Happy Father’s Day

I was fortunate to grow up in a house of two cooks. My dad cooked on the ships for the Coastguard, my mom on all the days that dad was away, or wasn’t cooking. In our house, cooking was neither a woman’s nor a man’s job. It was the job of the person that got home first, preferred to do the grilling, or was better at Christmas baking. Both my parents were wonderful cooks, each with their own signature style and specialty, and every day in our house was filled with home cooked meals. Growing up in this environment shaped my love of food, and today cooking certain dishes keeps me connected to my childhood and loved ones.

mel with hornsToday will be the eighth Father’s Day since my dad’s passing. In recent years I’ve started a tradition of cooking a meal that reminds me of him, while CCR blasts in the background. One of the dishes my dad was famous for, both at work and home, was a recipe from an old Betty Crocker book: Lemon Chicken, Hunan Style. There was one change to the recipe that my dad made, and it was strictly followed – lemon horns worn by the chef.

Lemon Chicken, Hunan Style
Makes 6 Servings

Recipe from Betty Crocker’s International Cooking, September 1980

3 whole chicken breasts, about 3 lbs
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1 egg
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Honey Lemon Sauce (see recipe below)
Lemon slices for garnish


  1. Remove bones and skin from chicken; cut chicken into halves. Heat vegetable oil (1-1 1/2 inches) to 360 degrees. Beat remaining ingredients except Honey Lemon Sauce and lemon slices with hand beater until smooth. Dip chicken pieces one at a time into batter. Fry 2 pieces at a time until golden brown, turning once, about 7 minutes; drain. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  2. Cut chicken crosswise into 1/2 inch slices; arrange in single layer on heated platter. Keep warm. Prepare Honey Lemon Sauce; pour over chicken. Garnish with lemon slices.

lemon chicken

Honey Lemon Sauce

1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon catsup
1/2 teaspoon instant chicken bouillon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

Heat 1/2 cup water, the lemon peel, lemon juice, honey, catsup, bouillon (dry), salt and garlic to boiling. Mix cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water; stir into sauce. Cook and stir until thickened, about 30 seconds

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.  I hope wherever you are, the coffee is strong, the tunes are loud, and the road is smooth and winding.  xoxo, Mel.


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