Mamaw’s Chicken Dumplins

Mamaw’s Chicken Dumplins

We each have our own memories tied to food… The healing properties of Mamaw’s chicken and rice. Standing on the kitchen stool to help make cranberry relish for Thanksgiving. Licking the beaters at Nonnie’s house after making cake.  

Revisiting a cherished family recipe can be as powerful as stepping into a time machine.

Your recipe may be a curry or a gumbo or a tortilla depending on where you are in the world, but there is a universal language of love in the family kitchen. It’s that warm, lovely feeling that’s sparked Project STIR.



I never knew my own grandmother, but I grew up eating Mamaw’s chicken dumplins every February at our home gymnastics meet. (She was our gymnastics coach’s mother.) It was the highlight of my year. When I started learning to cook I asked for the recipe, but was told it’s not a recipe that can be written down. It’s done by sight and feel as much as measurements so I went off to college without learning the secrets.

In fact no one in Mamaw’s family knew the recipe… not her daughters, not her granddaughters, absolutely no one else knew how to make them.

When I was planning our wedding I knew that I wanted Mamaw to make her chicken dumplins and she graciously brought two giant crockpots to our Mississippi reception. Moving to Northwest Arkansas I realized my chance to learn this recipe was getting smaller. So, somewhat selfishly, I asked Mamaw’s granddaughter Rachel if she’d like to make a video where she learned firsthand how to make from scratch chicken dumplins. She loved the idea and we set a date.

Project STIR Global Heirloom Recipe Films |

My heart grew three sizes editing the video. As my Papa would say, “it warmed the cockles of my heart.” I had never been so connected with a project before. Video turned out to be a perfect way to document a family recipe… it caught nuances and texture that recipe cards miss. Rachel caught Mamaw doing things she didn’t even realize she was doing. The recipe had become such second nature to her she didn’t even realize all of the steps she was taking herself.

But what really made me glow with happiness was the heartwarming connection. Mamaw wasn’t performing the recipe for camera. She was teaching Rachel and the moments happening between them were magic. I felt so blessed to document it.

In the weeks following, as I shared the video with family and friends, I started hearing a chorus of voices that wanted their own family recipes documented: Nan’s Welsh Cakes, Abulita Nany’s Tortillas, Aunt Barbie’s Ginger Cake…

And Project STIR was born.

ProjectSTIR | Heirloom Recipe Films


So I started putting together a project to document family recipes around the globe. Recipes have been submitted France, New Zealand, Turkey, England, Panama, Wales, Spain, Norway, Slovenia, Grenada, Canada & Croatia.


Are you ready to join the movement? 

Submit your own family recipe by emailing  sarahdshotts(at)


What’s your favorite family recipe? Let’s chat in comments.



  • Congrats on the official launch! I’m excited to be a tiny part in this project!

    • I’m excited that you’re part of it too! Are you coming to AWBU this year? I’m so glad we met there last year.

  • Nancy Gaines

    I’m so excited you’re launching Project Stir! Yay! I’ve always loved the idea of this project and can’t wait to share in it any way I can! Congratulations, Sarah! 🙂

    • Thanks and I’m so glad to have you involved Nancy! 🙂

  • Melissa Gross

    What a fabulous project – best of luck to you! I love this idea & want to get my Mama over here soon & record her making biscuits! (Just popped over from Creative Revolutionaries.)

    • Thanks! I’m so glad you’re inspired to record your own Mama cooking. 🙂 I’d love to see the video or a clip of it so let me know when it’s done!

  • This is going to be epic! I just feel it!!!

    • Thanks Trish! It’s both frightening and exciting at the same time! This is the biggest thing I’ve ever attempted. 🙂

  • Wow, this is a fabulous project and idea!! My parents happen to be great cooks, but tell me recipes like “a pinch of this…” or “measure out your pinky finger… .” It has meant that I haven’t learned how to cook almost anything they do ;). I am so excited for your project!

    • Thanks Autumn! (I love your name BTW.) I’d love to see you make a video of your parents cooking… these days we can even do something like that on our cell phone!

      I popped by your blog and it is lovely! I’d be honored to have you on board as a Project STIR Ambassador if you’d like to get involved:

      How did you find your way here? Just curious. 🙂

      • I found your blog from #fireworkpeople . I won’t be able to see my parents until around Thanksgiving since we live 10 hours away, but it sounds like a date then 🙂

  • I’m so happy for you! The project is really amazing!

  • Jeanetta

    This is the best idea ever!

  • Love this post and idea! I’d love to participate!

  • Talya Tate Boerner

    I don’t know how I can participate with this, but I plan to. I love the idea of preserving recipes and have worked to share an old cookbook from my hometown. Also, I have my Nana’s original recipe box which is one of my most priceless treasures!

    • I’m working on a few ideas that I plan to email out to folks from AWBU next week. 😉 I’d love to hear stories about your Nana’s recipe box. <3

  • Yay!!!! I absolutely LOVE this, Sarah! I’m super excited for you to get this project started. Love your background story. It got me thinking of recipes that my grandmother makes and how it would be awesome to record those as well. Looking forward to supporting!

    • Thanks so much Jennifer! Let me know if you record your grandmother cooking. I’d love to see. 🙂

  • What a neat idea! Will certainly share.

    • Thank you Esther! That really means a lot. 🙂