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