Monday, May 18, 2009

Rainy Day Eats

I'm doing really well in school, but nothing else seems to be going my way. I'm trying not to dwell, but my moods get diluted like watercolors in these thick rains we've been suffering. Yesterday, I was driving home from an errand, and though it'd only been raining for about ten minutes, the roads had already flooded three or four inches. It was like driving through gauze with lots of swerving, so I pretty much wrote off the rest of the day and curled up with a lot of oatmeal and movies. When it rains in Savannah, it POURS, and that about sums up my life.

Suffice it to say, chik'n and dumpling soup has been a recurring theme for me lately. It warms me when I'm fresh from the cold, and it's easy to manage when watching all those films. It's also wickedly easy to make, and I've been doing it gluten-free. I'm beginning to suspect chik'n and dumpling soup is the height of vegan culinary greatness, but that might be the rain's influence. Either way, it's been super delicious and one highlight of these otherwise soggy times.

+ 2 T olive oil
+ 2 carrots, diced
+ 2 celery stalks, diced
+ 1 - 3 cloves of garlic, minced
+ 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
+ 1/2 c frozen spinach
+ 1/4 - 1/2 c TVP*
+ 4 c veggie broth
+ 1/2 c chik'n broth powder
+ 1/2 c nutritional yeast
+ salt'n'peppa

+ 1/2 c brown rice flour
+ 1/4 c sorghum flour
+ 1/4 c potato starch
+ 1 t baking powder
+ 1/2 t guar gum
+ salt
+ 2 1/2 T Earth Balance
+ 1/4 - 1/2 c water

01. In a large pot, heat up your oil over medium heat. When the pan is warm, toss in the carrots, celery, and garlic, and sautee for three to five minutes or until the celery and garlic take on a sort of translucent quality. Add the mushrooms, and let them brown a little before adding the spinach, TVP, broth, powder, and yeast. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

02. While waiting for the soup to boil, assemble your biscuit dough. Mix all the dry ingredients together with a sifter or fork, then cut in the Earth Balance with a fork, knife, or pastry cutter. You're looking for a course, crumble-y texture that's somewhat uniform in its meal-y quality. Slowly add the water, mixing as you go, until the mixture is JUST combined. Since it's gluten free, you can mix it as much as you want without it getting dense or chewy, so it's okay to hold back a little and stir a lot to gauge the moisture of your dough. When you make the balls, the dough should stick to your fingers a little bit but it shouldn't be sticky. After I was finished, I had hardly any dough residue left in the bowl, and that's what you're shooting for.

03. Take little wads of dough - about a tablespoon's worth - and roll them in your hands until they're smooth little spheres of gluten-free goodness. Then toss them in your boiling soup, bring down the heat to a simmer, and put a lid on top. Let the soup continuing cooking for fifteen to twenty minutes. As tempting as it is to check on your dumplings, don't! The steam is what cooks them, and if you break the seal created by the lid, that lets out the steam, and your dumplings won't cook properly. It's a lot like resisting the urge to open the oven door when baking cupcakes or muffins.

04. But when the time IS up, you can take off the lid, let the soup cool, dish it up, and then sit down to watch a really good movie. Here are some of the movies I've been watching lately:

Knocked Up: bumbling goof with curly hair gets foxy blonde pregnant; comedy and romance ensue; nine months later, there's a baby. From the Einsteins behind Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Pineapple Express, and Forty Year Old Virgin. (Should I admit I love their movies?)
Annie Hall: what happens when neurosis dates neurosis; sometimes, it's just not meant to be.
The Way We Were: the dramatic version of Annie Hall, ca. forty years earlier; sometimes, it's just not meant to be.
An Affair to Remember: witty and attractive man and woman have fling on boat, then agree to meet at the Empire State Building six months later to resume the affair. Will they? Won't they? Why are there musical moments?
Wristcutters: boy kills himself over girl; finds himself in world even more depressing than life; discovers girl has also killed herself and is somewhere in this new world; goes on a road trip with Gogol Bordello in search of girl. Romance, nonsense, shenanigans, Tom Waits. (I fucking love this movie.)
Harold and Maude: quirky boy falls in love with old woman. Romance, nonsense, shenanigans, no Tom Waits. (I also fucking love this movie.)
Terms of Endearment: Shirley McClaine as a controlling old woman that owns a Renoire; Jack Nicholson as an aging alcoholic astronaut; Jeff Daniels pre-Dumb and Dumber; some lady I didn't recognize who gets breast cancer. An exploration of unconditional love.
Taxi Driver: young Robert DeNiro going crazy with misanthropy. Amazing cinematography and mostly A-list actors. Find yourself asking, "How did Cybil Shepard go from this to Cybil to The L Word?" Strangely identify with DeNiro's commitment to discipline and healthy living. (So good.)
Get Smart: middle-aged cutie becomes secret agent in classic underdog romantic comedy. Anne Hathaway finally plays a role that doesn't involve being confused and/or helpless 90% of the time, and a glimpse of Steve Carell's naked backside.
Good Will Hunting: cutie with a booty and a high IQ struggles to overcome inhibitions about intimacy. Some classic lines and Ben Affleck actually doing a good job.
American Psycho: sociopath on Wallstreet obsessed with appearance and status; extreme misanthropy; includes a scene of dropping a chain saw on a woman three stories down. Christian Bale post-Velvet Goldmine but pre-Machinist and especially pre-Dark Knight. (I point this out because look at how much his body successively changed for each role! INSANE!)

By the way, this recipe serves four.

So, what are some of the movies you've been watching lately?

* TVP is not technically gluten-free, but I think ya'll are clever enough to omit or even substitute for this if you're actually a celiac. And frankly, nothing in the soup portion has to be absolute. Soup - especially broth-based soups - are such a good way to use whatever's lying around in your fridge, especially the produce drawer, so just throw in whatever you want plus some broth and add the dumplings. So simple!


  1. I watched Mrs. Doubtfire last night. Best movie ever.
    Let's see in the passed week I've seen:
    X Men I and II
    The Bourne Identity and Supremacy
    Oceans 11 and Oceans 12
    Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny
    Peewee's Big Adventure
    Role Models

    a few more, I love netflix.

  2. ooh gluten free dumplings, my bf has just gone gluten free, might try make these for him!

  3. I just made these tonight, with a Brussels sprouts and mushroom ragout. I made them herb dumplings by adding dried marjoram and parsley to them. They were so good! Thanks for the stern warning about not opening the lid - I am a compulsive food checker and I have never made soup dumplings before, so I would have ruined them!