Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Paula Deen and Michael Groover

What a great evening I had last night! Thanks to my dear friends, George and Inge Richter, I attended the sold out event with Paula Deen! Not only did they invite me, but I had a FRONT ROW SEAT! I was maybe 6 feet from Paula and Michael for the entire evening. My sister-in-law, Vicki Johnston, went with me. I met her and my brother, Tom Johnston, at McCormick and Schmidt’s for appetizers and wine before the show, then Tom went home and Vicki and I walked over to the Unity Temple for the show. There we met up with Christina Richter, the Richter's daughter, and her friends

Paula was definitely Paula! Cute as can be and much thinner than she looks on tv! The biggest surprise for me was Michael, Paula’s husband. He was a HOOT! Such a great sense of humor! So often when there is a strong, outgoing person, the spouse is rather quiet and shy. Not Michael! He was a delight.
Paula did not cook, this was a question and answer program, designed to introduce her newest book. The questions were equally split between cooking questions and questions on her family.
One of the questions from the audience was “Have you ever substituted applesauce for butter in your recipes?” Michael was rolling on the floor with laughter! The audience laughed until we had tears rolling down our cheeks! When the crowd quieted down, Paula leaned in close to the microphone and said “NO!” The audience again erupted in laughter.
A rather serious Paula went on to explain “I am a cook, not your doctor. You need to make that decision for yourself; it is not up to me to do it for you.” She got a big applause for that!
When asked about Giada de Laurentiis, Paula told of a dinner she was attending with the other Food Network chefs. She said “I looked over and Giada wasn’t eatin’, so I said to her ‘You little heifer, you ain’t eatin’! And she said ‘I ate two bites of each’. Can you imagine! Sorry, but that ain’t eatin!”
When asked what her favorite food was to cook, she explained it changes constantly, depending on who she is cooking for. Each of her loved ones has a favorite food, and when she cooks for them, that is her favorite thing to cook.
When asked who she would love to cook a meal for and what would she cook, she explained it would be chicken and dumplings for her Daddy, who past away when he was only 40. His favorite food was his mother’s chicken and dumplings, so Paula, as a young girl, begged her grandmother to teach her how to make them, just in case it was just a bad joke and her Daddy was coming back someday.
At the end of the evening, there was a drawing for a beautiful big basket full of Paula Deen items. The name pulled from the hat was Amy Thomas! Amy is one of the artists participating in the Art in the Vines project at Somerset Ridge Vineyard on June 13th. She is a jewelry designer, Warrior Wear Jewels in Bonner Springs, and was wearing one of her beautiful necklaces.
Didn’t I get some great photos….see what front row seats can do for you! Thank you George and Inge, Thank you Smithfield Foods!

Chicken and Dumplings
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

4 to 6 servings

1 (2 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of celery or cream of chicken soup
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Ice water
To start the chicken: Place the chicken, celery, onion, bay leaves, bouillon, and House Seasoning in a large pot. Add 4 quarts of water and in water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer the chicken until it is tender and the thigh juices run clear, about 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and, when it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and separate the meat from the bones. Return the chicken meat to the pot. Keep warm over low heat.
To prepare the dumplings: Mix the flour with the salt and mound together in a mixing bowl. Beginning at the center of the mound, drizzle a small amount of ice water over the flour. Using your fingers, and moving from the center to the sides of the bowl, gradually incorporate about 3/4 cup of ice water. Knead the dough and form it into ball.
Dust a good amount of flour onto a clean work surface. Roll out the dough (it will be firm), working from center to 1/8-inch thick. Let the dough relax for several minutes.
Add the cream of celery soup to the pot with the chicken and simmer gently over medium-low heat.
Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Pull a piece in half and drop the halves into the simmering soup. Repeat. Do not stir the chicken once the dumplings have been added. Gently move the pot in a circular motion so the dumplings become submerged and cook evenly. Cook until the dumplings float and are no longer doughy, 3 to 4 minutes.
To serve, ladle chicken, gravy, and dumplings into warm bowls.
Cook's Note: If the chicken stew is too thin it can be thickened before the dumplings are added. Simply mix together 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water then whisk this mixture into the stew.
House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

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