Variety is the spice of life, and who knows that better than North Dakotans?
As snow has blanketed our yards and chilly temperatures rested upon our doorstep, we know the depth of winter here in the Peace Garden State.
Winter, like all of our seasons, has a special beauty. None of us can deny the attractiveness of the hues of sunset -- rose and misty purple drifting through the vast western skies.
Charles Repnow is a freelance writer who lives in Rugby. His column appears on alternate Wednesdays in The Minot Daily News.
As this color palette begins to set behind a cluster of trees, it casts long shadows to seize the last rays of a wintry sunset. Along Highway 2 near Towner, there stands a perfect huddle of trees. Some have fallen, creating arches of beauty. It is a breathtaking panorama when these trees and a colorful winter sunset play their duet. In fact, it is awe-inspiring!
Just as scenes like these astound our eyes, don't worry. Winter brings many recipes that also gladden our taste buds. Let us head to our dependable recipe files and cookbooks and congregate the recipes we have for dumplings. Do not winter and dumplings go hand in hand?
If you are a real dumpling lover like me, it is OK to compromise the seasonal tradition and make them on a cold spring day, a rainy summer day, or a windy, bitter fall day. They do however, seem to taste best on a cold winter day when the curtains are drawn, night closes in and you are surrounded by the warmth of home and aroma of dumpling meal.
With the looming forecast of a massive snowfall, just when our hearts desire spring, we must keep our chins up. As the inventory of snow increases outside your window, make sure you show Mother Nature that you can make a few of you own drifts inside! It is true -- dumplings taste best when the snow is falling! So thank Mother Nature for giving us one last perfect setting to enjoy dumplings -- hopefully!
My mother was raised in a home with a 100 percent German mother and a 100 percent Danish father. She enjoyed the blending of their heritage dishes -- especially the dumplings of her mother. When my mom made dumplings at home, she often placed them on soup or stews. This is certainly a hit with everyone gathered at the gingham.
Now for a little something extra -- you can do dumplings without soup or stew. With a little imagination, boiled dumplings can be worked into several menus. In fact, on the very bright side of dining, we have even had dumplings as a light snack. All diners found the fluffy clouds dressed with butter to be breathtaking. I think is it safe to say that dumplings are a cheery sight.
Miss Lydia has been hypnotized by dumplings -- just like her father! A much-loved menu is a thick slice of fried ham and lightly glazed with brown sugar, spinach dumplings, and a chorus of steamed carrots and cauliflower finished with a light cheese sauce. This would be followed by a cranberry yogurt in which bananas are hiding out. It is one of real joys we serve at our table when wintry blankets cover our yard, and they often reappear until spring's last snow melt.
Lydia's latest addition to this meal is her very attractive, hand-crafted place cards! She also has engaged all of us to hold hands during grace. She says, "Because that's what families do."
Once again, our little dumpling adds brilliance and joy to our table.
I share with you two recipes. The feather dumplings come from my mother (exactly as it appears on her recipe card). The spinach dumplings come from a winter ski trip to Montana.
By Marian Repnow
To be used with soups or stews:
3 tablespoons shortening
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon parsley
Cut shortening into flour, baking powder, salt and parsley with pastry blender until mixtures resembles fine crumbs. Stir in milk. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto hot meat or vegetables in boiling stew or soup. Cook uncovered 10 minutes. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer.
I have also used this recipe when cooking a thick ham steak in a skillet with a bit of water and it turns out wonderfully. Simply place the dumplings on top of the ham and make sure you have a big enough skillet.
1 bag of fresh spinach, finely chopped
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg, well beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
Slice of onion
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix this with the well-beaten egg and the milk. Roll into a thin dough, and cut into three- or four-inch squares. Into the center of each, place a tablespoon of well-seasoned chopped spinach. Fold over the dough, and pinch together. Drop the dumplings into boiling water into which has been poured the water from the spinach pot and add the slice of onion. Cook closely covered for 15 minutes. (They come out green-tinted bits of feathery deliciousness.)
Keep in mind that while these dumplings are not as light and fluffy as the above recipe, they have excellent taste. You can serve them by simply putting butter on them or even frying them for a couple of minutes in a skillet with butter and then serving them with fresh garlic breadcrumbs.