s life.

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My own Mother, beloved as she was did not really love cooking until later in life.   She didn’t have time to learn but she had  pockets of great moments with recipes we still cherish.  Cookbooks by groups and churches help preserve, but it’s the original watercolors, framed and in a place of honor in one’s kitchen that really singles out those special moments.   My Mother made the best chili on the planet and I’m still trying to track down that recipe.  This is why I think every family needs one original watercolor for each family cook.  Preserve the moment — it’s not the recipe that’s so important it’s the moment.  Who has given you a moment?

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Parilee Croft with her beloved Kep

I do not have the recipe for her my Aunt’s dumplins, and wish I could look at a small watercolor, framed in my kitchen to preserve that moment. But I don’t.  I would even be happy :) with her chocolate cake recipe or the chicken and rice casserole she served at a dinner party when she forgot to debone the chicken! Yes, we laughed and laughed!

Odean and my uncle George had no children, and were always entertaining in their home.

She’ll be making Chicken and Dumplings when He comes . . . .

But this is what I AM doing – Having recipes by close family members preserved with an original watercolor.

Recently another aunt – by my request – sent me several recipes on index cards. For a long time I’ve had the privilege of making her homemade sweet pickles, enjoying the rave reviews as if they were my own!  (Who said ”steal from me, steal twice?”)

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For Christmas I commissioned a watercolor of the Sweet Pickles to give my aunt.  I wanted her to have as part of her original art collection.  Now, she can pass along to her son or anyone else in the family.  Probably her daughter-in-law,  Hannah Robinson who puts Martha Stewart to shame with her Mom and work skills.

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Hannah Robinson

As I contemplate which recipe to preserve next, I wonder should it be the disaster German Chocolate Cake I made for my nephew’s birthday that was finally served in parfait glasses?  He might remember anyway, but I don’t want to take the chance.

What kitchen memory do you hold dear?

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Rule #18. Say Thank you (again, not to be confused with writing thank you notes!)

Today I learned a dear friend was ‘stabbed in the back’ by someone she thought was a friend. If we’ve lived at all, we’ve had unfortunate experiences, some with friends. A friend stabbing us in the back always hurts more, don’t you think?

Why are we still shocked when something like this happens? Those who are trustworthy trust easier, we want to trust others and believe what is good. Doesn’t always happen the way we wish, and I don’t know about you, but hope I never lose the ability to trust. Trust is a significant component to anything we do, it’s about our character.

Actress Betty White is one of the most trusted celebrities today. I have been fortunate to work with her — Betty and Jack Hanna are great friends — and I can tell you she is exactly what you see — Absolutely lovely and kind. It’s wonderful to me she is so beloved. She makes it easy to say THANK YOU and everyone wants to work with her because she is honorable, she knows what THANK YOU really means.  It’s our behavior to and about one another.

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Several years ago, another friend asked me to befriend her older sister. The sister had just gotten out of a really terrible (third) marriage and I was told she had no friends. I introduced her to a few close friends and it all seemed terrific for awhile UNTIL she decided the friends I introduced her to should be better friends with her, I was unnecessary. “Why are you friends with her?”  she asked our mutual friend.

Needless to say, trust erodes quickly when something like this happens. So that’s why she had no friends! She wasn’t thankful for the opportunity to treasure those friendships dear to me, much less to me for bringing her into my circle.

Everyone loses when this happens.

No matter how close we may be to someone, sometimes we have no idea of the demons they fight daily. Demons like jealously, envy or greed. Maybe it’s more, maybe it’s just fear, not feeling good enough or the polar opposite – arrogance – even  worse, both. Whatever it is, we can’t even pretend to know what happens to some when things don’t go exactly their way, I just know it’s usually not pretty.

Consequences for our behavior are real and discernment should go hand-in-hand with trust. We must be smart about who we let in, and then trust our instincts.

There is no better thank you than honoring ‘the one who brung you’….and yes, I said BRUNG….Thank you.
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Rule #15 Do the right thing even when no one will know but you.

These posts — haven’t established an editorial calendar yet — my writing, so far, just takes me where it takes me.  Lately it’s had a darker side, yet doesn’t make me sad or upset.  Now it’s just fact, a history of life, my journey.

If you know me, you know I love bargains almost as much as I love Louis Vuitton, I do not spend money frivolously.  I don’t buy schlock.  It’s wasting money.  For example, I paid $400 twenty years ago for a Louis Vuitton bag I still carry today.  When I have the time I’m sending all my Louis Vuitton to Chicago where they will make it like new again.  To me, this is working smart!  (This working smart girl is the same one who misspelled GENIUS in her post yesterday….among other faux pas.)

While I don’t do department store shopping per se, I will race you to Walgreens if I see a bargain in their Sunday circular!  (I get it early now!)

Walgreensand no, Walgreens isn’t paying me!

http://walgreens.com/

And I am a magazine freak.  Ask anyone who works with me.  Right now, even after giving away hundreds of magazines, I have a gazillion magazines waiting for me to decide their fate. I have the first twelve issues of O – OPRAH, each in it’s own sealed plastic bag for posterity!  I still regret giving away my Vanity Fair magazines some ten years ago. And I think I would frame every issue of Cottage Journal  if it didn’t make me look like an total idiot.

Cottage Journal This issue of Cottage Journal reminds me of one of the paintings we have at Conway Art.  It’s a great work by Renaissance Man, Don Bingham.

http://thecottagejournal.com/

http://conwayartgallery.com

It’s not for a lack of magazines I tell you what I did in the dark.

Waiting rooms with magazines were my Achilles heel.  Inevitably there is always a magazine I do not have, or a very old magazine and I absolutely must keep an ad, a photograph or feature, so I would just steal it from the lobby.  I was a thief.

Go figure.

Eventually, my behavior got the best of me.  This is what changed: I started asking (a novel thought)  if I could take/have the magazine; then I also carried other magazines back to that same lobby for their use.

I can remember sneaking magazines into my Louis Vuitton!  Pathetic, I know and stupid.   I can see it now, sunny, beautiful room and they had a two year-old ELLE DECOR with a bedroom I would die to have, but knew I would not remember the visual without the visual.  Or, that’s what I told myself.  Sure.

I still don’t have that bedroom, don’t even know where the ELLE DECOR is!

Isn’t this a little like life sometimes?  We take those pens from work or copy paper, don’t return our messages or call in sick when we are not sick?  — cough, cough — I know I have. 

Or, we tell ourselves it’s okay to miss a friends birthday party, or a funeral, that we won’t be missed. But we are missed, someone knows and wonders where we are and why we aren’t there.

I can tell you even tho’ I was deep in grief at my Mother’s funeral I KNEW who was at the funeral and the graveside. It made such a difference.  Friends Deborah Evans Price and Vernell Hackett drove all night to be there even tho’ I told them it was not necessary to make the drive from Nashville, Tn.  They never listen!  Thankfully.

NOW I understand.  Having them drive all night to be with me for a few hours was more comforting than they will ever kinow.  

Deborah, being interviewed for a Religion & Ethics feature on PBS.

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Deborah accepting a Dove Award for Alan Jackson. DEP accepting for Alan Jackson

Vernell, signing copies of one of her books!

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If these busy women can show up, so can we!

We are missed when we don’t show or we think no one sees what we do/don’t do.  I am certain others saw me steal some of those magazines, and I remember years ago when I didn’t show up for a party, thought I wouldn’t be missed, was told the hostess cried when I didn’t show.

There are legitimate reasons for some things, for others it’s greed or laziness or maybe we are just tired.  I’m trying to make extra efforts for friends, go out of my comfort zone now, because that’s part of my Authentic Grace.

Head in the sand is just pretending no one knows.  That’s the fallacy. To be Authentic, give Grace, we must not hide.  EVER.  Authentic Public Relations practitioners, above reproach, will be untouchable in the marketplace.

…and if you want any magazines, you know where I am!

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