Janet's Notebook
Dads Make Their Mark In The Kitchen, On Our Memories

Daddy's Birthday Cake

Many of us grew up with our moms leading the way in the kitchen. Shopping, cooking, dishes... they were all mom's territory. Thinking back, though, my dad was the silent partner in the deal. His tastes helped form our menus and no one ever nabbed the liver in mom's stuffing; we knew that belonged to pop. He helped steer the ship and kept us all on course.

Linda Dalton of Stoughton, MA recalls her own dad rolling up his sleeves and making a special clam chowder for the family. That recipe lives on, as do her fond memories.

"This [recipe] is a family favorite that conjurs up memories of my father and summers visiting relatives on the Coney Island Boardwalk as a kid. After a full day of activities, we'd sip red chowder from paper cups then I'd conk out in the back seat of my parent's Studebaker on the ride home to Long Island."

The recipe, appropriately nicknamed Ye Olde Daddy's Clam Chowder, has evolved a bit over the years to accommodate changes in diet and the availability of certain ingredients, but at its core it remains true to the Manhattan Clam Chowder of Linda's youth - full of rich stock, vibrant tomatoes and tons of seafood goodness.

For Missouri gal Lisa Halsey, it was the opportunity to make something special for her dad that lingers fondly in her memory.

"My Dad called me just before his 75th birthday and asked me to bring a cake to his birthday dinner. Mom had him on a diet and I was under strict orders to not mention that he asked for a cake!"

With a mission as special - and sneaky - as that, Lisa set out to combine her dad's favorite flavors into an extra special cake recipe.

"He loves chocolate cake and coconut, so I thought if I was taking the wrap for his birthday cake I was going to make it an impressive one!"

Indeed, the cake recipe Lisa created is all out decadence on a platter. For ease, she jazzed up a traditional chocolate cake mix with her own choice ingredients. The result is a super moist chocolate pudding cake layered with butter pecan coconut filling and covered in rich chocolate ganache! We can only imagine how happy Linda's dad was on his birthday with a treat as sweet and thoughtful as this.

And finally, home cook Rose Mary Mogan helps us remember that wonderful father figures aren't always related to us by blood.

"My father-in-law was a great cook, and I learned a lot from him," says Rose Mary. "In my opinion, [he] made the best beef stew I had ever eaten. The flavor is phenomenal, the sauce is thick and rich."

Rose Mary was the lucky recipient of her father-in-law's secret recipe, and carries on his cooking tradition to this day. With a base of vibrant V-8 juice cocktail, she layers in fresh veggies, beef and a rich assortment of spices, including thyme, paprika, marjoram and bay.

"I was surprised when he offered to share the recipe with me," she says. "He has since passed away, and I am so happy [to have it.] Every time I make it for the family, it reminds me of him. I miss him dearly, but many of his recipes live on because he was happy to share them with me. Now I make them for his son, my husband."

If you're lucky enough to be with your dad this Father's Day, don't hesitate to get creative and give the gift of homemade. And for those of us left only with wonderful memories, raise a glass, bake a cake, heck, simmer up some stew in honor of the legacy these great men have left behind.

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Francine Yagi - Jun 14, 2013
My Dad Just passed a few months ago!!!!! I miss him like crazy! I used to make a prune cake with prune filling and prune frosting!! He loved it and could eat the whole thing by himself!!!!!!
He used to be a mess cook when he was first in the service and he could make the best baking powder biscuits in a snap!!!!!
Linda Lehman - Jun 13, 2013
Thanks so much for the tears. My father inspired me to cook, he loved it, mom hated it. Dad was a cook for the CCC's. Although he could not get the hang of cooking and measuring at the same time, he taught me many things about cooking. Use what you have, and "don't ever just open a can or a box!" Of course, now I can't measure and cook at the same time and I can never just follow a recipe or open a can or a box and call it a meal. He has been gone for almost 20 years now. I still watch an old movie and think about him or try to get a crease out of wool and remember what he said to do or, to make his pizza crust and never quite get it right because he measured with bigger hands than I have!
Shar Mcdonel - Jun 13, 2013
to clean your cake tips,i found a baby bottle cleaner,with the attach small end does the trick.
Rose Mary Mogan - Jun 11, 2013
These great recipes conjure up many fond memories of years past. These STORIES are so touching and really tug at the heart string. They are memories that we will always cherish for the rest of our lives. It merely reminds us of just how precious those moments in our lives really were.

Our Fathers and Father figures may have passed away but they left memories that we are sure never to forget, and will cherish for ever. Aren't we the really lucky ones to be able to pass along recipes that have created a special bond in our families, and because of a wonderful site like JUST A PINCH, we can now share those recipes that we truly love with people all over the country & create new family. WHAT A WONDERFUL BLESSING THAT IS, to have the memory of our love ones GRACE THE TABLES of PEOPLE ALL ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. All because of our love of SHARING WHAT WE LOVE TO DO WITH OTHERS, our recipes, so they can be enjoyed all across the universe. WHAT A WONDERFUL COUNTRY WE LIVE IN. Thank you Just a Pinch for featuring my recipe which is in memory of my Father N Law. Joseph Patrick Mogan. Dad You are missed but certainly not forgotten.
Sheryll Lyn - Jun 11, 2013
I am crying since I first started reading these stories and memories. I wish I could make each or even one for my dad or FIL, but both are gone. I will find someone to make each one for some time soon.

They sound like spectacular recipes and I want to save them all.
Kathy Kukla - Jun 11, 2013
That's the same receipe I use for Beef Stew. It's great.