Have you noticed who is tiptoeing around our neighborhoods lately? Little by little this gentleman is taking away the merry old soul of summer.
Yes, it is Mr. Autumn.
As the beautiful colors of fall appear and the petals of the golden marigolds and vibrant zinnias begin to dry, we know a change is going to come. For a moment, we may be lulled into believing that days of warmth will continue to loiter because our salmon colored geraniums are still high-stepping with plenty of blooms.
Charles Repnow is a freelance writer who lives in Rugby. His column appears alternate Wednesdays in The Minot Daily News.
Recently, as Lydia and I stood beneath our grape-vine trellis gathering in the plump amethyst berries, a cool fall wind swirled around and nipped at our hands and face. No longer was I deceived and admitted openly, fall is here! Our grapes were promptly put on our stove and smell of cooking fruit filled our home. What a virtuous smell!
Each season brings to it foods that comfort us. When the cool fingers of fall begin to creep around us, the first thing that comes to mind is a steaming bowl of soup made with homemade noodles or plump, feather-light dumplings. The universal dumpling is thought to have hailed originally from China, and we know the Oriental cuisine has been sporting won tons for years. The caravans of Marco Polo are credited for a migratory sort of dumpling which came to Europe in a simpler form.
Without a doubt, dumplings became the mainstay of farmhouse cooking for generations of Europeans. When we think of the ingredients in dumplings flour, water, and salt they certainly were easy for road travel.
Over the years each nationality has developed its dumpling specialties. Depending on the economical means of the family, the deluxe addition of eggs and milk were often used. Nothing is more flexible than the dear dumpling which is why they have been steamed, simmered, baked and fried.
Why we could say that dumplings are as vital as the ever important fashion accessory, the scarf! Let us keep in mind that dumplings, like scarves, dress up every meal. They are hearty companions to many a meal and even can be featured as a dessert. Remember when you noticed that woman wearing a grand scarf around her shoulders, and she looked like a million? As she strolls down the street, you know that a playful spirit is alight! Well, dumplings can give you and your guests gathered around the table, the same thrill. There is nothing like entering a home where onions, ham, and dumplings have been simmering. The smell is glorious!
For many years, I have enjoyed dumphnoodla or dumpfnudla. As I have mentioned before in this column, I do not claim to know everything about cooking especially dumplings. I would be interested in hearing from some of you. Do you have dumpling recipes relating to your ethnic background that you would like to share, please let me know.
Last week this recipe for Dumphnoodla, by Mary Blotske from Underwood, appeared in the Country Kitchen recipe section of the Underwood News. However, I did add a few more directions for the not-so-experienced dumphnoodla makers!
1 package yeast, dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1-1/2 cups hot water
1/4 cup sugar
4-1/4 cup flour
In a skillet or Dutch oven, add water about 1/4-inch deep, 1 stick of butter, onion salt and begin to warm on a burner. In another bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water; let stand five minutes. In another mixing bowl stir hot water, salt, sugar and butter until butter melts, add yeast mixture and start adding flour, 1/4 cup at a time. You need to be kneading as you add flour and continue until this dough is smooth.
Place in a greased bowl and let rise until double in size. Knead and let rise again. Gather enough dough in the palm of your hand to form a small ball which you can leave like this, or you may choose to roll this ball out into the shape of a noodle which you then form into a knot. I always tie the top. Let rise for about 15 minutes.
In the deep skillet or Dutch oven which has the water, butter and onion salt, you will fry these knots. Keep in mind that the skillet has been simmering for a bit so that it is nice and hot. Cover and don't lift until you hear frying, which is about 20 minutes on the stove top. You must have a skillet or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting cover or it will flop.
This recipe comes from my mother's collection and was given to her by her Aunt Rose Bauer. Aunt Rose had written on the top that dumpfnudlas means steamed noodles or dumplings in German. When Mom made this dish, she made her dumpfnudlas small about the size of the lid on a baby food jar. We always had in the bottom of our roaster, first a layer of ham, next a layer of onion and then a layer of thinly sliced raw potatoes, and then resting on top would be the dumpfnudla.
In our busy home, we did not have this dish often because of the time consuming nature. But when we did, it was a real treat.
4-1/2 cups of flour, or a bit less
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of milk
1 package of yeast which is dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 eggs
Heat milk a bit and add dissolved yeast mixture, stir in salt and eggs and beat. Add flour 1/4 cup at a time, kneading after each addition until dough is smooth. Cover and place dough in a greased bowl in a warm place until doubled in size. Cut off small pieces of dough with knife enough to make a little ball, roll into a long noodle on a floured surface then tie into a knot about the size of baby food jar lid.
Place these knots on a cookie sheet and let rise for 15 or more minutes. You will then transfer them to the warm Dutch oven which has been simmering on your stovetop. In the Dutch oven is about 2/3 cup of butter which has been melted in 3/4-inch water. Add the layers of ham, onions, and potatoes and bring to a full simmer. Add dumplings arranged in one layer touching each other. Cook on a medium low heat about 20 to 25 minutes. Dumplings should have a lovely light brown crust on the bottom when finished.
I know of folks who make dumphnoodla without onion salt. This plain dumpling was then served with fruit sauce such as juneberry or peach. The sauce may have been completely spooned over the dumpling, and it could have been served as the main course or as dessert.
Another fine way to make use of dumphnoodla that makes it to the refrigerator is to slice it thin and fry it in a bit of butter, along with a few onions. This makes an excellent side dish when served with sausage.