What I think of as home cookin'-comfort food

Well, it's another beautiful yet way-too-chilly day here, and while I'd love to dine al fresco tonight, with a glass of cold rosé and some screaming-spring meal, such is not to be. Instead, I'm going for comfort, warmth from the inside out both in the sense of a good hot meal, and staying inside to eat it. Chicken and dumplings fits the bill nicely, doesn't it? I admit to never having made this dish myself; in fact, perhaps frighteningly, the last time I had chicks-n-dumps was at a Cracker Barrel somewhere along I-10 in Louisiana. If memory serves, it was during the road trip my friend, Colleen, and I took to drive my stuff back to Lake Charles from Philadelphia (1,400 miles). She and I also once drove from Lake Charles to Boulder, CO; also a real haul in terms of mileage (about 1,300). How many Sonic lemon-lime slurpees we had on that trip, I'll never know, but driving across Texas and up through the mountains was cool. In any case, so was the trip south from Philly. And at some point during it, we had chicken and dumplings at an expansive Cracker Barrel.

Though I never had them, because she died before I was born, my Nanny's mom, Mema to my Mom and her siblings, is rumored to have made the best chicken and dumplings ever. Lighter than air yet rich in flavor, hers were the stuff of legend. More recently, a foodie friend, Suzanne (she of the pasta piselli), won a community pick nod from Food 52 for her lemony chicken and dumplings and that's the recipe route I'm taking tonight.

In addition, I'm still craving more banana cream anything  since that show-stopper T and I shared at Coquette last week. Pudding is like a dessert dumpling: soft, cozy, comforting, flavorful. The kind of thing that makes you close your eyes, sigh contentedly and slow down. Just before our trip, Melissa Clark wrote about her take  on a scrumptious banana cream pudding with pistachio crumble in which she recently indulged, and so that's soon to be in the works too. My bananas are perfect for it; they're no longer pretty, their yellow skins spotted and bruised, but those are the best for flavor in baking and so once again, patience is rewarded, the diamond in the rough truly that.