Learn the secrets to preparing the best fried chicken.

I've learned you can create a holiday for just about everything. Today is no exception as it's National Fried Chicken Day! My current diet would not allow most things FRIED to enter my body, but when I heard the words "fried chicken" recently, my mouth began salivating as I remembered my first introductin to homemade fried chicken.

At age 14 I started working for The Castle Team Room in Lawrence. Owned by an elderly woman for more than 50 years, this institution was the cornerstone of my exposure to the restaurant industry. It was well respected by the community and served comfort foods in a historical limestone "castle" with rooms decorated in a variety of hand-carved woods. The 1860s victorian-style home continues to serve the community as a reception and conference location.

The Castle Tea Room owner, Libby, was notorius for her fried chicken. The secrets I learned from Libby include 1) using an iron skillet 2) keep the skillet half filled with melted shortening at all times 4) dredge the raw chicken in buttermilk followed by a generous coat of flour 4) make sure the oil is hot before placing each batch of chicken in the skillet, ensuring a crispy less greasy piece of chicken.

Pile the fried chicken high onto a large platter and serve it family style. Don't forget to include corn on the cob, creamy coleslaw, sliced garden tomatoes and mashed potatoes with gravy!