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Oven Baked Corn Flake Crumb Chicken & Blogiversary Bash Update

I had a pretty decent childhood, as far as childhoods go. I would even venture to say it was a good one. I had two parents who loved each other – and me. I was enveloped in a nurturing and familiar cocoon of grandparents [1], aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. And, even though he could be a royal pain in the a$$ sometimes, my little brother was definitely a very cute kid.
(My old neighborhood)

For the first decade or so of my life, I lived in a predominantly Italian neighborhood [2] in Bronx, New York. I was born there, as was my mother before me. My father was an Italian immigrant who ended up there because that was where almost all of the “paisans” from his home town went, including my mother’s parents. It was the kind of place where everybody knew everybody else, and nobody’s private business stayed private for very long. As long as you spoke Italian, you were in the loop. We kids never dared step out of line because we knew that no matter where we were, someone who knew our mothers would see us and tell! It was safe. It was secure. It was home. And then, it all changed.
One day, my parents came home and informed me that we were moving to Florida. Florida? Huh? Of course, I’d heard of Florida, but all I knew about it was that it had lots of beaches, Disney World [3] was there and it was hot! Sure, people took vacations to Florida, but I never realized that people actually lived there! I was devastated! What about my school? What about my friends? What about my life?!?!

(St. Clare of Assisi, my old school)

The next day at school, I broke the news to everyone that at the end of the term, I’d be off to sunny Florida. There were lots of hugs, tears and commiserations. Oddly enough though, as the word spread, there were also many looks of awe and envy. To my surprise, by lunchtime I had become an instant celebrity! I was always pretty well-liked, but suddenly my popularity skyrocketed. Apparently, Florida was thought of as an exotic locale. Disney World, though still in its early years, was considered to be “the grooviest” place to go. Most families in my neighborhood went on vacations to Long Island or Atlantic City. Even Linda Kramer, whose family had a summer home in the Catskills, had nothing on me. Hmmm. Maybe this Florida thing wouldn’t be so bad after all.

As soon as school let out for the summer, we packed up and headed south. With excitement, tempered by trepidation, we began our adventure down that new and exciting wild frontier called I-95. It was the early 70s. Back then, the interstate system wasn’t as complete as it is today, and there were several detours along the way. There were also fewer exits, which meant fewer places to get a decent meal. My mother was never one to leave things to chance, so she packed up a big cooler with enough food to get us back and forth to Florida three times over.
One of the things Mom made was this chicken. I remember Dad pulling off the highway into various rest areas, where we sat around picnic tables and feasted on sausage and pepper sandwiches, homemade potato salad (Italian-style, of course) and this simply made, but very delicious chicken.

The name of this dish – Oven Baked Corn Flake Crumb Chicken – pretty much says it all. There’s nothing revolutionary about it. To prepare it, all you do is dip chicken pieces in evaporated milk, dredge them in crushed corn flakes, drizzle a little melted butter on top and bake it in the oven. I like to jazz it up a bit by adding various kinds of seasoning to the crumbs, depending on my mood. One of my favorite things to add is Hidden Valley Ranch [4] dry salad dressing mix, but you can really use whatever you like. I’ve made the corn flake crumb mixture using Good Seasons Italian, chili powder, Parmesan cheese and a number of other seasoning combinations. I also often make it just plain, like my mother used to do.
This dish is one of my “go to” meals whenever I’m feeling a little blue. To me, it isn’t just chicken, but one of my ultimate “feel good” foods. It represents love and family, comfort and security and the knowledge that home isn’t just a place where you live, but how you live and who you live with.

Don’t forget to send in your party food or drinks for my 1st annual SGCC’s Blogiversary Bash. You can find the details here [5]. (Feel free to use my badge too, if you want.) Some of you have already sent in some great dishes and I couldn’t be more thrilled! In fact, I’m so excited about this event that I’m going to make things even more interesting. I believe that a party just isn’t a party without presents. And, since I have the best readers ever, I’ve decided that I’ll be giving presents to some of you. That’s right! Five of my charming and gracious party guests will be selected at random to receive some pretty nifty gifts if I do say so myself. Am I not the hostess with the mostess, or what?
I’ll be revealing each party gift, one at a time, over the next several days. You’ll just have to keep checking back here for new updates. I’m such a tease! The first on the list is (drumroll please):
A Flip Video Ultra [6]! This little baby is fast becoming one of the hottest toys around. It is the perfect accessory for the savvy food blogger. It’s a simple to use, pocket-sized camcorder with one-touch recording and digital zoom, that holds 60 minutes of full VGA-quality video on 2GB of built-in memory. Not only that, but it has a USB arm that plugs directly into your computer for easy viewing and sharing. I have one and I love it. Hopefully, I’ll get over my camera shyness someday and actually post a video of my own.
This Bash is gonna rock the blogoshere!!!