Chicken and Dumplings

*Disclaimer: This soup is great, but the directions are a little shady because I cook like my mother, who measures very few things and just mixes until things "look right." Approach slowly if you are uncomfortable with inexactness, do not have the capacity for eyeballing, or fear guesstimating whether or not your food "looks right." Serves 4-6 Make dumplings by combining 2 c. self-rising flour (or 2 c. flour + 2 Tbsp. baking powder + 2 tsp salt) with enough milk to make a sticky-but-not-too-runny dough (start with about 1/4 c. milk, then add about 1 Tbsp more at a time until it's a consistency you like). Set aside. Combine in a large pot: 4 c. chicken broth 2 tsp. dried basil 1 tsp. dried oregano 1/2 tsp. salt 2-ish c. cooked chicken, chopped In small bowl, whisk 1/2 c. flour and 1 1/2 c. milk together; whisk into large pot mixture. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until thickened and bubbly (it happens all of a sudden when you just start to think it's never going to happen, so watch closely!) Drop dumplings by spoonfuls into pot (dumplings can be whatever size you want ... I prefer HUGE so that there's only about 6 dumplings in the pot, but they could be smaller and still great). Cover, and cook on medium-low heat for 12-15 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE LID UNTIL THE FULL TIME IS UP! This is SUCH a great comfort food, not only because it's basically bread in chicken sauce, but it always makes me think of home, and, you guessed it, cooking with Mom. My mother, blessings on her, taught me not to rely too much on the actual mechanics of a recipe (it's just a suggestion, really). I've taken her philosophy to an extreme, measuring only when I absolutely have to, and more frequently relying on the sturdy technique of eyeballing. Back to my mother. She makes biscuits that would make you jump up and slap your granny ... but to the faint of heart, her recipe is too inexact to be helpful. This is what it looks like: MIX flour baking powder salt CUT IN 1 good knifeful of shortening ADD: milk, but not too much MIX, BUT NOT TOO MUCH. Turn out and knead. But not too much. Butter, fold, butter, fold, butter, fold, cut, and bake at 450 until done, but not too done. I am proud to be my mother's daughter, and proud to cook like a woman who has raised 4 children, 7 dogs, chickens, a chameleon and a snake, who hosts potlucks and Christmases like they're going out of style, who drinks sweet tea on the front porch swing, and who makes me my favorite foods when I go home. I'm still working on replicating her biscuits in my own kitchen, though ...

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