Granny’s Dumplings

I never got to say goodbye to my Granny’s dumplings. Celiac took them away from me. I wish I could have them one last time without suffering the damage they would do to my body. They are hands down the most comforting food in the world to me. I miss them so much. Her dumplings are filled with so much love and history. Everyone in my family begs for them. They are a staple at every holiday or special occasion. They are perfect for a cold and rainy day. They warm you right down to your toes. They are filled with gluten. They are poison to me now.

My Granny has been making them my whole life. She cooks them in the same kitchen that she has cooked in for 50+ years. It’s tiny and dark and old. Yet, somehow it’s the brightest spot on Earth. It’s the place where memories are made and love is shared.

Dumplings are such a simple, country dish. If you aren’t from the South you will have no idea what I’m talking about or what you’re missing. It’s worth the trip. We just call them dumplings instead of chicken and dumplings because the chicken is only a supporting cast member. These are gooey, doughy dumplings (biscuits) in a thick creamy broth.

My Granny starts by making a huge pot of homeade chicken stock, using the same beat up cheap metal pot that she’s always had. When the stock is ready she removes the whole chicken, shreds the meat and puts a about a quarter of it back into the pot. Then she opens up a few cans of biscuits and starts to pinch off tiny little pieces one by one. She drops them into the stock until the pot is full. She adds salt and pepper and stirs, and stirs and stirs. It’s a process and I’m not even sure how long it takes for everything to cook. Time flies when I’m standing in the kitchen with her. All I know is that when it’s done it’s thick and velvety and tastes of heaven. I wish I had a picture to show you but I was too sad to ask her to cook them for a photo. I’m not there yet.

It’s my favorite dish in the world. When you break it down it’s really nothing special. Canned biscuits in chicken broth. But it’s become so much more than those simple ingredients. It’s everything that it reminds me of and makes me feel. When I ate them I felt at home. They remind me of the way my Granny would always scratch my back as I laid in her lap as a little girl. She would do it for hours it seemed. She would scratch and scratch until she thought I was asleep. Then I would start to wiggle so she would know I was still awake. So she would scratch and scratch some more, never complaining of tired hands.They remind me of how she always smells of Oil of Olay and rose petals. Of the way she wears curlers in her hair every night. Or how I would huddle with her and my Paw Paw around the one floor vent in the entire house on cold mornings. And most of all they remind me of how much I am loved, of laughter and tradition.

I mourn them. Yes, they are food and not people. But doesn’t it feel sometimes as if you are losing a loved one? I love to cook and I have been able to recreate so many of my favorite dishes to be gluten free and still yummy. But there is no possible way that I will ever be able to make those dumplings again. I really don’t even want to try and face the disappointment.

It IS ok to mourn the food you loved. You need to. If you don’t, you will always be tempted by it. I speak from experience. You have to say goodbye in whatever way works for you. I will say that having a food “one last time” did not work well for me. I just wanted to have it one more time and one more time after that and one more time after that. Having it again just made it harder to let it go. Food is not just for nourishment. It’s for enjoyment, for memories, for showing and sharing love. Some of our favorite foods have been there with us during the most special times in our lives.

My Granny shows and shares her love through food. I think I got that from her. I just made a trip to Alabama to see her and my Paw Paw this week. It was hard because they are true Southern cooks. Dumplings, cornbread, fried chicken, apple pie. That is all they know. She kept asking me if she could make me something and I had to decline everything she offered. It was not only hard for me, but I could see it was hard for her too. She didn’t feel like she was taking care of me the way she should because she couldn’t feed me. I think it made her feel disconnected.

Almost 3 years after diagnosis, it’s still a process for us. I’m still mourning those dumplings and so many other family favorites. But I will always have the memory of them. And I still have my Granny who will always smell of Oil of Olay and rose petals. I can squeeze her tight, close my eyes and taste the love in that dish. I can watch as she feeds my children and see the proof that life comes full circle.

What food do you miss the most?

My next post will discuss a little more in length about dealing with friends and family after diagnosis. It’s a rough road and we all need a little support. Stay tuned!

Product Review-Udi’s Gluten Free Pizza and Redbridge Beer

It’s time for my first product review. And I thought what better place to start than pizza? I think most people when they first find out they have to go gluten free freak out over losing pizza. No more cheesey hot domino’s pizza and wings delivered on a Friday night. No more crazy bread. No more sharing in a pizza party with your kid. Who knew pizza could be so heartbreaking?

But I am happy to say that there are alternatives. I think I have literally tried every GF pizza out there. I have found several that I enjoy but I will be honest and tell you they don’t taste like real pizza. And I have been on a mission to find one that does. Not just for myself, but for my son that may need to go GF as well. He is a very picky eater and none of the GF pizzas I’ve tried have made it off of his plate. The flavor is just too weird for him.

Until the other night. I have had great success with Udi’s products and they just came out with these new pizzas so I decided to give them a try. I picked up a Pepperoni and a Margherita. Right away I was a little disappointed in the size. But honestly with GF items I’m used to getting a small amount for a lot of money. The pizza is definitely smaller than it appears on the box. As you can see above, one pizza fits on a full size plate. I had planned for all 3 of us to share these and I would definitely need one pizza for each of us. I first saw these at Whole Foods but I was very excited to actually find these at my local Publix. They were roughly $7 each.

What was the verdict? WORTH EVERY PENNY!! Here is a direct quote from my super picky eater…”I love it. Best GF pizza I’ve ever had! I even like it better than regular pizza!” I think that last bit was thrown in for dramatic effect as he knew he would be quoted. I have no doubt that if given the choice he would still tackle me for a slice of Domino’s. But he ate every bite and was very happy. Which makes a very happy mommy. My hubby who is very vocal about his dislike of most GF baked items actually agreed that this pizza was amazing. He said it did not taste GF. I totally agree. Best I’ve had!

Above are the pics of the Pepperoni pizza. I actually left the Margherita in a little too long and burnt it. So it wasn’t pretty but still tasted pretty good. I prefer the Pepperoni even though Margherita is my fave flavor usually. There wasn’t enough cheese on it for me. As with most GF pizzas there is a fine balance between underdone and overdone. The outside edges crisp up fairly quickly while the inside is still a little soft. I prefer it more crispy and the boys prefer soft. 

And what is a good pizza without a good beer? The first thing I cried about foodwise when I was diagnosed was beer. What can I say, I’m a beer girl. And not just any gross light cheap beer. I love the dark rich frothy beers that real men drink. And I love a good beer with a good meal. I have tried many GF beers and  most of them are just plain gross. Too girly with flavors like citrus and strawberries. Beer and fruit should not be allowed to live in the same bottle. I will do a total beer review at some point. In the meantime, I will share one of the GF beers that I actually do really like. Redbridge by ANHEUSER-BUSCH. It reminds me a little of Killian’s Irish Red which was a fave pre-diagnosis. If you like a darker beer I think you will be pleasantly surprised and satisfied. And I have been finding it available at a few restaurants around town as well. Score!!

living gluten free in the ATL

My name is Christy and I have Celiac Disease. Please take a few minutes to read MY STORY. My hope is that it will touch you somehow. Maybe you have a similar story. Maybe you have a family member that you are trying to understand a little better. Or maybe you just need a good read. Whatever the case may be I hope that you will keep coming back and share in my experiences as a wife, a mother, a photographer and as someone living gluten free in the ATL.