top of page

10.20.21 Newsletter: The Magic of Ritual

Here is your idea du jour for a

Little Dose of Happiness and Conversation

My sister Meg is creative and artistic and is always coming up with projects for herself that she finds both meditative and beautiful. Like this pumpkin project + sharpies. I prefer the black and white only versions. What about you? Blu

e and white; red and white; all shades of pinks and mauves?


We humans find comfort in rituals…they are touchstones in our ever changing, ever stressful lives. I cherish my morning ritual of lighting candles in a dark room, meditating, sipping coffee, and relishing the calm before the storm and the noise of the day begins. I am always a bit saddened when the darkness gives way to the light, and this sacred part of the day is consumed by the inevitabilities of daily


(rit-u-al) noun


: done as part of a ceremony or ritual

: always done in a particular situation and in

the same way each time

I am trying to be more aware of the charm, the nostalgia, and special gifts of rituals. Recognizing the ritualistic nature of an activity has the power to elevate something ordinary into something extraordinary. Making coffee, writing down your to-do list for the day, selecting what earrings to wear. Simple pleasures, simple daily rituals, simple activities not to be taken for granted. Acknowledging the ritual of things romances the ordinary and can even help us reframe a chore or an obligation into something a bit more, well, romantic.

So this morning, before I call Expert Chimney to clean out my kitchen and office fireplaces, put together my new metal log rack to replace the one that finally disintegrated over time, locate my ash bucket in the chaos of the garage, go to the hardware store for fireplace matches and stack the firewood by the back door…….

I will take a moment to appreciate the seasonal ritual of it all. Not just a list of chores and things to do, but a loving readying of fireside season. Preparation for cozy chats, woodsy fragrance, companionship and hygge to the extreme.

I won't deny the difficulty of transforming taking out the trash into a charming ritual, but how about ritualizing that first batch of chili or chicken and dumplings of the season? Custodial, daily cooking I usually find tiresome…but a dining ritual of that first pot of potato soup. Mais, oui! My crowd favorite recipe (below) for chicken and dumplings is from AMERICA'S TEST KITCHEN

…the sherry is the secret ingredient!


I highly recommend Ray Bryant if you like listening to soft piano jazz (perfect for fall) and also the audiobook Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler


If you follow Paula @hillhouseliving on IG you are very familiar with some of her more charming country living rituals. I just received her new book yesterday and it doesn't disappoint!! I'm also reading ATOMIC HABITS by James Clear

When. my kids were small, we would often make our first big batch of chicken and dumplings on Halloween….though sometimes it was chicken-chili-rice soup or red beans and rice.

Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

America's Test Kitchen - season 11 episode 9, Dutch Oven Classics Serves 6



6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds), trimmed of excess fat

Table salt and ground black pepper

2 tsp vegetable oil

2 medium carrots , peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

2 small onions , chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 celery rib , medium, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup dry sherry [I left this out]

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves

1 pound chicken wings (see note)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour(10 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tsp table salt

1 tsp sugar

3/4 cup buttermilk, cold (see note)

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled about 5 minutes

1 large egg white


1. FOR THE STEW Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook until skin is crisp and well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown on second side, 5 to 7 minutes longer; transfer to large plate. Discard all but 1 teaspoon fat from pot.

2. Add carrots, onions, and celery to now-empty pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in broth and thyme. Return chicken thighs, with any accumulated juices, to pot and add chicken wings. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until thigh meat offers no resistance when poked with tip of paring knife but still clings to bones, 45 to 55 minutes.

3. Remove pot from heat and transfer chicken to cutting board. Allow broth to settle 5 minutes, then skim fat from surface using wide spoon or ladle. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin from chicken. Using fingers or fork, pull meat from chicken thighs (and wings, if desired) and cut into 1-inch pieces. Return meat to pot.

4. FOR THE DUMPLINGS Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps; whisk in egg white. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl.

5. Return stew to simmer; stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using greased tablespoon measure (or #60 portion scoop), scoop level amount of batter and drop over top of stew, spacing about ¼ inch apart (you should have about 24 dumplings). Wrap lid of Dutch oven with clean kitchen towel (keeping towel away from heat source) and cover pot. Simmer gently until dumplings have doubled in size and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 13 to 16 minutes. Serve immediately.


Till next time,

Have you ordered your copy of Linda's book? Here's a link! Click below!


bottom of page